Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jared Loughner and mental illness

So, the guy who shot former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head, taking around 20 other people out with her (dead, injured), pleaded guilty today. It means he gets life without parole instead of the death penalty.

I am NOT going to argue the death penalty here. I don't happen to believe it's a deterrent and I find it pretty well useless. (Hey, that's my opinion and this is my blog!) What I *do* want to work through is how I feel about this -- this case, my case.

Nope, I haven't gone on any shooting sprees, and I wouldn't -- if I kill anybody, I will limit it to myself. But this guy has spent over a year being force-fed psychotropics, after he was dx'd schizophrenic, and supposedly that's part of what made him competent to plead.

His psychiatrist said "he's become human" and has cried and apologized and shown remorse for his heinous act. The U.S. attorney general said he thought a trial would have just kept the wounds open, and that Loughner's "significant mental illness" was cause enough to toss him in the pokey, as my dad would say, until he dies.


You know what? I have a "significant mental illness." Bipolar is considered up there with schizophrenia as one.

Better yet, my bipolar comes with psychotic features, meaning that yep, just like Jared Loughner, I hear voices. (Mine haven't told me to go on killing sprees, though, they just annoy me by having inane conversations in my head.) I don't know whether Loughner's psychosis also involves visual hallucinations, but mine does. (Sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're creepy. I loved the black dog one, though. Winston Churchill called his depression the black dog. I, currently in the midst of an episode I'm not sure how I'm going to make it through, saw a friendly big black dog at the top of my stairs the other night, even though the neighbors don't have any of those and my housemate and I have cats. I figure it's my fucked-up brain's way of trying to commiserate with Winnie.)

I just wonder if it's really an excuse. If I somehow snap and go do something evil, will my "significant mental illness" score me a get out of jail free card, so to speak? Will people dismiss it as "oh, she's just crazy, she can't help it"? Most of all -- do I really want to be defined that way??

I'm pretty sure the answer is no. The question is whether it's avoidable.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Trying to Decode an Email

For the love of all that’s holy – or irreligious, even: Why does it have to be SO. FREAKING. DIFFICULT to find someone worthy of a relationship? Have you noticed that it gets worse as you age, rather than better? You’d think that’d be the other way round, based on life experience alone: I know I certainly know more at 47 than I did at 17 – but there’s not really a built-in pool of possibilities like there was in high school, if nothing else. People have made their choices, for better or worse. Most of them have baggage in the form of some sort of “ex”: Ex-spouse, ex-job, ex-home owner. Often there’s shared custody (kids, pets, season football tickets). I can handle all that.

You know what my baggage is, was, apparently will forever be? I’m the “buddy.” I’m the chubby (I can downgrade myself from fat now that I’ve lost some weight), nerdy girl who gets decent grades and writes really well and grows up to be a print journalist-slash-grammar freak, to no one’s surprise. I get called on to help make sure master’s theses and course papers and journal articles and news items sound OK and are properly punctuated. And I genuinely enjoy that stuff. And I genuinely enjoy afternoons or evenings at the stadium, no matter the sport. I don’t even mind the occasional movie, or trip to a bar. But goddammit, when is somebody going to notice me for being more than a geek?

(That's me. Am I really that big a dog? :-\)

I got this email from someone I know really well. I'm not going to quote the relevant part, because that would give it away. Let's just say that I thought things were crystal-clear between us a couple years ago, and it turned out they weren't. So I backed off, and I went back to being "the buddy," and then something happened over the last few months. And I got this email a few days ago that made me wonder, but I don't want to go back there, you know?, because it was really painful the last time to find out I was still basically an unwanted piece of shit. I don't want to find that out again, even though the wording of this email was .... hard to decode, I guess. It might really have said what it said, or it might really have been my wishful thinking again.

I know I’m asking a lot. It hasn’t happened yet in my entire life to date. Everyone I’ve ever been interested in has only been interested back “as a friend.” I have no idea how to get around that, or I would have done it by now. Even my mother has given up on my getting married. (She’s 83.) Me, I’m not averse to the idea, necessarily, although I’d be content at this stage just to cohabit – but first, somebody has to tell me WTF is wrong with me. Because I genuinely don’t get it. :-\