There’s something I’ve wanted to touch on for a while now, but couldn’t. Sandy Hook Elementary.
I said I couldn’t. I meant it. And not because I felt I needed to do research on gun control laws to prepare. Not because I wanted to be armed with a bushel full of mental health statistics to show how mental health care in our country needs upgrading. I couldn’t because, just for a while, I was pretending it didn’t happen.
I know what you’re thinking. What a heartless bitch. I don’t know, maybe I am. Please let me explain before you cast your vote.
I’ve been in a rough manic patch since my mixed episode subsided. This is not normal for me as I usually fall into a depression after a M.O. Paranoid thoughts, sleepless nights, a flash temper, auditory hallucinations and more have plagued me as of late. Those closest to me have little insight into what I’m experiencing aside from what directly affects them, such as my temper, because I chose to keep the majority of my issues to myself. When I get in these altered states, I tend to withdraw from those around me because I don’t want them to see my odd behaviors. I also have to distance myself from certain extreme emotions or face the risk of winding up in the hospital.
Enter the Sandy Hook shooting. The moment I heard about what was going on, I was in tears and my mind was racing a million miles. At that point, there wasn’t a whole lot of credible information in the news media, with conflicting reports coming from almost every outlet. The only thing that was certain was there was a shooting and people had died–at an ELEMENTARY school. Instantly, my mind ran with that. I have three little ones who are in elementary school, so of course, my immediate thoughts were about them. Are they safe? Is everything okay with them? The usual mom thoughts, I suppose.
Then paranoia set in. I need to get them. This will happen there too. There’s someone going into their schools right now, I just know it. This is the beginning of the end of the world. I need to get there before they get killed! Why am I sitting here? Will I seem them again? If i don’t get them, they’ll die and it will be all my fault. Life won’t be worth it anymore, if there’s a life left. How could I live with the guilt of knowing I basically had killed my children by not doing anything…
Yeah. You get the idea. Crazy stuff. And that’s just a very small summary of everything I was thinking. At this point, the logical portion of my brain that was trying to talk some sense into the hysterical, paranoid part. The paranoid part was having nothing to do with it. It was too busy doing this.
That’s when good old reliable Logic decided enough was enough. Seeing no other way to get Paranoia to stop her nonsense, Logic decided this was the best course of action.
It took a while, but Paranoia calmed down. They both had a nice long talk and decided that the best way to deal with these things was to not think about them. Less information learned about the events meant Paranoia would have less to run with. (Don’t tell her I said this, but Paranoia is one crazy bitch.)
Okay, back to reality now. In case you missed the point there, my mind was running with the facts I had, as well as those I didn’t, and using it as ammo against my sanity. So I had to back off. I had to distance myself from the media reports and pretend like it hadn’t happened. I did this for myself and my family. If I hadn’t, I don’t know that I would be able to type this right now.
Of course, little facts and media reports have slipped through the cracks. My paranoid mind ran with those, but the were sprints rather than marathons. Taking this a little at a time seems to have made it easier. I still worry about my own kids, but no more than any other parent does in a time like this. Taking time to wall myself in from this has been a good thing. I’m starting to feel a lot better about my ability to handle the details. I’ve even read some reports on it now.
I’m not going to go too much into things, as I’m still keeping the event at arms length, but I do want to clarify a few things. I have mourned for the loss of these children and their educators. This blog may be construed as me saying I felt no grief in that loss. That is not the case. I didn’t distance myself from those feeling, just from the thoughts that my mind made up every time it had a new morsel of detail to work with.
There’s a lot of people saying we need tighter gun laws and better mental health coverage. I agree some changes need to be made, but one thing I feel we should be looking at as well is the media coverage of evens like this. I understand some might argue about freedom of speech, but the reason why many of these mass killers kill in this fashion is because they see it as a way to become famous. A way to be heard in a world where they may not have felt heard. A way to leave a mark on a world they felt they may have left otherwise unmarked. The media has a responsibility to people to stop making spectacles of these monsters. The more they make a fuss about the killer, the more this will happen.
I don’t remember the shooter’s name. I don’t care to either. I remember Victoria Soto, the teacher who put her first grade class into cupboards and told the killer they were in the gym. Dawn Hochsprung, the principal who may have broadcast her final moments over the schools loudspeaker as a warning to others in the building. Anne Marie Murphy, whose body was found over the children in her class. It’s believed she was attempting to shield them from the bullets. Mary Sherlach, who was nearing her 20th anniversary at the school. Lauren Rousseau who has just been hired by the school. Rachel D’Avino, who’s fiance was planning to propose at Christmas.
I remember the smiling faces of those beautiful little ones who are now with the angels. Catherine and her carrot red hair. Chase’s blue eyes. Ana, who had just moved here from Canada. Grace’s pretty smile. Jack’s big grin. Caroline’s generosity. Emilie’s love of art. James’ super cool mow-hawk. Jessie’s cheeks. Dylan’s shaggy hair. Josephine’s silly picture. Olivia’s good grades. Daniel’s missing teeth. Charlotte’s green eyes. Noah’s confident smile. Jessica’s love of horses. Avielle’s sly smile. Benjamin’s brown eyes. Allison’s shyness. Madeleine’s kindness.
These are the people I choose to remember.