Category Archives: Social Media for Social Change

social media for social change

To Serve And Protect

So here’s the thing… Are there good cops? Sure there are. However, if you are a “good” cop & you witness another cop abusing power and being violent, and you don’t do anything to stop them or report them, you are part of the problem. Hold cops to the same standards of the law that you would hold a citizen.

Should cops be expected to solve all of society’s problems? Hell no. I don’t need you in my living room, my bedroom, my kids’ schools, etc. I do need you to show up when someone’s life is in danger and try to diffuse the situation. So basically, if someone is breaking into my home, trying to rape or murder someone, by all means jump in and do your job (and try to avoid killing or permanently injuring them except as a last resort)… Do not shoot a kid because he has a hoodie or an adult because he’s homeless. Don’t taser someone who is in handcuffs. Don’t beat someone into paralysis. Don’t do the things that you would arrest someone else for. Serve and protect and minimize the damage, don’t add to it.

Do I care about some cops dancing at the neighborhood block party? No. I don’t. I care that they do their job – serve and protect – and that they don’t abuse their power. Do you see any other profession desperately trying so hard to be liked by society? No, except maybe politicians. You know why? Bc most other professions do not cause such harm to society and that is what we are so angry about. I don’t want my tax dollars to go to a cop who is doing the running man or shooting a kid with a toy gun. I want them to go to a cop that is catching a serial killer, a rapist, or a murderer. Do your job humanely and you won’t have to prove that you’re a human being.

Remember… We have hard days too. We work hard to earn a living to take care of our families just like you. Treat people with the same respect you expect. It’s simple.

When Are We Going To Learn?

When are we going to learn compassion, empathy, understanding, and love? When are we going to work together as a community, instead of behaving like entitled snots who are “better” than our neighbors. When are we going to learn that we need the “village”? Not just the parts that that are convenient to us, but the whole damn village.

We have ʜᴜᴍᴀɴ ʙᴇɪɴɢs that were murdered this weekend because of their sexual orientation. I don’t care if they are gay human beings, lesbian human beings, transgender human beings… they are simply human beings and they did not deserve to be murdered because some guy decided that he didn’t like their sexual orientation.

We “worry” about which bathroom transgender people are going to use. They worry about being murdered for the activities they choose to participate in behind closed doors, that are quite frankly ɴᴏɴᴇ ᴏғ ᴀɴʏʙᴏᴅʏ’s ᴅᴀᴍɴ ʙᴜsɪɴᴇss. It is offensive that anyone in the LGBTQ community should have their private, intimate lives be a matter of public discussion.

We “worry” that transgender people are going to sexually abuse our little girls while we let entitled white athletes off with a slap on the wrist when they are ᴄᴏɴᴠɪᴄᴛᴇᴅ of felony sexual assault charges. Seriously… What the fuck?

We need to stop blaming sexual orientation, drinking, guns, and bathrooms for our problems. People are the damn problem. If we don’t begin making changes within ourselves and within our communities, it’s only going to get worse. We are our own worst enemies. It is time to change that.

It’s Time We Hold Rapists Accountable For Their Crimes

Let me start off by saying that listening to this video was difficult for me. It brought back some very nauseating memories. I believe it is so important to discuss how rape is viewed and handled because it needs to change.

In 2006 I was living in Las Vegas and I had had enough. I desperately needed a change and while talking to an old friend of mine, decided to move to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. I remember packing up my locker at work and telling my girlfriends that I was off to meet my future husband. In August, I jumped on a plane and actualized those words and off I went on my new adventure.

2005 and 2006 had been very difficult and challenging years and I had dreams of starting fresh, somewhere new. I could be anyone and do anything. I felt alive and hopeful for the first time in a long time. When I arrived to this little military town, I stayed with one of my lifelong friends and his family. I got a job right away at Marina and was off slinging drinks and waiting on tables before you could blink an eye.

While working at the Marina, I met a young Marine who kept flirting with me. Although I was friendly, I was very clear when I told him that I wasn’t interested in dating him. I told him that we could be friends, but quite frankly, he was too young for me.

One night the young Marine came into the Marina, had a couple beers and offered to give me a ride home because it was late and I didn’t have a car at the time. I accepted the ride. Unfortunately for him, he got pulled over, the cop smelled the beer on him and arrested him. He asked me to take his car home so it wouldn’t get towed, so I did.

The next day, he was out of jail and I was out with a girlfriend. (I made friends pretty fast out there). I told him he could meet us to pick up his keys. I told my girlfriend that he was so persistent on flirting with me and to please be sure not to leave without me, as I would have no way home. The last thing I remember after he arrived was that my girlfriend was going to the bathroom. After that, I only have bits and pieces of memory. I will never know for sure if I drank too much or if my drink had been spiked. I believe it was the latter. I have a flash of memory where he walked me to his friends car and put me in the back seat. I remember asking him where my girlfriend was and asking why was he putting me in the car. He told me she left me and he was going to take me home. I was too weak to move. My body went limp. I had a flash of memory where he was covering me with a blanket, like he was tucking me in, in a room I had never been to before.

When I woke up in the morning, I was completely confused. My bra and panties were not on me. He was getting dressed in front of me and I couldn’t understand why. I asked him what happened. He told me that I passed out in the back of the car during the short drive to the barracks. He said he tried to wake me for 15 minutes before he picked me up and carried me up the stairs and put me in the bed. He casually told me how we had sex and how I “wanted it”. Yes, you heard that correctly. I “wanted it”. He then offered to take me home.

Even though none of this made any sense, I still didn’t realize that I had been raped. It wasn’t until later that evening, when I was explaining what happened to my friend’s wife, that things started to click. This guy was dead sober. I blacked out shortly after he arrived. He tricked me into thinking that my friend left me and he was going to take me home. How could I possibly “want it” when I was not even remotely attracted to this guy and more importantly, I was UNCONSCIOUS???

I stayed in that town for two and a half months longer because I wasn’t going to let this defeat me. I wasn’t going to let him get the best of me. No fucking way. I’m a strong woman and I would deal with this. But the truth was, I wasn’t strong enough to deal with the PTSD that came afterwards. For two and a half months this little shit roamed the streets free. To add salt to the wound, he had a twin brother that had joined the Corps with him. So if I wasn’t running into him, I’d run into his twin. I started getting panic attacks, hyperventilating. Then finally one night, I lost my mind and had a really bad exorcist-style incident and decided that I needed to get the hell out of there.

I did press charges against my rapist. His punishment? An uncharacterized discharge from the Marine Corps. All that time I spent questioning myself. Did drink too much? Did I “want it” as he said? I was going crazy inside and the crazy was coming to the surface.  All he got was a fucking uncharacterized discharge? Are you fucking kidding me? It is 10 years later and I remember his name. I remember his face. I remember how I felt when I realized how he violated me. I remember sitting in the hospital being having a rape kit done on me… all those people and the questions and the tests. I remember going to court by myself to face him. I remember the panic attacks. I remember the shame. I remember wanting to crawl out of my skin. I remember knowing that he was going to probably walk a free man and I would just have to come to terms with that. I remember the feeling of loss and defeat when they let him walk out of that courtroom a free man. One of the worst things I remember is telling my family, my friends, and my children what happened and feeling their hearts break.

Every time I hear of a story like this Stanford case, I remember you Daniel. I hope you remember me too. I hope when you think of me, you think twice before putting your hands on an unconscious woman or a conscious one for that matter. I hope when you hear these stories of guys “having sex” with unconscious women, you realize that is not having sex. It is not consensual. She doesn’t “want it”. It is R-A-P-E.

 

We need to change how our society views rape. We need to stop victimizing the victims. We need to hold those committing RAPE accountable for their crimes. It is not easy for me to listen to this Stanford woman’s letter. It is not easy for me to write this post, but I know that we can’t hide in the shadows ashamed for what was done to us, allowing the blame to be put on us for something someone else did. To the Daniels and the Brocks of the world, YOU are to blame. You chose to violate another human being. You are not the victims. You are the criminals. I hope that society starts viewing you as such rather than making excuses for your loathsome choices. It is not a mistake when you rape another human being. It is a crime. Enough is enough.

 

 

 

 

 

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Harambe Killed So Let’s Lock Up The Mom?

Think about this…

We take wild animals and rip them away from their families and lock them up for our entertainment as we destroy their homes.

Then, when a child manages to get away from its parents and puts himself in a dangerous situation, we want to lock up and shoot the parents.

This is so fucked.

If the animal were a human, we would call that slavery. What on earth makes us think that we have the right to treat animals as if they were here to serve us? As if their families, their homes, their needs were less valuable than our own?
Yes, I’ve been to zoos before, ignorant of how inhumane most of them truly are. These days, I don’t go. If there is a habitat or a rescue facility that helps displaced or injured animals, then great. But to put an animal on display for our entertainment, while we destroy its home and it’s family is totally screwed up.

To the people who are ready to lock up the parents and throw away they key. Maybe you are a “perfect” parent who’s child has never strayed and you have never lost track of your kid, but I can’t pretend that I am perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe you don’t have kids, but you assume you would be such a “perfect” parent… that you would always know every move your child makes. Let me tell you, you won’t. Im sure you think your kid is “perfect” too. He’d never stray away because your kid will always listen to you. Good luck with that.

Stop throwing stones people. Your house is made of glass. My kids are thankfully 21 and 19 years old. As proud as I am to say that, they have gotten lost. I’ve had my heart sink into my chest when my son hid in the clothing rack of the department store, or he went for a bike ride and lost track of time, or when I was walking with my kids and my daughter stopped to look at something in a store window which led to her separating from us. That does not mean I was a horrible parent who deserved to be locked away or shot to death. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t care about my kids or that I was too busy worrying about myself to worry about what my kids were doing. Things happen to all us.

Unless the parents threw the kid in with the gorilla while kicking back a few cold ones, please shut up. They are already feeling guilty and worrying about their kid. They don’t need “perfect” people telling them that they are horrible, worthless parents.

How about this…

How about if we stop supporting zoos that are ripping these beautiful wild animals away from their homes and families for our entertainment? Go support a rescue facility instead.

How about we stop behaving as if we are better than the person next to us just because we didn’t make the same mistake they did. Stop comparing each other and start supporting each other. If you really are that much better of a parent or person for that matter, you’d shut your higher than thou mouth up and offer words of support and love rather than condemnation. Show empathy. Start thinking like a village.

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:7

Ex-Factor – Lauryn Hill

It could all be so simple
But you’d rather make it hard
Loving you is like a battle
And we both end up with scars
Tell me, who I have to be
To get some reciprocity
No one loves you more than me
And no one ever will

Is this just a silly game
That forces you to act this way
Forces you to scream my name
Then pretend that you can’t stay
Tell me, who I have to be
To get some reciprocity
No one loves you more than me
And no one ever will

No matter how I think we grow
You always seem to let me know
It ain’t workin’
It ain’t workin’
And when I try to walk away
You’d hurt yourself to make me stay
This is crazy
This is crazy

I keep letting you back in
How can I explain myself
As painful as this thing has been
I just can’t be with no one else
See I know what we got to do
You let go and I’ll let go too
‘Cause no one’s hurt me more than you
And no one ever will

Care for me, care for me
I know you care for me

There for me, there for me
Said you’d be there for me

Cry for me, cry for me
You said you’d die for me

Give to me, give to me
Why won’t you live for me

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The Free Spirit

Some of us are not meant to live in cages. Some of us are meant to run wild and free. We are envied by those who wish to possess the same feeling of freedom and joy and gratitude and peace, and they may try to take it from us like leaches sucking the blood out of our skin, but that is not how it works. Because they don’t understand us, they will try to bottle us up, keep us restrained, constricted, unable to roam free. By doing so, they drown us, pulling us under the water like anchors, desperately trying to force us into their ideas of “perfection” rather than allow us to be the thing of beauty that we are. What they fail to see is that they cannot steal the spirit from us… and even if they hold us for a while… we will again be free.

 

Alive

I will not change who I am because of others. I will not lose myself in the hatred of others. I will believe in magic and fairy tales. I will have hope in hopeless situations. I will have faith when it’s so easy to be faithless. I will love when my heart is broken. I will be every cliché that people warn against. I will jump in rather than dip my toes in the water and put all my eggs in one basket.

Why? Because if you allow this beautifully heartbreaking life to break you, to pump fear into your veins, to give life to your insecurities, to create walls where there should be walkways, to make you give up on miracles, to steal your happiness and sunshine, then you are nothing more than an empty shell. Your soul will die before your body does.

I will take risks that may break my heart, but I will be fully alive while I am breathing.

 

core values

Blaming Before Morality: Why The Steubenville Rape Case Is So Horrifying

True to form, in 2011 the Onion delivered some of the most honest news that you will find in media today. In grim humor an Athlete Overcomes Rape.

Fast forward to last week and watch Poppy Harlow’s CNN Coverage on the Steubenville Rape. Poppy caused a great deal of outrage with her comment, “These two young men who had such promising futures — star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart”. I have to say, part of me feels very sad for these boys. They did something irreversible and criminal, and now they have to pay for it. I really hope they learn their lessons. I hope that they have sincere remorse for their actions. I hope they learn right from wrong. But I have to stop and ask, what the f*ck was Poppy thinking as those words spewed out of her mouth? Does she not realize that a young girl was VIOLATED? This is completely irresponsible reporting. It’s the kind of comment that places blame on the victim for ruining the lives of these two boys… That is IT! That is why her comment was gnawing at my core. It’s not that she felt bad for the boys – who certainly committed a terrible crime. It’s that she seemed to be placing the blame on the victim.

Regardless of how much empathy I may have for the those two boys, what breaks my heart more is that a young girl was violated and people think it is OK… that she deserved it for being intoxicated. Personally, I don’t care if she drank herself to oblivion or not. They should not have had sex with her, taken pictures, plastered them all over social media and then chastised her. Furthermore, why didn’t anyone do anything to stop this? How many kids stood by and watched as these boys sexually assaulted an unconscious girl, also taking pictures and posting all over social media? I’ve read numerous posts and tweets calling the victim a slut and a whore.  My question is, how can you be a slut or a whore if you did not consciously decide to have sex? Think about it… if you were kidnapped, knocked unconscious and your assailant forced drugs into your system, would you then be a drug addict? Of course not. When blaming is more important than morality, empathy and respect, we have taken the “human” out of human beings.

When someone is incapacitated, where is our consciousness? Where is our empathy? Where is our humanity? I don’t know about you, but when I see people hurting other people, I am compelled to do something… and I have.

Many people think that if a person is intoxicated, then they were “asking” to be raped. Let’s make one thing very clear. It’s is NEVER OK to take advantage of another person. It is NEVER OK to violate another human being… especially when they are incapacitated. It is NOT OK. NOT EVER. PERIOD. Now if you want to dig deep, we all have taken advantage of another person at some point in our lives. As we are growing up, learning right from wrong, we may have been mean to someone who really likes us because we knew we could get away with it, for example. When we see people doing wrong, we need to lead by example and teach our children not only to be able to identify it, but also to do something about it. This is where parenting and community come to play. We are supposed to teach our children basic morals, values and ethics, and we should lead by example.

More and more often, parents are afraid to parent. More and more often, we are more and more detached from our communities. Human beings were made for community. I want to know what have these boys’ parents… and  society forgotten to teach them? There is no manual for being a parent, and I know that you can’t be responsible for every single decision that your child makes, but there are basic principals that you ingrain in your child from birth. I have made countless mistakes as a mother, and yet I have always taught my kids to be compassionate, empathetic and kind. As a disfunctioning society, every year we become more and more isolated from each other. We are failing as a society if we are incapable of identifying wrongdoing or helping someone in need. When teenagers cannot identify that a serious violent crime is happening before their eyes… that is horrifying.

Core Values & Morals

So what are our lessons from this case?

  1. We need to teach our children right from wrong
  2. We need to stand up in the face of adversity to do what is right
  3. It is NEVER ok to violate someone because they are intoxicated
  4. If we want to survive as human beings, we need to start being more humane
  5. We need to teach from example basic values, such as courage, empathy, respect, integrity and care

They say that empathy can’t be taught. I don’t know that I agree with that. I think that if we grow up in an environment where people show kindness, love and empathy, our children will in fact learn those very things.

America – We Are No Longer The Greatest Country In The World

Some may disagree with this and that is perfectly fine. However, I grew up here. I have roots here. I used to believe America was one of the greatest countries in the world. In fact, I couldn’t even fathom the thought of living somewhere else. I remember growing up and the school cop was our friend. Teachers cared about their students. We had freedom of speech. If we made a mistake, we were punished but not stigmatized. Oh, how have times have changed.

I am disheartened at the direction this country is headed. Money is our god. Power is being abused. We are living in a society that wants to keep the majority stifled. Immoral reality show stars are our idols. Greedy politicians could care less about the very people they are supposed to be working for. Power hungry cops are the new bullies. The welfare system that we have in place is a fucking joke!

It is grotesque that the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, or Honey Boo Boo are the role models for our children. I mean seriously, we are telling our children that it is alright to have indiscriminate sex, drink until oblivion, and be gluttonous, void of any morals or values… and it is especially held in high regard while  in the pursuit of money and power.

It is insane that those in office can spend indiscriminate amounts of tax payer money to go on lavish vacations, while 75% of the population is drowning in an attempt to keep up with the daily rising cost of living. The systems that are in place to help us in our times of need, such as the welfare system, are actually designed to keep us in shame and repression.

It boils my blood when I see a police officer, who is supposed to serve and protect, sitting on the side of the road with a speeding gun so they can meet their quota, while allowing a rapist or a murderer to walk free of consequence because it is more financially beneficial to do so, or bullying and arresting a kid in high school for giving a friend a hug because they are so jaded by society.

In 2010, the United States was 11th in rapes per 100,000. In 2012, we had the highest incarceration rate in the world, surpassing 700 per 100,000!! We spend more on military expenditure than any other country in the world! We are over $700 billion, while China, the next runner up is just over $100 billion. That’s $600 billion  more! Meanwhile, we spend an excruciatingly pathetic 10% of that on education. What the hell is wrong with this picture?? 75% of our population makes less than $50,000 per year, while the cost of living goes up every day.  If we want to survive without having to live paycheck to paycheck, just how much do we have to make?

It is no surprise that our country is such a disgrace.

youtube=http://youtu.be/ML3qYHWRIZk

So what are we going to do about this turmoil? I don’t want to be scared silent, bowing my head to this god of money and power like an abused housewife beaten into submission. I have a voice. We have a voice. I’ll be damned if I have to  become an expat runaway, looking for solace and peace in another country… although I have seriously considered it.

We need to start by adding value and morality back into our society. We are starved for it. We need to start by changing the channel. We need to start by taking away the power of those who abuse it. We need to start by refusing to be financially raped by our government for their own selfish gain. We need to start by getting off our lazy butts and creating change, rather than waiting for someone else to tell us they are going to do it for us, and blaming them when they suppress us instead. We need to start by bringing humanity, love and compassion back into our homes and spreading that.

I have been guilty of not taking action. Sometimes I was scared. Other times I didn’t feel that I was smart enough, financially able, or capable of doing anything significant. I felt politicians were so corrupt that I wouldn’t bother to vote because it wouldn’t matter who won. The ones that would actually make a positive change never made it to the final rounds anyways, right? All too often, I felt that no matter how hard I tried, I just could never get ahead. I felt defeated. I was little more than a statistic… a battered housewife of the system. However, I was so, so wrong. Ignorance and silence equal repression.

We have a voice and we need to use it. We are in the land of the free and we need to stop living as slaves to the system… slaves to money, gluttony and immorality. We need to find what we are passionate about changing to make this country better and start doing it. Stop with the excuses, and start doing something.

Find your voice. SPEAK.

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” ~Ghandi

lanza

It’s Easy to Talk About Guns. It’s Time To Talk About Mental Illness.

In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

I am Adam Lanza’s Mother It’s time to talk about mental illness. 

Written by Liza Long

Friday’s horrific national tragedy — the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

While every family’s story of mental illness is different, and we may never know the whole of the Lanza’s story, tales like this one need to be heard — and families who live them deserve our help.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.

“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

“You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.

The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork—“Were there any difficulties with….at what age did your child….were there any problems with…has your child ever experienced…does your child have….”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying—that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map). Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population. (http://www.hrw.org/news/2006/09/05/us-number-mentally-ill-prisons-quadrupled)

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill—Rikers Island, the LA County Jail, and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011 (http://www.npr.org/2011/09/04/140167676/nations-jails-struggle-with-mentally-ill-prisoners)

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

Originally published at The Anarchist Soccer Mom. It has also been republished in The Huffington Post and The Blue Review.

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