Mad vs. Madness

(I've thought about this post too long. It's not well organized, so bear with me).

According to the DSM diagnostic manual, there's not a single mental illness diagnosis that indicates excessive anger as a recognized mental disorder. Depression, anxiety, compulsion, yes. But not anger. In fact, as I have learned after almost  decade of working with Mental Health Minnesota, those with mental health issues are several times more likely to be the victim of  violent (particularly gun-related) crime than to commit one.

But it seems like this kind of anger is more and more common. I heard on the radio the other day an interview about someone who said "I would have to wash the dishes EVERY DAY, and that very thought made me SO ANGRY." (dishes? really??) Someone we know, recently arrested for terroristic threats toward students at Howard University stated:
“I’m angry at everyone and that’s just fueling the existing unresolved anger I have towards people which will burst,” he told the same person, according to the affidavit. “I planned how to take out that anger years ago and I’ve been sitting on that plan ever since.”
I get frustrated all the time. I swear like a sailor. But I can honestly say it would never, in a million years, occur to me to hurt someone because I was mad. And at the risk of sounding male-bashing (which I am truly not trying to do), it seems like it's predominantly relatively young, white men who are so all-consumed with this kind of hatred — who walk into schools and movie theaters and churches and let loose a storm of death because they are somehow so very angry.

I can't imagine it helps any, that seeing the bloody bodies somehow would make someone feel less angry, or more in control. But I can't put my head in that space, so who knows.

All I know is that this can't continue to happen. I don't know how I can make it through eight more years of sending my daughter to school every day worrying that a shooter is going to burst into her classroom. I don't know if she can grow up to be the kind of leader I hope she will be, when she sees every day that the adults she trusts are unable to — or in some cases simply don't want to — protect her. And as much as I respect and admire the high school kids who marched to the Capitol today, I can't help but feel like we have failed every child who has to worry about being shot at school instead of their algebra grade.

Madness is a mental illness, a condition that we throw up as a bogeyman because it scares us so much and we know that our healthcare system is doing little to treat it.

Mad is societal, and we can change that. We can deny it its power. We can refuse its validity. Because otherwise, mad will kill us all.


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