Of fishing and gun violenceTrans Progressive Thursday, December 20th, 2012
Commentary: Trans Progressive
The evening I’m writing this column is an evening after a day spent fishing at Lake Cuyamaca. I haven’t been fishing in more than three years. The last time I went fishing was March 2009, which was the month before I went to Greeley, Colo. to cover the Angie Zapata hate crime murder trial.
Before this day of going fishing I had a tough week. I lost a relationship with a close friend, and had a significant family related concern that I attempted to resolve. But, attempting to resolve that family issue resulted in a number of other family issues and anger bubbling to the surface.
I needed to recharge. It didn’t matter that it was bitterly cold and windy at Lake Cuyamaca. It didn’t matter that it rained and snowed while I was fishing. It didn’t matter that I didn’t catch any fish. I spent the day with beautiful mountain scenery, listening to ducks quacking and other birds chirping. I even ate lunch at a small diner that overlooked the lake.
I like to catch and clean my own fish, in part because I believe if I’m going to eat flesh I should be connected to a more full process of animals in nature to my dinner table. I think hunting and dressing land animals would connect me to nature and the food I eat in a similar manner.
When I got home this evening after fishing, the news was about a gunman killing dozens of elementary school children and then taking his own life. The newscaster also said that the shooter’s brother said the shooter had mental health issues.
I don’t own a gun. I never will own a gun. Frankly, I’m currently dealing with situational depression. However, that depression is compounded by a bipolar condition that leaves me feeling most of my emotions more intensely than others do. That time in nature fishing, like other times I’ve experienced, is something that calms some emotional intensity.
I have a mental health condition, and even though I’m not a danger to others I could be a danger to myself.
You see, with my bipolar condition I swing between the high energy of hypomania and the low energy of depression.
Sometimes I even feel symptoms of both hypomania and depression at the same time.
I, like others who have bipolar conditions, am subject to what’s referred to as mixed states where one simultaneously feels emotionally down and physically energetic.
I learned in a class for bipolar patients at the Veterans Administration that this mixed state is what makes people with bipolar conditions more statistically likely to commit suicide; and this is because people with bipolar conditions can get depressed to the point of suicidal thoughts and have a great deal of energy to act on those thoughts.
I’ve made the assessment that even though I wouldn’t be a threat to others by owning a gun, I could be a threat to myself if I owned one, even if it were one specifically designed for hunting. So, I don’t own a gun.
I’m self-aware enough to know I personally shouldn’t own a gun, but many with mental health conditions aren’t so self-aware.
As I think about the shooter who killed dozens of school children, then killed himself, and hearing from his brother that he had mental health issues … well, somehow I think we need gun controls that better track people who have mental health conditions where they have significant potential to be dangers to themselves or others.
And, I’m saying that as someone who might be in the group that should be legally told I couldn’t own a gun.
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