Dear mamas and papas, though I have tried for days I have been unable to write anything that expresses my grief over this most recent tragedy. I can’t go back to business as usual, but I simply cannot find the words, either. So I am holding them in my heart and pressing on to discuss a topic we’ve covered before, but that warrants a LOT more attention.
I Have Held Someone’s Hand . . .
As they watched their life explode on the 10 o’clock news. The crime scene was barely processed when we began to sift through the puzzle pieces of a life gone wrong. As you can imagine, this is not a chapter from my life I often speak of, and never really planned to here.
I was 19 years old when my then (now ex) boyfriend’s father murdered his mother and turned the gun on himself. I was a straight “A” college student. I came from a safe, middle class suburban neighborhood. I volunteered my time at a nearby elementary school, where I tutored first graders in reading. None of this shielded me from this destructive thing we call mental illness. One minute I was studying for a psychology test, the next I was keeping watch over his 16 year old sister, a sweet girl who went to school one day and came home to discover in the most horrific way possible that she was an orphan.
Back then I didn’t even think to ask certain questions, like whether or not his father was on antidepressants. To this day I don’t know. What I can say, though, is that I’ve had more than a passing interest in the relationship between mental illness (especially depression) and violence. Today, as we continue to grieve the unspeakable loss at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I offer these resources for those who are asking the same questions.
Antidepressants Should Carry A Black Box Warning For Homicidal & Suicidal Tendencies
Did you know that FIVE of the top ten most violence inducing drugs are antidepressants? (source) Would it surprise you to learn that about one quarter of depressed individuals actually do worse when prescribed antidepressants instead of a placebo? (source)
Though it’s easy to equate a discussion on “mental healthcare solutions” with “access to medication” for troubled individuals, we need to keep in mind that these drugs have a well-documented history of inducing violence in otherwise loving, caring people . . . people who adore their families and yet find themselves acting out their worst nightmares. I am not saying that there is never a time where they are appropriate, but we need to weigh the risks carefully.
According to CCHR:
[P]eople with no prior history of violence (or suicide) became homicidal and suicidal under the influence of antidepressants. … However, despite all the documented violence-inducing side effects of these drugs, the FDA has never issued black box warnings on antidepressants causing violence or homicide despite the fact that at least 11 recent school shootings were committed by kids documented to be on or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs.” (emphasis mine)
For more information read: Antidepressants And School Shootings – What Every Parent Needs To Know
Microbes Affect Your Mind
Though the genetic component of mental illness is commonly accepted, what’s often not mentioned is that the microbes in our digestive tracts affect whether certain genes are either expressed or silenced. You can read more about the gut-brain connection here.
Beneficial bacteria also help regulate and even manufacture neurotransmitters that help us function normally. (source) Unfortunately we live in the age of antibiotics, the contraceptive pill, junk food, personal care products and stress, all of which kill off the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract while making room for pathogenic microbes that may induce conditions like depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety. Excessive intake of processed foods can also cause nutritional deficiencies like pellagra, which can produce symptoms nearly identical to schizophrenia and lead to violent behavior. (source 1, source 2)
Healing the ecosystem within and correcting deficiencies is possible according to Gut & Psychology Syndrome author Dr. Campbell-McBride, but it can take significant commitment depending on the condition.
There Are Effective Natural Remedies For Depression
Though each person is unique and what works for one individual may not be the key for another, I am aware of two healing protocols which have had significant success with a variety of disorders. Julia Ross, psychotherapist and pioneer of amino acid therapy, has written extensively on the subject of helping people restore proper neurotransmitter function with the help of nutrition and a few key supplements. Her book, The Mood Cure, details her approach. You can take her questionnaire here to determine whether you might have a neurotransmitter deficiency.
Dr. Campbell-McBride, whom I mentioned above, is the author of Gut & Psychology Syndrome. Her program – nicknamed the GAPS Diet – is an intensive healing protocol that is used to treat a variety of disorders including depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, compulsive disorders, behavioral problems and mood swings.
When I Woke Up This Morning . . .
I planned to write a post about gingerbread cookies. Halfway through this post I was STILL trying to write a post about gingerbread cookies. In the aftermath of what’s happened, finding moments of joy with my kids – reading, baking, listening to Micah sing jingle bells at warp speed – these are my top priorities, and I want to inspire you to do the same.
If I am being honest with myself, though, the real reason I fought writing this post is that I knew it could not convey how broken my heart is for the parents and families involved in this tragedy. I suspected then – and know with absolute certainty now – that simply discussing what I’ve learned would do nothing to take the sting of grief away. And yet, as incomplete as it may be, I offer this contribution to the conversation that is happening right now in hopes that it may be useful. If you have found it to be so, please share it with those you love.
What do you think is the most important step we can take to prevent future tragedies?
Note: Please see my disclaimer regarding medical advice.