From Both Sides of the Couch

A therapist reflects on her time with patients, and her time as a patient.

Response to an Op-Ed: "Please Take Away My Right to a Gun"

Those of us with depression need to be proactive in keeping ourselves safe.

There was an Op-Ed in the New York Times on January 18, 2013 titled “Please Take Away My Right to a Gun” by Wendy Button. The teaser intrigued me and sparked some long-time buried memories and feelings.

 

People like me who suffer from depression need to be kept afe from ourselves. I don’t want a gun in my house.

 After I was prematurely discharged from the long-term borderline unit in 1991, I was living in a 24/7 supervised residence. I say prematurely because the decision to discharge me was not a clinical one, it was made by the insurance company. I had been on the unit for 9 ½ months and the staff still considered me a danger to myself.

 I don’t recall the gun laws of over twenty years ago; what I do recall is taking myself to a now defunct sporting goods chain store called Herman’s and trying to purchase a rifle under the guise of it being a gift for my supposed hunting enthused brother. I didn’t walk out of there with the rifle — perhaps I lacked some piece of paperwork or the salesman smelled a lie, but thank goodness the rifle never left the store.

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 Soon after that incident I used a serrated kitchen knife and then when I wasn’t satisfied at the job I did with that,I bought a heavy-duty hunting knife at a store in Grand Central Station, but finally scared, I turned it into my counselor at the house before I could use it.

 Ms. Button is right and her essay stands the test of time. Some of us with severe depression need to be separated from lethal weapons. Each of us has to recognize who we are for no one else will do it for us.

 I could only imagine if I was successful in purchasing that rifle at Herman’s and had stowed it under my bed. I know that while I would not have dared, I would have fantasized about sleeping with the rigid steel weapon, gaining a sense of security from its presence much the way a toddler obtains comfort from her teddy bear.

 Knowing that I had an almost certain instrument of self-annihilation so close, I would have spent my solitary time caressing its gleaming assembly with my eyes and my hands, my fingers eventually coming to rest on the trigger.

 So easy to debate Should I? Shouldn’t I? or Now? Later? during those periods of intense hopelessness and darkness when it seemed to me that I would never climb out of the abyss in which I had found myself. When I believed that I had no more fight left in me to battle the demons that had hijacked my mind. When the only energy I thought I could muster was to pull the trigger.

 It would have been too accessible, too convenient and just too easy.

And what about today? I am no longer suicidal and I have everything to live for but I still don’t want a gun in my house.  I have no reason. One of my biggest fears is finding myself back in that dismal place. I don’t know what could trigger a relapse of such proportions, but there are no guarantees.

 When I fall, I fall fast and hard and within an infinitesimal period of time I could be embracing that gun once again, imagining the bullets ripping through my pulsating heart.

 No, no gun. I have worked too hard. My life is valuable. And I want to live.

 The link to Ms. Button’s article in The New York Times is:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/opinion/please-take-away-my-rig...

 

 

 

Gerri Luce is a licensed clinical social worker who publishes under a pseudonym.

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