Each of us handles things in our own way, and that uniqueness probably makes the world a better place. No point in being a bunch of Stepford robots. I feel pretty lucky in that I think I have pretty good coping skills. I don't use drugs or lethal amounts of alcohol to cope; never feel depressed or suicidal; and never seriously harm others in my own frustration. Usually a good cry, a good rant, maybe a margarita to take off the edge, and a good night's sleep is enough to reset my perspective. Now and then I verbally abuse DrChako's financial and/or logistical planning skills (such as remembering to pack pants), which also makes me feel better in a strange way, although usually requires me to perform some level of "make up" activities and/or perform appropriate domestic duties as pennance.
But a couple stories in the last few days have really saddened me, thinking about how some people's lack of coping skills, or choice of coping mechanisms, can be so detrimental to us all.
Oh Captain tweeted a sad story about someone without coping skills. An suicide threat on Facebook was ignored, and a woman overdosed on meds. Sadly, the article diverges into things like trying to blame Facebook for her death. Facebook is a forum, people; not a hospital or police station or some other organization with responsibility for your health and well being. What's sad is that for someone who had over 1,000 Facebook friends (I have a quarter of that, many of whom I'm related to and feel obligated to be friends with me), she didn't have the coping skills or a strong enough real network to deal with whatever life dealt her.
In even sadder news this week, a young man in Omaha went to his school armed, shooting the principal and assistant principal, before leaving the school grounds and killing himself. What makes this story more haunting for me is that one of my staff members has a daughter that attends school there; he didn't attend teleconferences yesterday while he waited for the police to sort things out and send his child home (physically unharmed). While the news reports are fuzzy, apparently the teenager had recently moved to Omaha, his father had recently gotten custody of him, and he had just been expelled for causing significant property damage at the school. After being expelled from school, he posted a Facebook warning and went to the school armed with his father's weapons with the intent of taking lives, including his own. Now an entire community is reeling from his apparent lack of ability to deal with life.
For those of us who have children (and I'm sure it was the same for your parents), we have dreams of our children being the best they can be. But we fall into the trap of thinking about it in terms of social expectations . . . we want them to be doctors and lawyers and accountants and nurses and teachers and journalists and firefighters; we want them to marry well and raise families and contribute to their community; we want them to invent things and change things and do everything we didn't do.
After reading these stories, I think I just want my kids to learn coping skills. I want them to learn how to handle frustration and disappointment and and change and loss in ways that don't involve hurting others, and certainly don't involve taking their own lives. I want them to learn that no matter what happens, the solution isn't in a bottle of pills or the barrel of a gun. I want them to learn that tomorrow, or the next day, or the next month, it will be ok and life can go on, maybe even better than before.
I'm going to give them another hug today, just to make sure they remember there's one place that will always be there, no matter what happens - mom's arms.