Today’s beautiful spring-colored crochet mandala comes from Liz of LavenderLizard, a married crochet-designing mom of 4 boys who also loves books and baseball. She’s on Instagram and Twitter @lavenderlizard. She shared,
“I can’t recall how I first heard about Wink’s blog, but I followed it religiously. I was drawn in by her bright colors and patterns – it was such a happy place! Only later did I realize that all the bright, happy colors were Wink’s way of fighting off the darkness.
Thank you, Marinke, for all the colorful, beautiful creations you gave to the world! I hope that your loved ones take comfort in knowing that you touched so many people around the world.”
In her Instagram share of this pretty crochet mandala, she adds,
“My contribution. It’s difficult to put into words how inspired I have been and will continue to be by Marinke. Her blog, her style, her designs, her color sense. ??? She will be missed. ? I chose this pattern to represent the light at the end of the tunnel. Marinke couldn’t see it any longer but it is there. If you are affected by depression, please seek help.”
This week I’ve been reading the heartbreaking memoir by Sue Klebold, mother of one of the Columbine shooters, (A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy). It’s really thought-provoking; she does a great job of making no apologies or excuses for her son’s actions while still sharing the human side of him including the depression that she didn’t know he was enduring. Through reading this, I’ve been able to think more about the suicide portion of murder-suicide. Klebold writes,
“For a long time, murder-suicide was viewed as a subset of murder, not of suicide. Some murder-suicides do correspond to the murder model, where suicide is a “plan B” turned to only when other escape options have failed. But a shifting understanding of suicide and a closer look at the data have revealed that many murder-suicides, if not the vast majority, have their genesis in suicidal thoughts.”
She is clear about her belief that her son’s suicidal depression led him to these acts. But she is also very careful to say that this doesn’t mean that people with mental health issues (which she likes to call brain health issues so that we recognize that they are tangible medical issues) will be violent and it doesn’t excuse the behavior. She writes,
“I certainly do not mean to imply that Dylan’s brain health issues made him capable of the atrocities he would eventually enact. To do so would be to insult the hundreds of millions of people around the world living with depression and other mood disorders.”
She describes how this creates stigma that leads only to more problems. And adds,
“Nor do I believe a crisis in brain health is necessarily an explanation for what Dylan did. The automatic conflation of violence and “craziness” is not only painful for people who are suffering, it is incorrect. … Most people living with mood disorders are not dangerous to others at all. As Swanson also points out, though, there is some overlap between mental disorders and violence, and I cannot believe it’s productive for anyone when we take the conversation off the table.”
So in her many conversations with researchers and professionals, she consistently asked the question, “How do we talk about the intersection of brain disorders or mental illness and violence, without contributing to the stigma?” This, I think, is a crucial question, and one we must all work to answer. There are a lot of issues in life that are caused by depression and other mental health issues, and we must be able to talk about them openly without over-simplifying and creating a stigma that allows people to assume that someone with depression will be “that way” (whatever the way may be).
We don’t have an answer, but I like the idea that Klebold poses towards the end of her book, specifically for dealing with teenagers through a school approach. It’s a tiered approach that begins with awareness-raising, education, peer intervention, etc. for ALL students. The second tier is to give additional resources to students identified as high risk for issues (a student who recently had a death in the family, for example, or a student from a minority population that may be a target of bullying). Finally, there’s a third level when a student shows signs of a problem, where the energy directed at helping that particular student is stepped up. The point here is that it all begins with a non-pathologizing helping approach for all students, to nip problems in the bud. Klebold says, “The real beauty of these measures is not that they catch potential school shooters, but how effectively they help schools to identify teens struggling with all different kinds of issues: bullying, eating disorders, cutting, undiagnosed learning disorders, addiction, abuse at home, and partner violence – just to name a few.”
This post is part of the Mandalas for Marinke remembrance project.