May 7, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre: Three Weeks Later

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Today marks the three week anniversary of the Virginia Tech Massacre. In memory of that event, I am sending out my completed VT memory block for the group quilts going out from Oregon. I am also mailing my extra packets to those whose names I drew in my VT Memorial Quilt post.

As I was adding the heart in the center of this 'Virginia Star' block, I was frustrated that the pattern ended up being 12" finished piecing size vs 12" completed sewing-in size, as I had expected (note the added on seamable edges). And I felt totally frustrated that it was not as I wanted, or thought, it should have been.

I began to think about Seung-Hui Cho, now one of many infamous 'school shooters'. I thought about how his frustration, his anger at simple things... just grew and grew. How his anger, his jealousy, his deep down depression could create such damage as they exploded into rage. And then I thought about his own family...a father, a mother, a sister...and how totally, unbearably horrible this all must be for them. How that one person's depression has now escalted into the sadness, grief, loss of so many families.

We think that because winter is over, and the sun is often shining, that we should all be busy and happy. We don't expect sadness or loss or grief or depression. Springtime depression is something few people talk about or even recognize. Too often, we see the darker, denser emotions as ones which lurk in the cold and dark late fall and winter months. We expect then, to feel tired and cold and wanting to hide and go 'into our caves' and just pull the covers over our heads like old bears, needing to rest. Once winter is over, we tend to breathe sighs of relief and expect and look forward to being warmer and less isolated and alienated.

But it is the form of depression known by its acronym SAD (seasonal affective disorder) that is more bio-rhythmically related by the timing of the light and dark cycles than either genetically inherited serotonin deficient depressions or the many forms of bipolar mood irregularities. And for some reason, whether related to climate changes, increase in sad or violent world changes or simply the fact that we leave our 'caves' and socialize more...depression spikes in the spring.

So when, a severely depressed person acts out in huge, loud, destructive ways such as this young man at Virginia Tech, suddenly the oppressive social effects of anger and depression are more acutely made public. We forget, or we don't realize, that depression is often a form of isolation or anger, turned inward and anger is often depression acting outwardly. We forget that most of us who have felt its emptiness or known its alienation feel the pull to just go into it and wallow in the feelings of overwhelming sadness, or loneliness....just when we feel we should be the happiest.

We know that its ok to be sad and upset. Those are human emotions and most of us, most of the time, are human. But it's not ok to be furious or suicidal without considering getting help or truly looking at how our lives affect others' lives. In chronic depression, the self-centered state doesn't seem to allow space for looking at choices or how that choice to live or to die...can affect other's total lack of choice for either.

So, memory of all of those we lost at Virginia Tech, remember this: but for the grace of our own place in the world, our own lives now....... that could have been you or I, or our child, or a friend or a neighbor, or their child. We/they could have been a victim and we/they could have been the shooter.

So, if you are more than sad, or more than angry (or you know someone who is) ask for help. And then, if you can......please reach out and help another. Let's all pray for a stop to the war, all of the wars, all of the angry battles...inside and out.

Pray for Peace. Think Peace. Live Peace.
Be the peace that we all seek.
Peace Out

link for other free patterns for Virginia Star block:
Virginia Star


Dawn's Daily Journal said...

The thing I love most about other quilters is their hearts. People show support in many different ways. A quilter quilts. There is nothing warmer then something made by someone else. I love the quilt and I think you are a class act for making it. Thanks for the nice read this morning,

Shelina said...

Another excellent post!

The thing that irks me the most is when things like this turn out to be someone with a mental illness, because rather than raising attention to a problem, like you are doing, it generally simply increases the stigma for people with mental illness. And with the stigma, fewer people are willing to get the help they need.

This kind of reaction is obviously extreme. But there are so many people who suffer from mental illness, quietly, alone, not getting the help they need, because the others around them say they should develop better willpower, or just stop feeling or acting that way.

Most mental illnesses are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. For chemical imbalances anywhere else, we will get help, but if it is in the brain, we think we can just will ourselves out of it.

Finn said...

Hi Michele, a very thought provoking post today. And a good one. Definitely, "let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me"...hope for a nation, even while hopelessness gains more and more ground.
We don't have to have everything, but we should be able to have our dreams, and work to realize them. Rather than too many marching to the wrong drummer, it seems there in no drummer or marching at all lately.
I've spent parts of this past year, and winter dealing with depression due to overwhelming stress. Before that I might have been on of the less sympathetic ones, who thought we 'ought to muscle through, pick up your big girl bloomers and get on with it'. When I found myself less and less able to 'cope' with small daily things, I knew I was over my head and went to my dr. And I'm so very happy I did. With counceling and medication I've found strength to stand on my own two feet again, and state my claim and purpose and my limits as a parent.
It's going to take a lot of time and prayers, etc to bring those affected by the VT incident to even begin to feel whole again. I'm keeping them in my prayers. Hugs for you, Finn

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Great post, as always. I hadn't thought about depression spikes in the spring, but had always heard of spikes during the holidays. Your block is lovely and represents hope and love.