Coming Out Alien

When Eric Le Clown of A Clown On Fire asked me to write something for his mental health oriented blog, Rx Black Box Warnings, I knew what I had to do. I had to Come Out. I’ve come out Bipolar to everyone who Needs To Know. I’ve come out Bisexual to everyone to Needs To Know. But I never felt a need to reveal my Alien Self, until this last bout of random mayhem where a “weird boy” shot up a school and killed innocent babies, and suddenly he’s not just “weird,” he’s “mentally ill;” and the press is going wild with speculation regarding what brand of “mental illness” he has, or rather had, because he is no longer alive. Dean Obeidallah, “a former attorney,” commented on CNN’s website:

[ L]et’s show some anger about the fact that almost 10,000 Americans died in gun violence last year and still Congress hasn’t passed a universal background check to ensure that criminals and mentally ill people can’t legally buy guns. (Emphasis mine.)

Criminals and mentally ill people, in the same sentence: in the same breath. For this moment, I ask you to set aside your personal stance on guns and gun ownership, and just look at the bone-chilling message: criminals and mentally ill people are juxtaposed, separated only by the article of speech “and.”

The “former attorney” was issuing a call to action, that we lay aside our outrage at trivial issues like the size of Kim Kardashian’s behind, or what faux pas Joan Rivers made this time, and turn our attention to serious matters like criminals and mentally ill people. Let us lay aside the issue of whether these two groups of people should or should not be permitted to purchase lethal weapons; let us look instead at the intrinsic meaning in juxtaposing the two in the same gasp.

What do criminals and mentally ill people already have in common?

Marginalization. Stigma. Alienation from “mainstream society.”

Who says the young man who opened fire on the movie theater was mentally ill? The media does.

Who says the young man who opened fire on the school was mentally ill? The media does.

And what did the neighbors, the school chums of both of these young men have to say about them? They were nice young men, they were shy, they were loners, maybe bullied because they were “weird.”

I want to know: is “weirdness” a mental illness? Is it in the DSM?

And what about the rest of us weirdos, who do happen to have DSM diagnoses: does that automatically put us on a level with criminals?

I find this bone-chilling. I am definitely weird, and I am definitely not a criminal; but I find that the recent flurry of feet running to limit the constitutional rights of “weird people” lessens my inclination to disclose my diagnoses to anyone who Does Not Need To Know.

And that makes me even more of an Alien: a Stranger in a Strange Land .(1)

Alien spaceship

Beam me up, Scotty, there’s no intelligent life on this planet.

Alien=Anyone who does not belong in the environment in which they are found

= stranger, unknown
~ interloper, intruder, trespasser
⇒ foreigner, outsider

1. Robert A. Heinlein borrowed his title from God, who told Abraham in the Book of Genesis that his people would be “strangers in a land not known to them.”

Leave a comment


  1. People don’t take the chance to see that some criminals are completely sane committing their crime and some don’t know what they’re doing at that moment. Sadly, they’ll never really know just how weird we all are. Or more likely refuses to acknowledge the possibilities.

    • I’m not exactly sure I understand you here, but what I think you’re saying is that they are lumping us all together under the category “mentally ill,” and they will never understand how greatly we enrich the world with our “weird” talents. Did I understand you right?

      For instance, Einstein would have been locked up because he completely turned the world of science upside down. Very dangerous, could be a criminal.

  2. Well put!!

    Also, banning guns from “criminals and mentally ill” does not stop any one, of any age, mindset, ethnicity, etc., from getting online to get recipes on how to make various explosive devices. Hmm . . . does that mean computers should also be banned from “criminals and mentally ill”??

    Personally, I’m more afraid of idiots who get on public platforms and deride others when they’ve cheated, lied and God only knows what else to get into the position of power they’re in in order to get on public platforms and deride others!!


    • Or they could go to commercial pilot training school with the intention of hijacking jumbo jets and flying them into big buildings filled with innocent people. Were those people mentally ill? I doubt it. They were just evil. Politicians and other bigmouths just don’t seem to get that there is evil in the world that has nothing to do with mental illness. As has been shown in study after study, people suffering from mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violence than they are to be perpetrators. A group of emergency physicians I worked with were also members of a SWAT team, and often came to work with their paramilitary uniforms and automatic weapons, which they stowed in their lockers during their shifts. They tried to get me to join their “sport” but I said no thank you. Now tell me, who was sane???

  3. I saw that quote, too. It chilled me to the bone. Me, dangerous? I’d split my sides laughing if it wasn’t so serious.

  4. great post. you have encouraged me to post about this as well. I was at a depression/bipolar support group last night and we discussed this the entire time. We are beginning to feel like Jews in Nazi Germany! (course being a lesbian I am also marginalized, as we all know I am just waiting to marry a farm animal…but I digress.)

    Perhaps, since most (if not all) of these gun shootings have been by boys/men (with one or two exceptions) and within a certain age range, we should pass a law that all boy/men under i.e. 35 should not be allowed to purchase a firearm. Or maybe parents should not be allowed to own guns if they have a teenager or a son under 35? That would go far to make ME feel a lot safer. Or maybe they should all be put away “just in case?”

    btw, I feel incredibly safe in the support group. I would trust those folks with my life! Way safer than I was growing up with undiagnosed people.

    • I like your idea a lot. But ooooh noooo, that would be PROFILING and profiling is baaaad. (Hmmm, wonder which farm animal I’M going to marry?)

    • Plus I can’t remember if we connected about both of us having blonde Lhasa Apsos. Did we?

  5. Stigma yes but it so easy to buy a gun. I bought one big and shinny but had a psychotic flashback,once it was over I got rid of the the gun. If one thinks of suicide one shouldn’t own a gun..

    • There are two purposes for guns–well, three, really:

      1) To kill or injure living things
      2) To protect oneself from perceived or present mortal threat
      3) To intimidate others
      4) Target shooting, for sport or marksmanship practice

      Well, I guess there were more than three. As a big hairy oaf once said when I turned him down for a date, “Crikey.”

      You were very wise to get rid of the gun. I hope it went somewhere safe….but there really are no safe places for guns, unless they’re melted down. I have one myself, a .22 caliber semi-automatic Ruger target pistol, which I used to enjoy shooting holes in paper targets with. Now for the past ten years or so it’s resided in a locked box inside another locked box, in a locked metal storage room about 10 miles from my house. I don’t think I even know where the keys are anymore, so it’s really a theoretical type of gun at this point. But I have exercised my Second Amendment right to own it, and that’s what’s important to me, besides keeping people safe from the damn things.

  6. Criminals and the mentally ill

    Blacks and thugs

    Gays and pedophiles

    M to F transgenders and bathroom panic

    Soup and sandwich


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