Aaron Alexis:The Voices In My Head

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“Let me leave you to your own thoughts” is a phrase we often utilize when it becomes apparent that a person wishes to be left to his or her own accord. There was a time where this was thought to show a certain level of respect, as everyone is entitled to their own personal space. I will admit that at times I am a bit withdrawn from “reality” when sorting through my thoughts and when contemplating life, however, the distance between “personal space” and “social withdrawal” should be thoroughly analyzed and monitored in the reaction of that said individual when he or she is brought back into the general confines of a normal social structure. I will share a personal story on this. I worked some several years ago for a company in which I ended up having a close, personal relationship with the owner. In fact, our relationship was a rather unique one, as he would often claim that I didn’t work for him, but in fact, we worked as partners, albeit I was on his payroll. And much like all connections or bonding rituals we have with each other that form a relationship on any level, you can always get a good sense of that person’s mood or temperament, due to your consistent intermingling with one another. Their tendencies and reactions become transparent, as who they are emotionally becomes available to the naked eye much like that of their physical appearance. Low and behold, you end up knowing them just as well as you know yourself. Well, this was the case with my former boss at the time. I knew him on that level and we had become friends more so than just a coexisting work stewardship. In knowing his tendencies very well after working closely together for three plus years, my instinctive antenna was very alert to sensing when something did not seem normal. My boss was a brilliant man, in fact, there are very few people that I have met in my lifetime that were more intelligent and more creative then he was. He was unbelievably talented and witty. I am willing to wager that anyone who had a chance to get to know him, would say that he was a unique, one of a kind, individual who grabbed the reigns of life and rode it like a stallion. So, as I reflect on those “instinctive antennas” we have regarding a person, I will recall verbatim, one day in particular that would forever change my life.

It was a very busy Friday afternoon and I was concluding my work day. My boss, who could be a P.I.T.A at times (pain in the ass and I say that affectionately), came into the office and for once did not come over to be his usual, annoying self, as only he could be. He was always the last minute person, who would hold you in a conversation “right when it was time to go” or had some “last minute paperwork” that suddenly had “Priority” stamped across it. Like I said, he was a P.I.T.A. But on this day in particular something felt different. This man was about as anal retentive as you can get, which made for a perfect pairing between both he and I, because I am wired the same way. In fact, I found it interesting that as he entered the office that day, that I found myself playing the role that was customarily played by him. I needed him to sign some documents that were time sensitive, as my day was winding down and I was ready to start my weekend. When I requested his signature, he looked at me in an exhaustive manner and said very little to me. His seemingly unresponsive demeanor I found to be more annoying than his usual iron fist persona. His sudden lack of focus and intensity was throwing off our normal routine. Finally he would lethargically sign the documents and quickly escape to his office and shut the door behind him. At the time of his exodus, the phones would begin to ring more than usual. Now keep in mind, both of our offices were adjoined and separated by a single door. My boss was the annoying type who would pick-up a phone-line on the first ring because he thought you didn’t answer it quick enough (remember I said he was a P.I.T.A.). However on this day, I would end up fielding multiple calls as he sat quietly in his office. Now I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was annoyed and pissed, as a WTF did slip from under my breath, as one of the the calls I fielded was a personal one for him. I called out to him in his office “……..Phone For You!” and there was no response. I repeated again “……..Phone For You!”, this time louder. Again, no response. So of course I am ticked off now, so I go into his office and he was nowhere to be found. Once again WTF? Both of our offices were adjoined, but there was also a loft area connected to the other side of his office. So I storm into that area, expecting to find him farting around with meaningless things, only to find quite the opposite. I found him, sitting in a chair, lights turned completely down, staring off into the darkness. I had entered the room (6-ft 1-inch 250 lb. man) and he had no idea I was standing there in front of him. I abruptly called out his name to get his attention and asked him if he was ok? He said yes as I stared intensely at him. He appeared as if I had awaken him from some sort of a trance. He was mentally submerged inside of a place that only he knew about and had no plans to take anyone else there with him. He was in a dark room having what I described as a dark moment. I had never seen him like that way before. I asked him several times, before parting ways for the weekend, whether or not he was ok. He insisted he was. I would go home to my wife and voice my concern for his well being, as I feared that something was just not right. I came into work that following Monday morning, only to discover that he had checked himself into a Psych Ward for evaluation. He called to tell me that he had what he described as a “slight snafu”and that he would be working towards returning back to work in a few days. He returned back as planned, but it would be some four weeks later in which he would ultimately take his own life, by way of shotgun to his head, right outside my office while I was working. A tragic ending to what was once an inspiring life. I would learn soon after his death, that his family had a history of mental illness. #r.i.p-“ooky”

In the wake of the tragedy that is the Navy Yard shooting in Washington, it brought me back to the incident I recounted above, as the alleged shooter, Aaron Alexis, was said to have heard voices in his head and was having problems sleeping. I am not sure about the voices, but I can confirm that my boss did have issues with sleeping. Much like Aaron’s issues leading up to his alleged mass killing of 12 victims at the Navy Yard, which included illegally discharging firearms, my boss was discovered shooting his guns in the field by a next door neighbor, days before his suicide as well. The correlation between violence and mental health should be at the forefront of the gun control debate. In 2005, a report conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, concluded that over half of the incarcerated individuals in jail for violent crimes, suffer from some sort of mental disorder. What gets lost in the issue of gun control is the fact that the Second Amendment is being flashed like a badge instead of being utilized as a shield. If anyone can have a gun and we can surmise that everyone is not mentally capable of having a gun, does this not breathe air into the argument for strict gun policies to be instituted? It is the inalienable right of anyone who is age eligible and is able to pass a state required exam, to have a drivers license, up until you are caught impaired while operating a vehicle. Why not have that same evaluation standard when handing out guns? If a car can be considered a weapon, then why can’t an actual weapon not be viewed under the same pretense of what it was created to do, which is to kill? If statistics are showing us that half of our prison population are violent felons who are suffering from mental disorders, then we have failures in both our educational systems and in our federal/state systems for their allowance in letting a crack in the armor, turn into a gaping hole that is swallowing the life of both the afflicted and the victim. Solutions are never easy, however, identifying the actual problem, allows logical ideas to formulate that can lead to resolution, as long as their is no hidden agendas. “Hidden agendas”, yes, the molten lava surrounding the castle of government that will never allow real truth and real democracy to cross the bridge unless by way of Trojan Horse. Americans are led to be divisive by choosing a side of the fence to be on, however, if we can conclude that death is a permanent reminder of how precious time and life are, then why not also conclude that the taking of ones life involuntarily by way of a violent act, is a grave concern of us all and not just an agenda of those who are allegedly trying to revoke privilege? Perhaps violence has numbed our nation to point that it has chilled the chambers of our hearts. Maybe this is why we fail to preserve life, yet vehemently endorse the weapon. Perhaps “the voices in the head” are not always detectable, but in the case of Mr. Alexis, he exhibited violent tendencies and alerted those who needed to know, that he was mentally unstable. So I ask, how does he end up with any sort of weapon given his condition? Innocent lives are loss when the system fails to protect the innocent. The amazing dynamic is that many Americans will drown themselves in supposed “patriotism” while losing site to that of the humanitarian within. When games like Grand Theft Auto V earn $1 billion dollars in three days, it speaks volumes about us as a culture. When the mentally afflicted are ignored and addressed later in life by way of a state correctional facility, it means that we have truly reached a dark time in this country where nobody is ever truly safe. #change

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