Daily Archives: July 25, 2015

Dark Roast

Red, Black and Purple have been my favorite colors for most of my life. When I was a kid, I primarily wore black clothes, much to the chagrin of my stepmother who was constantly asking me to wear more colors. I finally came around to wearing red in late middle school. And due to some […]

Dark Roast

Red, Black and Purple have been my favorite colors for most of my life. When I was a kid, I...

The post Dark Roast appeared first on Pretending to be What We Are.

Blueprints

I hear a lot of people talking about living life off of the established plan. Or I hear them complain...

Blueprints

I hear a lot of people talking about living life off of the established plan. Or I hear them complain...

The post Blueprints appeared first on Pretending to be What We Are.

Multicultural Mental Health Facts

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Culture, race, gender, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation are all factors that can influence mental health. Today we highlight recent information about our diverse communities and what Californians can do to help.

A recent UCLA study on low-income African-American and Latino U.S. residents shows that these communities are disproportionately affected by mental health issues due to various environmental stresses. These challenges include experiences of discrimination due to racial, ethnic, gender or sexual orientation, history of sexual abuse, history of violence in the community and more. Moreover, many members of diverse communities may feel heightened stigma associated with a mental health challenge and are therefore unwilling to reach out and get the help they need.

To raise awareness, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) created the Multicultural Mental Health infographic below on mental health challenges across diverse communities, the various critical issues they face and ways to get help. Visit NAMI for more information.

via Multicultural Mental Health Facts and Info – Each Mind Matters – California’s Mental Health Movement.

Multicultural Mental Health. Does mental health matter? Mental health directly and indirectly impacts all of us. 1 in every 5 adults in the U.S. experiences a mental health condition. 1 in every 5 children ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental health condition. Mental health is part of overall health. Mental health conditions cause changes in thoughts, feelings and mood. Mental health conditions can affect many areas of your life including: home, work, school, relationships with others, sleep, appetite, decision making and may worsen other medical problems. Does mental health affect my community? Culture, race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation influence mental health care rates, attitudes, access and treatment. Percentage of adults with mental health conditions by race (2012): Hispanic 16.3%, White 19.3%, Black 18.6%, Asian 13.9%, Native American/Alaska Native 28.3%. At 28.3%, Native Americans & Native Alaskans have the highest rate of mental health conditions among all communities. Percentage of adults with mental health conditions by age: 21.2% ages 18-25, 19.6% ages 26-49, 15.8% ages 50+. Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual & Questioning (LGTBQ) youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth. LGTBQ individuals are 2 or more times more likely as straight individuals to have a mental health condition. What critical issues do multicultural communities face? Less access to treatment. Less likely to receive treatment. Poorer quality of care. Higher levels of stigma. Culturally insensitive health care system. Racism, bias, homophobia or discrimination in treatment settings. Language barriers. Lower rates of health insurance. Mental health service use by race (2008-2012): White Male 11.3%, White Female 21.5%, Black Male 6.6%, Black Female 10.3%, Native American & Native Alaskan Male 16.3%, Native American & Native Alaskan Female 15.1%, Asian Male 4.4%, Asian Female 5.3%, Hispanic Male 5.5%, Hispanic Female 9.2%. Disparities in care: Provider bias and lack of cultural sensitivity result in misdiagnosis and/or people dropping out of care. 11% of transgender individuals reported being denied care by mental health clinics due to bias or discrimination. Signs Someone May Need Help: Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than 2 weeks (e.g., crying regularly, feelings fatigued, feeling unmotivated). Trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so. Out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors that can cause harm to self or others. Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart, physical discomfort or fast breathing. Sudden or unexplained physical aches and pains such as headaches or backaches. Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships. Repeated use of drugs or alcohol. Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping or eating habits (e.g., waking up early, not eating or eating too much or throwing up). Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that can lead to failure in school or problems at work. Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities like hanging out with friends or going to classes or work. Is there hope? Recovery is possible. People with mental health conditions can recover and live full and successful lives. Cultural competence in service delivery can greatly increase access and quality for diverse communities. Ways to get help: Talk to your doctor. Get a referral to a mental health specialist. Work together to make a plan. Connect with others. Learn more about mental health. Ask how your culture will be integrated in your treatment. Visit www.nami.org/multicultural. Follow us! Facebook.com/officialNAMI  Twitter.com/NAMIcommunicate  NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness www.nami.org


Filed under: About Mental Health, Discrimination, Mental Health Advocacy, Mental Illness Tagged: #minoritymentalhealth, Each Mind Matters, Minority Mental Health, Multicultural Mental Health

And Then There Was @KittOMalley @Robrt_M_Goldste & @_thenewsexy

Kitt O'Malley:

Ericka Arthur aka authenticitee aka e wrote this beautiful prayer poem to me (who lives with bipolar disorder), Robert Goldstein (who lives with dissociative identity disorder), and Julia aka sexyschizo (who lives with schizoaffective disorder). Thank you, e.

Originally posted on authenticitee:

And Then There Was @KittOMalley @Robrt_M_Goldste & @_thenewsexy

When I close my eyes and pray

I see their names and faces

Not labels, stigma or diagnoses

But their stories of life’s races

If I were to pass them in the street

They wouldn’t even know me

Feels like I know them just the same

They’re incredible souls

Who were brave enough

To shed insight to their pain

~~~~~•~~~~~~~~~~•~~~~~

They have taught me things I did not know

Things others would pretend to be aware of

Things like how the weather can affect Kitt

whose been diagnosed as Bipolar

I knew that rain could cause stiffness in joints

But now know seasons changing can make despair hover

~~~~~•~~~~~~~~~~•~~~~~

Then there’s Robert

an artist and my new cyberbuddy who taught me about Dissociative Identity Disorder

He too shares and gives and pours

Out to others though life tries to intermittently dehydrate his…

View original 360 more words


Filed under: About Mental Health, Gratitude, Poetry Tagged: DID, dissociative identity disorder, Ericka Arthur, prayer, Robert Goldstein, Schizoaffective disorder, sexyschizo

After The Hypomania

I am the walking dead today after a couple of days flying high due to a couple of missed Lamictal. Yay. Back to what has been my norm for month after month now. Nervous yet lethargic. Grumpy, snappy, irritable. Not to mention the humidity is smothering and when I sweat, I break out more, as I am allergic to my own frigging sweat. Happy fracking Saturday.

This is the cruelest part of bipolar. You feel good or at least stable for a couple of days and then the splat comes and it never ceases to suck. What’s worse than feeling depressed all the time? Getting a glimpse of what it’d be like to be in a normal frame of mind and then being dumped back into the abyss. That’s sadistic. Everyone wonders why I have this pessimistic “icky” attitude toward happiness or even the notion of it. THIS. This is why. Because while others go through life fairly happy and some with mental issues get stable or better so they can spew the sunshine and puppies…I get fleeting glimpses of this. I am resentful as hell, not toward those who are happy, but toward the fact that I never get to be in that space for very long. I WANT TO BE. Maybe happy isn’t in my skillset but content and upbeat-ish wouldn’t be rejected.

I’d rather not know happiness at all. You don’t miss what you’ve never known.

During the hypomanic bout, I felt like things were looking up. I was all hell bent on hitting a few yard sales today, if for no other reason than to say, “Look, I’m getting it out and doing normal things. I’m still not cured, but I’m doing what you professional fucks expect!” That’s become my modus operandi as of late. Forcing myself through things just so I can’t be accused of not trying hard enough. While hypomanic it felt almost like I wanted to do it.

Come today, hypomania has left the building, and I don’t want to do a fucking thing. I mean, I forced myself out the door, Spook and I hit three yard sales, couldn’t afford more than a few quarter items. But then the smothering humidity, the traffic, and just being irritated (for what reason, I dunno) it was like, last call. Go home. During the hypomania I had all these plans for the weekend. Do an overhaul on the spawn’s messy room. I was gonna be productive. I was gonna feel good.

This just in: I’m a fucking moron. The instant the mood stabilizer went back in the cocktail, the feel good went away. Maybe that doesn’t speak well of mood stabilizers. But as good as hypomania feels…I’ve gotten myself into some huge messes because of feeling too good and having impaired judgment and no concept of consequences. So it’s the price to pay to avoid that mess. Downside…If the anti depressant’s not doing its job, I’m not in the middle, I’m just controlled depressed.

Suckage.

Woke up to a note taped to my door. Everyone in the trailer park had one. It was this long list of “rules” of our leases. Far as I can tell, my only infractions are having too many cats (hey, if people can have four pit bulls, I’m keeping my damned cats who stay inside and hurt no one.) and I don’t have lids on my trash cans. I’m a goddamned menace to society. I was especially fond of the part “two reports to the office of infractions will result in an eviction notice.” Hmm…Yep, that’s about right. Too many cats, you’re out. Run a meth lab, meh, can’t be arsed. The part about “supervising your kids” was a winner, though. They let them run feral all summer.

Needless to say, that set off my panxiety. Because I’ve had so much experience with little things getting demonized while the major things go unchanged. Smack your kid in the face? Meh. Kid isn’t bathed? OMG, the abuse…I’ve seen it happen, it’s not affectation or drama or pessimism. I told my mother the other day that parenting in this day and age is terrifying. The shit we got away with when I was a kid and no one thought twice would be considered neglect and abuse today. I never considered myself neglected or abused, I just didn’t have strict parents. (Plus, they were gone at work all the time so I was technically in charge of myself from an early age.) I’m scared to let my kid play out in the yard if I’m not out there. But because of sunlight and allergies, outside is a nightmare for me. It’s a catch 22. Kids need freedom, to an extent, as much as they need boundaries. I haven’t even taught her to ride a bike because I can’t let her ride it anywhere unless I’m with her. I’m not doing so great with that normal mom thing.

I’m back to gnashing my teeth, yay. I can’t see how that’d suddenly become a side effect of Lamictal after four years. Meds are weird, I guess. I think at this point, I am just gonna give myself permission to do absolutely nothing. Maybe if I let myself breathe…I will find motivation. That’s how I roll. Putting a gun to my head does no good. It’s counter productive because my inner rebel shouts out a big FUCK YOU.

Oh, well, I had a couple of decent enough days. Such is life with bipolar. Hollywood, as well as mental healthcare professionals, play up the extremes of bipolar. They don’t seem to give much credence to the day to day where moods ebb and flow. No, they’ve renamed that borderline. I say bullshit. Maybe because I protest so much, it’s proof I am just a defective personality.

Thing is…I don’t care anymore. I used to do the meds and therapy to make myself more tolerable for others since they insisted I had a problem and it was all I’d ever known so I didn’t really consider it anything but, well, who I was.

Now…The things I do, I do for me. So I can be a better mom, a  better person. Not because others expect it. Things are much easier when you do it for yourself. I have my quirks. I have my dysfunctions. Is it a disorder or has the past just left fingerprints on my soul?

Psychiatric care doesn’t factor in anything spiritual, that’d just be another disorder.

And my inner rebel says….

Bite me.


Mindfulness: Useful or a crock?

As many of you know I have been going through an out-patient therapy program at a local mental health institution in Montreal. Monday’s and Friday’s consist of group therapy sessions that are heavy and loaded with emotion. We go around a circle and talk about our week, set therapeutic goals, and generally talk about what […]

help I’m all outa link puns!

Although I’ve begun to dump links by category in separate posts, I’ve decided to keep a general one too. Firstly, I think today’s links do belong together and secondly, if I don’t do it, I’m going to end up doing some purely depressing linkdumps. While I believe that we have to be as aware of the good as the bad, I think mixing it up is a good solution.

Onwards!

🚶📝

“I have just been released from the women’s mental hospital and I am looking to lose myself again in the madness of the city. It’s a cool October evening in 2010. There is a basement show happening tonight. I am prepared, externally anyway. I have on a nice outfit and I’m wearing a pair of Vans. The malleable canvas and thick soles make enough of the right kind of friction for treading the uneven, gravelly terrain of the Allston basements that I frequent. It’s all akin to standing up while riding the B Line as the streetcar writhes along Commonwealth Avenue. Make like you’re on a skateboard and riding the waves of movement is easy. Surf the pulse and stay afloat. This is necessary in any underground but especially for me. Going underground too often can mean certain death.” how to surf the pulse

“The skin in the crook of his right arm is thick with red scarring from the thousand-odd blood tests. Once a nurse nicked a nerve while drawing blood and he couldn’t use his arm for a full year. He has routinely suffered the common side effects of diarrhea, headaches and body rashes. He’s lived off bland food and shared a room full of bunk beds for months at a time with total strangers. He’s been told when and where to urinate, when and what to eat, to avoid exercise. It all goes with the territory, he says.” just another lab rat

“We’ve all done it: “Met” someone on a social media site who sparked our romantic interest. You both posted on the same wall or liked the same posting and then caught each other’s eye. Sometimes these connections are diversions, and sometimes they’re something meaningful. But when social media relationships move from online “likes” into actual like, maybe we all get a little crazy. A little stalker-y. And a little bit trigger-y with the bipolar disorder. ” social media relationships & the way my bipolar is set up

“Sarah, a 32-year-old retail worker, says before being diagnosed with manic depression a few years ago, her hypersexuality showed no sign of slowing down. She says, ‘Hypersexuality was definitely the worst part of my manic episodes. I wore a shroud of guilt for years as I felt that having it spoke volumes about me as a person.’ “things you only know if you’re hypersexual

“I have called the illness ‘el Diablo’ because half of one’s mind is under his control. From the moment of waking in the morning he is there, and never leaves you throughout the day. He keeps your mind pumping continuous negative thoughts throughout the day. You wish night-time to come, so that sleep will bring peace of mind. But ironically is it not as fulfilling as one may wish, for when one takes that sleeping pill to make it happen, el Diablo with a broad grin utters the words: “Sleep will come and go in a blink of an eye, and you will have to face a dreadful day filled with anguish and anxiety just like today”.” el diablo, the devil within

🆘⚠

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in the USA. Yes it’s almost over, but it’s also all still relevant and important.

Click to view slideshow.

“Culture, race, gender, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation are all factors that can influence mental health.” source

“On July 12 of this year, Denver police shot and killed Paul Castaway, a mentally ill Lakota Sioux man. His case raises awareness of two issues that are flying under the radar in the ongoing national conversation about police shootings: Over half of fatal shootings involve mentally ill people, and Native Americans are statistically more at risk of dying in police shootings than other racial groups. Castaway’s traumatic and horrific death is riveting his Denver community, and his last words are a haunting indictment of law enforcement in the United States: “What’s wrong with you guys?” Police Shoot and Kill Mentally Ill Native American Man

“Satcher said it was vital to change a cultural perception among black men that having an issue with mental health is a sign of weakness or a lack of masculinity — or even a failure of spiritual faith.” African-American men must be engaged on mental illness

Click to view slideshow.

“Cruz, who is 31, said his mental break occurred 12 years ago, while he was in solitary confinement. He was incarcerated at Rikers in 2002, when he was 18 years old, on a first degree manslaughter charge. He was a Blood at the time, and he said the killing was done in self-defense. A few months later, Cruz was put in solitary.” How racist is solitary confinement?

🌏💫

(to quote Mr Bowie, this is not America)

This is a thing I rant about often; the rant usually contains things like, “fuck the UN,” and “read Romeo Dallaire’s book asap.” if you go forth and fuck the UN, please use a rhinoceros hide strength condom. I’m serious about the book. If you’re the visual type, watch ‘Hotel Rwanda’. *drops mic and climbs off soapbox)

Rates of mental illness in Rwanda are significantly higher than other countries. This is largely attributed to the trauma many suffered during the 1994 genocide, which left nearly one million dead and a country full of people deeply affected emotionally. Tourists fight the stigma surrounding mental illness in Rwanda.

*picks up mic and climbs on soapbox* Unfortunately I can almost guarantee this very well intentioned initiative will not work.

“I’m a Tara outpatient. They stock the most generic, or cheapest, of each med. In the past four months they have not had stock of Aropax, a very common antidepressant, twice, and the pharmacists have absolutely no knowledge or sympathy in dealing with this. They simply reply, ‘Get your doctor to put you onto another med.’ I might as well go on to Disprin for all the good that would do… It’s taken 15 years of trial and error of trying me on every medication under the sun to find the medication that works for me. It is not simply a question of taking another antidepressant. And the problem is exacerbated when I, who cannot afford private pharmacy rates for my medication – this would be over R1,000, whereas Tara charges me R35.” Psychiatry in distress: How far has South Africa progressed in supporting mental health?

“At least half of the world’s population live in countries where there is less than one psychiatrist for every 100 000 people, according to the world organisation’s latest mental health report released this week.” South Africa – Are we failing SA’s mentally ill?

“The burden of disease is increasing every moment and the globalised world has killed empathy. Every human being is burdened and therefore the abandonment is not intentional but due to helplessness,” said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty, adding that the story is pretty similar in the West too.” India – hospital ward plays mind games to reunite families

“… anyone who goes to their GP with symptoms of depression and has also experienced lack of control of their mood or behaviours for four days in a row or more should be referred for specialist mental health assessment.” UK – New guidance for NHS doctors over referrals in suspected bipolar cases

It’ll take them six months to get assessed by a social worker and another six to see a psychiatrist, mark my miserable words.

“Warily, my May 13 column said: “Historically, when we speak/think of disability, issues such as wheelchairs, paraplegia, blindness, and so on come to mind. For a long time and still in the minds of most people there remains a perception of (and within) the disability community and it often excludes hidden/invisible disabilities.” Trinidad and Tobago – Discourse still ignores mental disabilities

“Reducing mental illness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be the focus of high level talks between government, mental health experts and Indigenous leaders at Parliament House.” Australia – Talks to Focus on Indigenous Mental Health

“Over 75 per cent of New Zealanders would be comfortable with a new neighbour who was an ethnic minority or gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual – but only 51 per cent had the same level of comfort if the neighbour had a mental illness.” New Zealand – All Black takes up mental health fight

Props to the NZ Herald, they’re in my mental health alerts almost every week.

📰📻

“We are proposing to make mandatory at least one thorough psychological assessment for each pilot,” EASA chief Patrick Ky said in an interview after the new requirements were published. “Currently there is no mandatory psychological assessment at all, though a number of airlines already do it.” Europe to vet pilots for mental illness after Germanwings tragedy

Not having psychological assessments in place is beyond stupid, they’ve always had physical ones after all.

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ℹ💻

More commentary about ALPIM, and it’s so good to see this on a site that isn’t a mental illness one. It’s half past overdue for mental and physical illnesses to be perceived as discrete.
“When mental and physical illnesses occur together, patients’ subjective accounts of physical symptoms they’re experiencing are sometimes arbitrarily discredited or dismissed by physicians, even though the relationship between mental and physical health is well established and documented.” New Study Clarifies Relationship between Anxiety and Physical Disorders
Your physical and mental health are considered equally important under state and federal law. It’s called “mental health parity.”  Insurers haven’t always complied. State lawmakers’ recent actions intend to take hurdles from insurance out of the long path to recovery from addiction. New York state moves closer to equal treatment of mental and physical healthcare (audio available too)

Now that’s what I call a New York state of mind. Ba-DUM-tsss!

Click to view slideshow.

“These people (bipolar) often have great strengths; the diagnosis challenges our normal disability model.” Seasonal affective disorder – dark days can bring on SAD days

Surely everybody has great strengths and we are not weak, tyvm.

Researchers identify the source of the debilitating memory loss in people with psychosis
The suicide prevention effect of lithium: more than 20 years of evidence—a narrative review
Study finds rise in suicide among males in mental health care
Juvenile inmates have more mental health hospitalizations, study finds. Depression, substance abuse and other mental health problems account for a much larger share of hospital stays for children and teenagers in the juvenile justice system than for other hospitalized adolescents.
What’s the difference between ‘mental illness’ and ‘serious mental illness’? Terms to know
Speak up for kids (report) Of the 74.5 million children in the United States, an estimated 17.1 million have or have had a psychiatric disorder1 — more than the number of children with cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined.2 Half of all psychiatric illness occurs before the age of 14, and 75 percent by the age of 24. In spite of the magnitude of the problem, lack of awareness and entrenched stigma keep the majority of these young people from getting help.3 Children and adolescents with psychiatric illness are at risk for academic failure, substance abuse, and a clash with the juvenile justice system — all of which come at a tremendous cost to them, their families, and the community.
Bipolar Boundaries: a Geography Lesson “Bipolar disorder indeed crosses borders — but not uniformly or without cultural variation. Bipolar spectrum also differs in degree from country to country. The United States has the highest lifetime rate of 4.4% and India the lowest, with 0.1%”

👄 📃

Did the Irish Famine trigger mental illness in future generations of Irish?
27 ways to be an ally to someone who has a mental illness.
Madness made them great – Steve Jobs, Henry Heinz, Estee Lauder.
‘Scary’ ghost asylum tours contribute stigma against mental health patients, says charity.
white supremacy, mental illness or society – what’s to blame for religious violence“What gets lost among all this talk of society, ideology, and psychology is the role of individual responsibility. Again and again, our blame renders the perpetrator irrelevant—the object of some larger force rather than a selfish individual maximizing his own desires.”

Excuse me while I indulge in a little light secular violence.

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👎❎

The only way is ethics: The difficult business of reporting suicide.

kay-redfield-jamison-quotes-3

Rest in Peace, we won’t forget you.

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“A source close to the family said Mayer was bipolar and schizophrenic, having been in and out of mental institutions for years. “She changed her personalities almost as often as she changed socks,’’ the woman said. A friend and fellow ex-Hasid, Srully Stein, 23, said Mayer also was “brilliant . . . a genius.’’ She was working on an app to help former Hasids like herself in New York City, friends said.” Parents shunned jumper for leaving Hasidic Judaism
“Little about this cheerful online persona pointed to the demons of bipolar disorder that would drive Mayer to committing suicide suddenly and dramatically by running, leaping and plunging to her death from a trendy Manhattan rooftop bar 20 stories off the ground. Is Orthodox World Really To Blame for Faigy Mayer’s Suicide?

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“In the weeks after Natalie’s death, the outpouring of sympathy and grief from legions of people who have fought demons have made me keenly aware that the pain I feel from her loss is but a drop in the ocean of pain created by untreated mental illness. Wrote one woman, “I have bipolar disorder and can’t even begin to tell you how many people over the years have said to me, ‘Be glad that is all you have.’ ‘It could be worse, you could have cancer or some other terminal illness. . . . ‘ It saddens me that so many people do not realise that mental illness, while treatable, is not a curable disease, and can lead to death.” Psychosis, ‘demons’ and my beautiful daughter: A parent’s account of daughter’s devastating psychotic break

4975_Schizophrenia_Infographic-1

What Makes a Shooter Do It?

I RETURNED to my office in Hartford late one afternoon to find a future mass murderer sitting in my chair.

The visitor, Matthew Beck, was not yet a killer. He was a mentally ill accountant from the Connecticut Lottery telling tales of corruption at his office. He had pulled up a seat — mine — at the newspaper where I worked for an interview with one of my colleagues, who expressed relief afterward that the intense Mr. Beck did not have a gun.

Mr. Beck, however, did have guns. And a few months later, he brought one to work and fatally shot four top lottery officials before killing himself. The mass shooting, in March 1998, was the second worst in Connecticut until three years ago, when Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where my wife had once applied for a job.

I thought of both of these incidents in recent weeks as horrific shootings shattered communities in Charleston, S.C., and Chattanooga, Tenn. On Thursday, there was yet another shooting, this one in a Lafayette, La., movie theater by a gunman with a history of mental instability who left a trail of angry Internet postings. A familiar, achingly unsatisfying search was underway for answers to an old question: What causes someone to take innocent lives? The usual suspects were lined up: mental illness, twisted ideologies, substance abuse, a culture awash in guns.

This vexing issue was what my fellow Times journalist Michael Luo and I spent a year examining following the Sandy Hook massacre. After reviewing more than 1,000 court cases and forensic reports, conducting countless interviews and producing seven stories, we were certain of one thing: It was far too easy for firearms to fall into the wrong hands.

But the motivations behind the actions of those hands often remain maddeningly opaque. How did Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old high school dropout who drank and did drugs, come to immerse himself in white supremacism and end up accused of gunning down nine African-Americans at a Charleston church? In Chattanooga, why did Mohammod Abdulazeez, 24, a college graduate struggling with depression and drug abuse, gravitate to radical Islam and fatally shoot five servicemen?

Mark Potok, who has spent decades researching hate groups and their followers for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said many shooters turned out to be “people who are looking for something larger than their own small lives, to be seen as a hero standing up for a cause.” Suspects like Mr. Roof go on the Internet and discover groups that validate their feelings and offer a sense of belonging, he said.

“It was once viewed as very unlikely that a person could be radicalized solely through a computer screen, but something has changed,” Mr. Potok said. “Today, the Internet really is the language of young people like Dylann Roof.”

As for Mr. Abdulazeez, he appears to have researched Islamic martyrdom on the web, although it was not clear he ever directly communicated with anyone espousing terrorism. The specter of self-radicalized “lone wolf” killers in the age of the Internet has added a frightening dimension to the 21st century variant of the mass shooter.

The widespread availability and glorification of firearms also cannot be overlooked as an important ingredient in this toxic mix, said Brad Bushman, a psychology professor at Ohio State University who served on a White House task force on gun violence after the Sandy Hook shooting. Numerous studies have shown that the mere presence of a weapon can make people more aggressive.

“I think guns are great equalizers, especially for people with limited voice, people on the fringes of society who may be rejected by peers or are trying to make themselves feel more accepted,” Mr. Bushman said. “Guns make people feel more powerful.”

For all their differences in motives and targets, mass shooters fall along a continuum of violence that is unnerving in its steady forward march. An F.B.I study found that between 2007 and 2013, there were an average of 16.4 such shootings a year, compared with 6.4 from 2000 to 2006. It is hard not to feel a growing sense of foreboding and futility, that we cannot escape their recurrence. Each new case delivers not just a blow to our collective conscience, but a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God moment.

One result of the Connecticut Lottery killings was a state law enabling the police to more easily seize firearms from people deemed to be a threat. The court records of these cases form a catalog of near misses and hint at the pervasiveness of firearms among all social strata.

There was the 24-year-old man found sitting in his car outside an ex-girlfriend’s place, crying and holding a gun on his lap. After disarming the man and getting him to a hospital, police officers entered his home and discovered seven high-powered rifles, a gas mask, knives and a backpack filled with 1,000 rounds of ammunition and survival gear.

A 27-year-old insurance company employee with bipolar disorder was found walking around with a gun in his pocket and six more stashed in his house, after a concerned relative reported that he was behaving strangely. Then there was the paranoid schizophrenic, 55, who had 18 guns taken away after he threatened to kill his mother and a nurse. When I interviewed him at his trailer near some railroad tracks in 2013, he told me how important his firearms were to him, showed me his empty gun safe and said he intended to refill it.

Indeed, one is struck by the nexus of mental instability, substance abuse and easy access to firearms. A regulatory loophole and bureaucratic bungling allowed Mr. Roof to buy a handgun despite a drug arrest that should have prevented it. Mr. Lanza, a deeply disturbed loner fascinated by mass killings, lived with his mother, who legally owned a small arsenal. And Mr. Beck was able to keep a pistol permit, even though he had been hospitalized twice for depression.

But, of course, most people with mental health problems are not violent, let alone prone to mass murder. What makes someone seek solace in a spasm of bloodshed is perhaps unknowable. That sense of mystery was captured in a letter released publicly by Mr. Beck’s parents after his killing rampage. In it, Donald and Priscilla Beck lamented that despite “the love and help from friends and family and the treatment, counseling and medications from his doctors, he chose the wrong path.”

“We love you Matt,” they wrote. “But why?”