Blog Post First Started as an Open Letter to Steven Van Zandt About School Shootings
Here is my take on take on school shootings in general. Something has to be done. There are just too many school shootings happening! This blog post will tell you my “survival” story. How I could have been a school shooter, and what really saved me. I’m from Finland, my English is not perfect. Catalyst to write my story (blog post later expanded into a book) came from this tweet:
Stevie Van Zandt (from Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band) wrote this tweet after the Florida school shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018:
Dear Mr. Steven Van Zandt | February 20, 2018
I try not to rant. But sometimes it can be hard. I though about 4 days should I write this blog post or not. I hope you got the time to read what I got to say.
Recipe of a School Shooter
In many cases behind the school shootings, the shooter had been heavily bullied. Does it justify the things he had done? No! Should guns be banned? Yes! Does the mental illness card played too often? In some cases, yes. With this case? No. The shooter was beyond mentally ill.
I don’t believe in politics. I believe in common sense. There is never a common sense party in politics. With politics you can’t support all the things you like. You’ll choose the side your political party believes in. It’s not always the subject(s) you’ll believe in. They’ll go forward anyway.
I can tell you something about getting bullied. I think I have enough experience from the subject. You can decide later on, if something like this can turn someone mentally ill and/or a school shooter.
If you are heavily bullied like I was. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose anymore. You will fantasize killing all of the bullies. That’s what many people who have been bullied have done. I did that so many times when I was a teenager. On the darkest days, I’m sure with easy access of guns, I could have been a school shooter. Me, one of the nicest and calmest person you’ll get to meet (that’s how people describe me). I don’t like the word bullying. It doesn’t describe the hell you have gone through. I call it a torture, a worst kind of violence. It’s both psychical and a physical violence at it’s worse. In adult world it would been criminalized.
Let’s dig deeper. I don’t like to remember my high school days, but here is the daily stuff I had to deal with:
I’ll walk you with my typical high school day:
1. You’ll wake up, you can’t eat anything, because you’ll feel sick in your stomach soon as you wake up. You don’t want to got to school. It’s the last place on the planet you’ll want to go.
2. You’ll check your school schedule. Not to check what school subjects you’ll have. You’ll make a survival plan based on the school schedule. Which door is safe to use, which way to go after each class. How to get the home the fastest route.
3. You’ll go to school and the bullies are there waiting for your everyday on the way to school or at school.
4. You’ll get verbally or physically attacked on every single place you’ll go outside of your class room. I did get bullied inside the class room too, but it was was much milder. Classroom would win every time, if I’d got to choose, even that I rarely finished my homework. Take the yells from teachers, or bullies. Choice was easy.
5. You can’t go to school cafeteria to eat your free daily school meal, because the bullies are there waiting. (I tried once. I got kicked in the nuts so bad, I got gasping for air for 5 minutes) I rather stayed hungry. I was a skinny kid.
6. In gym class, you hoped there won’t be any teams sports. People would kick you to legs, if we “played” soccer, or hit you with a stick on ice hockey and floorball. Not because you were good, only because it was you.
7. When you somehow survived the 7 hours there. It was time to go home. Oh, yes. If you wasn’t the fasted kid leaving the place they would be bully your way home too.
There was no “free time”, there was this time when you weren’t at school. For me those three years was a dark period. But sometimes I wanted to go out. How crazy is that? For example in the winter time. You’ll decided to go play ice hockey with few of your friends you’d have left. Of course the bullies were there also playing hockey. Option would be go home, and stay home. Or you can stay with your friends and play some hockey. It’s always fun to play when the opposite team thinks that you are a chopping wood, that can be hit like a lumberjack. They think you do not feel a thing, because you are public domain. I remember the endless bruises that would heal slowly. Stress makes your body heal slower. I was on a constant stress.
Some extra stuff to deal with
– At winter you hope it doesn’t snow, because you will face a rain of snowballs. You know they “could throw that speedball by you”.
– You can’t ask anyone out, because you don’t want to drag anyone to that hell.
– You can’t tell anyone that you’ll get bullied (no one encourage you to do that), when you have over 30, 40? bullies. I have no idea. Sometimes it felt like it was half the school. There’s not a single person who can stop it. I lived in small town, and only way I could be saved would have been a witness protection program in a different country.
– Once the front wheel of my bicycle got loosen, so it would have fallen off while cycling to home. I found it out just by a pure luck, when I was leaving the school. I had one of those 6th sense moments. There was this huge downhill on the way home. I was lucky.
– It’s always nice to notice that windows of your house had been thrown with eggs.
…and many other things I don’t want to go and remember. I’m sure you’ll get the idea.
Think all the above. How to save your sanity? That was my life for 3 years on every single school day. I had no freetime. If that would be your typical work day? Or you tour life? What would you end up doing? You can leave your job, but if you are underage kid, you’ll have to go to school.
Bullied Person Is a Menace to Society
How does it feel that the bullied person gets tagged by the feds, but no one cares about the bullies? There are people working to prevent these kind of things, and the citizens hope, that someone will jump in the line of fire, and magically prevent this stuff from happening. Cutting of the bad branches. That’s the wrong way to do it. It’s a narrow minded view. It’s the root of the problem that needs to be solved. Banning guns is part of the solution (although it should done soon as possible), but it won’t end bullying. Nor does chasing the bullied people.
Bullied person has to change too school to stay in peace, bullies can do what they want. In modern times you’d rather say that you sell drugs, or rob banks, than saying that you are depressed. Is that the world you want to live in?
How My High School Story Ended
I survived (not completely from those days). For me the pressure valve was music. That’s what I used as a self therapy. I was a broken vase that needed to be fixed. Even after the “fix”, the cracks will remain. And some pieces missing. I can never be completely fixed. I will be broken the rest of my life. When I admitted that to myself. It fixed up many of the pieces. Florida shooter is beyond fixing. The real person died years ago.
My home was a safe haven. There are kids that are living in fear in their home and in their school. They can also suffer from bullying from a much longer time. Those are the years that will shape you the most. As adult you can change work, school, job, house… as a kid your options are limited. As adult you also have more tools to deal with this type of things.
High Suicide Rate
In Finland we have a high suicide rate among young men. Those are the ones that are often down and out of the society. I don’t know what is the perfect English word (Left out?). Luckily we have a very strict gun laws (compared to US). Otherwise we’d see an endless count of school shootings. I’m sure there are plenty of time-bombs ticking in the USA. There has been total of three school shootings in Finland (and one bombing), and each time the killer had been badly bullied. One of the shootings was in the same county. About 10 miles where I lived. It was a huge hit to our community.
I also know that the depression can kill you. My best friend walked under a train 1½ years ago. He was my cousin, brother from another mother. He had a severe depression. Not a day goes by, without thinking about him, and wondering if I could have done something to help.
Did you know that depression is a mental disorder? Your buddy Bruce Springsteen is mentally ill. It’s not a nice term. We can argue about the correct term. It’s much more stronger term and word than “bullying”, but there are no alternatives. I haven’t seen any rock concerts for anti-bullying, or support for those that are mentally ill. It’s not fashionable. Do you know what bullies often of are? Narcissists and/or psychopaths. Those are the types of people who are often in high places. Sometimes leading their country. I’ve seen plenty of anti-rallies against them, but that’s not the root of the problem. It all starts from grass root level.
World shouldn’t be the survival of the fittest. We all start from a different point. We should help each other along the way.
I surely hope you are not one of those, who think people should grow a tougher skin, and depressed people should, “just snap out of it”.
Oskari (Badlands blog)
Blog post updated: November 10, 2018
Now Available as a Book!
Inspired by this blog post. I wrote a book. It goes much more in-depth than this blog post! And best of all: The book has also been proofread. My blog is not, as English is not my native language and I can’t afford to hire a proofreader to each blog post I make. Book will open up the topic a whole lotta more, and goes much deeper to my personal life. It’s also affordable by everyone.
Book will give an answers to this:
Bullying -> Mental Illness -> Guns -> School Shooting
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Badlands admin is a huge Bruce Springsteen (obviously) and a music fan from Finland.. Avid coffee drinker. Every blog post requires plenty of coffee. What else…Oh. I wrote a book called “How Bruce Springsteen’s Music Saved My Life: The Story of a Bullied Boy“. It’s available on major eBook stores like Amazon Kindle, Google Play, iTunes…