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Viewpoint: An open letter to Scott Walker and Paul Ryan

This viewpoint is by River Falls resident Jim Moenke.

The occasional depressions intensified in the early '80's, joined by intruding thoughts of suicide. It became impossible to pretend to my students. In the spring of 1982 I gave notice I wouldn't be back in the fall to teach.

One day in April 1983, I made a call to Lutheran Social Services in La Crosse for an appointment. The next week, I drove up from our home in Prairie du Chien and met Randy. For five years, once a week I met with him at 11 o'clock and then for "lunch with Randy" afterwards. I learned about my mental illness of the brain, bipolar disorder. There were no effective antidepressants for the depression part of the disease until "Prozac" came on the market in 1987. For the five years, Randy was my anti-depressant.

Four times during those years the depressions were severe. I was overwhelmed by thoughts of suicide. I drove to Monsoor's Gun Store in La Crosse and put down money to hold a silver 44 until the waiting period was over. There are many forms of depression and bipolar. Mine has a name, "Rapid Cycling." I was never depressed or high (manic) for more than several days. The rest of the time I was transitioning from one "pole" to the other.

There are two questions you might ask here. Why didn't I call Randy or stop in to see him? (or talk to my wife, a good friend or pastor?)

Why didn't you tough it out when you knew that in several days the depression would be gone? Good questions. Here's my response. The desire to end life, end the pain is all that is conscious. There are no thoughts about asking for help. The ability to reason, to stand back, see what you are doing does not exist. The only thought about the future is to ensure there is no future.

Today I am alive, well, happy (mostly) and bipolar. I take my meds daily. If what happened then was occurring today, I would dead.

The Gist

I would be dead because Scott Walker signed an order sometime before the 2016 election which did away with the waiting period. So today, after showing proof of age, I can walk out the door, find a safe place and end my life. Walker was not thinking about the effect his signature would have on people with mental illness because he was smiling while signing.

In my opinion he was thinking about the money he would receive from the leadership of the National Rifle Association for his campaign war chest for making it easier for people to buy guns.

The same for Ryan. He spearheaded legislation to overturn the Obama-era rule keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental illnesses - people like me. Ryan, also, looked happy the moment the ''overturn" was passed.

Like Walker, Ryan wasn't thinking of the "good" thing he was doing for people with mental illnesses. In my opinion, he was thinking of how pleased the leadership of the NRA would be with his efforts and the money that would come into his campaign war chest.

In my opinion, Walker and Ryan know little about the natures of mental illnesses. Yet they legislate, not for the benefit of people but for the benefit of the leadership of the NRA and for themselves. A direct consequence will be an increase in suicides by gunshot in the coming years.

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