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Old 12-16-2012, 08:11 PM  
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I'm Adam Lanza's mother. It’s time for a meaningful conversation about mental illness

This is all over the internet and emailed back and forth. But, maybe you have missed it and its a must read.

Written by Liza Long, republished from The Blue Review

Friday’s horrific national tragedy -- the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut -- has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

While every family's story of mental illness is different, and we may never know the whole of the Lanza's story, tales like this one need to be heard -- and families who live them deserve our help.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan -- they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.
“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

“You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.
The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork -- “Were there any difficulties with… at what age did your child… were there any problems with.. has your child ever experienced.. does your child have…”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying -- that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise -- in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill -- Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011.

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:24 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by J Diddy View Post
A huge portion of the problem is the way the resources are squandered. The second is the focus of the medical field.
This discussion is a slippery slope that could easily end up in the D.C.

The bottom line is that there is a large segment of the population that believes that once an egg has been recognized as fertilized, that child must be born, regardless of defects identified early or even mid term.

Those same people don't believe that something bad could happen from the birth of an abnormal child.

Furthermore, gene therapy has not matured to the point of correcting people born with missing chromosomes or genetic defects.
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:26 PM   #62
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The mind altering drugs not only make it worse but if misdiagnosed can cause these problems, I don't know why we can't see it.
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:27 PM   #63
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The sad things is that there is a bigger effort to protects the rights of the crazy people than protect the safety of those they put at risk.
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:28 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by KILLER_CLOWN View Post
The mind altering drugs not only make it worse but if misdiagnosed can cause these problems, I don't know why we can't see it.
Why not? Because medical science, especially psychological science, is young.

We've come a long way from the 50's and 60's time of lobotomies, although that would have been preferable in this particular case.
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:30 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by DaneMcCloud View Post
This discussion is a slippery slope that could easily end up in the D.C.

The bottom line is that there is a large segment of the population that believes that once an egg has been recognized as fertilized, that child must be born, regardless of defects identified early or even mid term.

Those same people don't believe that something bad could happen from the birth of an abnormal child.
I'm not focusing on that aspect. I'm focusing on what is in front of us. I have a child who has been diagnosed with Oppositional defiance disorder. At times it is rough but I keep moving forward looking for ways to motivate him. The resources that are available are largely nonexistent and if they are they are heavily priced with a less than stellar record. So what are the options available as traditional counseling may or may not be effective (either way delivering a heavy price tag)? I could attempt to medicate, but then there is the problem. What motivation does a company have to create a cure. The money is in the maintenance. (I'm not naive, I know some things can not be cured, however, I do believe an earnest attempt should be made to find one)
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:59 PM   #66
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Yeah, actually they are. Every sociopath, true, real, honest to god sociopaths, are monsters who should be avoided. Most are not violent, because that would be a severe roadblock to their goals. (most people don't want to go to jail, unless you have a fascination with killing people, and THAT is what makes you happy)

I'm not talking about people who have less empathy than others, or people with asperger's who are just socially awkward. I'm talking zero empathy. If you are a sociopath, then that means you view life as one great big grand game to win where every living creature and person is either an opponent or a pawn to defeat or exploit in your pursuit of whatever makes you happy, without regard to anyone's feelings. Unless making someone unhappy would make it more difficult to get what you want.
Actual sociopaths may have deeply ingrained traits that make it way easier for them to do things that hurt others, but they aren't "monsters." Monsters are not real. Generalizations like that not only hurt one's understanding of mental illness but deeply hurt the people suffering from them in their pursuit of effective treatment.

Your posts are by no means the least reasonable things that have been posted in this thread, or anything. I just think it's really important that people don't perpetuate the "monster" thing (turning treatable illnesses into a Force of Nature). Or the "every ____ is ____." The same mental illness can exhibit wildly diverse symptoms and intensity in different people.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:02 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by J Diddy View Post
I'm not focusing on that aspect. I'm focusing on what is in front of us. I have a child who has been diagnosed with Oppositional defiance disorder. At times it is rough but I keep moving forward looking for ways to motivate him. The resources that are available are largely nonexistent and if they are they are heavily priced with a less than stellar record. So what are the options available as traditional counseling may or may not be effective (either way delivering a heavy price tag)? I could attempt to medicate, but then there is the problem. What motivation does a company have to create a cure. The money is in the maintenance. (I'm not naive, I know some things can not be cured, however, I do believe an earnest attempt should be made to find one)
I'm sorry to hear that, Dude.

Best wishes.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:05 AM   #68
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Originally Posted by Ultra Peanut View Post
Actual sociopaths may have deeply ingrained traits that make it way easier for them to do things that hurt others, but they aren't "monsters." Monsters are not real. Generalizations like that not only hurt one's understanding of mental illness but deeply hurt the people suffering from them in their pursuit of effective treatment.

Your posts are by no means the least reasonable things that have been posted in this thread, or anything. I just think it's really important that people don't perpetuate the "monster" thing (turning treatable illnesses into a Force of Nature). Or the "every ____ is ____." The same mental illness can exhibit wildly diverse symptoms and intensity in different people.
It depends entirely on your perspective.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:08 AM   #69
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honestly, weed would probably help those people a lot.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:10 AM   #70
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honestly, weed would probably help those people a lot.
If you are serious provide some serious concrete evidence supporting facts. If you are not then you are coming across like a 17 year old who just smoked their first joint. The first option offers promise, the second makes me want to Ike you to my Tina.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:22 AM   #71
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It would help a lot if these kids weren't continously coddled IMO. Send this kid to a farm out in the country with parents who will give him real chores and whip his ass when he pulls that bullshit and you'd see a lot less of this type of thing.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:31 AM   #72
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It would help a lot if these kids weren't continously coddled IMO. Send this kid to a farm out in the country with parents who will give him real chores and whip his ass when he pulls that bullshit and you'd see a lot less of this type of thing.
Yeah, let's put all mentally disabled kids on a farm with heavy machinery.

Good plan.

I hope you've been neutered.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:38 AM   #73
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It would help a lot if these kids weren't continously coddled IMO. Send this kid to a farm out in the country with parents who will give him real chores and whip his ass when he pulls that bullshit and you'd see a lot less of this type of thing.
There are plenty of "coddled" children who aren't ****ed in the head.

Putting mentally disabled children out on a farm somewhere way out in the country does nothing but make it more difficult for them to get the help they need, and how the hell would parents who would whip their kid's ass encourage them to be less violent?

Maybe you should think your arguments through before going off on a generic "kids these days" rant.
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Old 12-17-2012, 04:24 AM   #74
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I thiink, if someone in my family has a mental disorder, buying a safe, or selling my guns is going on the priority list
This times a million. And if Nancy Lanza taught her son to use weapons and encouraged the hobby (as has been reported) then she really has no one to blame but herself in this...that is if she were here to see the consequences of her actions in all of this.
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Old 12-17-2012, 04:26 AM   #75
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There are plenty of "coddled" children who aren't ****ed in the head.

Putting mentally disabled children out on a farm somewhere way out in the country does nothing but make it more difficult for them to get the help they need, and how the hell would parents who would whip their kid's ass encourage them to be less violent?

Maybe you should think your arguments through before going off on a generic "kids these days" rant.
I wonder if Ms. Lanza was the Sheldon Cooper's mother prototype in that she was going to treat her son's 'uniqueness' with religion, guns, chicken fried steak, and telling him to 'man up.'


Wow, she may have been a 'survivalist' doomsdayer. Who didn't see that one coming a mile away. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-disaster.html

Guess she was so busy preparing for the bad guys outside her four walls that she forgot about the one inside of them.
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