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Old 12-16-2012, 09:11 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 12-17-2012, 01:11 PM   #151
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True. Extreme circumstances always change things. That goes back to the whole level of need thing.
You don't know if you don't go.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:19 PM   #152
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You don't know if you don't go.
I think sometimes you can know.

This guy knows:

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Old 12-17-2012, 01:19 PM   #153
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You don't know if you don't go.
We aren't talking about the types of people that can afford to go to the dentist to make sure they don't have a bacterial infection in their gums that could someday kill them. (At least I am not). If it gets to the point of terrible swelling or other effects then for their sake hopefully they realize at that point they need to go to a dentist and skip the therapist that week or month or whatever they need to cover cost. Edit - the guy above is a good example. Yikes!
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:24 PM   #154
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And that guy above isn't even that bad of an example. Believe me, I've seen worse.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:25 PM   #155
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And that guy above isn't even that bad of an example. Believe me, I've seen worse.
geez. where do you even start?
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:26 PM   #156
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Originally Posted by mr. tegu View Post
We aren't talking about the types of people that can afford to go to the dentist to make sure they don't have a bacterial infection in their gums that could someday kill them. (At least I am not). If it gets to the point of terrible swelling or other effects then for their sake hopefully they realize at that point they need to go to a dentist and skip the therapist that week or month or whatever they need to cover cost. Edit - the guy above is a good example. Yikes!
It's all preventive, whether you're talking about therapy or the dentist.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:26 PM   #157
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And I'm not trying to say I deserve a huge inflated salary at the expense of others getting care. I'm simply saying the angst for doctors making these crazy salaries is misguided.
Without going through this thread are you a doctor?
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:28 PM   #158
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geez. where do you even start?
Start with the worst, make your way forward.

Usually pain comes first, then things that are the closest to causing pain, then gums and preserving bone level and "gum" tissue, then nonfunctional teeth, then fillings, then esthetics etc.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:35 PM   #159
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Start with the worst, make your way forward.

Usually pain comes first, then things that are the closest to causing pain, then gums and preserving bone level and "gum" tissue, then nonfunctional teeth, then fillings, then esthetics etc.
Seems like it would just be better if he didn't have any teeth at all. At least then it is like a blank slate.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:42 PM   #160
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Seems like it would just be better if he didn't have any teeth at all. At least then it is like a blank slate.
Eh, you wanna keep teeth at all cost. Even more than that, you wanna keep the bond that surrounds the teeth at a higher level.


Dentures alone are about 20 % of the natural chewing ability, added with eh stress of learning and using them. You can place implants to snap them on, but implants are similiar to teeth in the way they must be cleaned and maintained.

In the end, it's all on the person in situations like that. I, as the dentist, can only do so much.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:51 PM   #161
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This post reeks of jealousy. 4 years of medical school (I will have 200,000 in debt at the end of my 4 years), 3-7 years of residency (most likely 6 or 7) where you are worked like a dog (80-90 hrs a week) and making 40k, and maybe a fellowship of 1-2 years for advanced specialties. I won't break even until I'm 34, maybe, so you're damn right I'm going to enjoy it. I have worked and continue to work my ass off, so I refuse to work for free.

Over-priced lifestyle. I can't stand people like you.
Sorry dude you don't get off that easy calling me out so pompously. I've seen too many sides of those in your profession both economically and personally.

Nice try though.....

Nobody's asking you to work for free, so leave that off your comments. Try a more common sense answer and we can debate this better.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:51 PM   #162
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Anyone using the word "coddle" in relation to any of this can go **** themselves forever, for what it's worth.

Unless you're lucky enough to live in one of a select few parts of the country, mental health services are either nonexistent or prohibitively expensive. And I'm just talking about therapy with a psychologist, not the kind of intensive support and structure that people dealing with serious mental illnesses need.

The already inadequate amount of existing care is being cut thanks to glorious state and federal budget cuts. Gotta pay for those tax breaks somehow, and who gives a shit about the broken people who need that stuff? Just toss em in jail when they act up, that'll learn 'em bout responsibility and being capable of interacting with others on a functional level. Yip yip yip.

This is how the richest country in the history of the world "coddles" them. Jesus ****.
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:52 PM   #163
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And I'm not trying to say I deserve a huge inflated salary at the expense of others getting care. I'm simply saying the angst for doctors making these crazy salaries is misguided.
Really.....please get real. No one is saying that all Dr's make crazy salaries....but please spare me the paupers tale.
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:02 PM   #164
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Anyone using the word "coddle" in relation to any of this can go **** themselves forever, for what it's worth.

Unless you're lucky enough to live in one of a select few parts of the country, mental health services are either nonexistent or prohibitively expensive. And I'm just talking about therapy with a psychologist, not the kind of intensive support and structure that people dealing with serious mental illnesses need.

The already inadequate amount of existing care is being cut thanks to glorious state and federal budget cuts. Gotta pay for those tax breaks somehow, and who gives a shit about the broken people who need that stuff? Just toss em in jail when they act up, that'll learn 'em bout responsibility and being capable of interacting with others on a functional level. Yip yip yip.

This is how the richest country in the history of the world "coddles" them. Jesus ****.
Cool. You pay for it.
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yeah i may be a retard but I'll be the one banging your girlfriend when you're out with your friends.

Last edited by loochy; 12-17-2012 at 02:14 PM..
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:08 PM   #165
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It sounds like Nancy Lanza knew her son was dangerous. I've read he was taking medicine for schizophrenia and nothing made sense why she would have an arsenal in her home knowing the mental health challenges of her son. However, if she was a prepper it does make more sense that she was afraid of the outside world moreso than what was in her own home. I have to wonder about her state of mind as well. If she was paranoid or otherwise providing a reckless environment for her son.

He needed people around him to reassure and calm him. But if she is preparing for doomsday then she is hardly the rock of stability that her son needed at a time when he started to slip further and further into the abyss.


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