Adam Lanza: Part 2

Susan Resko, The Balanced Mind Parent Network Executive Director

by Susan Resko, The Balanced Mind Parent Network Executive Director

My blog post earlier today touched at the heart of what we, as parents of children with mental illness, struggle with and fear the most.  Some parents read my comments as blaming Adam Lanza's mother, or blaming parents of mentally ill children if their child did not improve with treatment.  I regret that anyone read my comments that way.  On the contrary, I know all too well how difficult it is to raise a child with mental illness.  I know that things do not always get better, even with the best of intentions and interventions.  I also regret that my message of hope about my own son was akin to pouring salt on an open wound to some whose children who have not gotten better.  Again, that was not my intention, and I apologize to those who were hurt.

Some children never get better.  That is the sad truth.  But, many do, and there is hope.  My heart grieves for both the victims and the family of Adam Lanza. I read about children every day who do not improve with treatment, and I lived it for a majority of my own son's life.  This is why I work to advocate for these very children.  

We have a lot of work to do to improve funding for treatment, destigmatize mental illness and support those families who live with these devistating illnesses each and every day.  If nothing else, I hope that this tragedy will help rally support for our children.  Its time that we stop blaming parents and blaming medications.  Its time we take action on behalf of our children.  We need more funding for support, outreach and treatment.  Every parent should be educated and informed about the signs and symptoms of mental illness.  They should have access to treatment, just as if their child had cancer, diabetes or other life threatening illnesses.  We need to end the blame game and start taking mental illness in children seriously.

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I think that by titling the first blog as you did two things were accomplished. It tagged on to the original blog that had literally swept the country and everyone talking and it posited the notion that consequences of mental illness are something parents can refuse to accept. Like cancer, diabetes, heart problems, mental illness is a disease. Short of refusing treatment entirely most parents do ALL they can for their children. We can no more refuse the consequences of terminal cancer than we can the violent outbursts of a mentally ill child.

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I am a parent volunteer with The Balanced Mind's Family Helpline. I want to thank Christy for her donation. TBMF doesn't take any money from pharmaceutical companies and every donation is greatly appreciated.

I have been volunteering for The Balanced Mind for about 5 years. When I started, my daughter seemed pretty stable and I thought we were ok. She has had many ups and downs since then. When my daughter was applying to college, she wrote an essay called "Chutes and Ladders." She compares her life with bipolar to that game. She'll be going along in her life and things will be good and then WHOOSH, she hits a chute and tumbles back. She has been working since age eleven on the "Ladders" that she needs to get back to stability. Her point in the essay is that the chutes aren't as long and it is getting easier to rebuild her ladders.

I volunteer for TBMF because I don't want anyone to struggle alone with mental illness. Our team, the Helpline, is there to provide support and resources to people who don't know where else to turn. We don't have all the answers and we aren't going to solve all the problems. We do what we can though. If you feel like you have a couple of hours a week and would like to help us help others (via email or phone), please let me know. I'd be happy to send you a volunteer application. Just email me at responseteam@thebalancedmind.org.

Karen
team co-lead, Family Helpline

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Susan's blog and all the related comments today have moved me so much that I have just made a contribution. These are among the wisest observations I have read about Adam Lanza and the sad situation in Newtown.There is hope for many young people with mental illness, and as parents we must continue to support them, advocate for them, get treatment and medications for them if needed, and never, ever give up. Mental illness in children and teens is serious, and we all need to pull together to to help others people understand this.
Christy Beckmann, St. Louis

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