I Refuse to be Adam Lanza’s Mother
by Susan Resko, The Balanced Mind Foundation Executive Director
During this unspeakable national tragedy, our hearts go out to the families whose lives were changed last Friday in Connecticut.
Liza Long’s perspective entitled, I am Adam Lanza’s mom, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-mental-... has been cyber-flying through the parent network of The Balanced Mind Foundation, a national advocacy group which educates, empowers and ends the stigma of mood disorders in children, teens and young adults.
Millions of parents can relate to Ms. Long’s pain, anguish and the horrific actions of her son. However, Liza Long need NOT be the mother of a mentally ill child who grows up to commit unspeakable crimes. In fact, people with mental illness are far more likely to be victims of crime than to commit crimes themselves.
Ms. Long sounds like an educated and empowered mom; one that does not take her child’s illness lightly. She is willing to do anything to get him proper treatment, even call the police to arrest him, if it comes to that. She followed through on her vow to admit him to a psychiatric unit when he threatened to harm her and himself. She advocated for his placement in a more restrictive school environment. That takes guts, determination and an iron will.
Early intervention can prevent children from growing up to be an Adam Lanza, Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris. Yet, our society vilifies parents and doctors for treating these very children with one of the best treatments we have today-- medication. Yes, medications can be sedating, and can cause enormous weight gains. Yes, we need more research and better options.
As a mom of a son with major depression, which began at age 5, I wrestled with these messages society sent me for two years. I remember crying myself to sleep when medication was recommended. It broke my heart when my son ballooned from 55 to 95 pounds in a matter of months. But, there were no alternatives. Unless you count jail, or watching your child grow into an Adam Lanza. These were no alternatives for me.
I refused to be “Adam Lanza’s mom.” I chose medication, therapeutic day schools, hospitalizations, residential treatment centers, and every kind of therapy known to man. I fought like a fierce mother bear for my son. Even though society told me that I was a “horrible mom” for medicating my son, I only had to look into his beautiful blue eyes and see the light returning, to know that the medication was working. Yes, it took eight years to find the right medication, and he experienced side effects. But, he has been free of his illness for years. He holds a great job, he’s getting As in college, and he helped build a school in Haiti. He made me belly laugh just this morning and I am blessed to be his mom. Early intervention worked for my son. We are among the lucky ones, and I am grateful every day.
Help us connect more parents to life saving resources before its too late. Help us support the parents who are desperately trying to help their children. www.thebalancedmind.org/donate. Out of the terrible tragedy in Connecticut, make a donation in memory of the children at Sandy Hook Elementary so that society will finally learn that early intervention can save lives.