I Am Adam Lanza's Mother': A Mom's Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America Written by Liza Long, republished from The Blue Review
I read the above article at 6am this morning, after another night of all night praying and crying for my 20 year old son. He too is mentally ill.
This time he has been on the street for four days. He doesn't have any food, nor any money to get food, and it's unconventionally freezing in California right now. I am worried sick.
Like the author above, I too am learning how to deal with my mentally ill son. I do not have help. I am having to do lots of research on my own. Things like, 'when to detect an episode coming on.' The tiniest thing can trigger him. I feel like I'm about to become an expert on mental health issues. Like most Americans, I really don't want to know about it. Except that I don't have a choice.
For the longest time I thought my son was on drugs. I thought his violent behavior was due to drug use. Today I know that just isn't the case. I know this because the half dozen times he has been taken to the emergency room via ambulance and crisis unit, they have drug tested him. I do not have my family's help because they somehow feel that 'he must have brought this on himself', perhaps due to past drug use. They too, do not understand mental illness.
Like Ms. Long states, "I'd do anything for benefits" For the longest time I had no health benefits for my son. He was admitted into the state hospital. The hospital did apply for Medi-cal benefits to cover the hospital fees. The state hospital was the most horrific place you have ever seen. It's difficult to describe in words, and brings tears to my eyes to even try. It's worse then any movie you've ever seen. The ten days my son was there (because that's all they would keep him for.) were awful. I would visit him everyday, and everyday I would physically throw up when I left. I finally convinced my ex husband to purchase health insurance for his son. He spent many years in the military, and Thank God for that. The military is the only place I know of that offers really good mental health care.
I too, do not keep sharp knives in the home. I threw them all away. It makes for some difficulty when I am trying to cook. I've emptied my house of everything that could be potentially dangerous. Things are a little different now, not better, just different. I know my son is sick, so I treat him differently and don't expect much out of him. He is no longer violent, he just talks to himself a lot. It has been determined by many professionals that he is not a danger to himself or others. He is physically a grown man, yet his mental ability to function that way is just impossible. He cannot hold a job, or basically care for himself. So it looks like I am left with a lifetime of caring for him. I cannot, as his mother, leave him on the street. To quote Ms. Long, "This is bigger then me".
I have looked for support groups and help as well. In my case, my son refuses to take medicine. I might add that he too, is extremely bright (when he's not psychotic) can quote Einstein, genius on Greek Mythology, etc etc. Interesting how our children share the same common characteristics. I wonder if Adam Lanza had those same characteristics? Seems like someone might wake up and say," hmmmm"
The bottom line is we need better resources for the mentally ill. period. We just can't ignore the problem any longer. I wish and pray that I had better skills to handle my mentally ill son. It's funny now that I am aware of his illness, I see mentally ill people all over the place. It's almost like how drug addicts can recognize other drug addicts. There are many, many, mentally ill people in this world. I see them everywhere now. Maybe not as bad as my son, at least not yet.
I don't have any answers. I wish someone would knock on my door and tell me how to fix this problem. It's so heartbreaking no one can imagine until they are in this position. I pray for all those affected by the mentally ill. I pray for the mentally ill. I do a lot of praying, and ask that you pray too.