First, I want to say that my son’s issues focus more inward than outward (toward himself rather than others). I don’t fear for others when they interact with my son – but I fear for him. My son suffers from mental illness. He’s 12. We are doing everything… everything in our power to help him. Everything we can think of. We’ve done a good job so far. We have. We are responsible. We watch his triggers. We have him in a special school trained to watch for his triggers before it turns into a crisis for him. Because in full blown crisis, he believes that his life is not worth anything at all. Sometimes he uses the tools he’s been given. Sometimes he forgets to – because he’s 12. Now that puberty has been thrown into the mix, the hormones mixing in with his brain chemistry, it feels sometimes like we’re starting all over again. He suffers. I hate watching him suffer. I worry. Always.
But he’s good. He’s kind. He’s funny and joyful. He’s an incredibly gifted artist, and has NO rhythm whatsoever. He loves to read. He’s discovered Harry Potter (the books) now that we’ve gotten past some of his reading learning disabilities. He’s discovered some other authors, and asks me to put on holds for him at the library. He gladly takes his medication, and he trusts and tries with his therapists and psychiatrist. He cooperates with his own care. He really, really tries. His little brother annoys him, and he worships his father. He has a truly close relationship with our cats (I swear animals are here to be healers sometimes). He asks for affection now. He wants hugs and kisses. And his room is perpetually filthy and smells like 12 year old boy. He likes toast for breakfast, loves ramen noodles, and asked for a Nintendo 3DS for Christmas. And for some odd reason his pants have started hanging off his butt, and I’ve started telling him to pull his pants up.
As I watched things unfold yesterday, I thought to myself, “I am Adam Lanza’s mother. And I’m all those other mothers, who’s children he stole. How, oh HOW do I keep from being Adam Lanza’s mother?” And I kept thinking about gun control. Why is the conversation about gun control? IT’S NOT ABOUT GUN CONTROL. STOP TALKING ABOUT GUN CONTROL. It’s about mental illness. For me, it’s about making sure this child, my child, my 12 year old little boy can grow up to be a functioning adult who doesn’t think “I should never have been born.” He made that statement last week. Thank God he spoke the words, though. He spoke the words and we as his parents, and his therapists, were able to help him through it so he didn’t make the statement a reality. Even a year ago, he wouldn’t have spoke the words. You see the guns don’t matter. If it’s not a gun, it’ll be a knife, or a machete, or a shovel, or pills, or a car, or or or… It’s not about the method. It’s about my son’s beautiful, beautiful brilliant tortured brain.
I don’t know what Adam Lanza’s life was like, or what his motivations were, or what his issues were. But one can logically say he must have been mentally ill to do what he did, right? But by God, I’m trying with my child to make sure that I never have to wonder. The fight is so fucking hard from every aspect.
Another mother wrote a heart-wrenching post. One that felt a little too close for comfort. But truth always is. Please read it. I’m no activist. I’m just a mom trying to her best for her son, and hoping against hope her best is good enough for him to survive. But perhaps the next time someone says “gun control” in reaction to a tragedy and senseless loss of life such as yesterday’s (God, such beautiful lives cut short… families annihilated) you’ll remember this post and think, “OK, but what about helping people cope with mental illness? Could that be a more constructive question?”
I love my son who has social phobia, ADHD (inattentive type), myriad learning disabilities, and clinical depression.
I love my mother who is bipolar (and now has Alzheimer’s).
I tried to love my biological mother who had borderline personality disorder.
I tried to love my brother, who was bipolar and hung himself at the age of 52.
I loved my aunt, who was clinically depressed, and killed herself with a shotgun at the age of 55.
And I try to love myself, I have PMD, and deal with these “episodes of thought” every blessed month, as well as depression.
There are more, but feel I can’t state their stories here. Some got help, some didn’t. None speak of it.
I got help. I got my son help. I couldn’t and can’t help my other family members. But, unlike the rest of my family, I refuse to be silent, the secret, the skeleton in the closet. I want my son to LIVE. And so here, I air my dirty laundry. Maybe it’ll help someone out there speak up, for themselves, or for their child. Maybe it’ll prevent terrible tragedies. Maybe it won’t do anything at all. But I refuse for it to be something to be ashamed of.