Dr. Oz: “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” Author Speaks Out About Mental Illness
In the wake of the horrific Sandy Hook shootings, where a man named Adam Lanza took the lives of 27 people, mostly children, before killing himself, there was one mother watching at home that felt a chill go down her spine. Liza Long watched at home and worried that someday, her son might do the same thing. So she wrote a blog titled “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother”. It should be noted that Adam Lanza’s actual mother was his first victim that day, killed in a separate shooting prior to the Sandy Hook attack.
Liza Lang worried her son was capable of the shooting because of his mental health issues. Early on, Liza Long realized there was developmental issues with her son Michael. He would have three- or four-hour-long temper tantrums, wake up with terrible night terrors, and severe behavioral problems. When Michael was in kindergarten, the school had a special plan in place to get the other children out of the way safely in case Michael had a meltdown.
Searches for a diagnosis and the right medication didn’t amount to much. Michael’s issues started to escalate. The first time Michael pulled out a knife, he was 9 or 10. He put it to his own throat and also put it to Liza Lang’s throat. Liza Lang had to call the police on him when he was 11 years old.
Dr. Oz: Making The Decision To Go Public With Her Son’s Mental Illness
Two days before the Newtown shootings, Liza Long put Michael in a psychiatric hospital. She said she felt horrified when she saw the coverage of Newtown because she felt like that was her son. So she wrote a blog about it, hoping to raise awareness about mental illness. The blog went viral with over 2 million views and 20,000 Tweets.
Sitting down with Dr. Oz, Liza Lang told him she made the decision to go public with her son’s mental illness because she loved her son and didn’t know how to get her son help. “When I wrote those words, ‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’, I was telling a truth to myself and that truth was, if you want to blame Nancy Lanza, then blame me,” she said. She said no mother holds their baby in their arms and imagines something like that could happen. But Liza Lang felt alone in dealing with her son and had no idea how to help him, despite trying over and over again.
At first, she wrote it anonymously. But eventually, after a conversation with an editor, she decided to put her name on it in order to make the message more powerful.
Dr. Oz: How Does Her Son Feel About It?
Dr. Oz asked her how her son felt about being outed for his mental illness. Liza Long uses a pseudonym for Michael in the column and her new book and she said the number one thing she wanted people to know about her kid was that he was not a bad kid. She said he’s a good kid with a mental illness who needs help.
Dr. Oz: What Is Juvenile Bipolar Disorder?
Liza Long said she felt that her blog was a cry for help from her to the internet, hoping for answers. She said she received a lot of support from the internet. A specialist even reached out to her and told her he thought Michael might have Juvenile Bipolar Disorder. Sure enough, later, after a manic episode she took Michael to a mental hospital and he was diagnosed with Bipolar I and treated with lithium.
Liza Long said that since that time, Michael has done very well. He hasn’t harmed himself or others. He’s going back to a mainstream high school and he just finished writing a book.
Liza Long urged parents to speak up and fight for their kids if they feel like something is wrong. She said you have to keep asking until you have an answer that works for you and your children. Liza Long said that we need earlier interventions for kids and connect parents with better solutions and resources.
Liza Long is the author a new book, called The Price of Silence: A Mom’s Perspective On Mental Illness.