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It could have been my son.

Started by Vicki , author of upliftingteaching 8/9/2012 8:49:30 AM

In the wake of the Aurora movie massacre, people are still trying to understand what happened. Experts, such as mental health personnel and city officials, have been trying to offer insights and solutions. Yet, we struggle to comprehend such a senseless act. Is it even possible for rational, law abiding citizens to understand irrational violence? Can we find an answer that will lead us to say, “Okay, now that makes sense”?

How can we stop the insanity? There is one who can shed some light on insanity. Someone who has a unique perspective. The shooter’s mother.

Little attention has been given to the mother of the shooter. Some wonder, “What happened in his childhood that led him to do such a thing? What kind of parent raises a child who would commit such a horrific act?”

The mother of the shooter could tell you what kind of parent raises a child with mental illness (MI). She must have suspected something was wrong. Surely she had suspicions and fears.

Perhaps she worried what her son might do. But, could she have imagined that the torment in her son’s head would tear through the hearts and lives of so many innocent victims? Could she have predicted her own son would be capable of committing such destruction? Was there anything she could have done to prevent the slaughter?

What kind of life did she have? What was she thinking? How did she feel?

I don’t know the shooter’s mother, but I can imagine what she’s feeling. I know what it’s like to watch a talented, brilliant teenager “snap.” Years ago, our son, Chris, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. In his junior year of high school, he had a break from reality. Voices inside his head told him to assault my husband and me. The parents he loved.

Before Chris began medicine to treat his MI, I knew he was unstable. Rambling words droned from his mouth in a constant flow. I witnessed bizarre behaviors and longed for a predictable life. I sensed impending doom.

His psychiatrist said he needed to be hospitalized. I agreed. But, my husband and I felt helpless. Laws regarding involuntary commitment prevented us from forcing Chris to be hospitalized. Unless we could prove he was a danger to himself or others, we couldn’t commit him against his will. Technically, Chris hadn’t posed a threat to himself or us. Those constraining laws made me feel like a hostage in my own home.

But, our son didn’t commit mass murder. He got the help he needed. Chris benefitted from early diagnosis and treatment. Statistics show he’s in the minority.

There is still so much shame and stigma surrounding MI. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares startling facts about children’s mental health in our country. On their website, they report that most of children suffering with MI fail to be identified or get proper treatment and support. How many are we talking about? Millions.

All of those millions of individuals have a mom. Are you like me, a mom with a child who has mental illness? We need to speak up, come together, and support one another. I’ve created a blog just for moms like us. Show others the face of MI.

What do you want others to know?

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Reply by Erin Honestly

author of Oh Honestly, Erin 8/10/2012 8:41:02 AM

It's nice to read something from this vantage point, and not another rant about gun laws / gun control.

I graduated high school two years before Columbine happened, so there were no metal detectors to walk through, double takes at trench coats, etc. It wasn't until after that tragedy when I reflected back on some of my classmates and realized, "Wow, so-and-so seems like the type of person who could have done the same thing."

I am so glad to read that you were able to give your son the help he needed. Thank you for sharing your personal story, and also all the helpful information!


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Reply by Vicki

author of upliftingteaching 8/10/2012 9:17:59 AM

Hi Erin,

'So glad you appreciated what I wrote. Your comment encouraged me...didn't know how people were gonna react to the conversation (stigma and all...).


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Reply by JDaniel4's Mom

author of JDaniel4's Mom 8/11/2012 8:38:26 AM
I am so glad your son got the help that he needed.

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Reply by Vicki

author of upliftingteaching 8/11/2012 1:04:17 PM

Thanks for your compassionate response!


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Reply by May

8/13/2012 7:20:34 AM
Vicki, thank you, thank you, thank yiu for sharing your story! Im so glad to hear your son git the help he needed early on! As a person who suffers with mental illness & who has a 5 year ild thats autistic and has mental illnesses & a mother with mental illness, its truly encouraging to read another persons story! Im glad your son got the help early on, as many people dont. You shoud be proud that you stood up abd stood by him during that time, because its a VERY difficult time! From the bottom of ny heart, thank you! Its also nice to see someone shedding light on the shooting from a mothers perspective! All the best to you & your family!

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Reply by May

8/13/2012 7:20:35 AM
Vicki, thank you, thank you, thank yiu for sharing your story! Im so glad to hear your son git the help he needed early on! As a person who suffers with mental illness & who has a 5 year ild thats autistic and has mental illnesses & a mother with mental illness, its truly encouraging to read another persons story! Im glad your son got the help early on, as many people dont. You shoud be proud that you stood up abd stood by him during that time, because its a VERY difficult time! From the bottom of ny heart, thank you! Its also nice to see someone shedding light on the shooting from a mothers perspective! All the best to you & your family!

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Reply by Nicole

author of The Activity Mom 8/13/2012 7:22:36 AM

Thank you for being brave enough to share your story and to speak up. I had no idea that there were laws that can get in the way of getting help for your child. 


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Reply by Vicki

author of upliftingteaching 8/13/2012 1:22:04 PM

Dear May,

Thanks for your reply....I'm grateful to know others understand.

Did you check out the blog I recently started for moms who have children with MI?


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Reply by Vicki

author of upliftingteaching 8/13/2012 1:24:00 PM

Nicole,

Thanks for taking the time to read my story and to let me know what you learned from it. Have a great day!


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Reply by Shannon

author of Milk and Cuddles 8/24/2012 4:43:05 PM

Thanks for sharing this very personal and heartfelt perspective Vicki. I had not thought about this tragedy from that perspective- and it something I will think more about now. I'm so glad your son got help, and that he has a mom like you:)


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