As a former Board member for the Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation now known as the Balanced Mind Foundation, I am outraged and saddened that Ms. Resko and the Board would use the Newtown tragedy to raise money for their organization. Further, I am depressed and put off by Ms. Resko’s condescending attitude toward Liza Long and her courageous blog about living with a child devastated by the onset of early psychiatric illness.
Ms. Resko is so fortunate that her son is one of the “lucky” ones and has found a medication that provides the therapeutic benefits necessary to stabilize his mood. Unfortunately that is not the case with many of the children ravaged by the earliest onset of a mood disorder. As a nation we are not prioritzing the research of children with mood disorders. As a nation we are not willing to have the uncomfortable dialogue about familial heritability and genetic loading that leads to children born with far more complex phenotypes of Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia.
Like Ms. Resko, I have gone to the ends of the earth, or at least coast to coast in the U.S. to locate the best doctors, therapists and psychosocial interventions. Like Ms. Resko, I have put my son into the hospital when his brain was no longer his and was instead in a crisis that my husband and I could not safely manage in our home. And while perhaps there is a special school in the Chicago area for children with mood disorders and the comorbid executive functioning deficits and learning disabilities but there are no such schools anywhere in MI and in the majority of states across the U.S. If a parent can pick up and move to Houston the Monarch “day” school is doing the best private work in the nation for children with mood disorders and comorbid ADHD, anxiety, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS.
If you are a parent that can afford a residential boarding school there are several across the U.S. that can meet the needs of these highly complex children. So how many parents can afford the private day and residential schools? How many parents can fly from MI to Boston, MA on a monthly basis for 14 years (and going) to provide the best possible psychiatric medical care? How many parents can homeschool when no public schools exist with the capacity to truly meet the needs of a child with the early onset of a mood disorder.
I have already written that outside of not calling the police, I could be Liza Long and I could be Adam Lanza’s mother (outside of having a gun in my house for truth be told we have not had a knife sharper than a butter knife in our home since my son was 3). I love my son and have from the moment I could see him on the ultrasound at 12 weeks. I could not wait to be a mother. I could not wait to be his mother. And yet, my son’s life has been tortured for days that turn into years and we have yet to find that “magic” cocktail of medications and yes my son too put on weight with every antipsychotic prescribed. It is torture raising this child turning 24 in January. It is torture watching his dreams die and knowing that while my husband and I have and will do anything in our power to see him treated, stable and even cured…this has not been the case and he struggles every day of his life.
I would never “refuse” to be Andrew’s mother, and yes I fear often that when at his most unstable my son could hurt himself or someone that he loves. Liza Long’s blog speaks to the deepest part of my pain and sorrow as I watch my child lose his childhood and move into an adulthood that he will struggle to navigate. Liza Long’s blog speaks to my fear as a mother that has been frightened of my son on more days than I can count. I will love my son every day of his life and every day of my life. I will stand by his side and fight for his sanity and right to a small measure of the American Dream.
And I will hope to one day meet Liza Long and let her know that she is not alone. The Balanced Mind Foundation lost me when they changed their name. They began as a group of parents with children diagnosed with an early onset of bipolar disorder. The fact that there are doctors at the NIMH and in practices across the U.S who are foolish enough to deny familial heritability and would rather create some nonsensical disorder called Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder does a grave disservice to children with an evolved form of Bipolar Disorder.
Yes, I gave up on this foundation then, for they gave up their soul to be politically correct and in an effort to raise money for their cause. My soul is not for sale. I sit proudly on the Massachusetts General Hospital Pediatric Psychopharmacology Advisory Council and Ariel’s Legacy. And neither of these foundations has sent out an email asking for donations on this painful Monday when the remaining children in Newtown had nowhere to go to school today and many were and will attend funerals for their schoolmates who lost their lives last Friday.
What we should all be doing is driving dialogue on how we treat children and adults with mental illness as 3rd class citizens. What we should be talking about is gun control.
Read the “I Refuse to be Adam Lanza’s Mother” HERE.