12.16.2012

The System, Not the Mind

Read this article.

"I Am Adam Lanza's Mother."

I know how this feels.
I know the sting of helplessness.
I spent months fearing the irrationality in someone else's mind.

I've never felt more enraged in all my life than when a safety dispatch officer told me, "This is really an issue that the family should be dealing with privately."

You think we haven't tried? Just like the author of this article, these are situations that cannot be dealt with alone. And yet when a concerned family member asks the system for help, we get a slap on the hand. They shame us into thinking that we can handle this on our own. We sit, sinking with undeserving guilt, wondering what the hell we do when we have no experience or resources at our immediate disposal.

And then tragedy strikes, outsiders become involved, and families are criticized for not getting help or "controlling" their loved ones.

When I begged the system for help, I was given the same advice: "You have to start a paper trail. You have to build a case before they will offer professional assistance." They told me it would take about 20 counts of violence or disturbing the peace.

Well, sometimes you don't get 20 times. Adam Lanza's mother was probably building her paper trail, pulling her son out of school as a legitimate sign of fear for his behavior. Yes, she had guns...but any household is equipped with kitchen knives and cars--items that can be just as dangerous as weapons for a someone lost in their mind.

And they ACTUALLY tell you to just let it happen. Fortunately for my family, no one was harmed. Unfortunately for the families of these shooters, the worst happened.

Mental disability should be not a game of chance. You don't let crimes happen in order to prove someone needs help. You don't let anyone commit violent acts just for the sake of "building a case."


Is a paper trail worth the risk?


The system needs to take control the second there is any concern that a person is capable of inflicting any danger. Because families are not professionals. We are emotionally invested in the person we know is being masked by a disorder. We spend most of our times with our fingers crossed, just waiting for someone to extend a helping hand when all we know to do is love unconditionally. We don't want our loved ones to be hurt. We don't want anyone's loved ones hurt. We want help.

I spend months asking for help before our "paper trail" was enough to enforce it. And believe it or not, compared to many circumstances, we were lucky.

Fix the system.