ABOUT ME...the beginning of my journey

My blogging journey began on December 23, 2012.  I opened my laptop and poured out my heart. Here you will find my first post...Also, I have written an update following the original post.

A Promise Not Worth Keeping

Dec. 23, 2012 

While driving home the other day, I was thinking. What do I really want for Christmas? Just a little over a week ago, a tragedy beyond comprehension took place at an elementary school in Connecticut. I mourned along with the nation, but I mourned not only for the loss of precious, young lives, I mourned for the mother and son at the center of this devastation.

And so as I drove home, my trunk filled with Christmas gifts, I wondered, what would really make me happy this Christmas? On the surface, it seems like I have a good life. I have a beautiful family and wonderful friends, I have an amazing job with terrific colleagues. I have a house, and a car, and all sorts of gadgets. I couldn't ask for anything more, could I?

It occurred to me as I drove, that the assassin in Connecticut, Adam Lanza, was a little boy once. He was his mother's son. He toddled and he played and he brought home finger painted works of art. Some say he was troubled, autistic, mentally ill. But set that aside for a moment. He was a mother's son. And he was my son, too.

Two years ago, I was Nancy Lanza, living in fear of my own troubled son. My eighteen-year-old, who had recently been battling volatile mood swings, was disrupting our home life on a daily basis. When I was successful getting him admitted as an outpatient at a local mental health care facility with a good reputation, a wave of relief swept over me. Finally, he would get help. But that relief was short lived when I discovered he'd be treated in the adult wing because of his age.

After only days in this reputable program designed to treat his depression and anger, my son bought an illegal handgun from a fellow patient.

Then his thirteen-year-old brother found it and nearly fired it thinking it was a toy. After weeks of witnessing his older brother's outbursts, my younger son finally confessed to me that his brother had a gun hidden in his room and swore him to secrecy. I was horrified.

I panicked. 

With the help of a close family friend, we confronted my son and took the gun from him.  He tearfully confessed that he had bought the gun to kill himself but then had changed his mind. My boy begged us not to tell anyone because he was afraid of being arrested. Thankfully, my friend took the gun intending to turn it in during an anonymous police gun return program.

So that night I naively believed the worst was over.

But between Thanksgiving and Christmas, while most families decorated trees, baked cookies, and wrapped gifts,  my boy held me emotionally hostage. He made me promise not to tell anyone about the gun and his intentions. He swore he was going to “be better,” vowing that as long as no one found out about the gun, he'd be fine.

Yet he wasn't. Each evening after a long day of school, my younger son and I would come home wondering what lay ahead for us. Would there be more threats with knives? Would there be more holes punched in walls? Would there be tantrums and screaming that shook the doors off their hinges? Once, he even walked out into a raging snowstorm without shoes nor a coat promising never to return because he “didn't deserve to live” and he didn't want to be “taken away” to a treatment center. After each hostile moment passed, he always said he was sorry. He always said he wouldn't do it again. Yet, he always did. There were nights his younger brother hid in his room waiting for the screaming to subside. And nights I went to bed not knowing if I was going to wake in the morning.

I was afraid of my own son.

But not once did I seek help. Not once did I call the authorities. You see, I had sworn to my son that I would not tell anyone about the gun, and I naively believed that was a promise I must keep. So he continued to battle his own demons, his brother and I seated in the front row.

Eventually, I did tell my parents but not the police, and by then it was too late for him to be committed by law. So by keeping his secret, I had prevented him from receiving the mental health care he needed. After the gun incident, he repeatedly refused treatment and because of his age, there was nothing I could do. Ironically, if I had called the authorities when I first discovered the gun, he would have immediately been committed without being arrested. If I had only known.

It has been two years of emotional roller coasters. My son has never been treated as an inpatient for his diagnosed bipolar disorder. With his selectively charming personality, he always fools intake nurses into thinking he's just an average troubled teen who smokes too much pot. Currently, he is not being treated at all. He lives at his dad's house on the other side of town. He continues to struggle with volatile, sometimes physical outbursts though his father keeps me from knowing their severity and frequency. I still fear that his unpredictability may result in violence. He is unemployed and unmotivated and usually depressed. He has backed himself into a corner by his mental illness and resulting apathy. Without help, I fear he'll remain in this corner indefinitely.

So what is it I want for Christmas this year? Two years later? Just weeks after the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary?

I want every mother out there in fear of her child to read this. I want you to know you're not alone. I want you to know it's ok to ask for help. I want you to never stop searching for the mental health care your child deserves. And I want you to love your child enough to break your promises.

On March 28, 2013, my son was arrested.  He has been charged with six felonies and is awaiting sentencing.  Our world has completely crumbled underneath our feet.  One of the worst possible outcomes that I feared has come true.  Read my posts to learn more.

Second UPDATE:
On Dec. 5, 2015, my son was released from prison and came home. It was the first time he'd lived under our roof since he walked out the door Dec. 31, 2010. He lived with us for 18 months, working toward recovery and learning how to re-acclimate to society, this time, as an adult.

As of summer 2017, my son has completed all his parole requirements and has been released from probation. It will be several years before he is able to apply for a governor's pardon which would eliminate his felony record, but for now, we are all grateful. Today, he works with a friend, growing a Landscaping/Hardscaping business.



  1. I hope you decide to share your name with the world - it may help you and your son!

    1. Hello - I have indeed shared my name with the world. You're right--it has helped!

  2. Greetings, I too want to stay anonymous to protect my bipolar son. He was diagnosed five years ago at age 21 after jumping off a 7 story building. He survived because he landed on a plexiglass basement window. That was his first episode! Before that I would've said he was a completely normal college kid. After that it was five difficult years of trying to finish school, trying to hold a job, trying to find the right medications. Then this May he was in a slightly manic state when he told us he'd been off his meds for a month and wasn't going back on. I had just been read in a couple of books about the effects of wheat on mental health... nothing more than a few paragraphs, but not knowing what else to do I suggested he give up wheat. Now this is what everyone will find hard to believe, but please believe it: Within 4 days his mood stabilized and it has been almost completely stable since. He's lost over 30 lbs., he's working two jobs, one of which is career related, and he's happy and involved with his community and friends after being a semi-recluse for five years. I know that the wheat link won't work for everyone, but I hope a lot more people try it. (I gave up wheat too even though I don't have mental health issues, but my mind is so much calmer and sharper I'm convinced of the wheat/brain connection.)

  3. Hi there! I was reading up on your journey just now and had a quick question. I was hoping that you could email me back when you have a moment. I really appreciate it, thanks!