As Dan noted in this post, there's been backlash against Liza Long's essay, "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother." He linked to this Wonkette post that defends Long, rightfully, against people who've blasted her for telling her story.
I'd like to add to that, because what started out as a conversation about mental health and someone's experience with her violent son, has turned into an argument about whether or not Long was acting irresponsibly for writing the words she wrote.
She absolutely was not. And, more importantly, it is vital that she, and others, continue to do so.
Long writing about her own experiences with her unwell 13-year-old son is not "stigmatizing" EVERYONE who is unwell, nor is it speaking for everyone who has ever loved or known someone who is unwell. Her fears and experiences don't have to match yours to be legitimate.
For those who say, like in this post, that she wrote her story without acknowledging her son's perspective, well, how the fuck could she? She can't. And she shouldn't. No two experiences with mental health issues are the same—even when it's the same person involved. My experience with depression is not the same as my mother's experience with my depression, but both sides are very important. In order to start to understand mental health, we have to try to see as many perspectives as possible because it's a vast and very complicated monster. What's more, in wanting to understand mental health, and help those who need help, doesn't imply that EVERYONE who has even mild mental disorders will end up killing 20 children. Or shoot up a shopping mall or kill themselves or otherwise cause harm to anyone. Don't assume that one's desire to help always comes from fear.
We should ALL share our experiences with mental health. From depression and anxiety to Asperger syndrome and ADHD—to those cases that have yet to be diagnosed (like Long's son). And, the very important part, we should all LISTEN when others share, instead of criticizing whether or not it fairly represents the majority. There is no majority. To take down a brave woman who's being honest about her fear that her son, without getting the help and understanding he desperately needs, is destined to have a violent future, is what does the damage.
When we say someone who's sharing their story—therefore offering a perspective and starting a conversation—is wrong, that could keep others from doing the same thing. And the thought that someone doesn't feel safe enough to share what they're going through, in order to start to find answers, is heartbreaking. It's a conversation, not a contest to see who can better represent mental health and mental wellness in one goddamn essay.
The conversation has just started and we're already getting sidetracked on who's right or wrong. Please, let's just listen for awhile. And instead of judging or jumping to conclusions and attacking, let's ask ourselves, and/or someone who's suffering, what it is we can do to at least start to help.