On a cool October evening, nearly 200 people gathered to hear a parent’s perspective on raising a child contending with mental illness. Her story was similar to many other parents, but in one way, very different. Her name is Liza Long, and during her conversation Monday evening, she discussed how her life changed when a blog she posted went viral.
Liza is an author from Boise, Idaho, and the mother of four exceptional children (three boys and one girl), one of whom has a mental illness. When the tragedy of Newtown, Connecticut occurred in December 2012, and news started to come out that the perpetrator, Adam Lanza, had struggled with a mental illness, Liza felt compelled to write about her own experience.
The article she wrote was titled, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother”: A Mom’s Perspective on the Mental Illness Conversation in America.” It was republished from the Blue Review and posted on December 16, 2012, in the Huffington Post. As of October 2013, her Huffington Post piece had received over 15,000 comments, been emailed over 30,000 times, Tweeted over 16,000 times, shared on Facebook over 300,000 times and received over 1.2 million Likes on Facebook. Clearly, Liza struck a chord.
However, in addition to the support, there was a significant backlash as well. And in the days following her post, Liza was interviewed on major television news and radio programs to share her response to what many mom’s already know – it’s time to talk about what it’s like to raise a child with a mental illness in our country.
Liza described her experience and life going forward during a compelling evening of conversation. Thank you to all of you who were able to attend our event and hear the words of hope and many touching testimonies. If you were not able to join us, or would like to watch the event again, you can see it at this link.
Thank you to NOWCastSA and Methodist Healthcare Ministries for making the live stream and replay of this important event possible.
Thank you to Bob Rivard for a wonderful job moderating the evening, and the coverage provided by the Rivard Report. Read more about the event here and here.
And finally, thank you to Liza Long for her willingness to participate in this event, to share her moving story, and for having the courage to speak up against the stigma of mental illness. We are extremely thankful for you Liza!