She’s the blogger whose post, “I am Adam Lanza’s mother,” went viral this weekend, spawning harsh criticism and resulting in a joint statement by Long and writer Sarah Kendzior Tuesday expressing “the need for a respectful national conversation on mental health.”
But I do want to talk about mental illness. I want to tell the stories from two friends who decided to go public with their families’ struggles after Long’s post. Because this can happen to any family. Anywhere. Any time.
I knew Holly Barstow’s brother in high school as one of the popular kids, smart, funny and handsome. But he’s always been “wired differently,” Barstow, who lives in Omaha now, told me. He could throw a fit lasting five hours as a child and later “could play tennis for seven hours until he looked down and saw blood coming out of his tennis shoes.”
Turned out it was the manic phase of bipolar disorder that gave him such energy.
After the breakup of his second marriage, he began drinking. After the third marriage ended, the man who’d earned a master’s degree and had a successful career in public administration became homeless. He moved in with their mother eight years ago in the small Missouri town where we all grew up. He’d been fascinated by guns and had collected them until he owned 47. Barstow heard he would dress in fatigues and a bandolier, wandering around town with weapons, once even entering the local Catholic elementary school. “He was so out of touch with reality,” she said.
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Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education