Liza Long, best known as the woman who wrote “I am Adam Lanza’s mother” in the wake of the Newtown school shootings, was criticized at the time for exposing her son to public scrutiny, though she changed his name. She wrote that he had frightening rages: “A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books.”
Now Long has recorded an irresistible interview with Michael on StoryCorps in which the 13-year-old talks about the outburst she wrote about. He says his memory of the knife-wielding incident is a little blurry, but her description was pretty much accurate. “I didn’t want to do it, but I didn’t have control,” he says.
You can read about the interview on the NPR site, but it’s better to listen to his voice, which reminds you just how young 13 years old is. “It almost feels like there’s some extraterrestrial being taking control of me,” Michael says, “and making me do all these crazy things.”
He says he doesn’t mean to blow up the way he does. “I actually don’t like it. And yet there’s not really anything I can do about it.” He worries that what he calls his “stupid rages” make him “unlikable.”
He adds, poignantly, that “people can’t actually understand what mental illness is if they don’t either have a mental illness or have lived and been with someone who does.”
Michael describes having a string of diagnoses—bipolar disorder, ADHD, intermittent explosive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder—and says what he’d really like is a treatment that cures him of the mental illness, rather than just helping with symptoms.
In the meantime he says he gets pleasure from reading and writing—he’s up to 47,000 words on his novel, The Demi-Gods From Outer Space. “It’s a mix between sci-fi and mythology,” he says.
“Wow,” says his mom. “Well, thank you. I really appreciate you taking time to talk to me.” We appreciate it, too.