After his mother compared him to Sandy Hook Elementary School killer Adam Lanza in a widely read blog post, the son publicly spoke out on April 2.
Eric Walton, 16, opened up about his struggles managing bipolar disorder at an April 2 TEDx event in Boise, Idaho, The Washington Post reports.
Walton explained some things about mental illness: “The lesson I want you to take away from this story is this: ‘Yes, I have a mental illness. No, I’m not inferior to other human beings. No, I’m not crazy. No, I’m not someone to be feared.’”
He added, “Mental illness should be treated with respect and kindness, not fear and stigma. Because I’m a human being. People with mental illness are all human beings.”
Adam Lanza, who was mentally ill, had just shot and killed 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School when Walton was hospitalized for mental illness in 2012.
Walton’s mother, Liza Long, immediately saw the similarities between Lanza, 20, and her son, who frequently suffered from outbursts of rage that once got him in jail at only age 11.
“I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me,” she proceeded to write in the controversial blog post on The Blue Review in December 2012, titled, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” which went viral.
“The reason I decided to write it was people were really judging [Adam Lanza’s mother] and I wanted to put a face on it. So go ahead and judge me because I’m going through it too and I’m trying,” she added later.
In his TEDx talk, Walton spoke of the uncontrollable violent tendencies he has had since he was in kindergarten.
And despite a myriad of diagnoses, doctors never were able to accurately conclude he had bipolar disorder and treat him accordingly until after his mother’s controversial post went viral.
So, while some criticized Long for writing about her child so publicly, she says she doesn’t regret writing it.
“It’s not just the lithium, it was the diagnosis. Once he had it, he ran with it,” Long said. “That’s what I wish people knew. The people working on their recovery like that are really inspiring to watch. And so full of compassion.”
Now Walton is a student planning to either study physics or psychology at college. He is finally able to attend mainstream school and has real friends -- something he lacked as a troubled child growing up.