Sometimes I feel like I am the addict as well as my son. Not because I feel the addictive urges, nor because I vicariously feel how he feels as an addict, because I can not know how he feels. I say this because I feel the stigma. I feel the frustration. I feel people's lack of faith or interest in offering help. I feel the emotional roller-coaster. I share the fear of what tomorrow holds. I feel the pointlessness of it all. I feel the intense isolation. I feel the pain of being misunderstood. I feel the need to make it all go away. I feel the insanity.
Despite years of seeking help and being involved in many services, I feel discouraged. Despite having a few friends I can count on one hand, I feel alone. Despite loving my children, I feel I have failed them all as well as myself. Despite trying, I feel like giving up. Despite feeling like giving up, I keep on trying and hoping, then I feel like giving up again. Despite loving a handful of people (which includes my three children) I feel like running away and being alone, then I am sad at feeling alone and want to be loved. I want a fix. I want euphoria. I want love. I want happiness and I want it NOW.
Is there something wrong with me that I believe in giving people a chance and being there for them 100% but I also believe that sometimes those who give also need to be given some love and support and belief? I believe in love and friendship and that we can help each other. So when I sit in a meeting regarding my son's potential eviction because society does not have any room for individuals with tortured souls who can not conform to society, I loose belief and feel like it is not only my son but myself as well who is being punished and ostracised with the throw away label of "druggie" as if that label dehumanizes the human who is suffering. "We do not like to evict young people who have no where else to go and no other housing project will take. We are concerned that you will have no where to sleep since the homeless shelter will not assist you because you are in arrears; however, sometimes we have no alternative. If you can change than we will reconsider". I want to scream while I sit calmly and try to express myself in a civilised manner that they are not "supporting" my son at all because they are judging him on past or current drug and alcohol misuse issues! I feel ostracised and judged and unsupported and betrayed. If I feel these feelings, how on earth must my "druggie" son feel? How must any addict feel?
I am a parent of a drug addict. What we often hear as parents or loved ones is that the addict must come forward and ask for the help and "engage", and that sometimes the addict must first hit rock bottom. In the meantime everyone seems to turn their backs on the addict who is indeed an addict but is suffering and does not know how to deal with life. Maybe I am a hopeless hippy who truly believes in peace, love and happiness in a non hippy world and maybe that is the reason for my constant cognitive dissonance but I can not change who I am....though I would love to change the world!
I seek support, I seek advise, I seek understanding. To illustrate my dissatisfaction with it all, let me use a little incident that occurred during a large support group meeting. Three separate groups were brought together to listen to the manager of a local drug and alcohol support service to talk to the parents of young people with drug and alcohol misuse issues. While doing a great PR presentation of all that their service provide (mind you, the parents are being sold this wonderful dream of recovery, but we are told we can not force our children to "engage".....talk about dangling the carrot in front of the rabbit!) I made a comment on how my son differs in a certain "typical" behaviour of addicts. This "professional" looked at me and simply said in front of these other parents, "sometimes we just pull the short straw". Thank you, Mrs Drugs Recovery professional. I have pulled the short straw when it comes to one of my children. Excellent. Should we just give up now then? Is that what you are telling me in your professional opinion? What does she tell the addict who comes in frustrated and broken and rejected and desperately wanting change yet suffering relapse after relapse? "Sorry you poor pathetic excuse for a human being, we don't help the short straws here"
Currently my son is in the psychiatric ward, once again. How many times has my son lost sense of reality? How many hospital visits has he had? Does the hospital look at his records and try to work out what has been going on the past year? No they do not. Do they seem concerned that each time it happened there were different interpretations of why it was happening? In the first incident we were written off with the dismissive, "it is alcohol withdrawal", to "it is from his kidneys not working properly due to lack of his self care in eating and drinking sufficiently" (but what led to his inability to look after himself), to "it maybe due to undiagnosed epilepsy", and of course the "its unexplained but more than likely due to his drug usage in the past and or present".
Am I expecting too much for some medical professionalism? When I brought my son into the hospital it took the ER doctor a few minutes to see that me son was not in his right mind and could not follow basic requests and could not answer questions appropriately. Waiting several more hours for a psych evaluation from a "crisis team worker/nurse" he too quickly assessed that my son had lost his grip with reality and experiencing things that we were not. That resulted in finally being admitted to the psych ward, approximately 12 hours after we first arrived to the hospital. In all that time my son's records were not produced, he received no care or medication. In the 72 hours that followed my son saw no doctor. When the appointment with the psychiatrist (and 3 other members of staff) finally took place, which I attended, he knew nothing of my son's past admissions, my son was coherent but anxious yet able to communicate sensibly. So this doctor did not see my son when he was hallucinating and not in our reality. The doctor did not take the time to assess the situation by reviewing the patients notes. The discussion started with, "Do you know why you are here?". I almost retorted with, "Do YOU know why he is here?" It quickly digressed into a discussion about generalised anxiety and also continued questions and remarks regarding drug and alcohol issues. Never was it discussed why he may have lost his sense of reality, nor was it discussed how this has happened on more than one occasion. I sat there feeling smaller and smaller and in the end I could swear I nearly just shut off while looking at the doctor looking like a caricature with a speech bubble saying "blah, blah, blah"So who is crazy? My son, the doctor or me? I think I may be the crazy one! I had a very strong urge to loudly speak out, "This is Bullshit! One does not hallucinate and is unable to identify simple objects and talk to imaginary people simply because one is anxious about things".
For me it is so difficult to watch, to understand, alone. I never have anyone to hold my hand though I hold my son's hand and care for my daughters as well. I never have anyone to give me an understanding hug when I go home after 9 hours of sitting with my child who can not string a sentence together. At home my son is a taboo subject most times. My middle child looks at me as if I were the bad one if I mention his name, as if I should not support a drug addict regardless of the fact that he is my son. I go home, barely speaking myself and carry on with life as "normal" but I want to cry and I want to be comforted.
So we are back to where I began this post, I feel like I am the addict at times but I do not have a drug to make all the suffering go away, even if only temporarily. I feel agitated, depressed, lost, alone, misunderstood, angry, hurt, labelled, used, pathetic and craving something to make it all better but there is nothing for me except hope and longing for things to change.