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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Dysfunction, is it Our Addiction

The term addiction is defined as:  the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity. Synonyms are: dependency, craving, habit, weakness, compulsion, fixation, enslavement. When I think of what is the biggest benefit an addict has when using, I would have to guess it is the immediate satisfaction they feel from the high, but the high may come from a variety of substances or behaviours. Most common addictions society thinks of, are of course drug and/or alcohol addiction, yet there are so many other types. On Wikipedia it did surprise me the types of addiction they refer to: substances, gambling, eating disorders, cell phone use, internet/computer use, tanning and exercise. In my opinion there are  so many other behaviours that can become an addiction, but the one I want to focus on is not the one that led me to write my blog in the first place (substances) but rather, I would like to consider self harm as an addiction, which many organizations have already acknowledged it as such.

                                           


On the "Addiction Care" website, they offer help from a far more extensive range of addictions. They cover alcohol and drugs but also: Gambling, Sex, Co-Dependency, Eating Disorders/Compulsive Over Eating/Bulimia, Spending, Exercise, Internet/Gaming, Work, and Self Harm. On the website they explain that:

Self-harming does make people feel better; the act releases endorphins, a brain chemical, which can bring on a sense of well-being and relaxation. Self-harm can be a way to get a release from intense emotions that can seem overwhelming and impossible to survive. A self-harmer might typically cut, burn or scratch themselves. The objective of self-harm might be to quell intense rage or anger or even to distract themselves from other physical pain.
Self-harming becomes addictive because there is a feel good factor. It appears to work. But of course the need to cause injury to oneself escalates.


I sometimes think that my daughters self harming is her addiction and she is getting the same sort of release from her self harming as my son gets from substances. She started self harming when her brother lived her and there was a lot of chaos and anger in the home. She has continued off and on though and many times we think she has "overcome" this problem, she then begins again. Her self harming started with scratching her head until it bled, then cutting, and then she began burning herself. The marks and scars on her are many. I was the most distressed by the burning since they eventually left large scabs that she would then pick. After the burning, blistering, healing, picking, process she would be left with these marks/scabs that resembled craters. No matter how many times I would search her room for sharp objects and matches, she would find a way, especially since all she would need is to break the blade out of a pencil sharpener from her school bag to start cutting again. I would hide knives, matches, scissors, etc but it got to the point where I would feel it is never enough because there will always be something I had not thought of. Even if there were no "tools" to harm herself with, she always had her fingernails to scratch the bloody skin off of her scalp. Just as my son would always find a way of getting his hands on any substance that would sedate him.

                                           

I understand how this could be classed as an addiction and interestingly enough my daughters behaviour at home is much like her brothers was in the sense that they seem to have addictive personality type behaviours. I am referring to some behaviours/feelings  that fits into addictive personality traits such as:

  • Need for immediate gratification, 
  • Low self worth.
  • Mood swings.
  • Social alienation and loneliness.
  • Constant stress and/or anxiety.    
  • Inability to control impulsive behaviour.
Also, her behaviour with me when she wants something is very much like the behaviour of her brother, an addict. She can be extremely:

  • Manipulative.
  • Controlling.
  • Dishonest.
  • Angry and threatening.
  • Relentless.
Then I began to realise that my daughter also seems to have a lot of attention seeking behaviours as well, but in a completely different way to my son's. Of course, both my son and daughter craved attention and love and acceptance in one way or another, as all human beings do. Sometimes seeking other people's attention and approval can manifest into a disorder as well. One of the theorised characteristics of people with attention seeking disorder is that they also look for immediate gratification in situations. In relationships they tend to use emotional manipulation on one level but displaying dependency on another level. There are many incidences when my daughter's behaviour is not in the realms of an attention seeking disorder, but are most definitely a young person trying to get attention! Of course we can also argue that the reason much of my daughter's behaviour mimics my son's is due to learnt behaviour or possibly even genetics.

Some people may argue that most of my concerns for what my daughter does or has done is ALL attention seeking. Self harm, an overdose suicide attempt (which she immediately induced vomiting), complaining of constant pains and generally feeling unwell, issues revolving around food and eating, refusing to go to school,  changing her mind on her sexuality more than once, refusing to cover up her neck and chest when covered in hickies, and others. Writing them down, I feel it unlikely that they are ALL attention seeking behaviours, but some I feel are. As I said though there are people out there, both professionals and lay people who I know would shake it all off as attention seeking.

                                             

Maybe the simple truth is that my children, the first two in particular grew up in a dysfunctional family in which impacted on their self esteem and sense of self worth which lead them to seek gratification in less traditional or socially acceptable ways. Perhaps they both suffer from the lack of a positive male role model and in fact rather than having NO male role model, their role model negatively affected their emotional development. Alongside this there was little, if any, extended family or social support system to help offer these children guidance, love and acceptance. In addition to this, the main female role model was emotionally and financially controlled, and though she loved and praised and praised her children it was not enough to alleviate the tensions and inequalities within the family. Perhaps her self doubt and frustrations overshadowed her trying to be a positive and loving mother she was/is. Perhaps these children, a product of an unhealthy and to some extent forced union, were just confused and ill prepared for life and they have tried to help themselves along in the only ways they found that worked for them.

                                             

Whatever the twisted and complex reasons that we are who and what we are, and why we have become this way we may never be privy to, and in some ways it is irrelevant. I can only try to help myself become a better person, stopping bad habits and fears and insecurities influence me and rather seek out positive people and positive solutions to better my life and my children's lives as well. I must try to stop the cycle of negative learnt behaviour and dysfunction. I will continue to love them and support as well as become frustrated with them and even angry with them, but at the end of the day I want them to learn that they ARE worth it and they deserve happiness and a healthier way of life. Maybe we have all become  used to and addicted to dysfunction since it has been our way of life for so long, but it is not what I am compelled to do, it is not my natural self,  I long for a life in which I can truly be myself living with the family I feel robbed of. Dysfunction and addiction have messed up my plan, damn it, and I want to find the power to reclaim my dream and make my kids believe in dreams too!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The Roller Coaster Life of The Lonely Addict



There are many people out there who are alone, unhappy and lost. We all find different ways to manage these difficult and uncomfortable emotions. We all, at the end of the day, want to feel loved and to love ourselves and our lives. That is not always possible and we then want to make ourselves feel better, feel loved, or even at times, feel nothing. What easier way to do this then with self medicating with illicit and licit drug use to become comfortably numb. I can understand the need and the motivation which creates sympathy for my son; however, I can also see the destruction and chaos which creates frustration within me.

                                         

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying it's ok to be an addict and I may not sympathize with them all. I know not all people are the same and therefore, not all addicts are the same. There are some addicts who slipped into addiction through over indulgence and "partying". There are some addicts who were almost turned into addicts from dealers who are in essence pimps who have no soul and deliberately get people "hooked" so that they keep coming back for more at whatever the cost. There are some who unintentionally became addicted to prescription medications and those who were socialized to drink and one day they realized they could not function without a drink. Not all addicts create a self medicated numbness; but, my son is such an addict.

My son's drug habit always seems to worsen when he has been rejected or had a negative experience, which is not surprising. My son does not go out and party and have fun while taking drugs. My son uses drugs to try to escape reality and in some respects he uses drugs in pursuit of happiness but he is starting to come to the point in his life where drugs no longer make him happy. That can be a positive or a negative. In a positive sense his realization that drugs no longer transport him to a happier plane could be the catalyst for him to seek out rehabilitation and a new direction in life in order to find happiness in other ways. It could also have negative repercussions in the fact that his realization that the drugs he is using are no longer giving him pleasure, he could then begin to experiment with other drugs and/or increasing the dosage in order to achieve a state of "happiness" and may in fact inadvertently overdose. I often fear the latter and every day wonder if my son is alive or dead. When I have tried to reach him and can not, my mind plays out different scenarios of finding him dead and my various reactions to his death. It is a horrible way for a parent to live, that each and everyday you wonder if you will ever see your child again, and it is more disconcerting when there are valid reasons for that fear.

                                           

My son is clearly unhappy and keeps finding it more difficult to achieve any level of happiness. When he reverts back to using drugs in attempt to erase his unhappiness, more often then not it will backfire on him. Just in the last three to months I can think of at least three such examples. During his last admission to the mental health unit we hoped for some help at last and all was going relatively well, until 6 weeks into his stay a new patient arrived. My son went out with this new patient one day and they scored some drugs (heroin, tranquilizers and synthetic cannabis). They were both subsequently discharged without any diagnosis or follow due to the fact that their discharge (as well as now the official reason for them being there in the first place) was due to drug use. After that my son regressed back to his secluded lifestyle of being indoors for days on end, being depressed, feeling rejected, feelings of self blame and therefore took more drugs.

Another occasion was when my son spent a lot of money on a variety of substances (quite a lot with the intention of putting some away as his stock pile) he became friendly with a young girl who is his neighbor in the supported housing where he lives. They started to get close and my son started to believe that someone could not only like him, but perhaps also love him. A few days of spending time together as well as taking drugs together, this young woman ended up in hospital since her heart could not cope with the amount of drugs in her system. My son panicked, flushed his stock pile down the toilet and called me up in hysterical tears fearing that this young woman may die and feeling responsible and so again the self blame, the depression, the anxiety all came flooding back to him. Luckily the girl was ok and was soon released from hospital.

                                             
   

Sadly the last example of my son's failed attempt at happiness by way of drugs may have very serious consequences. After receiving a large sum of money from the benefits department, my son was sensible enough to have me hold some money for him as well as kind enough to pay me back quite a lot of the money he had stolen from me in the past. He still had quite a lot of money left at his disposal. Even though he had a list of things he wanted to do with his money, like go to concerts, get a passport, buy a laptop etc he has spent the majority of it on legal and illegal drugs. When he first bought some drugs he spent a few days with a fellow drug user and basically that entire week is lost to my son and it is just a blur. Shortly after that week spent in a  drug induced haze he had a visit from the police with a search warrant. Not surprisingly the police took him in for questioning when they did find drugs in his flat. He was arrested for possession with intent to supply Class A and other classes of drugs. Of course with his past conviction the outcome is not looking very positive. The drugs have been taken away, well except for the "legal" one and he continues to use drugs.

Of course all this has been exasperated by his impending doom of eviction with no where to go. First the reason for eviction was the state in which he keeps the flat. Then it was for rent arrears. Both of which were addressed and the eviction was put on hold, but always a possibility when the manager seemed fit to continue with the proceedings. Then whilst in the mental health ward, I received a phone call from the manager of the flats saying that "since he is in the Linden Center, we are going forward with the eviction as it is clear that we can not offer him the level of support he needs". So sympathetic and understanding, not to mention the fact that she is obviously a very good manager of SUPPORTED housing, isn't support needed here?

Once my son was discharged and things seemed to be improved in some ways the housing manager did not say one way or the other what was happening with the eviction and my son was too anxious to ask! All the time though, my son lived in fear as to what was going to happen. Then after the incident with the neighbor, the eviction was put into full swing once again. This time he was told point blank that he will be evicted, it will go to court and he will incur court costs and the bailiff will come and put him on the street. The housing staff knew full well that my son had no where to go, and in fact that the homeless shelter would not even help him as he was still in arrears with them.

                                                   

This happened just before I went on a 2 week holiday with my daughters. Whilst on holiday I spoke to my son and he told me that he was advised by the support staff that it would be in his favour to resign his tenancy and avoid court, court costs and eviction because the local council would look unfavorably on that and he would be seen as making himself intentionally homeless. I agreed then that he should do as they advised. Upon returning home, it was my priority to assist my son with finding accommodation and the first port of call was going to the council. As we explained to them the situation, they informed us that the housing staff ill advised my son, and by resigning his tenancy, he is making himself intentionally homeless and he should have went ahead with the eviction and he would have had support from the council. Again, another blow to my son and all these blows feeds his feeling of hopelessness.

Next step, assessment for supported housing, to which I attended with my son and was told that his application will be put forward to the next panel meeting (2 months earlier this was suppose to happen but the man handling the application never submitted my son's application and therefore was not considered for supported housing on mental health needs even though he just spent 6 weeks in the mental health unit and was told that that was the reason for eviction)! I was optimistic to the point that every day that followed that meeting I went to my son's flat to clean up, sort out and pack up because I assured him that once his application is viewed at the panel meeting he may get a phone call telling him he can move.

Unfortunately, after I inquired (4 days after the meeting) we were told that no one at the meeting was "willing" to take on my son due to his past drug history! No alternative suggestions, no reassurance that something will be sorted; despite that one of the supporting documents to my son's application for supported housing was a letter from a psychiatrist saying that if he is made homeless again his mental health will surely deteriorate and the pressures of living on the streets will push him deeper into drugs and alcohol. No one was willing to take him on!

                                                     

Since then my son has been indoors once again and on the day we found out this news my son said to me, very sadly, that there is no point. There is nothing in his life and there is nothing that creates any semblance of happiness any more. He doesn't even understand how I can still love him. He has nothing, he is unhappy and the things that used to make him happy no longer work.

How long can a person continue to go on while they are constantly feeling rejected by professionals and society? I do not condone his drug use at all, but I do understand the motivation behind it. If people who are being paid to help and support vulnerable individuals, do not seem to give a damn if a young person who still has potential to become a thriving part of society, lives on the street or not...well then yeah, what is the point in his eyes!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Time to Re-Focus

I have spent far too much time away from the cathartic experience of writing. Too much time being overwhelmed without an outlet. Too much time focusing on my own pursuit of happiness and ignoring all the other aspects of life that needed attending to. Too much time hiding. It is time to burst out of the layers of fear, depression, loneliness and dysfunction and try once again to focus on my children as well as my writing to help speak out about the crazy world of addiction, dysfunction and parenting!

While I have never given up on my children, and they have always been my priority, I wrongly believed that my happiness is also important to giving me strength and posing as a positive role model. I see that my focus was wrong, I should not have wasted any time hoping for my personal happiness. At the end of the day, the more I pursued my own happiness the more negative messages I sent my children about life and the fairness of how we get treated or mistreated.

                                     

I wanted to be loved and to be desired. I wanted my children to witness that there is such a thing as happiness between two people and there are good men in the world.  All I did was show them that their mother was hurt again. Their mother is emotionally weak because she gives all of herself yet gets very little in return. I showed them how I am willing to be disappointed and rejected time and time again. How much I cried and hurt, how much I hoped and prayed that this time he will show up and things will be different. My love life is irrelevant, it is non existent. I have never been in a loving relationship. I have never had a man who was truly in love with me and the two men I have loved never treated me the way I deserved. I have showed my children very bad examples. This is not even speaking of what messages I have ingrained in them that their mother married a man she was not in love with and stayed with despite all the emotional abuse and financial and personal control he ensued upon us all. I have shown them a mother who has always felt sad and unloved and always dreamed of a happily ever after that is just not in my destiny. I should accept that. Instead I should be showing my children that I am strong and do not need anyone in my life to make me happy or motivate me or help me, I should have shown them all these years that I am capable of creating my own happiness and creating a life worth living; however, I must first believe that myself.

                                               
     

I met a man who saw us all for what we were. He saw that all first before we developed our friendship. He offered his support in the chaotic lives of an addict and that of his mother and sisters. He wanted to be there for my son and lend a helping hand as it is his profession and he had connections. He wanted to help us with things that I could not afford or do by myself, such as repairs. He spent time with us all and unfortunately all my children liked him, so much, and my son actually said he would like it if we "got together". My youngest daughter thought he was wonderful and acted so relaxed around him. Even my middle daughter, the one who seems the most suspicious of relationships, love, men, etc, thought he was "a nice guy". He knew our pasts, our faults, our vulnerabilities, way before we become lovers. It was so easy, so right. Then things became complicated as his issues, his fears, his immaturity and his own insecurities and selfishness came into the equation. He no longer helped with repairs. He no longer came around as often as he did before. He no longer tried to help my son. There were many broken promises. Months of playing me like a yo-yo and of me being an emotional roller-coaster were seen by my daughters.. It has only reinforced everything negative that my kids already thought of people and I am sure they were only more disappointed in their mother's foolish, girlish romantic dreams of happiness. Instead of making my children believe that they are the most important things in my happiness, I showed them I was not happy enough unless I was loved by a man as well. STUPID! Seven years of no social life, no dating, no relationship, after years of a loveless and lonely marriage; in all those years I only focused on my children. What a mistake to think otherwise.

                                         


I can not even imagine how many confused and wrong messages I have unintentionally been sending my children that will only add to their dysfunctional beliefs in their already messed up existence.

My son in the meantime has been in the mental health inpatient ward for 6 weeks, is being evicted from his supported housing accommodation, been rejected help from all the other supported housing, slipped back into drugs and been arrested again for possession with intent to supply. I am trying all I can to help and assist him, but my first reaction to many of these dramas was "I wish I had my friend in my life to talk to about all this", he was my first go to for support and advice. My ex husband has rejected his son once again when he was told that he is "unable" to help if his son is made homeless. My son's grandparents have also said the same thing, but with the additional, "I am sure everything will work out" and gave him socks!!!

                                               

My house is falling apart and without my friend's promises to be here for me forever and help me repair all the damage that is still in my home from when my son lived here and had drug induced rages (now a constant reminder and I wanted them repaired for emotional healing more than for aesthetic reasons). I have a room that is closed off because the roof is rotting and therefore creating damp and mold in side the room. My "friend" was going to replace that roof for me in January! The fence is falling down, my side gate is broken (the gate was another thing he was going to help me with). So since the big problems can not be addressed, I have stopped maintaining the house all together. Another negative message that I am telling my children. Surely I should want their health and happiness to drive me to  maintain my house for their happiness?

So now I will have to push myself to help my children, focus on them, focus on their surroundings, the messages I am sending them on their lives and futures so that they can have the best foundation and emotional health to start their own lives on their own. My own personal life is no longer an issue, I have learnt that very painfully. As hard as it will be because my own motivation and belief system is not as it should be.

                                                 
Focus!
I will write my blog to cleanse me and energize me. I will write my blog to organize my thoughts and emotions. I will write my blog to offer support and empathy to others in similar situations.

Focus!
I will begin writing letters and emails and kick up as much as fuss as possible until I get my son housed. I will try all I can to seek help and advice and motivate him to do all he can to stop him from going to prison for his last arrest. I will love him and fill him with hope for HIS future.

Focus!
I will try to encourage my daughter as she studies for her GCSE exams and praise her and encourage her to be all that she can be. No matter what my life's disappointments and failures, my inability to provide, that should not stop her from future education and she should travel and go to university and pursue her dreams.

Focus!
My youngest is still an adorable little girl, who I have discovered lacks confidence and feels bad about herself. I will focus on her as well as she is the one who gets lost and neglected with all the other dramas that go on in our lives. I will spend more time with her, listen to her, play with her and love her and tell her how amazing she is to build her up rather than have all my failed attempts at life and happiness teach her that life is pointless.

Their lives are not pointless, so I will re focus on them and forget about me because my time has come and gone and I blew it...end of story...but their stories are just beginning.

Next post....I will focus once again on my son's journey through addiction.