Category Archives: Children

I Slipped and Got Stuck In My Head

In gaining a deeper understanding of madness, we gain a deeper understanding of the core existential dilemmas with which we all must struggle, arriving at the unsettling realization of just how thin the boundary really is between madness and sanity.  Rethinking Madness – Towards a Paradigm Shift in Our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis. Paris Williams Ph.D.

rethinking madnessWell this blog went dark for a week or so because of traumatic dealings with my daughter who is mentally ill and addicted to drugs. I sort of ran out of things to say and was starting to feel and sound unhinged, even to myself. As a result I went into hibernation mode. For a couple of days I was depressed and stayed in bed all day watching the entire 2 ½ seasons of Titus High Performance, a show that was on the Fox network years ago.

It’s a show starring Christopher Titus a stand-up comedian, and is loosely based on his life. He was raised by an alcoholic father and a manic-depressive, schizophrenic mother. He married a girl who also came from a dysfunctional family of Irish catholic alcoholics, the brother a burglar and a drug user, the sister constantly having babies by different men without being married, the younger sister selling drugs….you get my drift. One episode is a thanksgiving dinner that turns into in a food fight and escalates to a brawl and shootout and the entire family ends up in the emergency room covered with food, burns, a dislocated shoulder for Titus, bumps and bruises.

So anyway I watched this show to “ground” myself, as in I’m not the only one with an insane family of origin. Then the next day I started percolating into a rage of “I’m sick of this shit, I can’t take anymore.” I was so angry that I was shaking. I ended up screaming at the dishes in the dishwasher. “When all the dishes are clean there is no place to put anything!!!! We have too God damned many coffee cups!” Mr. Husband caught the tail end of this when he walked into the kitchen and I turned to him and yelled “STOP BUYING COFFEE CUPS!!!!” That just made his day, lemme tell ya. All he had really done was to cook a wonderful 4th of July dinner. So sorry Hubman, really I am.

In this down time I read a bunch of books about dysfunctional families, substance abuse, etc. There are many different perspectives on these issues. Then main thing I take away is that I’m not alone in this struggle and I don’t have to put up with unacceptable behavior from anyone, including from my children.

When I get extremely stressed out I tend to turn in on myself and get quiet and hide. Fortunately for those around me, I don’t turn actively psychotic and start throwing rocks at the neighbors or burn down the house. But inside my head there is all kinds of freaking and shrieking going on. I get stuck in a loop of repetitive thoughts. Things like what I’m going to say to my daughter next time she calls, and blah blah blah. It’s absolutely crazy making and exhausting.

The thing I realized is that when this happens I become physically and emotionally paralyzed and just sit there staring into to space or at the TV. Being a writer and budding artist I decided to sit down and try to get this out of my head and onto paper. That was an interesting development. I tried to draw a sort of combination infinity sign or yin yang. What I discovered was that I was having trouble making the 2 sides connect, how odd. But then I started writing in all the things going on in my head versus all things going on physically. When I was done I had a graphical representation of what was going on in my head. The revelation was that the mental side of the drawing had tons of stuff in it…fear, guilt, anger, frustration, apathy, boredom, while the physical side had not much of anything except ills such as a headache, stomach ache, neck pain and so on.

That’s when it hit me. God grief, I’m stuck in my head! I need to get out of here and start living in the physical world again. I need to get moving around and doing things again. I hate when I get stuck in my head. It’s like mental plumbing trouble. I wonder if there is such a thing as a laxative for my brain.

Laughing at Yourself Takes the Edge Off

I know that God won’t give me more than I can handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much. Mother Teresa

If children are a gift from God…why does is sometimes feel like a curse? I woke up last night doubled over in pain with some kind of spasm in my innards. As I writhed around in pain thinking “oh crap, please tell me that I don’t have to go to the emergency room again” it suddenly occurred to me that it was because I still worry about my daughter even though I’ve told myself I’ve given her back to God.

The second as I realized that the pain vanished and I went back to sleep. I felt like yanking back the cosmic curtain and snarling “OK God, you do know I can hear you laughing, since you’re omnipotent and all that, right? I know there is supposed to be something I need to learn here, but could you point me in the right direction, or tell me if I’m hot or cold?”

Maybe the rope burn on my hands is a sign that I haven’t let go…enough…yet. Bleh!

This morning I’m walking around laughing at myself and suddenly the phrase “tough old bird” came to mind. I’ve always wondering what it would feel like to be a bird and fly free and now I realize I am a bird and I can fly free, if I let go of the things that are tying me to the ground. I’m a tough old bird who has seen and heard about almost every stupid self-destructive thing that a person a can do. There isn’t much that anyone can do that surprises me anymore. I may be annoyed, disturbed, elated, disgusted, frustrated, or over joyed, but surprise usually doesn’t come into the picture. Usually my main reaction is a deep sigh and “geez, not again.” God can still surprise me, but people? Not so much.

I told my sister that I had a long talk with the Big Guy upstairs and told him, “Hey, you sent her and now I’m sending her back! I’ve been at this for 42 years now, and I’ve had all the fun I can have, thank you very much.” She cracked up laughing and said “I can’t believe you said that.” But that’s how I feel. I can only take so much before I throw up my hands and cry “Uncle, I give up.” If professional wrestlers and fighters can tap out and stop a match, well then why oh why can’t I?

Open Letter to My Daughter

god has plans for meDear Daughter,

I want to start out by saying that I love you with all my heart. You are my child and I will always love you no matter what. That being said, I need to point out to you that you are an ADULT now and have been legally so for the last 25 years. And as an adult YOU are responsible for providing yourself with the life you want or need. No one else, not the government, not your friends, not me, or anyone else is required to provide for you. YOU are supposed to provide for you. That is God’s will and God’s plan for your life. I know you as only a mother can, and I know that you know the difference between right and wrong. That you chose to ignore what you know is the main source of the sorrows in your life.

I obviously made mistakes when trying to raise you and for that I sincerely apologize. I was a child of 16 myself when I gave birth to you and had no knowledge of how to raise a child and provide you with guidance that I never received because I made the poor choice to leave home too soon. Somehow I failed to impart to you the reality that when you are an adult almost everything that happens is a direct result of your action or inaction in any given situation. Sure sometimes bad things happen to good people, but only rarely. When bad things are constantly happening, you need to step back and take a long hard look at what you are doing or not doing to bring such sadness and deprivation into your life.

  • My car, purse, phone and laptop got stolen; well, you left your car unlocked, running, with the keys in it. That was your inaction. The place you choose to live is the car theft capital of the country and you are well aware of that.
  • My meds got stolen; well that was your choice to let it be known that you have meds that can be abused in your home and to also leave your house unlocked rather than blame it on the fact that the mate you chose, an alleged adult, can’t seem to keep track of a house key.
  • Someone is listening to my phone; OK, you know why that is, if someone really is doing that. This is a DIRECT RESULT of something you have done that you should not have done. You are NOT a random target.
  • My feet are cold, I lost my boots; well you chose to live in a frigid climate and chose not to keep track of your boots.

I can’t even count how many sad tales I’ve heard from you over these decades since you reached adulthood. I have lain awake night after night wondering why it is that you seem bound and determined to screw yourself over in every way possible.

One thing that has become clear to me is that you do not accept responsibility for yourself. I hear endless excuses about how whatever the latest crisis is not your fault. People are always out to get you. You never get a fair break. You are betrayed yet again. And on and on it goes. You have told so many half-truths and made so many excuses for your circumstances that you start to believe that is the truth instead of doing some serious soul-searching and asking yourself “what am I doing to ruin my life?” Deep down in you somewhere you know the truth, but I don’t think you have actually faced it and taken ownership and responsibility for your life.

Grandmommie used to have a quaint way of saying it. “If you lay down with a dog, you get up with fleas.” A biblical way of putting it is: “You reap what you sow.” What are you sowing? It can’t be anything beneficial, because your life seems to be a never ending stream of tragedy, melodrama and heartbreak. At the age you are, you should be reaping at least a little bit of joy, roses and sunshine by now instead of living in the eternal darkness of a wasted life caused by bad choices.

Looking back over the years I realize now that the only time you call is when you want something from me. You usually call when it’s getting close to Christmas. You want me to give you money, buy you something you insist you “need,” listen and believe your latest sob story and go along with your misguided attitude of “oh you poor little thing, why are all this terrible things happening to you?” I can’t even recall a time when you called me simply because you wanted to know how I was doing, what is going on in my life, what troubles I may have. These seem to be non-issues to you. I feel that I am nothing to you but an ATM machine and a shoulder to cry on when you’ve made yet another extremely unwise decision.

I can’t force you to change your ways and I don’t intend to even try. What I can do is change my ways. What I have decided is that I will no longer;

  • Give you money
  • Buy things for you
  • Respond to random text messages that are impossible to understand
  • Sympathize with you when you are suffering from the consequences of you own actions
  • Believe your excuses and long involved stories of why it wasn’t your fault that something bad is happening to you yet again
  • Attempt to rescue you from another pickle you’ve gotten yourself into
  • Attempt to have a conversation with you when you refuse to be honest and give me straight answers to reasonable questions regarding your situation
  • Attempt to talk to you when you are stoned, high, drunk, wasted, baked, buzzed or whatever the latest slang for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be
  • Allow you to come live with me because you “just can’t make it” on your own

What I will do is continue to love you and pray for you every day. The gift I am giving you today is your life. I am handing it to you on a silver platter because it does not belong to me. I have also given you back to God. It is between you and him what you do with your life. You know what you need to do. There is no better time than now to start living an honest, moral, sane, peaceful and joyful life. I hope you do, I’m looking forward to it.

Love you forever,

Mom

Book Review – Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You

Don't Let Your Kids Kill youMy bizarre dreams continue, and I know now that they are directly related to my darling daughter’s current flip out and total departure from reality. Her last text message yesterday of 15 text messages in the space of 5 minutes was. “I HATE MYSELF, I lost my soul, you don’t care, TTYL.” (TTYL = talk to you later) How’s that for a guilt trip? My kneejerk response spoken only in my head was “uh, take 2 valiums and call me in a year, mkay?”

Instead I took the 2 valiums myself and prayed the prayer I always pray. “OK, God, I’m giving her to you… again. I don’t know what to do, please take care of her and help her find her way.” I was crawling out of my skin and briefly considered scheduling an emergency visit with my own psychiatrist.

Then it hit me, it has reached the point in our twisted relationship that I am no longer afraid FOR her, I’m afraid OF her. I mentioned this to Mr. Husband and he said “yea, you’ve reached this point before many times.” It’s funny how I can go into such a major case of denial that I forget this. All it takes is a couple of “normal” phone calls and I think “ah, everything is OK now.” What is really happening is that she’s baiting the hook to reel me in with yet another request for money, help, bail her out, buy something she wants, fix her problem, rescue her from another jam, etc., etc.

So I went on the internet and searched for books to read to help me through this. I found one with the onerous title “Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You.”

Synopsis via Amazon.com: Book Description

Don’t Let You Kids Kill You – Publication Date: August 1, 2007

This is a self-help recovery guide for parents in the devastating situation of realizing that they are powerless to stop their children from self-destruction through drug and/or alcohol abuse. It is dedicated to letting parents know when it is time to start saving themselves from being dragged along to destruction as well, and to providing skills that prevent it. The book relies on spiritual but practical teachings and the message is for parents to attain a healthy balance in their lives through the letting go process. While showing parents how to safely distance themselves from the child’s destructive patterns, it also shows how to recognize and support healthy requests for real help, if and when they come. It includes anecdotes and quotes from parents who have had to cope with kids on drugs and/or alcohol.

This book also applies to parents with kids that have substance abuse problems in tandem with mental illness, which is the case with my daughter. I get so frustrated with her thinking, “If you are so ready and willing to take a pill, shoot, or snort anything that comes your way…why the hell can’t you just pop a few extra pills that will actually help you.

The sad truth here is that street drugs are much easier to get than psychiatric meds. Psych meds required going to a Doctor or clinic which is expensive and also require regularly scheduled follow up visits. In other words it requires responsibility, planning and follow through. Not easy and usually not part of the skill set for a person who has difficulty deciding on which shoe to put on first in the morning.

Another huge problem in the mental health care system is that many Psych doctors and psychologists don’t understand or don’t have the training to help people who have substance abuse and mental illness as co-morbid conditions. Their response is typically, “well, I can’t help you until you stop drinking, using…blah blah blah.” That is probably not going to happen. It’s like telling an injured person “I’m not going to give you anything for the pain until you stop screaming from the pain.”

So I read this book last night and it has helped tremendously, mostly from just knowing that I’m not alone in this never ending nightmare. There are so many parents out there suffering that there are a boat load of books written about it. The biggest take away from the book is that I have told myself, “This is not your fault!” As parents we blame ourselves, our family blames us, society and even the judicial system blames us. There is a law in Oregon state that if a child commits a felony offense, the parent is charged and convicted and pay the consequences for the crimes of the child. How’s that for giving a child a free pass to be as violent and dangerous as they want to be with absolutely no consequences?

My daughter is 42 years old now, so I don’t think I can be legally blamed for her mistakes or actual crimes, but the fear still keeps me up at night and gives me nightmares when I do manage to sleep. There is a broken record in my head that keeps playing the same questions over and over: “Where did I go wrong? What could I have done to prevent this? What did I do? What did I not do?”

One thing the book advises is to try to distance yourself, stand back and view your child as an adult person, not the darling child you gave birth to. If this person engaged in the offensive or violent behaviors and language, abused you physically or emotionally, stole from you, lied to you, and was just in general an all-around looser…Would you accept their behavior, make excuses for their actions, blame yourself, or even associate with them at all? If the person were not your child you wouldn’t even think twice, you’d back the hell off and stay away from them. You would not; give them money, tolerate hysterical phone calls at 3:00 am, believe their lies, bail them out of jail repeatedly, or allow them in your home. And you certainly wouldn’t visit their home, if they have it together enough to have one, without a bodyguard.

So instead of nursing this gaping wound for my child I have to start taking better care of myself. I have to start living my good dreams instead of my nightmares. The stress of not doing so could kill me. And it does kill parents of troubled children on a regular basis via high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, suicide, bleeding ulcers, and other stress related health conditions.

My daughter has threatened me with suicide many times if I did not do what she wanted me to do. Today I accept that as an adult this is her decision to make. But, also, now that she is adult she is responsible for her own life. I am no longer willing to die for her.

The Never Ending Story

ripping your hair outIf you have a troubled child my heart goes out to you. I slap you a big ole high five for any day that you make it through without ripping out all your hair and making it into a noose to hang yourself with.

My daughter (40 years old) has lost her freaking mind….again. Supposedly, her neighbor across the street conspired to have her thrown in jail because he wanted her apartment. Now the FBI or some other agency is tapping her phone. She knows this because she hears coughing and laughing when she is on the phone. Logically the sounds are probably coming from the person who is being subjected to her latest bizarre tale of woe.

Next on the list is that she was supposedly pregnant and in jail they abused her so much that the baby left her womb and took up residence in one of her tubes. Uh yea, like that really happens, oookkk??? The fetus may get stuck in a Fallopian tube and not make it to the womb, and that is a life threatening situation, but they don’t turn around and go back up the tube just because you’re having a bad day.

Continuing on with the insanity, she calls me when I’m on my way home from Seattle while I’m in the line to go through the security check and informs me that she is having a miscarriage and therefore I have to buy her a new phone…not just any old phone, but an untraceable phone. Say what?? I told her I couldn’t really talk at the moment because I was in the middle of taking my shoes off, etc. So instead she hangs up and sends me 15 text messages in the space of 5 minutes. What the hell does having a new phone have to do with having a miscarriage, assuming that was what was actually happening? I swear to God that I’m not making this shit up.

It occurred to me as I was driving home from an errand today that it has literally been decades since I have believed ANYTHING she tells me. If she said the sky was blue I would walk to the window and look outside to verify that the sky was actually blue.

I know she is scared and obviously suffering, but whatever mess she is actually in, I know she brought it down on her own head. She seems determined to screw herself over in every way humanly possible. Because she is highly intelligent she finds really creative ways to do herself in on a regular basis. I don’t know what to do, so instead I just try to cram it away in a corner of my brain somewhere and not think about it.

But that doesn’t work. This morning I was drinking coffee and suddenly realized that I was grinding my teeth and was having trouble breathing. I was in the middle of a major panic attack. I had to take a magic happy calming pill that my psych doc gives me for emergencies. I’m only supposed to take them every once in a while, but when my daughter is yanking my chain I start popping them like tic tacs. I talked to my shrink about this and she said that it’s ok as long as I don’t start doing that all the time. And I don’t. Left to my own devices I don’t need them and don’t even think about them.

Another one of her favorite stunts is to call me up and tell me this long involved tale of madness and intrigue and then call another family member and tell them a completely different story. If I’ve called them before she gets to them they bust her on it. So now she gets to be mad at me for “outing” her and violating her privacy. I finally told her that I’m not going to keep secrets within the family because secrets make families sick. If she doesn’t want anyone to know then don’t tell me in the first place. I’m not going to cover for her anymore.

Ah, another day in my own personal funny farm. Her “bugged” phone supposedly ran out at midnight two days ago. I assume she is going to punish me for not buying her a phone by not telling me what her new number is. If I’m lucky I may hear from her in a month or two. If I’m really, really lucky I may not hear from her for six months or even a year. An uneasy reprieve, such is life.

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