Tag Archives: Substance abuse

The Seven Stages of Pissed Off

The five stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

All the death gurus I’ve read or heard quoted claim there are stages of grief. I have to say that at the moment I’m in the white hot lava mountain of rage otherwise known as anger.

It’ kind of hard to deal with because at the moment I’m angry with my family and everyone else I’ve even known who puts themselves in harm’s way to the sorrow and fear of their loved ones and friends.

I’m angry with my grandson for choosing to live a sad and dangerous life; choices that left his 26 year old beaten, drugged up, frozen dead body on the ground in a train station in Boston. Those of us left behind to mourn him are left holding the bag. I’m pissed off because it seems like he got off easy. He doesn’t have to face each day knowing that he’s gone forever. He’s not left with a life time of “what ifs.”

I’m angry at those members of my family who still abuse drugs and alcohol and live on the razors edge of death in a myriad of ways because of their actions. Who will I have to bury next?

I’m angry at family and friends who suffer from an assortment of mental illness and refuse to seek or maintain treatment. I’ve been told by a number of them that well “I’m not hurting anyone but myself.” Excuse me but that is total unadulterated bullshit. Hello but you are torturing those who love you.

Having substance abusing, and or mentally ill friends and relatives is like having a stalker. The situation grinds on relentlessly for years and then decades. Your heart jumps into your throat every time the phone rings. “What  is it THIS time?” Are they in the hospital? Are they in jail? Are they missing…again. Are they dead?

It’s a slow kind of torture that never ends. You can’t do anything about it. Maybe having an actual stalker would be easier to deal with. You can report them to the police. You can take out a restraining order. You can go incognito. If all else fails, you can move to another city or country to get away from it.

But you can’t get away from substance abuse or untreated mental illness. You can hope, you can pray, you can go into denial and refuse to answer the phone, but you can never get away from it.

To anyone who thinks that their self destructive behavior is their business and not anyone else’s….I would like to brain you with an iron frying pan and then lock you in a closet for a year or three. You ARE hurting the people who love you.

 Mental Illness – A Crime Punishable by Death

Rest in Peace, Christopher

Rest in Peace, Christopher

When did mental illness become a crime punishable by death…without even a trial? That’s what can happen to a loved one if they live in the frozen North of our great country. I’m so angry that I’m having extreme difficulty putting it into words.

My grandson has been struggling for years now. His latest residence was a homeless shelter for veterans in Boston. He got in some kind of disagreement with them and they threw him out, in the middle of the night, when the temperature was in the teens. If it was that bad why didn’t they call the police? I’d rather my grandson be in jail than in a funeral home waiting for us to bring him to his final resting place. There are not enough tears in the ocean to shed at this travesty.

Many of our young people are behind the eight ball in multiple ways; inner city crime, emotional disorders, mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness and many more problems. Most health care professionals have no training in treating people with alcoholism and mental illness together.

Many will say “we can’t give you any medicine for mental illness because you are drinking.” I’m sorry, but that is a big giant load of horse crap. Maybe if they gave someone a valium they would calm down, go home, if they have one, and go to sleep, instead of wandering the streets, and even dying on a park bench or a train station. Are they afraid of liability issues? I wonder.

So my grandson is laying in a coffin now. He slipped through the cracks. But can we even call it a crack?? It’s more a huge fissure that’s getting wider every day. Pray for our 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.

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.

Your Habits Become You – Your Red Scarf Matches Your Eyes

I Did It My Way

I Did It My Way

I’m a rather curious person. And I’m also a curious person.  I like to click on the people who “like” my post and go to their blog to see what they have to say. What’s their take on life as they know it?

While perusing others blogs I came across an article The S.A.I.D. principle, posted on February 9, 2013. It means Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands.  I found this on the Real Women’s Health Blog. She’s got some good stuff there.

While exploring this topic she posed the question: If faking a smile can make you happy, does whining make you more miserable? I think this is absolutely true in a most profound way. I know that whining never solves any problem that I have.

Nor does having a tantrum.  But, but…tantrums are so cathartic, even though they do tend to damage people and objects subjected to said tantrum. Whining only turns you into a sniveling bowl of poorly set jello. It doesn’t help at all. It’s not cathartic, it’s not satisfying, and it does not help the situation. It just makes you and those around you more miserable. And it reinforces a sense of helplessness and being an all-around ineffectual person. “I can’t or won’t do anything to make this better, so I’m just gonna sit around and bitch about it.”

Years ago I sat through many a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon (for people who deal with other alcoholics). These people are ruthless I tell you! I’d be sitting around nursing my crappy coffee in a Styrofoam cup and singing the blues. “Oh woe is me, my life sucks, and this will never end.” The old wise ones would tell me things like: “Put on your big girl panties…. Get off your pity pot.” My favorite was “come down off that cross honey, there’s only room for one up there.”

I would of course become outraged. “How DARE you say that to me!  If you had the problems I have…<insert horror story here>…blah blah blah.” Then I’d calm down, shut up and listen. Everyone who has to deal with substance abuse or mental illness or any other freak show has their own horror story. The may be different from mine but they’re all terrible.

I’ve listened to people talk about their schizophrenic or bipolar/alcoholic daughters, who would go off their meds, disappear from the face of the earth for a year or 2 and then show up out of the blue with another baby for the grandparents to raise. Then after another year or 2 the daughter would pop back up and say “Hey, I’m all better now, gimme back my kids.” And with the courts behind them, they snatch the kids out of the stable environment and go off on another magic carpet right, kids in tow. How’s that for a nightmare scenario?

I’m grateful now that I heard these stories. My daughter tried that with me. She did not even ask, she demanded that I take her children. And threatened that if I did not take the kids, I would never see them again. Fortified with the information I had  – I refused. I told her that she needed to get straight, get treatment and TAKE CARE OF HER CHILDREN, THE KIDS SHE GAVE BIRTH TO. It broke my heart into a million tiny pieces.

I got a ton of flack and grief from people who don’t understand the labyrinths of hell that is untreated mental illness and substance abuse. “How could you do that, what kind of person are you that you would not take in those kids?” It cut me to the bone. I was a single woman at the time living at a barely subsistence level myself. I was in no position mentally or financially to take on the raising of 2 children.

Unfortunately she made good on her threat. I have never seen these 2 grandkids since. She disappeared again for a couple of years when I failed to meet her demands. I found out later that she gave the children up for adoption. She claims the state took them away. I don’t know what is true around this. But I do know the kids are in a stable 2 parent home, cared for by people who love them and can give them a happy life. Could I have done that? I don’t think so.

Am I whining about this? Nope, just stating the facts, Ma’am. Tough love is exactly what is says –tough. You might be better off walking barefoot across hot coals topped with broken glass. I guess what we have to do is pull way back and look at the big picture. Would things have been better if I chose a different path? I don’t know. I will never know. I just have turn left at the next star and head straight on ‘til morning.

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