Sunday, March 3, 2013

I'm always learning......

I have started several posts and then sent them straight over to the drafts folder. My thoughts are a jumble and I am hoping that by writing some of it out here I can bring some order to the chaos.

Ive had all of my family together this weekend for little one's birthday. For the most part it has been really fun, filled with joy, a lot of laughing and me feeling like I adore my family and I am so blessed. They really are so funny. Big brother brought both of the grand-dogs which are young "genius puppies" who add a chaotic flair to the whole mix. My girl has struggled with so many people being here. There were some good times, lots of laughing, but also times of rage and anger and isolation on her part.

As for me I feel like I am waffling on a foot in each world. I'm having fun with the kids, cooking and eating and enjoying their stories...laughing and looking happy, but my mind is on my girl. Concern for her. Why can't she just be with us? Part of us...we are the people who are always *for* her. We are the people who will never stop being her family. Others will come and go....but not us. But she takes herself away from all of us. She isolates and is mad that we are around... but its our home! Everyone is always welcome and will always be welcome here.

In my mental illness class this week we were discussing the stages of healing one goes through when they are coming out of a time of crisis.

Stage 1 is the crisis/recuperation stage which is a period of extreme exhaustion and dependence. They sometimes feel depression, humiliation, resentment and anger. They need lots of sleep and someone to take care of them, and proper treatment.

Stage 2 is the decision/rebuilding stage. During this stage they begin to feel like its time to get going, time to learn how to do things for themselves and become more independent. They will sometimes feel hopeful, grief, self -doubt, trust, fear, excitement, frustration, and pride. They need to tell their story, education about mental illness, people who believe in them and to learn social and working skills.

Stage 3 is the Awakening stage. The begin to believe they are somebody, and that it is possible to build healthy interdependence. They may feel some self acceptance, appreciation for others, confidence, anger at injustice, assertiveness, and want to be helpful. They will need a personal vision, people who can appreciate their efforts, someone to love, meaningful work, and to advocate for themselves and others who are in a similar situation.

I always *knew* my girl would get better someday. That eventually we would find the key to all of this and she would stop taking drugs and it would be done. Really, there was no other option in my mind. Failure was not even a consideration. So far that has not been the case. I learned in our class that while other mental illnesses run in cycles...major depression does not. It is a chronic life long mental health issue. It can be managed with medications and healthy diet and exercise but anyone who knows someone with major depression knows that the very things that will bring healing are the things that feel the least possible of all.

I am beginning to look at the reality that my girl's recovery will be a long and difficult journey. Her mental health will require daily maintenance for the rest of her life. She and I spoke of this yesterday....."I always thought if I stopped taking drugs I would be ok. But then I would stop and I was not ok. I was miserable and couldn't function and I was just "like this" and I would now what?" She would go back to using drugs... what a vicious cycle the poor thing was caught in. Breaking the cycle is excruciatingly painful and scary.

From the NAMI handbook: "People are urged to exert more mental and moral control, to have more self-discipline, to adopt a more positive attitude. This is a very unfair way to treat people who are suffering from a tragic and painful illness that they cannot in fact control. To ask them to "shape up" is like asking a person with a broken leg to run a marathon." 

In some ways I feel so validated. I posted awhile back about my picture of early recovery and it included limiting stress, no pressure to find a job, taking art classes, yoga classes, doing things that nurtured peace in our spirits and giving our sick loved ones *time* to heal. In other ways I am processing the fact that there really are no quick fixes. That my life has taken such a different turn than I ever expected. A lot of good has come from it, but a lot of heartache also. I have learned more from all of this than any other single life experience. But I think there was always that little squiggle inside myself that thought that just maybe there was a key somewhere that I just hadn't found yet.

I think my perspective is changing from, "Hey! Its over and we're better!" to "Hey! Today was a good day!" I have said that I live one day at a time for a long time and I do...that has saved my sanity, but I also think that I always believed that it would come to an end and be all better. I'm not so sure that's how this is going to go. It may improve and maybe it will just be a different type of "better" than I expected.

One can hope and I can certainly keep praying for us all.



Dawn McCoy said...

Amen! Since I have one addict daughter, and one seriously mentally ill daughter (paranoid schizophrenic) I totally get it, from all sides!

SoberMomRocks said...

And we will keep praying for you.


Signe said...

This was so helpful, Annette. The stages, your insights, all of it. It also sounds like you've stepped off of a plateau and moved to a higher level of understanding. It's calming to be able to say as you said, "Hey! Today was a good day!" Just today is enough to think about.

Syd said...

I think that hope is such a good thing. Hope for each day to be okay, hope for the loved one to be okay. I am thinking of you as you struggle with acceptance. There is so much sadness right now, but hope is still inside.

Sober Mommy said...

i have so many thoughts I would like to put down, but you know me, I stink at putting things out there in a proper manner.

This weekend I was reflecting on my own sobriety. And, although I am going on 4yrs sober now I am STILL an alcoholic.

I remember a man who was 5yrs sober in my rehab and he was going thru it again because he was still "acting like an addict" Many of us were angry, how could HE possibly understand what WE (one week, two weeks sober) were feeling? Why was HE waisting our counselors times when WE needed them so bad? One counselor told us we will "get it" someday in a few years, or in 20yrs.

Now, I get it. I have a pattern of behavior that has followed me over a lifetime. Drinking or not, I struggle with it. Drinking made it worse, but sobriety isnt fixing those things for me either.

I have good days, bad days, horrible days. Not drinking of course makes me think clearer BUT I still see my alcoholic self in me almost daily, and it sucks.

Your daughter is lucky that the family is recognizing how shes feeling :) Can you adopt me?

Mrs. Dubose said...

I finally did a google search of "parents whose children are substance abusers blogs" and was surprised to learn I am not alone. I am too sad to read much but I am bookmarking this blog and I will be back to read and hopefully learn.

It's not a good club to be in.

Anonymous said...

I am the mother of a recovering addict /alcoholic and am trying to figure out what is mental illness and what is addiction for my son. When he stops using, he gets extremely depressed, paranoid and anxious. But I've read great articles on PAWS, and this seems to be a reasonable explanation. Your daughter says she feels horrible when she is sober too. But what is the longest time that she's been sober? I told my son that it will take a minimum of six months of sobriety before he can know if he really does have an underlying mental illness. Do you believe this also?