I started this blog to write about my running and my life. The majority of the things that I share on here are positives. But, life isn’t always positive, and there are parts of my life that I keep private. I know everyone has negatives in their own lives, so why would they want to read about mine? But, today I want to share something with you that is a very difficult subject for me to talk about. Actually, it’s a very difficult subject for me to understand. But, I’ve been on the other side of it, and I want to share my point of view with you.
For the last ten years, I have watched a very close family member struggle with addiction, and completely spiral out of control. It all started with pain pills and alcohol. For years, I watched as this addiction tore apart her life, and how it made all of our family suffer. There was nothing we could do. It was completely out of our control, and it was miserable knowing that we couldn’t help. We tried to take her pills and pour out her alcohol, but she would always get more. It was a horrific cycle. Addiction is a powerful thing, and once it gets a hold of you, you can’t stop it. It’s so sad, but at the same time it angers me more than anything. Why would you hurt yourself like that? Why would you hurt the people that love you? How can someone be so selfish? How can they not see what they are doing? It’s hard to understand the answers to these questions when you are not the one with the addiction. They don’t think they are doing anything wrong, so they don’t realize they are hurting themselves or anyone else.
For years, every time the phone would ring, I would get this feeling of dread thinking that this is the call, she’s gone. We all had to just sit back and watch it all unfold in front of us. She lost everything, and it got to the point where she was losing her life. We were watching her fade away right in front of us. She was an adult, and sadly there is nothing you can do unless she agrees to it. We couldn’t force her to go to a rehab facility, and stay there. Since she was an adult, she had the right to check herself in and out.
I’m not sure what finally got through to her, but she did eventually get clean and get her life back together. She had not touched alcohol for about five years. But, like I said before, addiction is a powerful thing, and for some people, there will always be a temptation of some kind. This last year she ran into some hard times, and she began seeing a psychiatrist. This doctor, knowing that she has had a substance abuse problem in the past, prescribed her several different types of medications. She had several different pills for anxiety, and some for bipolar disorder. Which she does even not have. She had pills for depression. And, she had three different kinds of antipsychotics. All of these had very scary side effects on their own, and together they were a nightmare. The dosages were a ridiculous amount every day, and the doctor kept upping them. I don’t understand how a doctor can do this to a person.
She was like a zombie. There were days when she couldn’t get out of bed, and she felt bad all the time. She would not acknowledge that it was the pills causing all of this. We all tried to tell her; but again, the addiction got the better of her. She trusted the doctor. And I blame the doctor for all of this. As the doctor upped the dosages, we watched her get worse. She couldn’t talk without slurring. Her eyes were always dilated, and she couldn’t focus. Sometimes she couldn’t even hold her head up. We knew it was happening again, but she wouldn’t hear us. She believed there was nothing wrong, and that these pills were helping her.
These last couple of weeks were the worst. She started having hallucinations this past week. She was truly scared that someone was coming after her. I went over one morning to try and talk to her. I had never seen her like this before, and it was very scary. She was completely out of touch with reality. She was describing things to me that never happened, but I could see that she truly believed that they did. I kept trying to talk to her about her medicine, but at this point, she couldn’t understand anything that I was telling her.
On Thursday, my whole family went over and sat down with her. After hours of begging, she finally agreed to get help. We spent Thursday afternoon and most of that night at a facility getting her an evaluation, all of us being interviewed by the doctor, and waiting to get her admitted. I think she did finally realize what had happened, but not until it was too late. In this case, the outcome was a positive one.
I am sharing all of this today, not because I want sympathy or because I want to vent about something, but because I want people to understand what an addiction really does. Before all of this, I used to think if someone wants to quit doing something, then they can. I didn’t understand that some people just can’t stop. I didn’t realize how much of a hold it has. It really is a disease. I do now though, and I see how hard it is for someone to give up something they are addicted to.
Being on the other side of this is absolutely heartbreaking and gut wrenching. To watch someone you love basically slowly kill themselves is the worst feeling in the world. You have this intense feeling of helplessness. There is absolutely nothing you can do until they decide they actually want help. You try to go on with your life, but you are constantly worried and expecting the worst, and every time the phone rings, you are filled with dread. It’s a sickening feeling, and it’s a terrible way to live your life. But, if you love someone you can’t not worry.
This is a hard thing for anyone to experience, and it never gets any easier. I am not an expert on anything to do with addiction or treatment. I am just sharing my personal experience and my personal feelings in dealing with this. I wanted to share my side of this, so maybe if you are going through this too, you can see you’re not alone. Or, if you are the one that has the addiction, maybe my words will show you what it does to the people that care about you. There is no fix for the people on the other side. The only thing that has helped me is having good family and friends to lean on.
Sorry for the downer, but life isn’t perfect and I think we can learn from each other’s experiences and mistakes.