Standard Badge: Connection, Truth and Love
Posted on April 23 2019
My husband had bipolar disorder, a difficult to treat, chronic mental disorder. In his quest to quiet his mind, to find some relief from the pain and suffering that he was continually in, he drank. Self-medicating, he became addicted to alcohol, and most assuredly, prescription medications. I worried about his health, his inability to stop drinking, and was most concerned about him getting behind the wheel and injuring or killing someone else. When he took his life in 2017, it hurt like nothing I hope to ever experience again. It still hurts, and it always will. But it was a relief that I no longer had to worry about him, about getting that call, about him hurting, or his hurting someone else. That part of our suffering, and his, was over. Another had just begun.
I know my story is not unique, not even a little bit. How do I know this? I talk about it...all the time. When I am introduced to a new person, we inevitably start taking about family. That seems to start a conversation that they don't expect. The truth. Nine out of ten times, I am greeted, in turn, by a similar story. A family member who is an addict. A mentally ill friend who copes, not well, with self-medication of illicit drugs. Someone who is waiting for the phone call that their loved one has died, because they know it's coming, and nothing that has been attempted to do to help that person has worked. The connection that this truth has brought into my life has been something I had not expected, so much love and support...I just needed to lead with my truth. That decision has been huge gift that has changed my life in so many wonderful and heart-warming ways I could never have anticipated. I have gained so many new friends, ones that have literally kept me alive since his death, nurturing me body, mind and soul. I could not be more grateful.
Addiction is about disconnection. Emotional blockage that has not been attended to. Relief in the escape of the current and seemingly, ever present pain. To release the pressure of the mind, is to "self-medicate". Even with this understanding, it's still hard to believe the amount of heartache, death and destruction that goes along with addiction has been tolerated by our community, our country, for so long now. It's time for a shift in the conversation.
We know better, let's do better. How can you support the one's you love? Ask questions. Be present when they answer you. Give the tough love, the truth. Be clear. Be kind. Do what you can to assist that person that you love, without enabling the destructive behavior that is taking over their lives. The more honest and real conversations we can have about mental health and addiction, the more we will connect with those we love...that can only be a good thing. Offering a hug, a walk, a cup of coffee...that's about the humanity that we are truly seeing being replaced by computers and corporations. It starts with you. Make it today.