Syringe, pills and bottles

HOW MENTAL ILLNESS AND ADDICTION AFFECT FAMILIES

FROM THE EYES OF A MOTHER

I want to start out by saying this article will not be filled with a lot of statistics or anything of that nature. It will be part of my story and journey being the mother of a schizophrenic heroin addict. The effect it has on the family is devastating, heart-wrenching and at moments will take your breath away. The disease of addiction is a family disease, and it doesn’t only affect the addict.

My oldest daughter has been diagnosed as schizophrenic and bi-polar. Either one of these is a tough pill to swallow. A mother wants to do whatever it takes to make their child well but mental illness is a beast this mother can’t tame.

I feel a lot of guilt and regret, because when she started saying she heard voices or saw people at her window or demons hovering over her at night I blamed it on the music or friends, maybe just a teen wanting attention. The Dr. at the time also didn’t think it was a concern, just teen rebellion.

THE TEEN YEARS 

At age 13 she started skipping school was picked up by the police on more than one occasion. She ran away from home I don’t even know how many times.

One day she left my prissy beautiful daughter to stay with a friend and came home with black hair, black lips, eyes, and both eyebrows pierced. I was shocked, hurt and angry. I could ground her take away her favorite things and then what?

Stay up all night for fear she may run away, say nothing and she think it’s ok behavior. As a single parent, it wasn’t easy and I will be the first to admit I made a lot of mistakes and missed a lot of signs.

Unable to enjoy things I've always loved

         When The Mental Illness Can No Longer Be Ignored

She was 15 when she met the boy who would eventually be her first husband and father of the first 2 children. She seemed calmer happier content and that crazy rebellion seemed to leave.

However, the voices and demons didn’t and again got pushed to the side it was few and far between at this point. At age 16 she was pregnant with her first child. It was a very hard pregnancy with complications during child birthdays and days of labor but in the end, both were physically ok.

 

Mentally my daughter was never the same. She would sit and stare at nothing for hours on end. The Dr prescribed anti-depressants but she refused to take them. ( At that point she was still the girl who refused to even take Tylenol.)

THE VOID

The bond a mother and child have wasn’t there. The father moved in and helped take care of his daughter because mommy couldn’t get out of bed most days. She said she felt empty except for those darn voices.

Of course, by now everyone is seeing the change in her and the mental illness can no longer be ignored or brushed off as attention seeking. Two years later and she gives birth to her first son.

She was married and in their own place but the marriage was falling apart quickly and ends badly. A year later she gives birth to son number 2 by another man. That relationship ended before it started.

This photo represents how I feel on a daily basis

            LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME

The children weren’t being taken care of because the mental illness completely took over by child 3. The father of the first 2 would take them to live with him and child 3 stayed with me.

Daddies girlfriends didn’t want to help with the kids so it was a back and forth battle between him and myself. I would get them he would take them back until the day I had enough. These  babies were being neglected and abused

I was 2 hours away on a project at work when I get a call that he had dropped the kids and their things off in the middle of the road in front of our home. Didn’t bother to see if anyone was home.

 

My daughter was by this time in a relationship with husband number 2 and didn’t have a home nor was she capable of caring for 3 children. I gave it to them straight, if you don’t want them and you don’t want me to have them there are thousands of couples who can’t have children maybe you should consider adoption.

One thing for certain the neglect and abuse ends today!!  To my shock and horror, they both agreed without hesitation. She because she wanted them safe and loved his reasons purely selfish.

We found them a wonderful home and they are safe and loved and so blessed. Letting them go is the worst pain I have ever experienced and hasn’t changed. I had to stop because just the memories I’m sobbing.

I can’t explain it any other way then it felt as if they passed away. I should mention baby number 3 stayed with me and 14 years later is still here. They were with me the few months while the adoption was going through.

Now for husband number 2 and 2 more sons. My daughter had been diagnosed and on medication by this time. Sadly she wasn’t taking it as prescribed. The marriage was shaky, to say the least. Shortly after the birth of her last son (child #5), her husband went to prison. She started running around with a bad crowd and the kids were left with his family.

           THE ADDICTION HAS TAKEN OVER

These new friends introduced her to heroin and this addiction has been a battle for over 10 years now.  I didn’t believe the stories for the longest time because she hated to even take Tylenol or prescribed meds.

Why on earth should I believe she’s putting that needle in her veins?  Well, she was and as with all addicts the lies, the stealing and only care about one thing. That next high.

I had believed those lies for a long time. I chose to be blind to it until the  Thanksgiving dinner she decided to show us her track marks. I can’t explain that feeling but I became physically ill. My baby an addict?

No that can’t be true. He forced her I tried to convince myself but really, I knew. I knew the statistics of mental illness and addiction. You just never expect it to be your child.

HOMELESS AND ALONE

She has been homeless, in jail in hospitals. She has been beaten and robbed by the same people she stole from. Even as I sit here typing knowing it’s my child I’m talking about I still want to pretend it’s not.

The pain is not just my own, she’s hurting, my other 2 daughters lost the sister they grew up with.  Her 5 children don’t get to experience that bond. Aunts, uncles ,grandparents. We all hurt and we all cry for her.

I have many stories to tell from this experience and more will come later. I will add that at the moment she is clean and living on her own and taking her medication properly.

She has to be tested twice a week for illegal drugs or to see if she’s abusing the prescribed medication. I would love to believe this will last, but I can’t count the number of times we’ve been down this road. Until next time!

 

 

Have a blessed day, Myla

 

 

 

 

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