Personal Note

My most valued possession is my family. Even if you are living in a box somewhere, and you have the love and support of your family, you will always be wealthy. Love really is all you need. From love, great things will emerge. From your thoughts, you can create greatness.

This is what I need to remind myself of everyday to be the best person that I can be. Live your life with gratitude. Be thankful for all that you have everyday, even if it is your eyes to see or your ears to hear or your feet to walk or your hands to create. Understand your place in this Universe; how infinitesimally small you are, but how huge a contribution your Spirit is. Don't wear blinders to the world around you, you're not the only one here. Be kind, considerate, don't be judgemental, love others, and yourself. Know that you are perfect inside; that you are love.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Big breath in...let it all out.

I walked out to my car for something and there is one bird singing its heart out in a tree. It's misting a chilly rain, and I think "What's he so happy about? He's probably cold and wet. Silly thing..."

It's 4:45 in the morning in a hospital ambulance bay, so what does he have to be happy about?

I often wonder this about people as I see them going about their days, sometimes their appearance being downtrodden, poor and blissfully ignorant of the things that should be making them unhappy. Yet, there they are. Smiling like fools at the cruel world of disassociation ignoring their shining faces.

Then, I remember myself. What I've been through, what my husband has been through...and our son. And I realize that I am one of those people; moving through daily life trying to see the best in it. Of course, not always; I have my days where I have to drag myself out of the "all hope is lost" abyss that I sometimes slip into. But, it's often temporary and I am grateful. Grateful that I have the ability to choose a more positive path.

Back to the bird. He doesn't know there is anything to be unhappy about. He doesn't seem to notice the cold misty rain, or if he does, he doesn't mind. He doesn't know it's 4:45 in the morning, except that it will be dawn soon and another chance at a new day. He doesn't know he's in an ambulance bay at a hospital where death and negativity lurks around every corner. All he knows is the happiness and freedom to sit on that branch and be alive.

In my realization that he has many things to be happy about, one being the abundance of worms that are scattered about the pavement in seek of dryer abodes, having been driven out of their secret places by the rain, I realize that I have much to be happy about, too. Sure, there's a lot to be sad about, but is that all I want to look at and think about?

Tragedy seems to follow my family, and I just don't know how to process some of those things. After everything, and finally starting to gather the pieces to glue together, another tragedy arises; another loss. While I was having a fulfilling time in Chicago again this past weekend, my nephew and his girlfriend lost their tiny baby boy at 20 weeks gestation.

Why do these things keep happening? How do we explain them? How do we comprehend getting over the obstacles in our lives, let alone, the unfathomable losses? When the unthinkable keeps at us, how do we learn to cope? Do we just give up, draw the shades and climb back in bed pulling the blankets up over ourselves? No one would blame us...I mean, my own life seems cursed, if you look at it like that. After everything that has happened to us, I wonder sometimes. But, I know that isn't the way to live, because it's not living.

I had a long period of mourning. And then another. And then another. And, then again for something else...
It seems like all I ever have to report lately is tragedy and strife, but that's not why I write and share with you. I want to share the things that happen, unbelievable as they are, so that you can know you are not the only one with trouble, angst, sorrow or difficulties. And, it is my hope that I can show you, somehow, that it is not all there is. You can survive. You can live.

I know how hard and unwelcome it is to listen to someone telling you that all you have to do is look on the bright side, have hope, believe that it is going to be better. There are just times in the dregs of life that you don't want to hear that it's all up to you....if you just want it badly enough.

But, I'm here to tell you, show you, urge you to know that all is not lost. There is hope. You are not defined by the things that happen to you. But, you can define yourself by the things you do about them. None of us choose to have horrible things happen to us (most of us, anyway), but we can chose what to do about it.

I choose to live. Not forget, but live on, and share my life with you so that you know it's okay to live on, too. There are no exact answers for everyone to follow, every person and every situation is different, but there is so much inspiration out there from people who know what it's like and who have conquered the worst things in life. You most certainly can, too. I am willing to do what it takes for myself, and to help you along the way. Are you willing to take a chance on finding happiness? You deserve it, you know. There are things to be happy about.

I do know this-I was just happy that night, walking in that cold misty rain, that I was able to hear the bird sing.

Thank you for reading and letting me share with you.

With much peace to you,



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Monday, March 16, 2015

The Inconspicuous Killer...

In my last post I touched on a subject we keep fairly close to ourselves in full detail. But I have chosen to break that silence. We tried already to conquer it without much "to-do" over it to anyone outside our closest family and friends. I slowly started to open up about it to friends who are a little further outside our circle and have mentioned it in my writing, as well. I have hit a point where I cannot keep my knowledge of this danger silent any longer.

I have researched and watched and learned all I can and I get more anxious with every article, thread post and TV show. I don't feel like I am being responsible or doing what I have set out to do, if I don't come clean and share this with you completely.

The dangers of "Huffing" are real. I had no idea. I just thought it was a cheap substitute for the narcotics we ensured our son could no longer get. I knew it was dangerous, mind you, but I had no idea how addicting or how necessary it became to our son, until recently.

I want to start at the beginning and give you a timeline of sorts, so you can see the progression that we went through. Not everyone's situation will be the same, the progression of abuse differs from person to person and affects all families differently, but the similarities are hauntingly similar. Too similar to ignore.

December 2013: my husband and I find evidence of drug use in our son's closet while we are switching rooms around. This was a shoe box with a plastic bag, a spoon, a used insulin syringe, an empty ball point pen tube, cotton balls and aluminum foil and a light dusting powder covering everything. I immediately thought meth or heroin. I called my son home, confronted him and found out it was Percocet. Heavy dose pain killers my father is prescribed. I then thought it was brought on by:

  • my mother's death
  • my son's DUI and totaling of my car (that I thought was a result of my mom passing)
  • my husband's mother's murder
  • my brother's alcoholic death
  • Any of the above would send you over the edge, right? 
No. His abuse of Percocet (about 8 per day for about 5 years from Freshman year of high school to Freshman year of college) came after seeing an episode of A&E's Intervention the summer before freshman year of high school started, and the knowledge that my father had an abundance of narcotics at his disposal. My dad did not act irresponsibly with his pills, necessarily, it's just that we never, ever would have thought he would ever do something like this, so nothing was ever hidden. He was never raised in an environment with drinking, smoking, drug abuse, etc. As a matter of fact, my son has never met his biological father because of this reason--violence and drug abuse. There are so many things that can be said right now regarding why he started: "he never knew his father" (he was always spoken to about the need to meet his 'father', and that I would support him any time he was ready), "his biological father (and uncle) were addicts" (this is true, so if there is a such thing as an 'addiction' gene, my son probably has it) "maybe he was too sheltered" (I always wanted to keep him safe from seeing anything on TV/Movies that was too inappropriate) "maybe he wasn't treated stern enough/treated too sternly as a child" (my husband and I did our very best, but as parents, we will always ask ourselves this question more that any of you could).

The truth is, even he says he doesn't know. He just wanted to try it and liked it. The end. That's sometimes all it takes.

After we found out in December about this drug use, we took him to his Primary Doctor. Our son had been diagnosed with ADHD at five years old and took medication since that time. He was always an honor roll student, except for a few times in high school, but was always able to bounce back. His primary Dr. took him off the Concerta because it is considered a controlled substance. So, now, he has no medication to help him with compulsive behavior. All means of him getting pills were removed and a close watch was put on him. He had already gone months without using and had no job and was confined to home. 

But it didn't help. He got back to the pills (addicts are sneaky) and this time we put him in rehab. 

May 2014: As soon as I found out, I called my insurance company to inquire about what services were available to us and what was covered. They were so helpful, I could have wept. The very next day he had an appointment for an assessment. He was placed in Acute Intensive Outpatient Group Therapy. He received medication, treatment from doctors and the group therapy was a life saver. Of course, he couldn't drive and therapy was an hour away, three days a week, for three hours a day. I took off work to take him and not leave him alone at home while I worked and slept. It worked. Mostly.

June and/or July and/or August: He relapsed. Twice. On Percocet. He told the group and the doctor. He was told "once more and you will have to go into the inpatient program." I believe this is when he started using the "duster" heavily, too. I stopped allowing him to go to my dad's house. This was unfortunate because dad is alone most of the time since mom died. My son is my dad's buddy, but he couldn't be trusted, so that put an unfortunate strain on their relationship. Then, he was discharged from group. A group of people he grew to know and trust. They became like a family that everyone had the same struggles in. This took a definite toll on him, having to go it on his own, so to speak.

College: He had already strained his college education, as well, getting placed on Academic Probation for dropping his GPA. For the Fall semester I took him to school and sat down with he and his counselor. We signed him up for classes that he got to pick, that would be easy enough to get through and changed his major to accommodate easier classes. 

December 2014: He falls into what I can only describe as depression or the return of his abuse. Not taking care of himself or his belongings (like the brand new Mac I bought him for school). He starts sleeping in past class, etc. I question him; always know when he's lying (like today, for instance) and he confessed that he had been pretending to go to class for at least a month and a half. Since he was on financial aid suspension, I paid for his full tuition this semester, all down the drain. I know he keeps some things from me to protect me, but we could have come up with a solution if he had told me sooner. Until the solutions run out, that is.

January 2015: He gets a job. Hallelujah! Something to get him out of the house and give him some responsibility. He does great at his job. Wakes up, goes on time, actually enjoys the sense of accomplishment and responsibility. But, then he starts falling back into the routine of not showering, not keeping his room or car clean, sleeping endlessly (this got a little better when he started working)...his room was a disaster that I don't even want to discuss. But know this: Duster makes you vomit. A lot. And drug addicts want to keep things hidden. So, there you go. We came to our breaking point. He started doing little things that weren't like him such as taking things without regard for anyone else but himself (yes, drug addicts steal, he didn't steal from us like you would think, he hadn't reached that lowest point, yet. Besides, he had his own job, his own money...but he took things without asking, did things that were disrespectful. Not like you think of a heroin or meth addict, he's not that bad, yet, and we want to keep it that way.)

February 27: (Friday) My generally otherwise passive husband hit his breaking point. He planned on dropping the hammer Monday. Why Monday? We work. He works. A lot. 12 hour shifts. Tyler works until after his dad is asleep, I work when everyone is asleep, I sleep when everyone is home or at work. So, Monday, it is. 

March 1: (Sunday, and what would be my mother's 72nd birthday): I am having what I used to believe was just waves of depression. I've had these waves since high school; that's as far back as I can remember my first one. I have always described them as feelings of "home sickness" or waves of sadness. My sister tells me what an anxiety attack is described as by her residents/patients: nervous inside, uneasy, jittery sadness...Anxiety attacks. That makes sense being as I was anticipating this confrontation the next day. I can't shake it. I don't want to find out the worst, and to be honest, I don't want to go through any more hurt. In the afternoon, I am just resting with the cat, and start to have what I think is the irritable bowel flare up of the century. I haven't had one of those in years, but I know what is looming on the horizon. I run to the bathroom and do what I haven't ever done from anxiety or anything other than the flu for years, as well. I vomit. Not from the flu, not from nausea, but from the pain of my guts protesting the anxiety that is welling up inside of me. The fear of losing my child, my son, my one and only, my "best favorite", as I always called him when he was little...still do.  The thought of climbing the stairs and finding him cold next to a can...could you bear it?

March 2: (Monday): We call him down. Various discussing ensues. No real yelling, no screaming; my husband doesn't yell. But our son knew he was serious, and that this was it. The end. The threats of taking his computer, throwing all his belongings away, etc. were over. We were taking him to the hospital and he was going into rehab. We had found over 25 or more cans of Computer Duster in his room, stuffed in a laundry basket with a blanket wrapped around it. His vehicle was littered with used cans...more that could be counted. Bags of vomit were tied up in his room. Dirty clothes that he refused to wash or bring down to wash were laying everywhere. Food containers, drink containers everywhere, even next to his keyboard. Everything we gave him months to remedy and fix were laying at our feet in a bold "F YOU" of disrespect. But, at least, there was no dead kid...this time.

We arrived at a special hospital an hour and 15 minutes from home to have him assessed. 5 hours later, and a full extensive background interview detailing his use, coupled with his prior report, he is deemed ok to go into Acute Outpatient therapy again. I just don't understand. Do they not see the dangers of this stuff? I asked them, "If he does not go into inpatient, how do we keep him from getting the duster?!" She didn't have an answer. My God. 

So, the very next day my husband took our son to his assessment and his first new session with group therapy. Three days a week, three hours a day, one hour drive both ways. He goes to NA meetings here in our town at least once a week according to his work schedule, twice if he can. I insist. He turns his paychecks over to me and I allot his money to him for gas and food. I get his work schedule forwarded to me from the email his boss sends him ( a boss who, I might add, is super understanding. He was willing to keep my son's job for him and understood his need to go into rehab). But, even that doesn't help the worry. He slept though Group last Monday and this Monday. I am making him go to the evening group today. I also found out, because I knew to ask, that he had used, again. Last week. He tried to lie to me. I told him he was lying. He had to confess. And I knew that he was probably keeping some of the money I allotted him for gas to buy duster, instead. Another bingo. I had read yesterday, when searching what can be done to get stores to remove this from their shelves, two articles that scared me to death. Enough to give me nightmares. I want you to read them. I want you to share them. Get the word out on how dangerous this stuff is. The article that was written by the girl who was a recovering duster addict and her mom could have been written by me...almost. My boy hasn't succumbed nearly as far as she had, especially with the law, yet. But, if I don't stay in his face, well, I don't even want to entertain staying out of his face. I am willing to do anything. I have to have more time at home with him. I have to be available almost everyday, not sleeping my life away all day because I work it away at night. I need the sunshine, I need the air...

We need to be a part of the living again, both of us.

I urge you to read these two articles: here and here. They are not long, but pack a wealth of information. A K-9 officer even lost his young boy to duster. He had no idea, not many people do, of the danger this seemingly inconspicuous little can holds. I am also including an episode of A&E's Intervention: Allison to show you the devastating effects this drug has on abusers and their families. I urge you...please share this, these articles, this video; spread the word while I work on getting something done to remove this killer from our store's shelves.

Thank you so much for listening, 


Thursday, March 12, 2015

When We Want To Breathe Free, But All We Can Do Is Sigh...

The winter was very long. Long and arduous. Not as long as others I've had to endure, but long enough. I know it was the winter taking it's toll (along with "everything else") because today it was warm and I couldn't sleep. I was up today after four hours (I've worked midnights five days a week for 13 years) because I knew the sun was out and the windows were open for the first time this year.

And I wanted to write. 

I've been away from my desires for so long, I was getting scared.  I like to pile my proverbial plate so high with tasks that I get overwhelmed in that way, too. Write this, learn that, read this, plan that. I won't bore you with the actual list, it might scare you. ;) I am a perfectionist by default so whenever something isn't jiving well, I just sort of stop all together. Bad, bad habit. It doesn't help when outside troubles get too overwhelming to bear coupled with the looming promise of a long and dead winter to fuel the hibernating depression within. 

This is the subject. I ignore, sidestep and make light of my depression. The truth is, I've struggled with depression and anxiety for years and years. The difference now is that I have grown enough in my person to be okay with admitting it and caring for it properly. I have taken medication for it, off and on, for twenty years. I am finally on a regimen that seems to do it's best, and it includes therapy. But, just like my style in everything else, I need to "get back to it", as I took an unintentional break from my sessions (not too smart during the winter...).

Aside from seasonal depression, things at home have great affect on my mood that I have noticed differs greatly from other people, which, in turn, is compounded by the seasonal depression. I realize that I have been through a lot and should probably not expect so much from myself in the way of recovery after a loss, but just when I think things are getting better, something else happens to challenge my strength. This isn't a "poor me" situation, it's a fact of life. Facts that a lot of us have to deal with on a daily basis and some of us aren't necessarily strong enough to get through it on our own. This is why I's important to me that other people who struggle know that they aren't alone and that there is help to be had and encouragement to be offered. 

The nitty-gritty. As if winter wasn't enough to keep me in a state of hibernation of all my senses, sad events at home helped with the rest. I literally slept and worked and had to force myself to do anything else.  I just wanted to sleep away the entire winter and I felt like I was a lazy zombie with no ambition or drive what-so-ever. I had to really try to accomplish all of my daily "have-to's." I could pay the bills, pick up some groceries, but not cook too often, watch TV but not write, scroll through Facebook, but not check my phone messages. For those of you who know me, the face you saw...a mask. I was too sad inside, for no apparent reason, to care much about anything. Then, I was shocked awake. My son had relapsed back into drug abuse. This is a biggie, since not all of you know this about us. (Before you protest, I have his full approval to write about this, and I choose not to go into certain details of his personal life. What I say here is only to benefit anyone who may be struggling with the same difficulties). 

Now, I also want to clarify that I was not so disjointed and depressed that I was totally lost to my son's needs. We've been through rehab, counseling, medications and everything that he needed to do for recovery. I took off several weeks from work this past summer to accompany him to rehab and wrote about it in an earlier post. He, like all addicts, is very good at hiding things, though I can't say that parental denial was not lost on us completely. He has a job, was (and still is) doing very well at it, was being responsible. Then the signs came back. That's how we knew. He stopped keeping his room and car clean, stopped taking care of himself, sleeping a lot, using up all of his paychecks. His dad and I had been talking about the plan to confront him. We had to get him while he was home, not going to work and when my husband and I were both off. This caused a lot of anxiety for me, knowing what we might find out. I had never had such a terrible anxiety attack before, but this day, I was so physically ill you'd think I had the stomach flu. I never want to go through that again--fear of losing my child so great it made me sick. I could lose him all together, or just heart and soul, it makes no difference to me. I would die either way.

His dad went to confront him and that's the morning we knew we had to take him to the hospital. After hours at the hospital, however, they would not admit him. The Doctor prescribed another round of acute intensive outpatient group therapy and medication to stop the cravings. I really think he needs to be in a facility, but if they won't take him, it's up to us to give him the structure he needs. And he will have to work hard on his own, as well. Perhaps in another post I will talk about the dangers of drug use and the warning signs. I will talk about what all he has used and how we had no idea...until it was too late for him to stop on his own. In the meantime, I want to start a petition to get canned computer air duster off the shelves in stores and inaccessible to anyone under the age of 25. There should also be a way to only buy with an ID so that the system can keep track of the amount that is being purchased per customer. This stuff is deadly, and it's there for the taking. I son has spent paychecks on it. 

We are working through this just like everything else that comes our way. I sure feel I have a lot to complain about, but it's not like that. I want to lay everything out there so you can see pain as it is. Raw and inconvenient and agonizing, but not hopeless. These things I tell you, these stories, they are not about him or me, but us. And you. It's about a thing that I am going through, and that he is going through and the dynamic of it all when it crashes together based on our experiences-past and present. And, the point is how we deal with it; how I can show you that I was not destroyed by it, even though it felt like I was going to be, and sometimes wanted to be, but was not. If I can live through such nastiness and come out on the other side and want to talk about it with you, you can, too. You can. 

Stick with me and I promise to give you my all. 

Thank you so much for being here today and letting me share with you, I really appreciate you.