Susan’s Story, Part 3: ‘Missing Michael – A Story by Blog’

P1010995Susan lost her son Michael to a drug overdose on the 22nd January, 2010. I, for one, cannot begin to understand what someone must go through after such a loss.

However, I gained some appreciation from the Susan’s extraordinary writing in a blog she published on our online recovery community Wired In To Recovery. I was captivated and deeply moved by Susan’s writing, as were many other people in our community.

This is Part 3 of a slightly edited version of Sue’s blogs. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you have not seen them.

New Year – climbing out of the hole (1st January, 2011)
Today is the start of a New Year. Yet I found myself sitting on the sofa crying my eyes out and it has taken all of my strength to get up and try and bring some order to the chaos in my house. However, I found myself drawn to Wired In To Recovery, which has helped me so much in the past after Michael died.

I feel so lonely and I am well aware that I need both support and love, but how and where? Yes, I can connect with my lovely friends on Wired in, but I think I need one-to- one support and real people I can see (if you know what I mean) and have a coffee with. People who understand the reality of addiction, but also who have come through it and maybe give me a cuddle sometimes.

I feel like I am in a dark hole and, although at times I want to climb out, it has slippery walls and in the end becomes kind of comfortable and easier to stay in there. But I do not know how to get out of it?

I have thought about going on anti-depressants again, but then I am using a prescribed ‘legal’ drug to make myself feel better? I have been on them before when Michael first died, but all they did was numb the feelings, feelings I had to feel but are so very dark and painful at times.

I do have my name down for some bereavement counseling, but all of this is a sticking plaster. I need and yearn for a new way of life and change of direction.

I find myself in no-mans land. There is support in Portsmouth and Chichester for family and loved ones who have an addict in their family. But I don’t have a son any more, and they see me as the ultimate! They all have hope, hope that things will improve and here I am showing them the worst – death. And to a certain extent I feel jealous that they still have that hope, if you know what I mean.

I went to a Conference especially for those people who had lost loved ones to addiction and it was so sad, but also so meaningful to me. I felt they understood, but there are only one or two support groups and they are in the Midlands.

I know that I have my own demons to address and it would be so easy to drink too much, to drown my sorrow. But all that would do is start another problem. Even eating has been an issue all of my life.

I would like to do some kind of recovery work myself. I mean for me personally and also I would like to reach out to others – but how? Did you read how many ‘buts’ I had in my blog. I feel I am the ‘but woman’ and want to be ‘positive woman’.

Shit, I am so very mixed up! Is there anyone out there who can sort me out? Yeah, you are all saying, YOU! This pain and confusion makes me feel sick and at times I want to get rid of it and want to literally bang my head and dig my nails into my flesh. Bloody hell, now I am going crazy.

I feel so very frustrated and need to get some kind of plan in action – so ideas please, just little ones. With love from the mad woman! aka Sue x

Climbing out of the hole (5th January)
I cannot believe the response I have had both on the site and personally. Or should I say it doesn’t surprise me, as Wired In was a ‘godsend’ before and once again is there.

As I said in my previous post, I have put a request in for some bereavement counselling. It is with a person who volunteers for CRUSE but also lost his own son to addiction, so also has that personal experience (as sad as it is, it does help).

I went out and bought a couple of CDs to give me some inspiration but did not like the new Paul Weller CD (I much prefer his old stuff), so I am taking inspiration for recommendations from my friend Andy Recovery Tunes on Wired In. Some of you have said how much you enjoy reading, so I have taken a few titles from Recovery Read and will order a couple of those.

But what about my own recovery? Well, I went to a SMART meeting today and it was OK. I loved the honesty of the people there, but felt a little exposed in some way (do not know what that is all about?). Will definitely go again and learn some more. Tomorrow, I will return to the FA meeting, as it is a very welcoming meeting. Shame about the hall – cold and big. Thought about a journal and yes, that will happen.

A special thank you to all you special people. It’s very difficult, but as many of you pointed out, it’s hard work but worth it. Love you all, Sue x

Rushing About. Taking More Time (9th January)
I didn’t know how to word the title of what I wanted to write about today. I have had quite a humbling experience recently, and it has really made me stop and think about how I can make quite a significant change in my life.

Sometimes I rush around and rush into things. It’s a bit like as soon as I can find some energy or focus I have to rush. I am so frightened of sinking low again that I feel I have to get everything done at once! Because of that ‘rushing’, I make mistakes and that can hurt people when I don’t mean to.

Recently, I was rushing by sending emails out, trying to make contact with people who I had not ‘spoken to’ for a while, and I made mistakes with names and that is wrong. To care about people and to listen to people, the least you can do is get their name right! That might sound a bit silly and unimportant to some people. But imagine you send quite a personal message to someone and you get their bloody name wrong!

This isn’t just about getting names wrong. It is about taking time, taking time to be with someone whether its through an email, on the phone, face-to-face, writing a letter, at work, in the shop. So many areas I need to slow down and ‘just be’ with people and stop rushing.

Thank you for that important lesson and I hope to start making a difference, because as we all know life is so short and it is important to spend it wisely. And for me it is about relationships and people, and the last thing I want to do is screw that up.

So bear with me as I learn not to rush and to take my time and thank you. Love and hugs, Sue x

It’s been a while! (4th April, 2011)
I don’t know how to start this blog, because it has been a while since I blogged and I feel embarrassed. Not genuine, a ‘taker’, not committed and so many negative things. But you know what? I want to come back, I need you, and I am going to be totally selfish and say I miss you all.

I had a big nudge from my lovely friend a while back, to say isolation is not the answer. And guess what? I chose to isolate myself some more. And then yesterday, on Mother’s Day, he sent me a text. You know what? He was thinking about me, and only one person in my family asked me how I felt yesterday. No one else bothered, not even my partner. It’s as if I am over it, whatever it was?

It was good to read some of the blogs and all the positive stories contained in these pages. And also to glance briefly at the music section and to say a very quiet hello to Andy. There has been very little music played in my life recently.

So what’s new with me is that time has passed and I wonder where that time has gone. It is still difficult to smile and find joy sometimes, but also I do see some good things now and I am looking forward to the warmth this year. As last year passed in a blur!

I had a lot of support and love from this site and I am sorry I have flitted in and out over the last six months. And in a way turn my back on the very people who had supported me. So for now I will close and feel a little more peaceful. Sue x

Remembering my son (7th April)
My son Michael was born 30 years ago yesterday and died last year from a heroin overdose. Michael was such a lovely young man who struggled from drug addiction and mental health issues. Dual diagnosis in the medical world.

At the time of his death, he was in the care of the NHS under Section 3. I thought he was safe and secure, looked after, and at last had a chance of recovery. What has followed during the last year has been a nightmare of raw agonising grief, regrets, unanswered questions, police investigations, an NHS inquiry, and a Coroner’s Inquest still to come.

What has been lost in all this has been my son, the young lad who brought me so much love and happiness and the man who struggled to get his life back on the straight and narrow.

During those harrowing years, I was always alongside Michael whilst he was being pushed from pillar to post as ‘only the mother’ – yet the only consistent person in his life. Often taking ‘the tough love approach’, as suggested by FA, or the desperate approach of begging for support for my son, but all the time watching the disintegration of a beautiful human being.

Imagine seeing your son begging on the street, homeless, filthy with gangrenous feet. Receiving little or no kindness when he visited the hospital for his daily injection for his blood clot. Or pleading for some kind of help and support, but with no registered doctor or home address he became a non-existent person.

Visiting the prison where he was on remand, kept in the hospital wing because he was so mentally unwell until a secure hospital unit became available. Reporting him as a missing person and wondering if one day I would get the dreaded phone call.

But Michael picked himself up, went into detox, completed Stage 1 and Stage 2 of rehab, and to see a glimpse of my son returning was like a gift from heaven. Yet his mental health was on the decline. What comes first? The drug addiction or the mental health problems? What the hell does is matter? Treat the person. Treat them together. It’s so frustrating.

And then safety. Michael was in hospital, safe, warm and secure. And then the phone call. Michael was not on the streets, not homeless in the true sense of the word, clean from drugs, being cared for by the system. Yet the phone call came when I last expected it. He was dead.

Now over a year later, I can write and talk about things – albeit in a detached way. And I do not feel the raw grief, but an acceptance that has come through time.

Also a sadness that Michael is one of many who search for recovery and are so dependent on the system. A system that strives to support, but still judges. And often forgets that this person is still a human being, someone’s son or daughter, is loved by someone, and certainly did not wake up one morning and choose to become an addict.

I loved my son and he was such a special young man. And I believe that Michael has given me such a precious gift. The gift of acceptance. To value every human being as special, not to judge. But more importantly to move on in my life and to begin to make a difference.

Sometimes, I can’t believe that this has happened. It’s not a living nightmare any more, as in my earlier blogs, but more like a strange dream in which I am awake and it is real. I would love to talk to Michael again, but that is not possible. What is possible is for me to learn from this terrible experience. Challenge where possible. Value the smaller things in life. And to start to live again.

Yesterday morning, I visited the place where Michael died and saw the daffodils swaying in the breeze, felt the sunshine on my face, and remembered Michael smiling at me. And felt more at peace than I have done for a long time.

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. Sue x

Re-connecting (1st June, 2011)
Gosh, it seems a while since I last wrote a blog and spent some time ‘seeing’ my friends. I think getting a couple of friend requests recently jolted me back into the Wired In world.

Those of you who know me, know I totally withdraw when the going gets tough and I have reverted to some of my coping strategies recently. Hence the crazy weight loss, something I can control, but ends up controlling me.

There has been a lot of pain and I thought it would get easier and I guess in some ways it has. But I still have great difficulty with these feelings of resentment and jealously that my son is not alive and in recovery and will never be in that place. It’s so sad.

We had the NHS Inquiry and it is too painful for me to write about at the moment, as I did not agree with a couple of their points. And what difference would it make? We are still waiting for the Coroner’s Inquest, so again that will be difficult.

So many things have happened in the few months I have been away. So much has changed with the website and I will have to spend some time getting to know it. Have any of you read the poetry on the site? It is very moving and had me in tears, which was a good thing in a way because I thought I was all cried out, but clearly not.

Wow, I feel good writing this blog and good to reach out again. I know I am spasmodic (is that how you spell it?), but that is the nature of my healing at the moment. But soon I will be consistent and stronger. Stronger to give back to all of you. Love and hugs, Sue

I can’t believe I am here? (1st November, 2011)
I have not blogged since June this year and yes I have gone downhill and missed you all so much. Blogging for me was very much a way of recovery, but those nearest to me saw it as prolonging the agony, not moving on and staying in a place of pain!

Since I last blogged, I have been mostly down and very low. I have used anti-depressants. I have used food and drink at times, but my biggest use has been one of isolation. Isolation keeps me safe. I do not have to face my pain. I do not have to face anyone. I do not have to talk and most of all I do not have to pretend. I can feel sad and low all on my own.

There is a price to pay as isolation brings a terrible loneliness. I get up, I go to work and I pretend, and then I go home and shut myself off. I miss so much. I miss the love and care that is there for me, and because I need to isolate I do not care that I am alone! I am lonely.

Then suddenly I crave that love and support and reach out and as soon as I make contact and people say, “I am here Sue”, I quickly retreat into my shell and think, “Go away, I can’t cope.”

Then there are people like Andy, Tony, Irene and Geph who persist and keep the hand of friendship outstretched. And then all those others who say, “Hi, is that you, Sue?” The regular Wired In updates and the Just for Today Readings. So many people who reach out, and I recoil and think, “No, not yet. I would rather be alone.”

You know loneliness brings despair. It is a black hole that eats you away.

I am receiving counselling now with a wonderful man, a long-term 12-stepper, who understands me and does not put my needs or my grief to one side. Who understands that I have reverted to destructive ways and behaviour as a way of surviving. Who is supporting me to climb out of my lonely hole.

He also challenges me, and that too makes me want to retreat. But when he has gone away I think, “Hey, he is right.” Stay in this hole, stay in this lonely place, or peep out. And sometimes I will stay, and sometimes I will peep out, but each day I know it will get easier.

And guess what? Something you all know (so stop the laughing). It is down to me! I will try not to slip back in, but will embrace all of you wonderful people who strive forward in their lives. And how I wish I had walked with you in Cardiff, instead of hiding in my little hole.

Things are difficult in many ways since I last blogged. Things have not moved on with regard to my lovely son Michael. No Coroner’s Inquest yet, no reply from the NHS after stating that I do not accept the findings in their Inquiry.

Why doesn’t that surprise me? He was only another druggie with serious mental health concerns. He wasn’t rich or famous. Just my lovely son from an ordinary family, who we all loved very much.

Maybe, when more time has passed, maybe the authorities will remember that Michael was someone’s son. And that his mother, and also his family, deserved to be treated with respect and need the authorities to honour their commitment. To answer letters and undertake a Coroner’s Inquest in an acceptable time frame. No answers and no closure!

Will keep you all updated. But remember I really appreciate this site and all the people on it. Thank you from the mad woman, peeping out of her hole. Sue x

Sitting here – thinking! (14th November)
Hello everyone. As you can probably tell from the title, I am sitting here thinking and wondering as I type this blog, of all you ‘wired inners’ also typing and reading the blogs and just trying to imagine us all connecting some way!

Friendship and support comes in many guises, and over the past year or so I have had so many hands of friendship stretched out to support me directly from people in Wired In. Funny enough, not from people close by – ‘so-called friends’ or family – but from complete strangers, people who understand, people who know the despair and horrors of addiction. People who don’t judge and people who care.

They don’t care because they feel they ‘should’. They care because they can, because they too have needed that hand of friendship.

I have a lot more to tell you all about my own life and I admire those who are so open about their addictions and feel safe enough to share. I am still very much in the ‘keep myself safe mode’ and that comes from years of not being able to trust people. And I know that if I was judged I would have great difficulty picking myself up again.

I have just reread the last paragraph and nearly deleted it because it is a little bit too much information. Yet, why not take that risk? Anyway, I think I would be better off at the moment just thinking and not blogging. Sue x

Preparing to Die. Difficult Reading (21st January, 2012)
Tomorrow, my son will have been dead for two years. Two years ago he was preparing to die – not consciously or even unconsciously. Michael never set out to die or directly take his own life. It was just a series of events that led to his death.

It probably started off as any other normal day in a locked psychiatric hospital – if there is any such day as a normal day in such a place! Michael was in hospital because he was severely psychotic and mentally very unwell, a result of many years of drug abuse and psychotic episodes. I guess in the medical world he would be called having dual diagnosis.

Michael was my lovely son, someone who was always optimistic and never one to hold a grudge. He was also an addict and had serious mental health concerns. I do not need to go into details, as I am guessing you have seen and heard it all before, but what you understand, as I do, is that these ‘addicts’ are still someone’s son or daughter. Someone who was, and still is, very much loved and missed. Anyway, back to the story.

Michael got up as he had for many days previously, but let’s say he missed breakfast because he was tired, and if you miss breakfast then tough shit! Because breakfast is at a set time. Oh, and yes, you can’t make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, because you are not ‘safe’ enough to boil a kettle.

So let’s say Michael went back to his room with his drink of water in his plastic beaker to play his CDs. Except he can’t, because his batteries have run out and he can’t be ‘trusted’ or it is ‘not safe’ for him to have a mains lead adaptor.

Anyway, what does he do all day? Could do some painting! Can’t go for a fag because he has to wait for a nurse to unlock the door and stay with him in the garden because… because of what? Maybe he may leap over the wall.

So what does he do? He lies on his bed. Can’t phone anyone – battery flat and not allowed the recharger (has a wire on it!), can’t listen to music – so he thinks. Thinks of the meeting the previous day when those in the know (!) say he is still not well enough to go back into the big bad world or even to an unlocked ward. Only his mum visits when she can, and when he can use his phone, nobody answers.

Michael is clean now and has been for a while. He has just about sorted his head out, but family say, “Well, he relapsed before, remember when we all supported him through rehab?” Friends are in despair, “We love you mate, but we don’t know how to support you any more.”

“Why don’t they visit? Why don’t they see how far I have come?” he may have asked himself.

I thought my son was safe at last, that he was at last getting the support and help he needed. To address a drug issue is huge, to address a mental health issue is equally as difficult – the two together – you all know the difficulties. What are they? An addict or a nutter! The services say until you sort the drug issue out, you can’t do the other. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I had spent a couple of hours with Michael the day before and he was quite despondent, but had rallied round. He said, “It will be all right mum, don’t worry about me.” I had heard that phrase so many times before and yes he had always been all right to a degree. Michael and I both put our trust in the services, hoping that now he may get a little place to live, his own bed, and maybe some support in the community.

Even when he had been homeless and begging on the streets, and as terrible as it had been for me to see my son in such a state (FA – tough love or should I say tough shit), he survived. Living in homeless shelters, with the support of others who found themselves in similar situations. He was not as vulnerable as when he found himself in hospital – safe, warm and secure (what a load of rubbish).

Michael and I were in contact most days, sometimes for a chat on the phone, or we would be together having a drink. Michael and our family had been struggling with his mental health concerns and his downhill spiral into heroin addiction for 14 years, and we thought at last they are listening and treating both areas of concern.

Well, there was little choice really, as he had become quite mad and disappeared to London (I had registered him as a missing person) and was dancing round the streets with his mum as the Queen and a Japanese business man as his dad and of course a daughter in Eastenders. Laughable, if it wasn’t so tragic. Throw in DVT and a bit of gangrene and the situation had to be taken a bit more seriously. So back to the story.

I guess you have all realised by now that Michael was very precious to me and I know that change has to come from within, so I supported him as best I could and loved him more than you could imagine. It blighted our lives, but I never gave up on my lovely son. I washed his hair when it was full of lice. I creamed his back when it was covered in flea bites. I advocated for him. But most of all, I never gave up.

So this was his chance!

What happened that night is crazy. Michael asked to go out and they thought, “Yeah, let’s give him a chance.” They assessed him as being OK. OK? Yet you’re locked up, under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act, you are not allowed to make a cup of tea or have a phone charger, but hey what does any of that matter? Let’s let you out. On your own. At night. In the middle of winter.

Yep, that seems sensible. Let’s let a vulnerable adult, who we think is not capable of making a rational decision and let’s not forget the addict in Michael’s personality, go out. Wow! What a sensible assessment of a situation. What a sensible decision.

We all know how vulnerable the body is of a clean heroin addict is. We all know how vulnerable a person who is low and lonely is. We all know these things – didn’t they?

So, here I am oblivious to this strange and tragic turn of events. Here I am thinking my son is safe and secure – and yet he lies dying alone in the hospital grounds from a heroin overdose.

When did I get to know? Oh yes, someone called me in the morning on the phone. Said Michael had gone missing and then delivered the news. Wow, talk about bedside manner! I can’t really remember much after that. I think I went temporarily mad for a couple of months and spent lots of days and nights blogging my grief and loss on Wired In.

Why am I telling you this story? Well, I still do not know the full details of my son’s death because, guess what, the Coroner’s Inquest is not until June 2012. Nearly two and a half years after his death. So many questions have been asked. And not many answered.

So to all my lovely friends out there who have supported me, I needed to write this and I also wanted you to know that I believe that Michael always danced with death, but he didn’t want to die.

Michael was loved by everyone. Many people also despaired of him, but ultimately he was a good man. Just like so many of us he lost not only his mind at times, but also his way in the world.

So to everyone who has had the patience to read this, I am trying so hard to live my life again, to regain some sparkle and I guess I am ultimately preparing to live again!

Preparing to live (22nd January)
Two years ago today, my lovely son died. He was found face down at 7.00 o’clock in the morning in the grounds of the hospital where he was a patient – he died of a heroin overdose.

I want to thank all those people who contacted me and offered their support and to all those who remember others who have died of this madness – it is such a sad waste of beautiful, lovely lives.

I have spent today caring for the area where he died. As a family, we have planted bulbs and flowers and there is a bench where people can sit. It is not far from Baytrees within the grounds of St James, so I know other patients, staff and those in detox often sit and hopefully enjoy the flowers and the chance to relax.

It is an area of sadness, but also of remembrance of a person who got caught up with something that was difficult to break free from. But putting that aside, I like to think of the Michael that was so loving and giving. He never held a grudge, despite all the horrible and vile things that he experienced. And he was so optimistic.

I can’t live my life in perpetual mourning, but need to remember my son and all that he had taught me over the years. I realise that I will never be the same person again and may not have that certain fizz or sparkle that used to part of me. But I want to be happy again. I want to feel the warmth of the sunshine on my skin. I want to laugh with people. I want to feel the energy of conversation and activity.

You want to know what I want most of all, and that is to give of myself, to somehow support others. I can’t put my finger on what exactly, but I know that Michael didn’t go through all that shit and I certainly didn’t, for it not to mean something or someone to learn from it.

What is life about? I am left pondering in my own thoughts again, but I guess more importantly thank you to all of those who cared. Of course I want Michael back. I don’t want any of this to have happened. But it did!

Life stinks, but guess what? I do still love Michael very, very much and I still miss him very, very much, butttttttttttttt he would not have wanted me to carry on feeling so much pain and loss. And, hard as it is, today I do feel a little better.

Thank you, my lovely son, for being with me all those years and I do love you and know you will always be there holding my hand. Together, we will make a difference. Maybe just a little one. But a difference all the same. Love to you all, Sue x

My mum (5th February, 2012)
Life can be difficult and I guess nothing really does prepare you for pain and sorrow. My mum died on Monday, nearly two years to the day that my son died. I remember them both sitting in my garden together, mum with her sun hat on and Michael with his arm around her shoulder. Another lovely picture I have is of Michael with his arms around both me and my mum.

My mum died of dementia, a terrible, terrible illness that leaves a person as a shell of themselves. And I remember she seemed to be in constant fear at the end, often crying for her own mum. And it made me so sad and so helpless.

I also remember Michael and how unwell he was when the psychosis was rife in his head, and how frightened he was. Often staring at me with those frightened lost eyes, just like my mum. Did he die crying for me, his mum?

What I have to do is stop. Stop those awful pictures and memories and remember them together again in my garden, sitting under the tree in the sunshine. And as I look out of my window, I shall see them time and time again, smiling with the sun shining down. My lovely mum and my beautiful son, together. And that is sad, but it is also comforting and warms my heart.

To my friends out there, take care of yourselves and enjoy the moment. Love, Sue x

Just wanted to say hello (11th May, 2012)
Haven’t blogged for a while, but you are always in my thoughts and I read your blogs regularly. Thank you for both your inspirational and sometimes challenging blogs. I never forget all the love and support you have given me over the past couple of years. With love, Sue x

Coroner’s Inquest: My son (17th June, 2012)
Hello everyone. Many of you may know my story, but on Thursday 21 June, 2012 it will be my son Michael’s inquest. He died on Friday 22 January 2010 and it has been a long, long road and at last some questions might be answered. But you know what? I do not know what to ask.

I have been waiting so long to hear what the professionals are going to say and what the coroner will say, but I just can’t believe it is actually going to happen all this time later.

I was meant to write some questions and give them to the coroner, but I can’t bring myself to put pen to paper. I am also supposed to write a little bit about Michael’s life just in case the media are in the court, but what do you say about a wonderful young man who took the wrong road?

How do you describe to ‘Joe Public’ that this man who died of a possible heroin overdose, who was ‘mad’ in the head through crazy drug-taking, was a loving young man, my son, who tried so hard to break free. And then when he was clean and we all thought he was safe in hospital; he went and scored. His body couldn’t handle it and he died. At least I think that’s what happened.

No one is really interested in what happened, except those who know the hell of addiction. Those people who have been lucky enough not to have their lives touched by this terrible disease just see the addict, the schizo – they are not interested in what happened. But all those locked in addiction are someone’s son or daughter – they matter to someone.

Michael died when I thought he was safe and I put my trust in the fact he was ‘locked up’ because he couldn’t look after himself. But what’s the point of going on about it now? He’s dead and I need to move on and it’s been a long time coming. But maybe if I ask the right questions and get some answers then maybe that would be possible.

The NHS Trust did do an external enquiry and made some recommendations, particularly to do with dual diagnosis clients. But will they happen? Will they make the changes?

If I could believe that they would, I could rest a little. To know that someone else would get a more ‘combined’ programme for their recovery would be good, but I have seen so many documents and so many recommendations in my time working in this area, and it all looks good. But will it happen? I would like to get more involved and have tried to offer my insight but to no avail – so my dear friends, what do you think?

I wish you could help me ask questions, I wish you could be in that courtroom with me. I feel so tired of it all, but I know that I need to do this, not only for Michael, but for all those who are still suffering. Love to you all, Sue

Don’t leave it too late (19th June)
You know what? I have been reflecting on my life recently and realised that I have spent years procrastinating on things and not actually getting on with life, and never starting things for one reason or another. I also might start things and not finish them. All these good ideas but not complete them – and then the regrets.

Whilst you have the opportunity, why not do something? Tell someone how much they mean to you. Smile at someone. Send that letter. I have spent so much time waiting until the time is right instead of just getting on with it.

I know I am rambling, but I don’t care. I wish I had visited Michael the night he died instead of thinking: “Oh dear, I am tired”; “Oh dear, I am busy”; “Oh dear, I will go tomorrow”. And what happens? Tomorrow never comes, and in my case it really didn’t come!

You know what, why don’t we care about each other more? There is more to life than all this material crap. I would love to make a difference, but feel the weight of my sadness pulls me down. Sitting here and reflecting once again on how things are, how they were and what may happen, reminds me of the serenity prayer – such wonderful advice.

Thinking of all those of you who are struggling and sending you my love. And remember, pick up the phone, talk with someone, share your pain and joy, and move on in your life. Think of the Michael Jackson song ‘Man in the Mirror’, because at the end of the day the only person we can change is ourself! With love, Sue x

Accidental Death (24th June)
Hello everyone. Just wanted to say thank you to everyone for all your lovely messages and kind thoughts.

Part of it is over now and the verdict was accidental death and Michael died from heroin intoxication – something we already knew.

A long, long difficult process and many questions still not answered. But some good has come out of an awful situation, as Portsmouth has changed its dual diagnosis approach for the better (we hope).

More tomorrow, but I just wanted to say thank you. With love and hugs – keep up the fight. Sue x

Help me please (26th August 2012)
I feel quite ashamed about not blogging for a while, but things have been very difficult and I feel very isolated about the whole thing. I also feel a failure because it seems as a mother I have failed. I have never told you this before, but my daughter is an addict.

She left her violent partner, the father of her three children, two weeks ago, but returned to him last Wednesday because of her need for cocaine. The drug and this man were more important than the need to get clean and keep her children safe. She called me yesterday morning, crying down the phone and said, “Mum please come and get me and the children.” So I did. Since then, she has just ‘existed’ at my house, leaving the care of the children more or less to me.

She has tried to explain that her addiction to both her partner and drugs is so strong that she can’t manage her life. I have suggested getting help, but she said if she did that it would be the end. I mean the end of her drug-taking and drinking.

Her son is only just coping at school and is at risk of exclusion because of his unacceptable behaviour, but he has witnessed so much that he shouldn’t have seen in his young life. He is such a lovely young man and was so pleased when his mum left his dad. He called the police after the last incident when his dad split his mum’s head open. But then it all goes back to normal (well, their kind of normal!)

It’s brought up all my grief for my son who died, and all my crap feelings I have of my mothering. But I know if it wasn’t for my grandchildren I would give up on her and let her make her own mistakes.

The man she was with has had a huge negative impact on my family’s lives, living a low life, dealing, and not providing for his family. I have known him for 16 years and watched how my children have been destroyed. I am well aware it is about choice.

Don’t suggest calling the social services. I have tried that and believe you me it was the most awful experience. No support, just threats and accusations, and then guess what? They are gone with no ongoing support, leaving with the relationship between my daughter and I ruined. My husband is just about hanging in there, as is her brother.

She has just told me that she has had thoughts of moving on in her drug use – and she doesn’t mean recovery! I know this is an open way of asking for help, but I know that I have had so much support in the past and feel helpless and do not know what to do. I thought about phoning FRANK [government telephone support service], but quite ‘frankly’ they do not even begin to understand the impact of a hardened addict.

I also know that she has to find her own path to recovery. But unless her partner dies I am not sure what that is – maybe tomorrow will be a better day. Love you all, Sue x

The saga continues… (27th August)
Yes, it certainly continues. I said I would just try and live this moment and then my daughter calls me upstairs – she is currently staying with me! Her two little girls are sleeping in the room too and they are very hyper, and she is crying and trying to work out a way she can continue to use and then come all the accusations about me as a mother – and that I don’t understand.

She then talks about suicide and how everyone would be better off without her and then she asks if I could have the children once a month so she could go on a bender and that would work. She then said she is not ready to give up drugs or her violent partner who beats her up, but also she talked about dumping her children on my doorstep and going away somewhere.

I tried to explain that I have to work but she said that I would manage. I also mentioned my husband and she again said, “Well he didn’t know what he was letting himself in for when he met you!”

I ended up crying and then she said, “Why are you getting upset?” And all this is in front of my grandchildren, who continue to play but I know that they are listening. As I type this, I know I will have to stop this talk in front of them.

I came downstairs and tried to talk to my husband and he said he doesn’t know what to do. He then just bellowed really loud in frustration and said he can’t cope with this and was going to bed. And I said I am sorry.

Heaven knows how I am going to manage work tomorrow. I love my job and the last thing I want is to lose it or become incompetent.

Blogging this helps as it gets it out of my system – but it is also getting me down. Sleep, if it comes, is the answer. Thank you for reading. Sue x

Talking it through (28th August)
Hello everyone. Once again, I have found the wise advice from friends at Wired in – by blogging my worries and concerns has somehow made the picture clearer in a ‘fuzzy’ kind of way. Thank you Irene for your words of wisdom. I found the advice from everyone so supportive, especially Jon who gave me some very practical ideas about keeping myself safe.

Today has been a better day – probably because I have escaped to work – but seriously though I came back and it was like a different girl who greeted me and so very confusing. I know I should be aware of all these different traits of character addicts present, but once again I find myself quite naive in it all. You know, it is so very draining, but at least she is still alive. And taking it one day at a time is very true.

I have said that I am not prepared to see or speak to her partner again and she is agreeable to sorting out her finances to become more independent. Okay, I will be honest. I am sorting out her finances and filling in all the forms.

I am doing it partly for her, partly for me, so I feel more comfortable with her financial situation. But mostly for my grandchildren, so at least they will continue to have a roof over their heads if the rent is paid and they can get free school dinners.

Who would have thought this hateful situation would come round to haunt me yet again. Going to work and acting ‘normal’ is difficult. I do have a very good manager and I think talking with her is a good suggestion that Jon made.

I remember when Michael was very ill about 14 years ago and I nearly went mad with worry and helplessness. I do not want to go there again, but I could and do feel myself slipping into that cycle of feeling so helpless and at the same time enabling all over again.

Thank you so much – love to you all. Sue x

The Community (29th August)
Hello everyone. It is me again and I just want to say that a community is about people working together, supporting each other, and easing the burden. And that is just what has happened to me with all my friends at Wired In.

I feel like a burden has been shared and a weight has been lifted. Even though it is still there, it is somehow lighter, and I smiled when I read Irene’s indignation on my behalf at how my daughter was treating me – she really lifted my spirits.

There were others passing on their thoughts, people who I have never even met who cared. It also saddens me as my daughter could have that support too if she reached out her hand – but all I can do is reach out my hand and move forward.

Wired In has been such a blessing for me and has made a real difference to my life. It’s fantastic to think that this idea of people supporting each other all over the country via the ‘net’ could be so rewarding and at times life saving – for me anyway!

Gosh what a difference a day makes. With love, Sue x

It’s calmer now (1st September, 2012)
Hello my friends. It is calmer, now my daughter is back with me and seems more settled (is it the calm before the storm?). She’s not returned to her home for a while. The children seem more settled and they are so loving towards me – lots of cuddles.

We have sorted out her finances and all the forms are coming through now to complete. I have not spoken to her about accessing support yet, as I am still treading carefully. She did have an appointment, but did not attend and I do not want to be too pushy.

You are all right though, that I can only change me and am responsible for my thoughts, feelings and actions. And of course the safety and security of my grandchildren. As each day passes, I am getting things more in perspective and want to thank you all. It has been great getting your support. With love, Sue x

Eating (4th September)
Hello my lovely friends. I do not know what you will make of my latest blog, but I have discovered that when you are really down and trying to cope with so much stress, food seems to become a way of coping. But for me, it only makes things worse.

I have always had a problem with weight and food, and follow the OA programme. Recently, however, with having all the stresses and concerns that have been going on at home, I have found it quite difficult not using food as a kind of coping mechanism.

I was regularly going to meetings, but I have done my usual stuff of withdrawing and not accessing support. Hey, that is not really true, because I have been making contact with my Wired In friends.

I think it is ridiculous that I cannot control what I eat and we expect addicts to be able to give up years of addiction – whether it be drugs or alcohol. I would be interested in hearing what people’s views are on overeating, bulimia and anorexia. And whether people find themselves moving from one addiction to another?

I am quietly smiling to myself here, because it’s hardly surprising that my children became addicts with their mum (me) as a bulimic and their dad as an alcoholic – and that is not to mention the extended family. I wonder perhaps if our whole family is mad. No, seriously though, I have managed my life pretty good over the years, or should I say put on an excellent mask and pretence to everyone else except to a few close people.

However, the cost to my children has been great and their addictions have been unacceptable to society and so very difficult to manage. But I feel that deep down my own and their father’s addictions have led to their own demons.

You know, once again I am rambling, but it’s the first time I have written here about my own demons, and feel quite liberated. And that is only half the story!

Change: What a difference a minute can make! (9th September)
Hello everyone. I want to thank Matthew for writing a brilliant blog about being a Good Samaritan. I was feeling particularly fed up with my daughter. She has been staying with my husband and I for about four weeks now, and is trying so hard to leave her violent partner and at the same time abstain from drug use. She had a relapse about ten days ago, but is back and doing well.

However, I am exhausted with what seem like constant demands and, at times, her selfish behaviour. I wanted to say all kinds of things to her today, but I know all they would do would make the situation worse. So I decided to log onto Wired In and write a ‘moaning blog’. However, I decided to read Matthew’s blog first – thank goodness I did.

It made me re-evaluate what I was thinking and how I was handling the situation. I just got up from my seat and went straight upstairs, gave my daughter an unconditional hug and said how much I loved her. I really meant it and I feel so lifted.

I then went on to think about the whole area of re-evaluating how we think and feel, and then I started to think about me and my way of thinking and feeling about things. You know, it only takes a minute to change what we do, what we say and maybe take a different road or make a different decision.

I like the idea of The Good Samaritan and will reflect on this some more. Love to you all, Sue x

> Part 1

> Part 2

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