LIVING WITH ADDICTION

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

Living with addiction is one of the hardest things you or someone you know will have to deal with in their lifetime, both for the person with the addiction and for the person watching it consume their family’s or friends lives, honestly it doesn’t ever get easier and from what I have learnt, I don’t think it ever will but it is something you can learn to live with. I know that might seem disheartening and maybe you wanted me to tell you something different but unfortunately I can’t, what I can tell you is if you learn to put yourself first you will find you will become a stronger person and will be able to make decisions from a wider perspective. You can see how this addiction controls that person you love, don’t let this part of your life control you, you are your own person and you have a choice, if you need to walk away then you must walk away and give yourself time.

From the first memories I have, my parents have always been alcoholics, as a child it was something I didn’t think twice about, that was my life and I didn’t know any different.

I remember that my parents used to fight a lot, I think the only thing that really kept them together for so long was the common interest in alcohol. Everyday felt like a new battle while living at home, new arguments, new people, new problems. Me and my brother watched from the sidelines wondering when the newest problem would arise. Being a child of addiction is confusing, I couldn’t of imagined that what I thought was freedom was my parents not looking after me in the correct way. After a rough few years, my mum decided to leave my dad and took me and my brother into a refuge, that was a particularly awful time as it meant leaving everything I knew behind, my friends, family and school. Whilst in the refuge one of the rules of living there was not to bring any alcohol or drugs into the building, of course that didn’t stop my mum.

A short amount of time after moving into the refuge, me and my brother were left with a lady who also lived there whilst my mum ‘popped out’ for a little while, as I have come to realise alcoholics are unpredictable but I was never to have seen that she would never come back for us, for a long time I blamed myself, If only I have chosen to go with her, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. Although from the outside people looking in could see that things with my family was not right, I was young and all I wanted was to be with my parents, I couldn’t see the destruction before me. Eventually, to my dismay we were placed into Foster Care, it was decided that my parents couldn’t give us the care we needed but as a 9 year old child, I didn’t even know what foster care meant, all I knew was that I was taken from my parents and that scared me See full story here

Addiction is something that is still very real for me even after all of these years later. I always kept in contact with my parents and once leaving foster care at 16 I made it my responsibility to look after them, that was a hard time for me. I had been somewhat sheltered from their addiction since going into Foster Care, seeing the awful state that they would get in brought back so many horrible memories but they were my parents and I felt I had a duty to put my feelings aside. After a tough fight for many years, my mum has now overcome the addiction after putting her life on the brink, seriously damaging her liver however relapsing on more than a few occasions, we work everyday with her to keep her strong enough to not relapse again but there is always that chance that when things get tough things will go back to they way they were.

My dad is still very much an alcoholic and I feel he is at his worst yet in terms of health. There has been many opportunities for him to try and help himself but that hasn’t been something he has wanted to do, or has been able to do. I have come to realise that it’s something he can’t do for his children, he has to want it for himself and unfortunately even if he does, the compulsion to get more alcohol is bigger than him and bigger than the love for his family. Although I love my dad, I feel at this point in my life that I am no longer able to help him, watching someone you love destroy themselves each time they sip that next bit of alcohol can become the hardest thing in the world, I want to scream ‘JUST STOP‘ but that won’t help, I feel nothing will anymore. I see my dad every now and then, not often and this sits in the back of my head everyday, questioning will I regret the way I handled things when he is no longer with me but I know that if I choose to care for him with no hope in sight I will only destroy the hope of happiness for my own life.

We all live with the fear of death, of ourselves or a loved one but living with someone with addiction it is a very real reality and its something you slowly watch happening before you, living with this everyday is scary ‘Will my parents be here tomorrow?’ I ask myself, its something that I do not know the answer too but what I do know when I think about that is that I don’t want to live with regrets, I don’t want to be asking myself questions in the future that I can not answer ‘Could I have done something?’ Did I give up to soon?’ ‘Why didn’t I spend more time with them?’ But I also don’t want to look back and think, I spent so much time trying to fix them, that I forgot to work on me.

If there is one thing I have learnt over the years, it is getting angry doesn’t help. Now this doesn’t mean that my initial reaction isn’t anger because it is, there is only so many times that one person can keep making the same mistake before you feel like giving up on them but I have slowly taught myself not to scream and shout at them when this happens, I have done this so many times and even though they can hear me, they just don’t listen because they know all of the things I am telling them, they know that it will one day kill them, they know that they are killing themselves and they know that they are affecting their children’s lives but the compulsion and desire for more alcohol is the only thing that fuels them.


So what is the right thing to do? And is there a right way that you should handle this?

I believe that you must tell those people in your life how it affects you, its so easy to hold back on how you feel about the situation because you’re scared that it will only make the problem worse but opening up and telling them that this affects you is important. People with addiction can be selfish and can make everything revolve around them, ‘I feel depressed so I needed another drink’ Well, tell them that you need them and them doing this only makes your own depression grow stronger and makes you question ‘Who is there for me now?’ It makes you feel alone and disconnected from the world around you. Telling them these things won’t instantly stop them from doing what they are doing but it will allow them to see things from your perspective, it will allow them to understand that there are people who rely on them and this is because they are loved. Sharing with them that they are loved can allow them to begin to love themselves because without this, they will not consider being addiction free, they need to learn that they are worth more than the addiction that has overtaken their lives.

Most importantly it is so vital that you remember to put yourself first, after years of turmoil it is only fair that you remember that your life matters too. I became so angry at my parents and couldn’t understand why they were doing this to me but when I eventually learnt that they ‘weren’t doing it to me’ I soon came to realise that despite what people may say, it is an illness and you can either stick by them and do your best to support and help them or you walk away, walking away doesn’t mean giving up, it just means coming to accept that you have done all you can.


How has addiction affected me? 

Its been almost 13 years since I lived without my alcohol dependent parents, granted my father still is but I am able to remove myself from such close proximity of the problem. Even with this in mind, as I remember my past today I feel confused and even though I am now closer to my mother more than ever before, we still don’t really talk about what really went wrong and why she left us, its something that we both try to pretend didn’t happen, I suppose not talking about it is the easiest option for us.

Due to so many broken promises and sense of abandonment over the years, I have found it hard to allow myself to trust people, I feel threatened when anyone tries to get too close to me, possibly because I associate closeness with unpredictability and even worse, unbearable responsibility.

Behaviour like this left its mark: if you can’t trust your parent, who can you trust?

I have become self contained because of this, if I have a problem I do all I can to fix it myself, I have only myself to rely on, I won’t let myself down like I know other people will. If I rely on people to heavily, what will I do when they’re gone?

Children who have been brought up within this chaos are three times more likely to have problems with alcohol and drugs, eating disorders or become suicidal, and four times more likely to suffer from depression.

I try my best not to be a statistic and don’t believe that all children who where brought up this way are automatically going to be more likely to have problems with these things however I have suffered with an eating disorder, I do suffer from depression and I have been suicidal. I can’t be sure that there things are with me because of the difficult upbringing I had, maybe I was always going to be the person I am today. Either way I choose to be in control, some days are harder than others but I am adamant on becoming a success and living a life that I wasn’t given but worked for every single day.

I believe that although living with this sadness in your life, you should not allow it to stop you from thriving, let it be the determination that sets you apart from others because it can be the reason you fight for a better life.


What do I do if my parents or someone in my family has an addiction?

Tell someone

  • The first thing you have to do is tell someone, you may feel like you are betraying them but not seeking help and keeping the secret is all part of the addiction process and it allows the problems to get worse the longer they are left. Unfortunately even if it is something they know they have a problem with, the majority of the time they will still keep the secret leaving the responsibility to you, it may be difficult but it is important to look after you too and the person with the addiction would want you to do that in their healthy state especially if it is something they are struggling to do due to their addiction.

Learn healthy coping strategies

  • Growing up with family members who use their addiction as an unhealthy coping strategy, they become our example, dealing with things in the wrong way. It is so important that you learn that how they are dealing with life is not right and be sure to adjust how you deal with upset and disappointment.

Keep a diary 

  • This is something I have always done and it helps in many different ways and for many different problems, dealing with anger and upset is important, leaving it to fester is only at detriment to yourself. Identify those feelings, recognizing how a family members problem makes you feel can help you from burying your feelings and pretending that everything’s OK.

Stop the cycle

  • Shockingly children of alcoholic parents are at higher risk of becoming alcoholics themselves. Scientists think this is because of genetics and the environment that kids grow up in. This can also become the unhealthy coping strategy that you may become to rely on. Focus on something that you love and remember to talk to people when you’re feeling those feeling that can lead to such a devastating affect.

If you want to talk to someone who can understand, please feel free to Email me, contact details are on my About Me page.

HELPLINES 

Adfam is the national charity working to improve life for families affected by drugs and alcohol. Click here to be directed to there website.

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I FEEL SO LOST

It’s never too late to start over. If you weren’t happy with yesterday, try something different today. Don’t stay stuck. Do better.

“I’m 22, I have just finished University and I can’t find a job.” This is a very real reality for many of us leaving University. We all hope that we will fall in to our dream job, at least it was set in my head that getting a University Degree would be the elusive happiness that we all crave but I soon come to realise that its not as easy as that for many of us, especially in this very competitive world that we now live in.

I have felt a sense of embarrassment to come from a life of non stop education to not knowing what to do with my days other than apply and apply for jobs, I’m asked ‘What are you doing now?’ ‘Have you got a job yet?’ ‘What have you been doing with yourself?’ These questions so soon after graduating make me wonder, ‘Am I supposed to already have my dream job?’ and ‘Does not having that job I studied for three years for make me a failure?’ But we have to remember as young adults that some people are lucky and some people are not, some people have to work harder and some people don’t, that is just life.

Either way, I sit and think after being non stop for all of my life ‘What now?’ job prospects seem impossible, my friends are no longer around because we have all gone our separate ways after graduating and I do not know what to do with myself, I’m lost and lonely. I have come to think that this is a time of reflection, a time to realise what you have achieved and to remember the years that you have ahead of you, I think that our generation has become so caught up with what everybody else around us are doing that we begin to doubt ourselves.

Everything about my life has been assumed and I feel I have gone along for the ride, although I finished my degree and it is one of the best things I have ever done and achieved, I also wonder ‘Do people now assume for me to have this incredible Fashion job?’ Little do people see the debt that has amounted up over the years by just attending University, do I now have to get a job to pay off that debt while getting into more debt by trying to get those things in life that people assume that you should have. I am at a place in my life where I want more than that, I want to wake up every morning with a sense of purpose and excitement. We are so riddled in self doubt now that we believe that we all have to live in the same way but things work out differently for us all and you are allowed to feel lost because it can be the turning point in your life.

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ~Henry David Thoreau

So here are some tips to remember when you feel lost and lonely:

  • You have more control than you think:

Feeling lost or lonely can get you into negative mode but you are in control, there are things that you can do that can help and make you feel like you have purpose. Only you can choose how to react when things don’t go to ‘plan.’

  • Don’t regret:

Self pity can be the start of a spiralling mess, its all to easy to look back on past events and regret what we did or didn’t do however this does nothing but feed the negativity that you are feeling, of course its okay to know you would have done things differently if you could but know this isn’t possible and the sooner you are able to accept this, the sooner you will be able to look to the future with fresh eyes.

  • Embrace the feeling:

Their comes a sense of relief when you are no longer searching for approval from others, it may feel like loneliness but try enjoying the fact that you do not need everyone to accept and support your decisions. Embrace the new found freedom!

  • Accept change:

Life is about growing and changing and how we react and learn from that change, this is what makes us the person that we are to become. Stop looking back to the ‘Good times’ it is okay that you are not who you used to be, embrace the now.

  • Keep striving to achieve your dreams:

So you feel isolated, we all come to a point in our lives where things don’t seem to be going as ‘planned’ but drop that defeatist attitude and remember that you are worth more than just getting by for the sake of it, this may be hard to follow when you have obligations but your happiness is just as important.

“Living is the rarest thing in the world, most people exist” Oscar Wilde

  • Let loneliness become a learning curve:

The amount of people you are with doesn’t determine the scale of loneliness, when you are surrounded by all of these people, it can be lonelier than when you’re by yourself. Let this be a time to discover you, it’s in the midst of solitude that answers come from true soul searching. Learn to love being alone and become settled in your own company.

  • Keep a diary:

This may seem like an odd tip but I have kept a diary since I was child and I love to look back at times that I once felt that I wouldn’t overcome and realising how things have changed and improved. By keeping a diary when you’re feeling lost and lonely, this will allow you to look back in the future to see how you viewed things at the time and how far you have come since then.

 

HEARTBREAK

So as you might have noticed in the last few weeks, I’ve not been around which is because of my very recent heartbreak, I like to be open with you guys so I thought it was only right that I open up about it and let you know how I have dealt with it, hopefully it will help some of you who are or may go through the same thing.

In life its inevitable that we will all get our heartbroken at least once but you don’t head into a relationship with that as a priority, we all just live for the moment and ignore the fact that one day our heart could be broken by that person.

I was with my boyfriend for a long time; 7 years to be exact and lived with him for 4 years so it came as a surprise to me when he suddenly told me he was no longer in love with me, I felt completely broken and couldn’t see how on earth I was possibly going to overcome it, I can’t express to you more how important your friends and family are because they are the people who will always be there in those tough times when you feel completely alone. They kept telling me that I would be fine and I would eventually move on but I saw no hope, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I just wanted to curl up and hide. It sounds so dramatic but if you have been through it you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Eventually I picked myself up and decided that I have so much life ahead of me, I decided that I couldn’t let everything I had worked so hard for disappear, I suggest through experience that you give yourself around a week to cry, trying to force yourself to get back into normality straight away isn’t healthy, its okay to cry and its okay to feel lost and alone but of course eventually you have to have the strength to realise that life goes on and you have to pick yourself up.

I also suggest letting yourself have that alone time, some people want to be alone where some people want to be surrounded by family and friends, it can be such a lonely time, I know when I was at my worst even when I was in a room full of people I felt completely alone because the only person I wanted was him but the thought of actually being physically alone scared me, I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know how to be without him but eventually I had to say I have to learn to be alone whether it hurts or not and now three weeks later I’m feeling stronger than ever, I feel that I no longer need him and I’m more than happy on my own. It will be different for different people of course, some may need longer but for me I’ve now realised our relationship had come to an end long before it did which makes it so much easier for me to move on.

I also suggest really talking to that person, there’s nothing worse than not knowing why, questioning every single thing that you may have done or said, blaming yourself when the truth is it may be nothing to do with what you have ‘done’ people change and grow and sometimes they grow without you. Of course in a relationship nothing is perfect but instead of thinking about the 3% of stuff that you done wrong, use that to move on, use it to grow and change so that in your next relationship (because you will have one) you can use that three percentage and change it into good.

Relationships are about compromise and some people aren’t willing to, don’t settle for anything, we all deserve the best and there will always be someone out there who loves us for exactly who we are.

If you’re going through the same thing and just want to talk about it then please get in touch with me, I’m more than happy to talk to you through such a sad time.

I will be back as scheduled very soon! So sorry for taking so much time out but like I’ve said above, its so important to put yourself first in times like this.