Posted: Dec 11, 2014
In my last Dispatch and Ramblings about life in the 1980’s, I talked about a course that I went to for friends, partners or relatives of people challenged by mental health issues and addiction.
It had an effect on me at the time but has come to have a greater effect on me over time. It is one thing to sit in a class and work through issues and problems in dealing with someone who is dealing with these challenges but a whole different level when I would go to the Monday night group sessions. The group sessions were run by a couple volunteers, one with an alcohol history and the other with a drug history. They were typical group sessions where no one is judgemental but you are in a supportive group talking about your day to day issues in helping someone who is addicted and your personal problems flowing from your relationship with that person.
When you are young and partying with people your age it is very different than hearing from the anguish of the mom of a young person knowing their kid is living under a bridge somewhere with a needle in their arm. Another one that bothered me was a young guy who would talk about how his high school life had been, going on his bicycle most nights to the local bars to find his mom and try to get her home.
So why am I going on about this? Well for two reasons.
First, if you are dealing with this kind of thing today there are a lot of programs to help those with mental health issues and addictions and lots of programs to help you if you are the one trying to help that person on your own. The internet, of course, will have an amazing array of material available but stick to credible medical sources. Your local library will have lots of books on the topic but a good starting point is Codependent No More by Melody Beattie, published by Hazelden.
The second reason is to tell you that one thing that helped me was to write about it. I wrote a bunch of letters to my buddy and several to myself to reinforce what you need to do, to cope.
And here is a poem that came out my memories of those sessions and my thoughts on all of this. One of the constants that seemed to come out with various people at the group, whether the person they were dealing with had issues with dope, or alcohol or gambling was denial.
I wrote it in 2012.
I am a drunk,
not an alcoholic.
I am sad,
I enjoy life,
but not all the time.