Monday, February 2, 2009

Cranky and Morose....

I warn you, I am making no sense tonight.

Back 8 years ago when we first found out DD2 was an addict and we put her in a rehab.... back when we were in full "we're going to fix this" mode....

We had to participate in family counselling, weekly, in group meeting style sessions where everyone sat in the circle and things got aired and exposed and we came away feeling raw and torn....

And we weren't the ones with the addiction....

Today, we refer to it as "being held hostage"..... We went through little exercises like "hurts and resentments" where we faced our addict and read off a list of things they had done to hurt us, and how we felt about each one. And they did the same to us.

We were "being held hostage" because we were made to believe that going through these exercises, some of which were horribly embarrassing to me as I am private and shy sometimes, were going to bring about the healing of all of the problems.... we were told the whole family is sick, not just DD2.

And that may be true. I know our family, like any family with older teens, had problems and challenges. But the exercises we went through? believing they would cure everything? We weren't told in the beginning just how dismal were the chances were that this would work.

It wasn't until weeks later, when we were getting fed up with the process and realizing that DD2 was treating this rehab as a 30 day pajama party, that a counselor told us that they thought that "maybe" 2% of their patients stay clean on discharge. Maybe 2% go on to live sober, healthy lives.

I could not wrap my mind around such hopeless odds. I just couldn't accept that DD2 would be one of those 98% who would use again. But she did. She was discharged to a sober living home run by that rehab. And she was loaded within a week.

Over the last eight years, she's had one stint of sobriety that lasted almost two years. She worked a program and had a good bunch of girlfriends in program that she did healthy things with, like snowboarding, hiking, etc. The rest of the time it has been one relapse after another.

Sheesh. All this to say that I'm cranky and morose tonight. Those words are an inside joke for us, because back in that first family therapy experience, we had to introduce ourselves and use two words to describe how we felt. I caught on quickly that I could get the leader to leave me alone by simply saying "Hi my name is ___ and tonight I am happy and sad." That pretty much did it. She'd move on and dig deeper with someone else who said "angry" or "fed up" or "scared shitless" or something along those lines. My husband, however, rebelling at being held hostage every Tuesday night for these family sessions.... he always identified as being "cranky and morose."

This of course resulted in the group leader trying to delve into his issues..... and while we both have issues like a news stand..... our daughter's addiction was not going to be addressed by grilling us with embarrassing techniques, while DD2 grinned and we squirmed and blushed.

Whatever. I learned a huge, huge amount from our time in that program. I gained an understanding of what I was dealing with and eventually, the fact that I did not cause, and could not fix, her addiction.

DD2 called from jail again tonight. She is upset because she is supposed to get out Wednesday night at midnight, if the judge reinstates her Prop36 status, or just decides to extend her probation. It was her hope to go into a 90 day residential program called the Villa. Someone had told her that since she worked last year, they could ding her disability from her last job, and get it covered for her.

Nope. Today we had to tell her she was not accepted, and of course, we can't cough up $5,000 a month for more 30 day pajama parties. Her only option is to be put on the county list for that facility - with an average wait of 4-6 weeks. She has to be clean to be accepted into the program. She asked me what I really thought the odds are of her being clean in 4-6 weeks? Something about her tone made me wonder if she maybe was hoping to get in the facility in order to even further delay facing the mess she has made of her life with this last relapse.

Thousands of dollars worth of bad checks, probation costs, hospitalization costs, mental health emergency evaluation costs, court costs, the list seems endless to me. No wonder she would like to delay facing it.

She had been, until today, voicing the hope that she could take the 90 day residential treatment to get time to focus on her sobriety, get clean time under her belt, work a 12-step program, get a job, and then transition into a sober home. That's all she's thought about while in jail, she says. Now that option is gone.

We can't afford to put her in treatment. She no longer has insurance. I don't think she will stay clean in a sober home. She's been unable to do it previous to this time. Every sober home she's been in, she's been kicked out of. I'll never forget the one we paid $800.00 up front for the first month, back in the beginning of all this.... Two blocks from the ocean and a beautiful house. She was kicked out in two days (dirty test) and we lost the whole $800.00. This was back in the first year when we were still buying the family therapy recommendation that we provide her with sober living while she re-entered the work force.

Today she was angry because we said, again, that she could not come home. I want to be in her life, and I want her in mine. I want to see her, laugh with her, go to lunch with her, have her over for dinner, celebrate her successes and commiserate with the tough times.... I want a normal, age-appropriate relationship with my beautiful, smart, spunky, exasperating, compassionate, self-centered, soft-hearted, hard-headed daughter. Not going to happen.

On the phone tonight, as soon as I said "no" again, her mood switched and she went from happy and hopeful to manipulative and mean. She has never been able to hear the word "no". She used to get in the car after school as a child, with a list of 23 things she wanted to do that afternoon..... and if I couldn't accomplish #17, even if the rest were doable..... little Miss Sunshine became inconsolable. We would stick our ground, and usually within 15 minutes of determining that we were not budging, she accepted things and was her normal bubbly self again.

Her tone tonight took me back to one day in December, last year.

As background for that day's events, earlier in August, she had broken up with a boyfriend she shared a place with for a year. Boyfriend was a really great guy, although he too had some problems with depression. They sincerely tried to make it work and they have a lot of good memories of their time together. They are not hateful or angry; it just was not going to work out for many reasons. She moved out of their place after she had asked us if she could come home again. At the time we thought she was clean. He was big on supporting her efforts to stay clean.... although we found out he has a bit of a pill habit when things get rough. We negotiated our boundaries and flung the door open wide. Her plan was to come home and find a new job closer to our area, and then get a place with a girlfriend.

She said the end of the relationship with Boyfriend made her feel like she wanted to use again, but that if she could be with us, she would not. After she moved in, she again, calmly stepped over each boundary we had established. We found the spoons, the needles, and she repeatedly nodded off during conversations. She refused to contribute the agreed-upon amount of money to the running of the common household, and things went missing around the house. She admitted she was using but flaunted her honesty about it as if that should make it alright.

We started squawking about how we were not the best option for her and she needed to be somewhere else. She started staying with friends. She came over Thanksgiving morning to spend that day with us, and used my computer to look for another new job. The economy was continuing to tank, and she wanted an additional part time job. Every time I popped into my office she had a new and different job on the screen and was busily taking notes.

Bright and early the next morning, I discovered she had accessed my ebay/paypal accounts, changed the passwords, and deleted all evidence of doing so, and then politely removed $1200 from our bank account. The shit hit the fan and we told her she could not come home again. She had already stolen an expensive camera and my Ipod. I was really hurt by the Ipod, because I only used it for my exercise time on the Dreadmill....and she knew how important it was for me to exercise with my diabetes, etc.... She was always encouraging me with my fitness efforts. I stewed/cried over the theft for a day and then just let it go. Money was discovered to be missing, too....

Times like these, the memories of some of the things our counselor said in family therapy surface..... "your addict lied? your addict stole? Wow, now there's a surprise!"

Anyway, she called one morning in December, and announced she was coming over to pick up some clothes. I was up to my eyeballs in work (I work from home). I said the "No" word, and told her it was not a good time, and that she would have to come later in the day, when her father was home. She announced she was coming over now. I reiterated that I would not let her in. She laughed.

I bungie corded the double doors shut. She had a key, and I figured that would keep her out. I went back to work in my office. Letting go, detaching, I thought.

The doorbell rang, and the friend dropping her off waved at me when I looked out the front window. I shook my head and said loudly "No. She can't come in now." He looked at her, looked at me, gave her a quick, nervous hug and left. Smart guy.

She tried to get in the door and started screaming. She climbed on the bench glider under the front picture window, continued screaming about how "it doesn't have to be like this" and proceeded to kick in the window and walk right through. She fought me for the phone I tried to reach and I changed tactics and said "fine, go upstairs to your room and get what you want from it." She went into crying fits. "I just want to get clean Mommy, I want to be with you Mommy, I just need my family, Mommy, PLEASE."

She flung herself dramatically on the daybed in my office and while her back was turned, I opened an email and started sending out work to one of my employees. She demanded to see what I was doing, and when she saw the email, she relaxed and laid down again, and again turned her back to me. I instant messaged one of my employees who lives a few miles away and is aware of the situation. "Call 911, DD2 just broke in front window, is violent, bye". I got back the message "done". I closed that screen and continued doing my work. DD2 decided to go upstairs and change clothes and start packing up some of her stuff. About 30 minutes after my initial instant message to my employee, I thought I heard a car door out front. I raced for the door and went out to speak with the cops.

Long story short, she was 5150'd. It took seven cops, four cop cars, and the threat of a taser to get her to, two hours later, voluntarily get into the cop car and be escorted to the emergency room for an emergency psych evaluation. This was after she cut her leg in front of them, sitting in her underwear on the lawn.

Good times.

She told everyone in the ER that she knew what to say and she'd be out in a matter of hours.

She was transferred to the county unit for evaluation. And transformed into a docile, cooperative, quiet patient, well-spoken and apparently cognizant.... and was indeed, released in a matter of hours. This was her third 5150.

She did come by later, at a time we mutually agreed upon, and pick up some clothing. She walked by the boarded up window and expressed surprise that she had done it. No apology, just surprise. She was arrested a few days later. And again a few days after that. She apologized sincerely a few weeks later, when sober.


I want her in my life. But I don't want to do it 24/7 inside these walls. I can't. She is exhausting. Her bipolar disorder has her bouncing off the walls one minute, and in the depths of suicidal dispair the next. She does not want to take medication, but self medicates with heroin.

And of course, to get the heroin, she does illegal things: stealing, bad check writing, etc.

For these illegal activities, she can be tried and sentenced just like any person with a sound mind who just decided to do something illegal. I don't get it. The state just can't have it both ways (well, actually, I guess they can).

They give her the right to (with an impaired mind) refuse medication and treatment which would help her make decisions that are NOT so self destructive. And once she refuses the treatment and consequently, with her impaired mind, makes unhealthy decisions..... and commits crimes along the way.... It's jail time, probation, violations, and more jail time.

The Lanterman-Petris-Short act, signed by then-governor Ronald Reagan, is responsible for the mental illness merry-go-round portion of our situation. I found these statements in some materials being circulated in the hopes of changing the law.....

One of the difficulties in providing continuous treatment in the community is that since these illnesses are brain disorders that affect the ill person’s reasoning, some individuals do not recognize that they are ill or that the symptoms of their condition will respond to medication. Therefore, they do not seek treatment. If hospitalized, they may be unable or unwilling to comply with treatment plans after discharge. When this occurs, the person may require involuntary treatment to protect their lives and avoid tragic social and personal consequences.

The current California law regarding involuntary treatment for mental illness -- the Lanterman, Petris, Short Act (LPS Act) -- was written 30 years ago before scientific knowledge advanced recognizing mental illness as a physical disorder of the brain. Its purpose was to depopulate state hospitals. It was not fully realized at the time of its enactment the structure and support some people with mental illness would require to successfully participate in community life. Furthermore, over the years the act has been piecemeal amended to make it one of the most adversarial, costly and difficult to administer involuntary treatment systems in the United States. Lack of clear definition and common misinterpretation of its provisions have caused inconsistent application from county to county.
The law must be revised to incorporate modern scientific knowledge regarding the nature and treatment of mental illness in the community and to streamline its efficiency in today’s managed care environment.

This is my dilemma. If she isn't well enough to decide what is good for her, how can I expect her to make good decisions. I know I did not cause her addiction. I cannot fix it. It is not my fault. But does her mental illness mean that my responsibility in this is different than what it would be if my qualifier was "only" an addict? And not mentally ill and an addict?

It's not healthy for her to be at home. For us, or for her. I can't afford to pay for a sober home. She started taking psychiatric medication in jail, but the dosage is so low she is only sleeping one hour at night. I can't babysit someone 23 hours a day, run a business and take care of me.

Grrrr. We're not her answer for housing. We can be of assistance financially, but we're not her answer. She needs to learn to take care of herself because we are not going to live forever. Or, she needs to fail at it so miserably that she is awarded a conservatorship and gets disability. Because again, we are not going to live forever. DD1 is willing to take care of DD2, in a supervisory capacity, someday, and wants a healthy sister relationship with her.

Okay, headache is now full blown. Off to get some ibuprofen, a bit of tea, and I will contemplate this further tomorrow. Many apologies to any who read this, for the incoherence. My mind is in a bit of an uproar tonight.

Whines: It's toasty today..... I love cooler weather and today was way warmer than I think February should be!

Gratitudes: It's toasty today. I love cooler weather.... not the deep freeze that has most of the nation in its grip!



  1. Very well written. I too just started a blog. You are capturing everything we are all going through, you are not alone. I didn't know what to expect when I began to write but the unintended consequence has been for me not to have to carry this baggage all this around 24/7. My load seems lighter and I am better able to deal with other life issues. Plus I finally sent e-mails with a link to my friends and family. You know how nice it is not to begin every conversation with them asking "How is A...?" It is out there now.

    Hang tough Mom, all of us dealing with this are pulling for you and we only survive this together and with help. Hopefully our kids survive it too but I've learned that hard lesson, it's not up to us.

  2. I forgot to identify myself and my blog space.

    An Addict In Our Son's Bedroom

  3. OMG does that all sound soooo familiar. And you have been doing it almost as long as I have.

    My only sanity? I decided that MY DAUGHTER was dead. I mourned her. I grieved. I raged at God's unfairness for killing her.

    Then, finally, I could deal with the addict who took over the body my dead daughter left.

    I know, that sounds R E A L L Y weird? And, perhaps it is. But I couldn't deal with all the emotions and guilt and worrying about if she was starving, hurt, sick etc.

    Now, it's just a stranger inhabiting her body. Sometimes I like the stranger, sometimes I don't. But I don't feel the connection I used to. I no longer stay awake at night worrying constantly.

    Oh, and BTW. the ACTUAL statistic from the government, not that we can totally rely on that...LOL

    only 15% of heroin addicts ever stay clean. The other 85% either end up dead, in jail or use until death or jail claims them.

    That's why I tell parents, DO NOT HOLD OUT HOPE, but DO pray alot. The odds are already stacked against the person who USED to be your baby child, but alas, is no longer. Now they are simply a junkie.

    I am also slammed everytime I say that LOL.

  4. It was never understood when we had these little bundles of joy that one day they would turn our worlds inside out and rip our guts out while dancing around us in such a manner... and then I fall back on what that nurse told me, the first day I had my son in my arms in the hosital, what if he needs something and I need something I had asked, and she replied to me, " take care of you first". I wonder if she knew how wise she was ?

    Well written post, tragic but raw and honest.

  5. You make more sense with this post than you realize. You're right, they are incapable of making decisions for themselves. It's impossible...until they stop using. Only then they can make a decision, knowing the consequences. Then for some reason they convince themselves that they will use a little, then just once...Which is why its so hard to keep them from using's a vicious cycle.
    I hate heroin and what it does to the addict and their families. Very good post. Take care.

  6. OMG, OMG, OMG - What a conflict to see others going through what my family is. A comfort to know we aren't alone, a tragedy that so many are here.

    I hope she is on birth control.

    I am holding a letter I got today from my daughetr from jail - all day long I have had it by me, haven't read it, cause I know... no matter what she says... It hurts. (Mom Vs heroin)


  7. you said "It's not healthy for her to be at home. For us, or for her. I can't afford to pay for a sober home. She started taking psychiatric medication in jail, but the dosage is so low she is only sleeping one hour at night. I can't babysit someone 23 hours a day, run a business and take care of me."

    It is not healthy.

    You can't own her problem. Even if their is a 'dual diagnosis' of mental illness and addiction, it is HER problem to solve.

    you will go insane trying to keep her straight. And, worse, it will suck you dry.

    I call it 'emotional bankruptcy'. too many withdrawals, not enough deposits.

    It SUCKS !!

  8. I know exactly how you feel, if you read my blog you will see that we are basically in the same boat. You feel that if you try hard enough that you can make them change. Guess what? After years of trying and crying I finally realized that I can't. I have tried everything except spending my retirement ot send her to rehab. My daughter has walked out of rehab also. Right now she is in jail and has been there since late last year. She is due to go into rehab again late this month or early next month. I will not let her back here untill I feel I can trust her and I think after everything she has done it will be a loooong time.
    Good luck to you and Stay Strong!!!!

  9. It took at least 8 shrinks (some of those jail shrinks which are for the most part useless), several different diagnosis, and various combo's of meds, but my son is on the right stuff now. The current prison shrink really took the time to figure it out. He is on Geodon & Celexa. It sounds CRAZY, but he is "normal" to talk to. Time will tell if it helps him stay clean when he gets out, but at least he knows what "right" feels like. He told me that. I hope your daughter gets that opportunity. Sobriety is for most addicts a culmination of experience, education, & support. It is not easy, it is not fast, the odds are great..but it happens. If you spend time around recovery people-AlAnon,AA, NA-you will see this.

  10. What an incredible labor of love to wrestle through all that. It breaks my heart to read it. Although I've not been in that bad of shape, it always helps me to read what it's like from your side.
    I was frustrated when my wife said once that she felt totally alone dealing with the merry-go-round I've put her through. I feel stupid enough having done it, and one of the greatest things she's done for us is go to AlAnon etc. I know from your next post you said you weren't so sure. I thought the groups would just comfort her, but they also end up challenging me by proxy.
    I admire your ability to set strong boundaries. Keep doing that, you deserve it.