The problem with irrational thoughts, is when you’re having them, they seem perfectly rational.
When bearing the weight of addiction, discouragement, the pain of loss, or the struggle with self-image after years of emotional abuse or deep wounds of childhood trauma or neglect; every person who is battling their demons has the same basic thoughts:
That they are alone.
That no one understands or that they don't want others to be bothered with the burden of their issues, And that they have very few options.
Along with these thoughts come the overwhelming pain of loneliness, and then the desperately wanting the feelings to stop. Some succeed in making those feelings stop while others suffer silently, living seemingly normal lives.
Or living a somewhat secretive, self-harming life.
Until you’ve sludged through these thoughts. Its easy to make quick judgments about other people without knowing what they’re going through just to get through the day. They suffer trying to not listen to what their disease is telling them- giving in to self depreciating thoughts that have ingrained themselves into their precious brain..🤯
You may not have time to help them or be a life-changer counselor but you could be the turning point of their day that gives them one sliver of light.
A spark of hope. Even showing a morsel of care.
By NOT adding to their irrational thoughts of being unlovable, or broken, or otherwise not worthy of your care or your time.
Setting healthy boundaries that empower them to do the same.
Practicing the pause of making quick judgements or assumptions.
Basically by not being another brick in their wall of self defeat.
We can bridge the gap between chaos and distress.
We can be the tunnel to their freedom – escaping from the turmoil to see the light of a new day.
This is how we show a suffering human how to climb out of darkness. By being the light. By showing how healthy people communicate and solve problems.
May we all find our place of peace. There is beauty after pain, if even for a moment. Those moments added together , gives us purpose for our own lives.
Never question what good you’ve done in the world just because you didn’t become a power speaker or get a law changed or build an orphanage. Your power to the world might be that one thing you said to someone at one time (good or bad) that helped them think in a different direction.
Or the time you cared when someone else was suffering silently, and no one else seemed to notice.
Your power might be the silent prayers you send to those suffering needlessly. Even those you haven’t met. God knows your heart, it doesn’t have to be recorded or logged in.
We interact with 1000’s of people in our lives & every interaction is needed for the situation at the time. It’s done exactly for our or for their best interest and growth.
Someone said to me recently,
"I always seem to say the wrong thing & screw everything up".
“Oh my heck! That sounds like my life”.
Then I started thinking.:
No, If it was said, then it was meant to be said. Maybe to crack open an understanding that would otherwise not be cracked open. If all we see mirrored back to us- is green Teletubby fields & happy music playing in the background we are in denial (& unprepared) for the weeds & black smoke that will surely come. That’s not being pessimistic, It’s reality.
This isn’t about everything happening for a reason. People don’t NEED to suffer. Sometimes they suffer because of another’s free will and choice. This is about being true to your heart and loving it with honor. Giving yourself everything you’ve ever wanted from someone else, then passing that love onto those who need it.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned the last few years, is it’s ok to not know.
It’s ok to not know what the future holds. It’s ok to not have everything planned out. It’s ok to not know what the world will look like next year. I’m learning to trust by faith.
Faith over hope.
As I stated in this post, there’s a difference. In the process of just trusting, we may have some depression or sadness. As I listened to my audible tape “Care of the soul” on my way up to a camping trip yesterday, I listened with curiosity as he describes depression as a needed thing sometimes. It gives that space to reflect, to heal, to process. We don’t always have to live in this happy positive unauthentic state.
Anyone who’s experienced a “Dark night of the Soul” knows that you ultimately come out a better person. After all:
You can't know light without experiencing the dark.
There are so many things in my life to be grateful for right now. When the little shadow of fear that lingers ever so strong in the shadows of my soul, starts to sneak up on me; I just have to grab onto my faith.
Faith that everything will work out for the best. I will have enough money to meet my needs. I will have a job. My kids will be ok. My grandkids will make it in their own way.
I am enough and I have enough- always.
By acknowledging what drives my depression or my worry ( fear) I can hopefully send it on it’s way and leave me in peace.
“Depression is caused by overconsumption. Overconsumption is caused by obsession. Obsession is caused by fear. Fear is caused by an absence of love. An absence of love is caused by a belief in others. A belief in others is caused by a label called others. A label called others is caused by a need to organize life into some form of understanding. A need to organize life into some form of understanding is caused by an inability to trust life as it is.
By loving the one who doesn’t know how to trust life as it is, the need to organize life into some form of understanding dissolves. As this occurs, a belief in others can be recognized as a belief in a label called others. Beyond the play of labels, a love that knows no other emerges from within you. As love emerges, you are absolved of fear, the tendency to obsess, or the need to over consume, at the rate in which the one who is depressed is embraced with equal respect, support, and heart-centered attention.
As depression is loved as never before, it becomes a vital stage of emptying out. As you empty out, the seed of ego dissolves to create space for the blossoming of consciousness. This allows depression to be a pivotal stage of growth and expansion, instead of something to fight, ignore, or avoid.” – Matt Kahn
Today I had the privilege of listening to a nationally acclaimed body image expert talk about how & why people do things, especially those things that might hurt them eventually or even now.
It occurred to me of how worthy just plain WORTHY people are to be loved💛! Even those with incredible problems, even those who seem as if they have nothing to offer us- who seem to not fit our image of who they “should” be just so WE can feel better. This is for the simple reason that people are NOT (or shouldn’t be identified as) their problems. They are not their titles or jobs. Those things come and go- like the wind.
Then tonight my middle son reminded ME, His mother of some incredible humans who I’m related to-one of them being him! These were things that I had forgotten. Sometimes it takes someone else to shine a light on someone’s soul and on their true value to help us remember who they are and who we are.
For all those who see all the purple banners today representing overdose awareness day and you scroll on by thinking:
“I’m glad that doesn’t affect me, I’m glad I taught my kids better” or “Someone should have got them help”.
I applaud you. I do.
I am sooo glad that you have never had to watch your beautiful child turn into someone you didn’t know, I’m sooo glad you’ve never had to get a call from the inmate phone system asking if you’ll accept the charges as you swallow the lump in your throat.
I’m soooo glad you’ve never had the experience of watching your 28-year-old, Once 220 lb- now 160 lb son, thrash around in the back seat, sweating, then freezing, begging his own mother to please take him to get drugs to stop this sickness, as you’re trying to take him to detox.
I’m sooo glad you’ve never had to see a dad in a restaurant with his kids & have your heart ache so deeply that your son isn’t with his kids.
I’m so glad you don’t have to sit down at a delicious meal & feel a twinge of guilt knowing your child hasn’t eaten for days & wondering where he is at.
I’m so glad you’ve never had to see your precious grandkids celebrate a birthday & not knowing the words to tell them that their dad has a chronic, progressive, fatal illness that teaches him lies & makes him do crazy things but he’s NOT crazy & this IS NOT happening because they are unworthy of love or did something wrong.
I’m glad that you would never tell a dying lung cancer patient that they shouldn’t have started smoking. I’m glad you would never tell a diabetic patient that they only get ONE chance to get their blood sugars under control, and then they’re on their own.
Or they should just get over this pesky illness that’s inconveniencing everyone.
I truly am.
Because I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on anyone. I would never want anyone else to lay awake at night, unable to stop the tears, wondering what they could have done differently.
I wouldn’t want anyone else to wonder if today is the day that THEY get the call.
I’m very glad that you taught your kids to make better choices, & that you’ve never broken the speed limit or took a drink or had something so traumatic in your life that you just needed to get through the pain for a minute- And if you did, luckily you were able to stop or walk away without any devastating effects.
Great genes, or coping skills! I wonder if you could help teach those to others? Obedience to life and all the rules, like you have done your whole life, must feel great. I’m sure you love your wonderful life.
What say you? Oh, your life isn’t perfect? I must have missed that part when you were shaking your head in disgust, or when you were rapidly typing with your two thumbs on the Narcan post that your tax dollars shouldn’t have to pay for others’ dumb choices.
In that case, we should start looking at ALL the programs funded by taxpayer money AND also the local hospital programs for heart disease and diabetes, HIV, many of which are the result of personal choices and they DO affect others in their own way.
I’m sure you’re normally a compassionate person. I used to be you. I was compassionate AND caring! I donated to the local children hospital fund. I ran in the race-for-cancer cure fun run. I donated coats for the homeless drive every winter when my kids were little. I left cans on my front door for the boy scout food drive.
But when driving by the guy on the corner, avoiding eye contact with him; I just KNEW that he was only supporting his habit and I had all I could do to not say out loud, “Just GET A JOB!
I understand, I do.
Never, ever, did it cross my mind that I would be walking into a police station to pick up leftover evidence that they had from a drug bust. Never, ever did I think I would be watching a nurse drain a cyst off my sons arm and watching him scream in pain. Never, ever did I worry every single day that my sons life would end, except maybe when he was a baby and had a high fever and was vomiting all night.
See, I’m not really that much different than you. The difference is, I’ve had the humbleness bug forced upon me for a few years now. I don’t hold it against you that you have missed that bug.
We need to create practical affordable solutions for all- while eliminating the waste & fraud in treatment.
Shame and embarrassment are keeping people from seeking treatment.
Even if that means opening our mind up to alternative treatments such as Harm reduction.
The death rate is frightening and it IS AN EPIdemic as it affects the core of the family structure, jobs, crime, the jail system, and little kids who grow up with the stigma of a parent in jail or who has died.
Addiction affects every aspect of society whether directly or indirectly. If you don’t have anything to offer to help stop this nightmare, then please please offer your compassion and time. Even if you don’t understand how it gets to this point, you can still give HOPE to a suffering addict or a kind word to the family of a person with a substance use disorder.
Or what about not arguing about insulin needing to be free. Maintenance meds are not usually free to anyone, but AED paddles and Narcan to revive-not treat, are free to EMTS.
See, I don't want one more parent to have to bury a child due to drugs or alcohol, but the only way that's going to happen is if we ALL take on a little part of this ongoing and progressive epidemic to get rid of judgements and stigmas so we can forge practical, affordable solutions for all.
This IS everyone's problem...
It’s ok to NOT understand the complexities of this disease and to not have a solution!
You can still give that person holding a sign on the corner, a $5 McDonald’s card to let him know that yes, someone does give a damn today- no matter what their motives.
This article is one of the best I’ve seen explaining opiod addiction to the average person from the point of view of the person suffering. The author is a doctor who suffered himself for 22 years.
It explains why people lose so much weight (along with everything else) as they become more and more addicted to not only the substance, but the daily rat race lifestyle that requires so much time and energy, “just to stay well” as my son always says.
When I hear moms arguing about whether to buy food for an addicted loved one, there’s always the comment: “if they can buy dope they can buy food”.
The problem is, they don’t.
To me, it’s like expecting a severe Alzheimers patient to eat on time every day without forgetting to turn off the stove.
The first time my son was “out there” for 9 months, he lost 80 lbs. The second time he lost 60 in 5 months. When I received this second picture of him last year, I literally broke down in horror with shaking sobs. When I sent it to my daughter, she was so upset, she had to leave work. She said:
“I didn’t have any idea it could get this bad in just 5 months”
"Our starvation for these opioids is far more intense than our starvation for food. If it’s a choice between buying food or buying heroin, then that’s not a choice"
He explains how it relates to us eating as a means to survival.
“Let’s say that the only place you can get food is out of a black market where food is expensive and it is scarce. And it is illegal. It is illegal to buy out of this black market. But it’s the only place you can find food. If you were in this situation, what would you do? Would you starve? Or would you break the law and buy food, to eat and to live? Would you steal if you had to, to buy food? The answer to that would be yes. Because survival is not a choice”.
Honestly, because of articles like this, my anger towards my son for all the damage he’s caused has melted in complete compassion for his daily, minute-to- minute struggle. I wish I could say the same for my family. Addicts get a bad rap because they don’t magically heal all these brain changes when they go to jail or go to a 30 day rehab; big truth is, it takes almost as long to heal as the time in hard core active addiction.
“We’re not narcissistic hedonists. When we hurt the ones we love, we hurt too. And what is sad is that we don’t understand why we can’t stop. We don’t understand why we do the things we do. We don’t understand why we hurt the ones we love. We don’t understand because no one has explained to us that the changes within the brain at a cellular, molecular, level, what we call opioid addiction, is an acquired disease of brain structure and, thus, function that is manifested not as compulsive drug seeking and use but, rather, as behavior directed towards the survival of the individual”.
I invite you to click here to read the full article.
It also directs people to resources if they are interested in finding out more. Dr. Sam Snodgrass received a Doctorate in Biopsychology from the University of Georgia in 1987. He was then awarded a National Institute on Drug Abuse Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. After his Post-Doc, he was asked to remain as a faculty member in this department. In 1995 he lost his faculty position due to his opioid addiction. His use of heroin and Dilaudid began in 1976. For the first 13 years, his use was occasional. In 1989 he developed an opioid addiction and did not stop for the next 22 years. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the 501 c3 non-profit Broken No More and its subsidiary organization, GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing).
"All Addictions are attempts to regulate internal emotional state"
Rob Waters January 10, 2019
Dr. Gabor Maté, a well-known addiction specialist and author, spent 12 years working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a neighborhood with a large concentration of hardcore drug users. The agency where he worked operates residential hotels for people with addictions, a detox center and a pioneering injection facility, where drug users are permitted to shoot up and can get clean needles, medical care and counseling.
Born to a Jewish family in Budapest at the time of the Nazi occupation, he and his parents migrated to Canada, where he earned his medical degree at the University of British Columbia. Maté, whose personal experience informs his work, is known for tracing substance abuse problems to trauma that often starts in childhood and spans generations.
His work has been acclaimed, but a Psychology Today columnist suggested that his theories are reductionist and unsupported by data — a contention Maté disputes.
Amid the severe opioid epidemic in the U.S., Maté recently visited Sacramento, where he conducted workshops with addiction specialists and families affected by addiction. California Healthline contributor Rob Waters caught up with him there. The following interview was condensed and edited for clarity.
Q: A big part of your book “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” is about how you came to see that childhood trauma and pain lie at the root of addiction. Tell me about your insights.
Downtown Eastside is North America’s most concentrated area of drug use. In 12 years, I worked with hundreds of female patients, and every one had been sexually abused as a child. Men were physically, sexually and emotionally abused, suffered neglect, were in foster care.
Thirty percent of people there are native Indians, what we call First Nations people. For generations, the government abducted their children and sent them to residential schools. Parents were barred from seeing kids. Kids were physically and sexually abused by teachers and priests. Tens of thousands died. Because of multigenerational trauma, native communities have high rates of sexual abuse, violence, addiction and suicide. It’s the most addicted population in Canada.
All addictions — alcohol or drugs, sex addiction or internet addiction, gambling or shopping — are attempts to regulate our internal emotional states because we’re not comfortable, and the discomfort originates in childhood. For me, there’s no distinction except in degree between one addiction and another: same brain circuits, same emotional dynamics, same pain and same behaviors of furtiveness, denial and lying.
Q: You were born into a Jewish family in Budapest during the Holocaust. How did that affect your life?
I was born in 1944, and two months later the Germans came in. Hungary then had the only population of Jews in Eastern Europe that hadn’t been annihilated. Now it was our turn. My mother had a stressed pregnancy. My father’s away in forced labor; she doesn’t know if he’s dead or alive. When I’m 5 months of age, my maternal grandparents are sent to Auschwitz and gassed to death. My mother is 24, terrified and depressed. In October, they start killing Jews in Budapest, taking them to the Danube and shooting them.
When I’m 11 months, she gives me to a total stranger. She said: “Please take this baby out of here because I can’t keep him alive.” I didn’t see her for six weeks. In a child’s mind, that’s abandonment. I got the template for addiction: a lot of emotional pain, which I suppressed.
Q: You write about your own addictions — being a workaholic and binge shopper of classical music, once spending $8,000 in a week on CDs.
I was not addicted to substances but I might as well have been. I couldn’t stop myself. I lied to my wife. I lied to my kids. It doesn’t matter which addiction you’re looking at; it’s the same dynamics.
Q: Last year in the U.S., an estimated 72,000 people died of drug overdoses, most from opioids.The U.S. penalizes drug use harshly and has the largest prison population in the world — 2.3 million people, almost 1 percent of the adult population. Meanwhile, 90 percent of people with substance use disorders in the U.S. are not getting treatment. What’s your take on this approach?
The more pain you cause people, the more you shame and isolate them, the worse they’ll feel about themselves. The more suffering you impose, the more you strengthen their need to escape. If you wanted to design a system to maintain drug use and enhance the profits of the illegal drug trade, I would design the system you have.
Q: Let’s talk about the science. How does trauma in the early years of life affect brain development and predisposition to addiction?
Studies show that early stress affects both the nerve cells in the brain and the immune systems of mice and humans and makes them more susceptible to cocaine as adults. If you look at brain circuits implicated in impulse regulation or stress regulation or emotional self-regulation, all are impaired in addicts.
Q: Why do you think the opioid epidemic exploded in the way it has in recent years?
On top of the childhood trauma and the profound social and economic dislocation so many people experience, most physicians are completely uninformed about trauma and don’t understand how to address chronic pain or treat addiction. Hence they have a propensity to prescribe opiates all too quickly without looking at root causes or alternatives. Most people introduced to opiates in recent years started on medical prescriptions. When these are stopped, they turn to illicit substances. All this is greatly exacerbated by pharmaceutical companies’ well-documented drive to induce doctors to prescribe.
Q: Critics like psychologist and addiction specialist Stanton Peele say you’re proposing a reductionist vision in which abuse history and biochemical changes to the brain inevitably lead to substance abuse.
Peele totally misconstrues my argument. Nobody’s saying that every traumatized person becomes addicted. I’m saying that every addicted person was traumatized. There are other outcomes of trauma including cancer, autoimmune disease, mental illness — addiction is only one of them.
Q: You write with compassion about the people you worked with. But you also write about them as broken people who rarely seem to recover. What good are you doing?
If somebody had cancer and pain and you couldn’t cure the cancer, what would you do? Would you say, “I’m not going to help you any more”? Or would you try to ameliorate their suffering? The essence of harm reduction is you reduce the harm. You don’t impose abstinence. If they choose that at some point, I provide whatever support they need.
As I read this post from a fellow blogger, I couldn’t help but remember hearing that story/ analogy in church many years ago.
Back when I had a bunch of little sticky fingers, puppies, and lots of mud. What I wouldn’t give to go back to those days. At the time, I thought my life was difficult but compared to now, I would go back any day. My parents were alive and my kids were all home and safe.
The thought of addiction affecting my family was completely out of my head.
But tonight, after going down memory lane on my phone with pictures and videos, I felt the familiar sadness creeping up from my belly….
I hate feeling bad for what isn’t anymore. I hate not being able to enjoy almost 33 years of my kids memories just because the last 3 have been bad.
But as I read my fellow blogger’s story of Thanksgiving, I realized I was kicking God in the teeth. ( I wonder if (He) has tee….. Nevermind).
Why didn’t I stop & tell my kids how much hardship they would face? And how strong they are? Why do they look so sweet and innocent then? As if they would be ok, with just life’s normal struggles?
Because they WERE sweet & innocent. They never wanted life to be so difficult. They ARE strong. They have just forgotten. Like in a coma with amnesia. They’ve Forgotten who they are. Forgotten their strength. They’ve become identified with their struggle. Labeling themselves, as society has labeled them.
Respond to your children with love in their worst moments, their broken moments, their angry moments, their selfish moments, their lonely moments, their frustrated moments, their inconvenient moments; because it is in their most unlovable human moments that they most need to feel loved.― L. R. Knost
For now, instead of dwelling in the past and feeling sad, I will rejoice and embrace the time I had with my little ones; knowing that I did the best I could with the precious gifts God gave me. I served him. I loved them. I will continue to love them despite their choices.
Instead of getting mad at God for not moving the mountains that I want moved; I will praise him for entrusting me with their care. Despite my moments of guilt and despair, I still believe that I was their choice for a Mother, for whatever reason.
This time of year is bound to drudge up painful feelings for those who have lost a child or have a prodigal son or daughter who is lost in addiction or otherwise estranged. The happy music, with families dancing around the warmly decorated fireplace, is almost too much for moms like me who are worried sick about their child or children.
We go through the motions of forced shopping, baking, decorating, even if it’s the bare minimum. We think no one will notice, as long we do our “due- duty”.
But they do.
My husband sees the pain on my face as I order gifts online, knowing that I can’t order anything for my oldest son.
He sees me plan our family Christmas party which is a 35 year tradition, knowing that ‘the boy’ won’t be there.
My other kids notice the endless memes I post about “sitting with someone in their darkness” and “help the homeless, it’s someone’s brother, son or Dad.”
They long for the days when I wasn’t so hyper- focused on the “least happiest child”.
Hell, I long for those days! The days before addiction hit our family. I watch with happy tears, a video from Christmas 2016. My son, in his brand new custom- built- by -him house with it’s cobalt blue Christmas lights shining brightly along the perfectly planned ranch beams. It was the picture of success. A successful business, a beautiful family, a warmly decorated house, with plenty of presents under the tree.
My son happily unwraps the gifts in the “saran wrap game” we were playing. He slams it down in true bigger- than-life style that was all his own. Everyone laughs! The sounds of his little girl gleefully giggling at her daddy breaks my heart.
How long has it been since she saw him? 10 months now. How she must lie in bed and wonder what she did wrong.
I hate hate hate this disease.
And no, I will not argue about the cause of this nightmare. Disease or choice.
To me it’s doesn’t matter. Pain is pain. Even if I didn’t have a loved one experiencing the horrible consequences, I’m not going to play judge or jury on someone’s life.
No one would choose the consequences of Addiction. They wanted the benefits of a drink or a pain killer. They didn’t want the excruciating torment that follows.
So here we are. The holidays again. How to be in the spirit? ⛄🎄⛄🎄
My nurse practitioner friend, whom I did confide in, said I needed some stabilization meds, but how can I take the very thing that started this nightmare? 💊.
Yes I know.
Even my professional sense says that it’s different. I won’t abuse them. I’m not going to get addicted to antidepressants.
But I resist. You see, I have this underlying Hope. This theory that every day he’s alive means that EVERY DAY could be the day he chooses recovery and ‘ I ‘ will be all better.
With the law bearing down on him, you would think. But his wretched master is a cunning one. “H̷E̷” (the wretched master) tells the most outrageous lies EVERY damn day. And my smart, quippy, entrepreneur son believes them!!!
My son, believes that just one more day will make everything ok. One more day of👹 u̷s̷i̷n̷g̷👹, then he will be ready to stop. But that day never seems to come.
So meanwhile, I have to find a solution.
I’ve always peached gratefulness, but where was mine now? When my little baby granddaughter sends me a video singing
in true 2 year old free-spirit form! 🎶👯🎶👯🎶; My heart melts. I Must find a way to ᴍᴀᴋᴇ sᴘɪʀɪᴛs ʙʀɪɢʜᴛ again.
I can’t let others drown in my misery.
Even if my going through the motions means I add a little song to those motions.
What if I add a beautiful handmade ( dollar-store) ornament to each of their gifts?
What if I actually bring the JOY that I so desperately want myself to my other equally deserving beautiful family members?
What a beautiful thing. To create pleasure out of such pain. I think they call that alchemy….