Commenting on a Celebrity Overdose

There was another celebrity overdose in the news. The young woman is alive, thanks to Narcan, a nasal spray used to treat an opioid overdose. Someone is probably getting rich off of Narcan. I don’t care. God bless whoever it is, because lives are being saved, celebrity lives, non-celebrity lives.

Demi Lovato has been open about her struggle with addiction. There were recent hints, by her, that she relapsed. Unfortunately, she will not be able to recover in private. She will be the subject of mean-spirited comments that will be blistering in comparison to the support being offered by fans and others who love her.

So what part of commenting on a celebrity’s overdose can advance prevention, treatment, and recovery?

The part where others who are struggling, addicts, families, friends, know that they are not alone. They are not alone in the struggle. They are not alone in the desperation. They are not alone in the search for answers.

They are also not alone in the grief.

One out of three of my kids is an addict, in recovery, but still an addict.

All three of my kids know classmates, friends, loved ones who have gone through the revolving doors of rehabs, a billion dollar industry that keeps growing.

They all know too many lost to an overdose.

If you have never been to a wake of a kid who has practically lived in your home, be grateful. Unfortunately, I have been to multiple wakes. I’m not sure there is anything more awful than sitting in a room and looking at the kids who have grown up in  your home as they sob for their lost friend, kids that you love, knowing that one of them could be next. Except maybe loving the kid who wasn’t saved, the kid who is being waked.

Or maybe worse is knowing that your local police and social service agencies have partnered up and claimed that their partnership is in the name of combatting this crisis. Money is always involved, but they say things about how the partnership will save lives.

They announce that they cannot arrest their way out of this problem, but then follow that with some very well-publicized arrests. Arrests that don’t seem to reverse the opiod crisis.

Of course it gets even worse when caught up in the publicity blitz is a kid who has struggled, a kid who has relapsed, a kid who is being made a scapegoat for a problem that the police and the social service agencies can’t seem to solve, despite all of the eloquent soundbites in the news.

When a mother who has been financially devastated by a divorce, illness, her child’s addiction, has to come up with thousands of dollars in legal fees because her kid is being made a scapegoat, well, tell me how that helps anyone.

My heart breaks for Demi Lovato, for her family, for all of the celebrities lost to addiction. I don’t have to be famous to know their pain is real.

I am not just a blogger, despite what some have said. I am a mother who has lived this. I know families who have gone bankrupt seeking treatment, help for legal fees. I am a mother who watched as a kid went from blue to colorless before the miracle that is Narcan save that precious life.

I watched as that lifeless kid walked out of my house. I hugged that kid a year later, and hugged him again and again, and a few more times because he’s beautiful and I am incredibly grateful that he walked out of my house and back into  his life.

I am a mother who demands answers from those who have access. I want the Police Commissioner, the County Executive, the local politicians, the CEO’s, the social service agencies, the local community counseling agencies, and the people who claim to be advocates to all step up. I want those people to stop passing the buck, stop giving clever soundbites, and get down to the business of saving our kids, our families.

Stop arresting our kids. Stop treating addiction as a crime. If you’re not part of the solution, well, you know what you are.

If the news reports are true, Demi Lovato’s life was saved today. Let’s not stop there. Let’s save more lives. Let’s find a cure. Let’s demand treatment that has a proven success rate. Let’s stop criminalizing an issue that affects rich and poor, celebrities and non-celebrities.

We deserve more. Our kids deserve more.

 

**Author’s plea- Please get a Narcan kit. Free training is available. Go to LICADD.org.

 

 

 

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The Heroin Diaries

Heroin has a grip on my town, a town that pretends it happens in other places. A town where we have an activist who talks about being drug free, but not much else. An activist who ran for office with someone who declared us drug free, despite being a heroin hotbed.

Heroin has permeated my town, a town in which members of our Board of Education have claimed our schools are drug free. A town in which the school district ignores the crisis. A town that believes it happens to bad kids, broken families.

A town where kids are dying.

A town where kids have been in rehab. Multiple times.

A town where kids have been arrested over and over again.

The school district has it right in some ways.

My family is broken. Not because I’m a single mother.

No. My family is broken because one out of three of my children is an addict. Thankfully in recovery, but still an addict.

My family is broken because I have kids who have a sibling that will never be able to live with them again.

My kids have a sibling that will always live far away. As in from them, from their future partners, from the kids they will one day have.

It is a permanent separation.

Their sibling coming back could be life or death.

What does that look like for my family? It looks like a lot of birthdays, Christmas, Easters, holidays where there is an empty seat at the table, a seat we desperately wish was filled, a seat that is a constant reminder of a loss that so many don’t understand yet so many experience.

Heroin has broken my family. In a way that would break your heart.

Heroin has a hold on my town, even if my town pretends that it is a problem happening somewhere else.

I don’t know the answers. If I did, I’d tell you. What I do know is that the recent arrests are not the solution. I do know that we cannot arrest ourselves out of this problem, even if our police department forgets that, even if our local social service agencies pretend that the arrests are part of a partnership.

All I can do is speak to you as a mother who desperately longs for all of my kids to be under the same roof, a mother who has driven my kid to rehab in the midst of withdrawals, a mother who would gladly take the blame if you could tell me what I did to cause this.

I’ve been to too many funerals of kids I have loved.

I have seen too many kids I love in jail.

Heroin has a grip on my town. I don’t believe the answers are easy, but I believe the first step is to stop pretending this is happening somewhere else.

I call on the local activist, the school district, the BOE, the parents in my town, all of us.

Heroin is holding our town hostage. We can’t take it back until we realize that we are all in this together.

 

 

The Addiction Peeing Contests (not grammatically correct, but ok)

I’ve spent the better part of a week trying to figure out a “nice” way of saying what I’m about to say. I know. Typically I just say it. I don’t worry about how it sounds. So I’m doing it a bit differently this time.

People aren’t always as nice as they should be. No, silly. Not me. Some other people.

What do I mean? Hmm. Well. There are still people who believe that addiction is a choice. Yeah. I know. I wanted to call them names too.

I stupidly engaged in an argument on social media last week with someone who called the victim of an overdose terrible names.

Imagine. A young life is lost and someone is name calling. I mean if death isn’t enough of a punishment, pile it on.

Not.

I took issue because I knew the life that was lost, although, I have taken issue when I have not known the life lost. I mean at some point most of us will know a life. If you think that’s not true, ask yourself how you’re breathing with your head buried so deep in the sand.

This was not my first one, death, I mean.

I knew a few lives lost. And I know a few lives that I still worry about, as in I go to bed at night and say a million prayers that I’m not going to wake up to a FB post about them or a news article about them, or any news about them, which means that they are still breathing, that their mothers can still hug them or even be annoyed at them for not taking out the garbage or whatever it is that they are doing that gets on their mother’s last nerve.

Because the bottom line is that despite the love, we all get on one another’s nerves. Even addicts. Especially addicts. Even the ones we love. Especially the ones we love.

People don’t understand addiction. I don’t understand addiction. And it is something that has hit home for me. I don’t believe I need to explain that.

What I do know is that its not a choice. Who would choose that? Who would choose something that comes with a lot of annoying stuff, including the potential of death?

For those of you who love an addict, whether he/she is using, in recovery, whatever stage, I get it. I support you. I will never blame you, even when blame feels easy.

For those of you who love an addict, no matter what stage, I will fight for you, fight for the one you love. Because that’s what we should all do. Even those who think they don’t know an addict, even if those who are deep in it know that’s impossible.

Especially those who have access. ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO HAVE ACCESS. As in those who know Police Commissioners, Heads of Agencies, politicians, people. Don’t make me define people.

Yeah, I’m not going to explain that either.

I’m just a blogger, not someone some may consider important. But, I am important. Know why? Because I have lived it. Because I don’t care who I make hate me. I’m going to keep demanding answers. I’m going to keep pushing. I’m going to scream until the people I know who have the access will scream as loud as me and insist that those with access will make a difference. I expect them to do just that.

I demand that they do that.

I had an argument with someone this week, someone who should know better, someone who tried to pull rank, even when there really is no rank.

I expected more. I demanded more. Lives are at stake, lives of people that I love, lives of people I don’t know, but still lives, a lot of lives.

They are worth saving. They are all worth saving. Make that your worthwhile thing for the day, the week, or whatever period of time. They are worth saving. Every single one.

We are all in this together. Even if we don’t all know it. I mean I know it, but not everyone does, not even some who should.

When it comes to addiction, there is no rank. We all just want to survive. We all just want those we love to survive, especially us mothers. God, how we want those we love to survive.

You should too. And if you can do something about it. Do it. Now.

 

Disclaimer: I am just a blogger. This piece is my personal feelings. Some don’t believe this is fact-based,  but they too are short on the facts, short on the evidence that scapegoating our kids is evidence-based. Demand evidence. If there is a financial benefit, be more adamant that you want evidence-based answers. Because these are our kids. Your kids.

 

Mommies Dearest

IMG_5867Think back to the first time you realized you were having a baby, the joy, the promise, the way that  you ecstatically mapped out the future, your future, the baby’s future, everyone’s future.

You read a few books and knew everything, no really, like EVERYTHING.

Colic? You were going to beat it. Those terrible two’s were going to have nothing on you. Adolescence was going to be a walk in the park. And acne? Stop! Your kids were going to have perfect diets, filtered water, and plenty of fresh air which meant, of course, the most perfect complexions.

You weren’t just ready. You had all the answers. You were going to breast pump and send the extra to starving kids in Africa. You were going to make all of your own baby food from a garden you were going to start on your window sill. Your kids were never going to know what a chicken nugget was.

That wasn’t it. Your kid was never going to misbehave. Ever! Your kid was never going to say things like, “I hate you,” or, “you suck,” or much worse, yeah, way worse! Nope. Not your kid. You read chapters 3 through 33 of that popular book someone gave you at your baby shower. You got this.

You totally got this. Ha!

If your kid is under 5, skip forward a few paragraphs because you’re still delusional. You have no idea.

Why? Because when people are telling you that you should start a family, pestering you about getting pregnant, and generally harassing you to join the club you can never get out of, they leave out some crucial information. They don’t tell you the part where all kids at some point turn into unrecognizable creatures that do things that are unimaginable.

Don’t believe me? Think back to when you were a teenager. Yeah. Think harder. You know what you were doing.

Oh, and that was before social media, cell phones and 24/7 news. Our parents had the luxury of going bowling or out with their friends and actually bowling and hanging out with their friends. They didn’t track us. They couldn’t. And they didn’t have some stupid moms group that regularly exposed all of the bad things you and your friends did or all of the horrific mommies dearest who couldn’t wait to make themselves feel better about themselves by trashing other kids in those stupid groups.

Nobody warns you. I mean, I warn people, but my reach is sort of limited.

If you’re having your first kid, you may want to skip the rest. There’s nothing you can do now. Your life is pretty much over.

You may escape colic.  God bless you if you do, because it is a special place in Hell. Nobody tells you this, but the terrible two’s don’t actually start until three, just when you think you’ve escaped it, and it typically hits on that day where you’re running out with greasy hair, no bra, and forgot your wallet. In fact, its pretty much a given that it will never happen on that day when your hair and makeup are perfect. Yes. I said that day.

In fact, I promise you that if you leave your house in your pajamas, without brushing your hair, or are in any kind of unkempt state (basically from the time they are born until they are 25) well, that’s most likely going to be the moment your kid will decide to go from cute little Gerber baby to Rosemary’s baby. I promise!

I’m still scarred by the memory of my beautiful daughter, at the age of 3, deciding she had to strip in the middle of a parking lot during a snowstorm because I was silly enough to believe the myth that we would not survive without milk and bread. I can’t remember what I was wearing, but nobody was mistaking me for Gigi Hadid, even if she hadn’t been invented yet.

I will never forget that day. I remember it vividly, the  gorgeous purple faux fur she shed in the supermarket parking lot, the adorable snow boots from some expensive boutique scattered like wreckage, her precious leggings that matched perfectly the tutu dress that was now getting buried in the freshly falling snow, the gallon of milk dropped along the way as I tried deseperately to keep her from flailing herself out of my arms and into a snow bank.

Worse than her actual tantrum were the looks from the other shoppers, other mothers, the Mommies Dearest.

As I struggled to open the car door while wrapping my arms around my practically naked daughter, I scanned the snow looking for the various articles of clothing and then had a moment of panic because I wasn’t sure if I had dropped my keys. I don’t remember how I got her into the car seat, how I managed to strap her in, or what maternal instinct kicked in that spared her life and stopped me from dropping her in the snow and taking off for someplace tropical.

Somehow we made it out of there. I’m pretty sure the milk and boots didn’t.

Nobody offered to help me. The Mommies Dearest just stood there silently shaming me with those awful looks, as if this was the first time any of them had ever seen a kid throwing a tantrum.

I still think about the Mommies Dearest and wish I could go back and mash their faces in the snow. I made a promise that day to never be one of them. I will never be a Mommies Dearest, some awful person who shames other mothers having a tough time.

Kids are awful creatures. They go from adorable little bundles of joy to these things that ooze poop and vomit and then they grow into things called teenagers, and that crap is starting younger and younger, and they find new and improved ways to humiliate you in public,  and they have a brilliant way of doing it at the most opportune times.

The more awful creatures though are the Mommies Dearest. There is a special place in Hell for them.

My kids are all in their 20’s now and despite the horror of that long ago day, there are still times I would give anything to go back to it. I’d hug my daughter a little tighter, yes, during mid fit, and tell her I loved her and that all of those Mommies Dearest  glaring at us were stupid and that one day we were going to laugh about this. And maybe I’d apologize for dressing her up in that tutu dress and the purple faux fur. Not the boots though. They were incredible!

When I see a mom in the store struggling with a kid who is making her sorry for leaving the house, I offer a smile, a sympathetic look, and sometimes a kind word. Because I remember how awful those moments were and how horrible the Mommies Dearest can be.

Being a mommy is one of the greatest things in the world, well, from birth till 2 and then again after 20, so for like 2 and a half  years. But way worse than colic, the terrible twos, teenagers, the I hate you years, and pretty much anything else your kid can put you through are the Mommies Dearest.

Never be a Mommies Dearest.

 

Addiction Strikes Again

A mother is planning a funeral for her kid, a kid who had been a fixture in my home. There are so many parts of this story that I cannot tell, because its not my story to tell. So I’ll tell you the parts that I can.

I went to a Town Hall type meeting a few weeks ago. The Police Commissioner was there. Members of his department, high-ranking members discussed how addiction had affected their families. They discussed how they knew that they could not arrest us out of this crisis.

Right before making multiple arrests that were front-page news.

Local social service agencies were also at this Town Hall meeting. They spoke of the importance of awareness, the need for treatment that was accessible, and other things that I can’t remember because I was stuck on the headlines I knew were coming, headlines that talked of 50 or so arrests in my town, arrests that were designed to, well, I don’t know what they were designed to do because I knew that all of those arrests were not going to end the crisis.

Kids I loved were still addicts, some in recovery, some not there yet. The arrests that made the front page were not stopping those kids from using. Those arrests were not stopping the deaths that were still going to come.

I’m not blaming the police. I’m not blaming the social service agencies. Well, not really. Maybe just a little.

We cannot say that we can’t arrest ourselves out of this crisis and then make multiple arrests in various towns and  then put the arrest numbers in our local news as if those arrests are doing anything.

They’re not.

They’re not.

No. Really. They are not.

These kids are burying their friends, some who had been arrested. The deaths of their friends have not stopped them from using. You know why? Because they suffer from addiction.

It is not a choice.

So the news I received today was especially heartbreaking because I don’t think we are any closer to figuring this crap out.

Another kid that I loved, that my kids loved, is dead. I will be going to another wake where I will feel tremendous guilt for thanking God that I am not the mother receiving visitors. I will go home and thank God a million times that out of all of the problems I have, burying one of my kids is not one of them.

I will see a ton of kids that have grown up in my home shedding tears for their friend. I will hug them and tell them that I love them and worry that some of them will be next and say more prayers that it will be the last wake I go to all while knowing that its not.

There are people who will read this and think they are somehow immune to this. They’re not, but I’m not going to argue with them. Instead I’m going to tell you to hug your kids, tell them how much you love them, hug them again and tell them you love them again.

There is a mother out there tonight who would give anything to hug her kid. Instead she’s planning a funeral.

 

 

Transitioning from 1985

In a couple of days  I begin a new life. Well, sort of. I bring my old life along for the ride, so technically is it a new life or is it a transition?

Change has always been hard for me. I’ve made a zillion mistakes, stupid mistakes, because I have resisted change instead of looking forward to the opportunity for fresh starts and new beginnings. I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in that.

I ran into someone I knew from high school the other day. I haven’t seen him in 30 years, maybe more. I laughed, to myself, that in some ways time stood still. He knows nothing of who I am, what I’ve become, just as I know nothing of him.

At our chance meeting, we were two kids back in 1985 and the things that we were back then. Btw, my 1985 self needed a lot of work. So this old friend talked to the 1985 version of me, and I spoke with the 1985 version of him, and I wondered how he had evolved while wishing he could know all of the ways I had grown from who he once knew.

I wanted to know the 2018 version and what he’s learned along the way, who has he become. Maybe he didn’t care so much about me, but that didn’t matter. It was a learning moment. For me at least.

For some, I am the person they knew 30 years ago. For him, I was.

I’m so much more than some insecure young girl from 1985. I don’t expect anyone to know that in a random encounter, but it was a reminder for me as well.

Life goes on. As much as I cherish some memories, there are others I know that I want to move on from, just as I know that others want the same.

I live in the town that I grew up in. It wasn’t exactly by choice. The walk down memory lane can include some nostalgia while also embracing growth, my growth, and those I encounter from the past, some I remained close with, some I haven’t seen since writing in yearbooks and promising to never lose touch.

I am about to begin a new life, sort of. If you know me, that makes sense. If you don’t, well, I’d love to get to know the 2018 version of you as well as the baggage, because we all carry it. Some of us carry it in Louis Vuitton, some in garbage bags, some in between, but its there.

However you carry it, know that we all have a story, a long rich story. I’m about to add some chapters. I’m that girl from 1985, but a new version, maybe the 2.0 or even higher.

I’m not afraid of change any longer. In fact, I’m excited for the possibilities. I’m not the same person I was in 1985. Heck, I’m not even the same person I was in 1995 or even early 2018.

We all change. Or at least that’s the hope.

The other hope is that maybe when you read this you will forgive an old grudge, forget some piece of gossip that no longer matters, and recognize that the ways you have evolved, so have the others you may have left behind.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Maybe you love your life as is. Maybe you feel like you could use a few tweaks. Maybe you need a complete do-over. It doesn’t matter. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. (Mo, that’s for you!) Do with it what you want.

Live. Love. Dance. Sing. Write. Make some bank. It doesn’t matter.

I’m beginning a new chapter. So are you. Even if you don’t realize it.

Make it count!

 

 

 

 

Suicide in the News

Suicide and suicide related news have made headlines and been trending on Twitter. First it was Kate Spade. Then Anthony Bourdain.

Of course outside of those two tragic figures, there are many others, names that aren’t famous, families that want to keep their tragedy private.

This won’t be the most poetic thing I’ve ever written, but I don’t care. Its important, really freakin important.

Celebrity suicides tend to make the news and force us to examine our views, take a look at the mental health system, even if there are no easy fixes. Our intentions are good.

Val Kilmer expressed anger, while expressing his love and admiration for Bourdain.

David Spade wanted us to know how funny his sister-in-law was, even if she didn’t think it was enough.

Rose McGowan posted a tearful rant that captured what many left behind often feel.

Those were some of the celebrity reactions. But the non-celebrities felt it too. Some because of the tragic nature. Some because they’ve been there.

Non-celebs may not have the same audience, but they often feel what our celebrity counterparts feel. Some are angry. Some want people to remember the good.

But how many of us understand suicide?

I don’t, and that is even after working for a hotline. For years. I was trained on what to say, how to save a life. Still, I can’t say I understand it completely.

It is beyond tragic. I had a few other close calls as well, situations that I won’t discuss to respect the privacy of those  who were on the fence. Thankfully something saved them even if they once believed that the permanent solution of killing themselves was the answer to what was, at the time, a temporary problem.

No. I’m not minimizing what anyone went through, or is going through now. I would never minimize. I would say that there is always hope, even when it feels like there isn’t.

I will say, adamantly, that there is always someone who is ready to listen.

If you believe that life is not worth living. Call a hotline.

If you think killing yourself is the answer. Call a hotline.

Even if you just need to talk. Call a hotline.

Please. I beg. Call a hotline.

No problem is too small.

Yes. I’m saying that there is always a way out. Always.

Someone I loved dearly killed himself. He is not the only one, nor is he the only one who considered it a solution.

Some that I loved were saved.

They were saved because they called a hotline.

I wish Kate Spade had called a hotline.

I wish Anthony Bourdain had called a hotline.

Maybe things would be different.

Maybe they wouldn’t.

All I know is that suicide is a permanent solution to what could be a temporary problem.

I’m not minimizing anyone’s problems, but there are always solutions, even when it seems like there’s not. Sometimes people just need to hear it from someone else. Sometimes hearing it from someone else is all you need. Call.

Whether it is life beating you up, you getting dealt a hand that includes mental illness, or you just feel like the easiest thing isn’t to be here, please call a hotline.

There are people who are there 24/7 waiting for you, yes, YOU.

There are trained professionals who believe strongly enough that you are worth it that they are volunteering their time to talk you out of killing yourself.

They’re doing that because your life is worth it.

There is no hope left for Kate Spade. There is no hope left for Anthony Bourdain.

You are still here. There is still hope for you.

I won’t bore you with suicide statistics or how they are going up. Instead I will tell you that you are loved. You are worth so much more than you know.

People love you. More people than you realize. It doesn’t matter if you are famous or not. You are worth saving.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Help is out there.

Call. Please call. If not for you, for those who love you, for those you will leave behind.

(516) 679-1111

1-800-273-8255

Someone is waiting on the other end of those numbers, right now. For you.