This blog and my upcoming book, Hooked on Hope, is about the concurrent journey a mother takes alongside her son’s mental illness and drug addiction. We are companions along the trail. I may not experience the uncontrollable mood swings my son does, but I am caught in the bi-polarity of his illness. I move from hope to despair, confusion to determination, serenity when he is enjoying an episode of health and stability, fear and hopelessness when he is not.
Seventy to eighty percent of people who abuse drugs or alcohol also have a mental illness. Yet, at first, I denied the severity of my son’s drug use, attributing his lost jobs, broken relationships, legal troubles, and periodic hospitalizations to the manic phase of his illness. It was only when he ended up in prison that we both had to come to terms with the reality of this crippling disorder.
In spite of the fact that I am a family therapist and had access to resources to get my son help, I have been frustrated every step of the way by the complexity of his illness and the inadequacy of our health care system to treat both illnesses. I share the journey with millions of parents like me.
This is not the story I wanted for my son. Yet he is finding stability and I am finding hope in the most unlikely of places, within his prison walls. As he responds to a stable routine and daily medication, he is beginning to reflect upon the choices he has made in life, come to terms with his illness, and learn how to manage the mood swings that still prevail. A glimmer of light appears in the darkness.