I stumbled across this article a few years ago on Facebook and would love to share it with you. In this article, a father describes the difference between the support his family received while his daughter sought treatment for bipolar disorder, alcohol and substance abuse vs. when his wife went through treatment for breast cancer. I would highly recommend you reading his story just to get a glimpse of so many families’ realities.
Have you read it yet?
Change this story around a bit...change breast cancer to lymphoma, change that it's a daughter to it's a daddy, change the accident to a stroke...and there you have it…story of my adult life.
When I read this article, I thought "yes! A true depiction of a pitiful reality..." And then I got mad. I thought about everything my family and I have been through over the last seven years. Cancer, hope, chemo, hope, surgeries, hope, addiction, hope, rehab, rehab, rehab, hope, divorce, hope, stroke, hope, different kind of rehab, hope, homelessness, hope...we've never lost hope. This article is absolutely true. Someone has cancer, people go crazy with dinners, phone calls, cards and messages. Someone has an addiction (or any kind of mental health disorder really) and people...FREEZE. I realized I don't have any reason to be upset. There were people that called and asked how dad was in between trips to rehab. Most of those people were those that had more of an understanding of the real situation and honestly, I don't blame the ones that didn't.
There are a few things people know about addiction: Addiction is uncomfortable- to talk about, to acknowledge, to live with, to be around... Addiction is confusing- to everyone...the addict, family, friends, strangers...Addiction is misunderstood and all too easy to judge. There are other facts though. Addiction is real and it is absolutely terrifying. And while it may be frustrating, that man is my father...MY daddy. I understand that his addiction will never go away. I understand that his brain is wired different and I understand that the near dozen times he's been to rehab may seem like hopeless wasted time to others, but I believe what most people don't understand are the other facts.
Addiction is real. Addiction is a disease. Addiction is wired in someone's brain. Addiction is forever. Families of those with addictions often suffer long before anyone notices. Long before a decision to go to a rehab center, before it turns to lies and deceit, before any money is stolen, any marriage is ruined, and any other family turns their back on loved ones. These families, a lot of times, witness their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, partners, aunts, uncles, grandparents...etc. transform into someone completely different from who they once knew. Those who struggle with addictions can become people no one would ever expect, and yet...they are still someone's mom, dad, sister, brother, son, daughter, husband, wife, partner, aunt, uncle, mamaw, papaw...
And I can promise one thing...SOMEONE in that person's life will NEVER lose hope. That person will go without food and gas to make sure their loved one is fed, at the very least. That person will be beaten up emotionally, financially and possibly physically by someone who was supposed to be the one protecting them. That people will eventually have to detach themself from the situation enough to keep from falling completely apart but still take food on the days the homeless shelter doesn't provide it. That person will lose friends and even other family members because those people don't understand what it's like to never lose hope. It's not their fault that they don't understand...they simply just don't.