This is the sixth installment of my series – it represents more of me than what I wrote about a year ago. In this article, I’m sharing what I’m doing now, and why I have chosen this path. I decided to write this series in the hopes that you will understand how I got to where I am today and take it as inspiration, because my experiences are not all that uncommon. I think there may be many people out there who can relate to them. I am an overcomer by nature; I never give up when something is worth fighting for! Remember – no situation and no person is hopeless!
Again, as I said in my first article of the series, I identify as an adult child – which means I am a child of parents who were involved in using drugs and alcohol. With both of my parents, their substance use likely got started with smoking cigarettes and drinking cocktails socially. My dad was more of a functional alcoholic, and my mom developed into full alcoholism. Additionally, my mom’s family doctors, knowing fully well that she was drinking, continued to prescribe uppers and downers on a regular basis. Addiction was swept under the carpet much more in the time my parents lived.
In my last installment, I ended with the death of my adopted child. After speaking with her doctors, and the coroner, I found out that the medication they had her on was so toxic that even if I had found her before she died, she probably would still not have made it. If only I had known, she wouldn’t have been on that particular medication. But I was still too young and dumb myself, struggling to keep food on the table and work at the same time, to question the authority of my doctors. Her pain was that great, although I have to think that this could have been a gesture for attention, because she had overdosed once earlier on more benign medication and lived to tell about it.
I have to include the deaths of both my children, as they were so very difficult for me to overcome, and they helped shape my path forward. Yes, my birth daughter was also to die years later at the hands of our physicians. She made it to nearly 30 years old. As she was an adult, I no longer had a say in her medical care, although I tried ferociously to talk her out of the depression meds, even letting her doctors know she was overdosing. Nobody was listening, especially not the doctors. My birth daughter overdosed five times, yet they kept prescribing the same medications which eventually took her out of this life as well. I was not able to stop her. She had independent legal standing…she was an adult. I remember after finding my birth daughter dead (as I had found my adopted daughter dead) I called the squad, hoping it still wasn’t too late. I called 411 instead and was told to dial 911. Clearly, I was in shock … yet again. I had informed all her doctors who were prescribing her medication (although I had done this earlier to try to get them to stop, telling them about her overdoses with prescription medication); I later called her psychiatrist and told him she had passed, and for a minute I heard nothing. I thought we’d been disconnected. But then I heard the sobs. He was shocked and then started to cry. I suggested he look into becoming a “green” psychiatrist, but I don’t know if he ever did that or not.
Enough of depressing topics! All of this influenced me to choose a different pathway in life. I got myself back into school and started to learn more academically about holistic mental health. Being the nerd that I am, I also researched everything I could find. This is an ongoing process. There is always something else to learn! I have become an expert in my field of holistic mental health – which, by the way, means that your physical body has to be made healthy to support your cognitive and feeling processes – and I decided to taper my college teaching down (I am no longer teaching in colleges as of this writing), and just create Health and Wellness Online, which is a holistic learning institute. Because I practice what I preach, I feel confident that I have integrity (and a good dose of ingenuity); in fact, I would never suggest to anyone that they do something I would not be willing to do myself.
Given my training in mental health and more specifically addiction (PhD in Educational Psychology and I’m a licensed substance use counselor as well as a prevention specialist), I went on to become a health and wellness coach and am just polishing off a master’s degree now, at the time of this writing, in health promotion, also holistic in nature. I have combined all my knowledge, work experience, and life experience and poured it into Health and Wellness Online. It is my hope and desire to educate any and all persons concerned about themselves, their children, other family members and friends, that we can indeed create or recreate robust, abundant health across the board, in the areas of our thoughts and feelings (and subsequent behavior), our physiological health, and our own brand of spirituality. As I have also created a continuing education program here in Ohio, I know there is much interest in holistic mental health (all my courses to date have been approved at the Board level). So, my outreach is to professionals as well as everyday people, especially parents. One more installment to come.
As always, have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.