One again, for those of you who have been following my rantings (oops, I mean writings), you got to know me a little more about a year ago. In this fifth of seven installments, I’m going to share information about what I loosely call my middle adult years. I am writing 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; hence I think there are many who can relate well 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 the last installment, I left off with meeting my soon-to-become husband at the dance school. Well, we’re not really into my middle adulthood yet (!), but I became pregnant, and we married, just in the nick of time (i.e., before the birth of my daughter). It was hard getting all the documentation together in a timely manner because I was American and getting married in Germany. Giving birth to my daughter was without a doubt the most amazing experience of my life to date! At the moment of her birth, I looked at her and – didn’t recognize her at all, though I knew she was mine because she was still attached by the umbilical cord! Just then she moved her tiny little mouth into a crooked grin, and I recognized that she looked like my husband. (Duh!) If you are parents yourselves, you know that kids change how they look back and forth until they’re fully grown, so she did have lots of traits from my side of the family. She was the light of my life.
My husband and I were not getting along – after all, the only things we really had in common were dancing and our daughter. He and his family were playing stupid mind tricks on me, and after four years, I got good and fed up, packed myself and my daughter up, and returned to America. He was supposed to come to America to live with me, to try again in a new environment, but took so long that I decided to move forward with the divorce. Although he had a mental health breakdown, he must have recovered nicely, because in practically no time flat, he had a new girlfriend that he’s with even today!
Fast forward a few years, and I went to an open house being sponsored by our local Children Services with a friend because she was interested in adopting. I wasn’t. But don’t you know it, she dropped out of the process, and I went forward! A fairly short time later I adopted my second daughter, who was nearly 12 years old. She was scared meeting us but my little cocker spaniel, Penny, upon meeting her, decided she was wonderful, and showed it by wagging her tail incessantly, standing up on her hind paws, and licking my newly adopted daughter’s face. She caved in and started to smile. From then on, we knew she would be okay with staying with us. However, I wasn’t anywhere near prepared to take care of an adopted child who came from an appalling background (her biological father was in jail for cutting up women’s faces), and she had been sexually molested. I was in way over my head, trying to single parent two kids. My adopted daughter was severely traumatized, and my birth daughter experienced some serious trauma as well, and well … nothing was going well. Then the unthinkable happened.
I had been getting them “help” in the form of mental health counseling, and of course they put my adopted daughter on mental health medications. I was following accepted medical advice at that time. I had no specialized training in anything at that time and was still trusting the medical system (although I no longer do this without extensive research). My adopted daughter had been placed in the corrections system after a while because she tried to set herself and our home on fire (a sign of sexual trauma), and it just about broke my heart, although I was relieved that I didn’t have to watch her 24/7 just so we would not go up in flames. She came home after a while, and she became hospitalized again. She was doing well, working on her issues, and her doctors were happy with her progress. So, they released her, which was clearly not something she was ready for. On the way home, I stopped and got her new prescriptions filled, and we got pizza. She would not eat much of anything, which was unusual for her because she slammed her pizza any other time. She was very irritable and made a scene, so I once again called the police. They suggested I let her go to the basement where she had some personal space and just let her be. In the meantime, I baked some banana bread, and gave her a nice thick slice with a glass of milk. She took it and ate the banana bread. Later she came upstairs to watch television, laying down on the living room couch. She fell asleep and I just let her sleep there. At about 3am the next morning, I got up to deliver some newspapers. She was still asleep or so I thought. I finished my routes, and when I came home, I saw that she was in the same position as she had been all night. But there was a little saliva leaking from her mouth. I tried to wake her, but she was cold to the touch. She had taken her entire bottle of medication, mixed it with her milk, drank it down, came upstairs, washed her glass and plate, and … died in her sleep. I called 911. More 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.