I stood by my brother while he battled heroin, please don’t judge me as I wrestle grief, anxiety and PTSD.

lane life jackets

It has been a year since I woke up to my mother screaming Jeff was dead. A year since he did not show up to my birthday and I had a minute long blank voicemail at midnight. A year since a horrible fight that is forever ingrained in my mind as I saw him crying leaving the house. A year since my last laugh with him. He knew I was upset over something and came home to me planking on the ground and he blasted DMX at the computer and waited for me to look up at him so he could do that high pitched bird laugh and yell, “we fighting?!” The thing about Jeff was he just knew he could change your mood through laughter. I miss only being allowed to cry for 5 minutes. It has been a year and I never thought I would make it to this day.  You might have been through worse. You might think my problems are stupid or I am weak, but this is my story so please respect it.

I went through HELL with that boy. I wasn’t just there for the good times—I never turned my back or took shelter during the storm. Years of worrying. Phone calls at school or work. Hoping I wouldn’t get THAT call. Seeing someone so smart that he never even had to try, get wrapped up in all this. Someone with so much talent and passion. Seeing my life affected always trying to protect him or stand up for him. Sleeping in my own car, showering at work. It is no secret I lost a lot of my own life in these years. So after all those years when he finally got sober, it meant the world to us. We were so close because he knew I gave up so much for him and he was grateful for the people who didn’t give up on him. Even in shelters, he would always find his way to a phone so he could check in with me and make sure I was ok. ME?? The most selfless human being I ever knew. He was an amazing human. He knew I’d never enable him but he knew I’d always be there. He knew I would ride around to find him when he didn’t have a phone to give him a bag of food and new socks. He knew I’d pick him up somewhere at 2 am just because he needed someone to talk to. He went through HELL and saw and did things others could NEVER imagine. The same people who wanted to sit back and judge him and he still would give them the shirt off his back. When he did get sober we talked so much about all of this. It was painful for me because a side of me was resentful for what this did to our family, but I was never more proud of someone. His battle ahead to change his life was overwhelming, even for me to think about. The bills that racked up over the 9 years. The medical bills were so outrageous and when he did slip up and want help, it would just add to it. Seeing how much of his life he lost and how far everyone else moved on. Hanging with friends and drinking was once normal, but now it’s a gateway to other things. Things that are easily accessible. It’s like people who smoke when they drink and we are habitual creatures. His teeth needing work after the years of drugs and one surgery can set him back again. But keep judging. As he wrote, “each time I slip, the less you pity.” I saw the people slowly walking away again. I felt my burden getting bigger again.

Let me tell you this. That last time he was in rehab, the people who took the time to bring him cigarettes or write letter should know it meant the world to him just to know he was being thought of – that someone still cared. But I could see the depression worsen that this was all happening again to him. I would walk through his room to the laundry room and see him in the darkness alone in bed. He knew I was angry with him and didn’t want to go through this again. But he knew how much I still stood up for him and the person he was despite my anger and would get out of that bed and come up and sit with me and watch lifetime movies and eat cereal with me for dinner, knowing I wouldn’t turn him away. That I was still here. He barely left home. Our last breakfast out together we sat in the car for 3 hours waiting to get into The Farmers Daughter. We picked out all the concerts we wanted to go to that summer and he talked about how nice it was to be out and treated normal because he felt like he couldn’t without being judged with every move and it was better to stay in alone, away from the negativity and be sober than go out where things would set him back. I didn’t know at the time how much I would understand that a year later. I couldn’t stop the hurtful things people would say to him.

After this, when he did overdose the second time he spent 9 days in a mental hospital without anyone knowing, not even me. I ran right there when I found out and knew, I KNEW this would tear him apart. The first thing he said was who knows I am here. He was crying saying how depressed he was and everyone thought badly of him. Said how the judgments and accusations make him want to use. He kept asking me how much an ambulance costs. How much do I think this stay at the mental hospital would cost. I will just never forget saying lets come up with a plan and we can get through this. To try and not listen to what people say or call him. Saying I wouldn’t go home if he wasn’t going home. I kept saying the third time will be it and this is what happens to people who were sober for a while and what will happen to everyone. I went down the list one by one and predicted what would happen to everyone once he died, to try and scare him. I was selfish and kept saying what will happen to me and he PROMISED me it wasn’t going to happen. I cried the entire way home. We all know what happened after.

Well now I know what will happen to me after he dies. And it is even worse than I thought because he is not here to make it better for once. I now know partly how he felt in the end. How it is impossible to not let the judgments and things said eat away at you when it is coming from every aspect of your life. I am just one person’s life that was affected after his death, so you can only imagine the others. But I can only speak for myself with this.

For anyone else struggling with depression, this is for you. You are not alone. It has been HELL. Living with the memory of that last night and how upset Jeff was has been HELL. Trying to plan his funeral and party in that much pain was HELL. Seeing him DEAD? HELL. I touched him which was cool and creepy and just what he would want me to be doing, but it was still HELL. But when it was all said and done and everyone goes back to their normal lives, I had to go live in HELL. That’s when the real fun starts. I was left by someone at my worst a week after he died. I was not getting texts from Jeff anymore. I was not getting told to bring back wine or he would lock my ass out. I wasn’t getting told to hurry up and get home so we can cook on the grill or go out to watch a game. No one was coming in recording me doing the Insanity workouts and laughing at how dumb I looked. Or getting pissed when they are sleeping on the couch and I turn the treadmill on right behind them. I am not yelling at anyone to get the hell out of the bathroom and stop using my shampoo to shave themselves. I am not helping anyone pick out outfits or ordering stupid stuff together offline. No one to meet in the kitchen every 10 minutes for another bowl of Reeses puffs after mom just bought the box. The food store? FORGET IT. I have anxiety going to it because the joy has been taken out of it. It sounds stupid to others but we always had each other when no one else was around and simple everyday things like eating meals with someone or watching movies was now something I did alone. Music was no longer playing. The everyday songs I wish he would stop playing were no longer playing. I can’t text him and tell him to shut up with the Johnny Cash depressing shit and then hear him blast that song “Torn” by Natalie something and ask me if that’s better. The joy was taken out of most things this year. Holidays with that empty chair. No longer shopping together. No longer riding to events together. Not picking out mom’s Easter flowers together. The happy memories of past holidays aren’t enough to take away the pain of the new ones.

But I still somehow got up. I tried my best. I tried to keep going even though some days were worse than others. But the judgments? Over the past year I’ve realized people have a lot to say. People who miss the past 20 days you were happy, but see a breakdown and feel the need to judge just that. People who do not have to come home to his room. See his toothbrush standing. His guitar waiting to be played and his hats lined up waiting to be put on. Who is going to go through everything? Where does it go? Do you throw it out? Who is worthy of getting things? What things do you want to let go of? Who is going to the RMV to claim him dead? Who is paying the bills now? Who is left with all that debt? Who is going to get rid of his car and see it towed off the driveway? All of the firsts were HELL. Every day is a constant reminder that he is not here anymore. People are not there for that but still feel the need to judge. Tell you what you should be doing. How you should be feeling. What ever happened to just listening? It is a lot, but imagine being that person. You tell them not to let it affect you, but when it’s coming from all angles it eats away at you. Off the top of my head these are just a FEW common things said:

-Get over it (my favorite)
-Move on
-It’s been months
-You looked so good what happened
-Jesus you look awful go see someone
-You shouldn’t be having a breakdown anymore
-I wish you were who you used to be
-You aren’t sleeping? Just sleep and stop thinking about it
-You are sleeping too much
-You aren’t eating enough
-You are eating too much
-You shouldn’t be drinking. Should she be drinking??
-You should be drinking
-You aren’t drinking because you don’t want to have fun
-You aren’t dancing? You feel guilty having fun. What if I just don’t want to!??!
-You are working out too much. You are working out too little. -You don’t run anymore? Must be because of Jeff
-Did you do drugs with Jeff too? She must have
-You should be out with people
-You should be home
-Go see someone again
-You are handling this bad
-Be positive- NO SHIT
-Be grateful of what you do have.
-You should be at work
-You shouldn’t be at work
-If I am upset, it HAS to be about Jeff.
-I’m sick of hearing it
-She posts on his wall too much. If it makes me happy, why do you care????
-People preaching afterlife on me
-Drunk people’s sober thoughts
-I wish you would see the other side in this! Just let me vent and I will one day.
-I don’t want to tell you about my problems because I feel bad
they don’t seem as bad
-I wish you were dead instead of Jeff
-You are a poor substitute for your brother
-She is history repeating itself
-Live your own life
-Stop doing stuff for Jeff. Time to move on now. WHAT!? This is my life. If me fighting for others in his name is a problem, unfollow me. DON’T go to anything. Some talk about helping and I’m doing it. Sue me. Who else is planning anything? But everyone wants to say things about it.

I have found myself in my room alone most days because of the fear of getting more hurt by people after the year I have had. The combination of things said and done on top of Jeff dying has torn me apart to a level which I did not want to live and had moments I have tried to end it. I have had a therapist mortified by some of the hurtful things. Maybe the people around me should see someone also. I’ve had people continue to use similar drugs around me and be mad at my reaction. I did not have a CHOICE in how this all affected my body. My heart was broken by various things so much this past year that it took a toll on my body. The amount of hair I have lost. Going WEEKS without sleep at times over the year to the point where I would hear things or even fear driving home from work. Months of no sleep affected my body to the point where there were many times I had to receive fluids to get strength. My skin hurt to touch and the amount of times I have thrown up, I’m surprised I can still speak. My eyes are constantly swollen from crying and I swear I’ve aged so much in a year. I denied medications for obvious reasons. That opens up another can of worms. Let me be sad and feel feelings. I will know when I am getting happy again. When I finally did go out, the things I wrote above would be said bringing me back down, no matter how good I felt that day. Someone would comment on how bad I am doing when it’s the first day I didn’t think about ending my life. THAT is what would tear me apart.

Again, call me weak but until you have been there, maybe people should think about the power of listening. Even though you don’t understand. Even though you think you would handle it differently if it was you. Even if you are exhausted by it. To the FEW that have listened and have been there for me this year, you will forever be in my life. You listened to what does help me or may help others and built me back up. You supported me at my worst. You didn’t choose fun or happier people over me, you chose to get me through this so I could be that person again. I know the pain is not and will never be over, but I have made it through this year of firsts. I have gotten up and done my best. Despite all of that pain I still tried to actively fight for others in the name of my brother because I have a fire inside telling me to do so. I hope my story helps anyone who feels alone in their depression. To everyone–Be kind. Listen. You may be the one person who helps someone through. RIP Jeff. You will always be the most amazing person I have ever known and I hope to always make you proud and will keep going for you. You always said I did too much for people and to not change that about myself and maybe it is what will help someone else in this life. I hope you are drinking a beer and laughing at how long this is. I’m having one now for you too ♥ Love you always

 

Tara fundraiser (2)Tara Lane recently put together a team in Jeff’s name and spoke at Teen Challenge’s Run to End Addiction 5K which was held on May 6. Jeff’s team came in first with 86 members raising almost $6,000. The race money helped in funding an additional 46 (!!) beds recently opened at the Teen Challenge Men’s Treatment Center in Brockton, MA and will go towards helping fund an additional treatment center being built in Brockton. Tara was invited to attend the Additional Beds Ceremony at Teen Challenge and was asked to be on their fundraiser/event committee to help with an upcoming event. It was a bittersweet goal for Tara to be such a large part of adding treatment beds as she remembers so clearly how difficult it was to find an open bed when Jeff   was in need of one.

Tara is living the words of her brother Jeff, ‘Don’t talk about it, be about it‘.



A Message from Elizabeth Anne Grundy, ‘The Junkie’s Wife’

dear-judgy-lady

You can take the situation out of the codie ( and I do not mean that in a good way) but you can not take the codie out of the girl. I wish so much that I could reply to every one of you, but I have severe ADD and I already drank 3 diet cokes today😊

Here is what I want to say to each and every person who has messaged me about someone they love with all their heart and can not live with out. Someone they are worried sick about. Someone who is so integral to their very existence, simply, I understand.

Each and every story, while different in their own way all have the same bare bones.

I would never ever think that I have the audacity to channel the voice of a mother,a father ,a sibling , a child; My experience is that of a lover and a partner and that is the point of view that I can speak on, but I do know the gamut of emotions that most of you have run through while dealing with active addiction.

I know your fear, your sadness, your anger. I know your disappointment, your dashed and renewed hopes. I know the messes you have tried to clean up, the money you have spent, the oscar winning speeches you have given, the tantrums you have pulled. I know the gps trackers you have installed, the sleepless nights, the 3 am searches in the worst neighborhoods. I know the bargaining, the pleading, the manipulations and the monumental screaming matches. I know you have threatened drug dealers and knocked down doors in a pair of size 5 flimsy converses. I know when it comes to trying to protect the person you love you are 5ft 2 inches of pure terror( ok, lets face it, I am talking about me on this one😊) ( I am also not suggesting this is a good idea)

I know the birthdays that have been ruined. I know the holidays that have been even more ruined. I know that verizon probably wants to institutionalize you for the 96 phone calls and texts you sent in an hour. I know that you sometimes wish you really were institutionalized. I know the endless support you have given and how you wish for just one day that it could be about you. I know you have panic attacks. I know you look like shit and feel like shit. I know you are trying like Hell to fake like everything is fine. I know you have said things you regret. I know that there were things you wanted to say that you never got a last chance to.

I know that you have turned into someone you don’t recognize; someone bitter and oozing pain from every pore. I know that you feel alone. I know the plans you are afraid to make , because you don’t know where your loved one will be in sobriety on that day. I know you have lost friends. I know people are sick of hearing it. I know you have finally begun to suffer in silence because said people are sick of hearing it. I know you are embarrassed. I know you have lost your shit so epically, many times, that you made Britney 2007 look like an amateur.

I know you have deleted phone numbers, hidden keys, locked up valuables and slept with money on your person. I know you watch breathing patterns. I know you are tired. I know sometimes you wish you would die. I know you have no spoons. I know you do not feel like you can face another day.

More importantly; I know your unconditional love. I know you are doing the best you can do because of that love. I know you don’t know what the fuck to do anymore. I know that watching the person you love turn into the person both you and they hate is tearing your heart out.

I know you have tried every single thing you can possibly do. EVERYTHING except help yourself.

I would not change a single thing about my life
with Ed, I loved him, I adored him and I liked being with him more than any other adult on this planet, but If I could do it all over again, I would have found better ways to take care of ME while leaving the rest up to a higher power( who knew there was one higher than me😊) I could fight beside him, but it wasn’t my battle, it was his. Believe me, I know that is the most frustrating part. We want to do anything humanly possible to keep the people we love safe. If love could have saved my guy he surely would have been immortal.

I would have lectured less, prayed more and just simply loved. Even if at times I had to do that from a distance.

I wish with all my heart, I had answers and soloutions for many of you, I don’t. I can just empathazie, support , pray for and love each and every single one of you who has reached out to me.

I had hope until Ed’s last breath. Where there is life there is hope and I sincerely wish for each and every one of you that hope becomes a reality.

Lots of love and big cyber hugs

 

~Elizabeth Ann Grundy

 

Lost in Plain Sight

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The need, the compulsion that overcame any self respect, principles, and morals; that could never be me. I have too much to lose, I am only doing this for him, I am not addicted – I don’t even like the feeling. At 16 years old I believed I was the greatest power in the world. Nothing could ever gain control of my entire life. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how wrong I was. If only I were born with a warning for my parents, that I came with this mental disease called addiction. Not that anyone in the world could have saved me from what I had to go through to be where I am today.

I’m not even sure why I drank the first time, I wasn’t really sure what alcohol was at that age. I was 12 years old and found a bottle of gin at my grandparents. My friend and I thought it would be cool, after all – adults drink! Well, a half a bottle of gin and two shots of orange juice later; my friend didn’t like the taste. So without any warning I felt the need to not waste any of it and drank both glasses. I only remember the very beginning of that night. I woke up in the middle of the living room floor with my father sitting next to me crying. I had alcohol poisoning. My parents were afraid to get me in trouble for drinking, so my Dad sat up all night taking care of me and saved my life. I had no control over how much I consumed, I couldn’t stop. I waited years before I picked up my next drink sometime in early high school. Everyone was drinking, I didn’t think I was any different from all of my friends. I was an honor roll student, started working in a daycare and I was in control. Continue reading “Lost in Plain Sight”

Saturday Night Live tried to joke about heroin, but there is nothing funny about this epidemic.

Copyright 2016 Scripps Media, Inc.

It certainly wasn’t what anyone whose life has been shattered by addiction anticipated seeing when they turned on SNL expecting to have a few laughs. Addiction isn’t even a little funny. People are dying and lives are being destroyed every single day – and there is no humor to be found in any part of this epidemic.

They say ‘you know you’ve made it’ when SNL writes about it, so I guess in one way we should be glad that we have been loud enough about the epidemic to get their attention. This parody was one of their most tasteless to date, but what has made people react so viscerally to it goes to the heart of the matter. Our kids are dying. Heroin use, as SNL pointed out, is on the rise. And yes, mothers, school bus drivers and soccer coaches are not immune to addiction. Continue reading “Saturday Night Live tried to joke about heroin, but there is nothing funny about this epidemic.”

Being a heroin addict….my brutal truth.

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People always ask me what it’s like to be a heroin addict. I guess it’s different for everyone so I wont speak on behalf of the entire addict population but I can sure as hell tell you what being a heroin addict was to me.

Being an addict in itself was me not knowing when to stop and quickly crossing that line of not being able to stop. Whether it was meth, xanax or coke, I did them all addictively. But when I found heroin, I fell in love.

At first, being a heroin addict was exciting.

It was meeting dealers, feelin like a bad ass lil white girl in the worst parts of saint louis. It was snorting lines of dope in the bathroom of Kirkwood just to go back to class high as fuck and know I was getting away with it. It was the rebellious side of me thinking that being a junior in high school and snorting meth and heroin made me tough.

6 months later, being a heroin addict had me on my hands and knees searching my car for chunks of dope that I may or may not have dropped. It was licking little gray pebbles to see if they tasted like dope. It was crushing up anything that could be broken down and snorting it hoping it would stop the withdrawals.

By the end of my senior year, a heroin addict was all I was.

Being a heroin addict was having my dealers give me some dope, warn me that this batch has caused numerous people to OD and me being excited cause that meant it was good.

Being a heroin addict turned into me snorting that line of dope because I had too, not because I wanted too. Continue reading “Being a heroin addict….my brutal truth.”

A Mother’s Journey Through The Loss of Her Son To Heroin

trisha and brendan 1My name is Trisha Grose.  I attended Concordia University in Wisconsin and worked full time as I obtained my bachelors degree.  I am a business woman – in fact I am the owner of Chateaux Realty, a successful boutique real estate firm in the Denver Metro Area.  I am a type A person that runs my household, leads meetings, sells homes, employs more than 20 people.

I have been happily married to my husband Scott for more than 10 years.  We joined our families and each had two children.  So I am the biological mother to two children and step-mother to two children.

I am “that mom” – you know, the mother that volunteered at school, attended every school event, went on field-trips, had all of the children in sports, and put my children and family in front of my career – even though I always tried to balance everything my family and children always came first. Continue reading “A Mother’s Journey Through The Loss of Her Son To Heroin”

Heroin addiction is a thinking problem, a thinking epidemic. I needed to feel safe enough to think sober might work.

There isn’t a heroin epidemic. Heroin isn’t the problem. It’s been around for a long time – healing sadness, addicting the brain, causing shitty withdrawal symptoms, shutting down the body, and making pain go away in the body and the mind. Heroin sits in a bag on a coffee table. It’s the mind that shoots it up. Continue reading “Heroin addiction is a thinking problem, a thinking epidemic. I needed to feel safe enough to think sober might work.”

UNITE to Face Addiction article and accompanying photo

Unite Rally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Meyer of I Am Not Anonymous wrote a powerful blog post about the UNITE to Face Addiction rally in DC, The Day the Silence Ended . Don’t skip the link at the bottom of the article to the photo gallery. Amazing photos – she really captured the day!

We UNITED to Face Addiction. No More Silence.

crowd uniteOn October 3rd and 4th I stood beside my son in Washington DC.  I stood with him at the Fed Up! rally on Saturday as Chief Campanello and John Rosenthal spoke to us about the Gloucester Initiative and PAARI (the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative). We raised our voices and marched with thousands to the White House- then later stood in silence while hundreds of names of those lost to addiction were read.

We were together as Cheryl Crowe sang For What it’s Worth in the shadow of the Washington Monument during the UNITE to Face Addiction rally. I got goosebumps as she belted out “Everybody look what’s going down…”.

We stood as the Surgeon General announced that the first ever report commissioned on substance use, addiction, and health will be published in 2016.

” I’m here to say that we won’t hide from this issue because it’s hard for some to talk about. Because we know there was a time in this country when it was hard to talk about smoking, about AIDS, and about mental health. But we were fortunate enough to have leaders who stood up and said: It’s time for us to have a conversation in this country that’s based on facts; A conversation that’s based on medicine and science.” ~ Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

(full transcript of speech available here)

Continue reading “We UNITED to Face Addiction. No More Silence.”

Addiction is a Family Affair. We All Need Recovery

On August 6, 2015 my husband and I watched our son Kurt, a recovering heroin addict, receive his 18 month chip. He chose to go to the alumni meeting at the place where he had started his recovery, the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Hospital – CeDAR. We sat in the same room where we first reunited with Kurt three weeks into his recovery. At that time we were all exhausted and still feeling raw and overburdened with the weight of the past we were wearing – a leaden cloak we thought was our armor, but was mostly woven out of sadness and fear. Eighteen months later there we were, in that very same space, watching our son address alumni as well as present clients of CeDAR – some just starting their program, others receiving their 30 day chips and a few close to completing their 90 day program. It was his moment. We went to witness and support him in his moment. We are proud for him, rather than proud of him. He earned that chip for himself by slogging through his program one step, one day at a time. He had to pull every thread of that leaden cloak out and study it. He unwove it through hard work and perseverance during some of the most difficult months of his life. He forged his path and he stayed on it. For those in early recovery, 18 hours seems impossible and 18 days a distant goal. For eighteen miraculous months Kurt has been working hard every day.

Continue reading “Addiction is a Family Affair. We All Need Recovery”