Friday, October 28, 2011

Crack is Whack

I haven't paid a lot of attention to the Michael Jackson trial, but whenever I hear brief updates on "Access Hollywood" or CNN I shake my head in frustration.  Mental illness and drug addiction look a lot alike.  And when you mix the two watch the hell out, it can get messy.  Ask the Jackson family.  Or Martin Sheen.  Or me.

I was 15 the first time I witnessed one of her full-blown panic attacks.  Doing my homework watching 90210 and wondering whether Brenda was going to go all the way with Dylan, I heard my brother calling for me to help.  My mother was sitting on the couch having trouble breathing and grabbing her chest.  We thought she was having a heart attack.  She begged us not to take her to the emergency room because she didn't have the right insurance.  So we loaded her in the car and took her to urgent care.  Struggling to breath and crying, my mother was a mess.  I was also crying and struggling to breath as I tried to remember everything I learned in driver's ed (having only a permit and no license yet).  
*Sidenote--To be completely honest, I had been stealing the car and driving since I was 13, but driving under this kind of stress was a whole new ballgame.  And sorry dad that you had to find out that driving since 13 fact here.

My brother and I flipped through magazines in the waiting room....waiting like a couple of immature adults (that's foreshadowing people!).  After what felt like hours, the nurse wheeled my mother out to us.  She was slumped over, incoherent.  They had given her a shot of something.  "Just take her home and put her to bed she'll be fine," the nurse said and deposited my mother to us.

 My mother started taking anti-anxiety medication in 1979 and hasn't stopped.  She just added new and different medications and opiates.  I was unaware of how long it had actually been going on until this past winter when I was at the hospital with my mother, trying to convince her to go to rehab.  She didn't.  "I take oxycodone not oxycontin, that's for hillbillies," my mother told me on that visit.  I like to call it her Whitney Houston moment, referencing Whitney's "Crack is Whack" quote of course.

I know I can't stop with the pop culture references.  Sorry, that is just how I roll.  When things happen in my life I have always looked to my real friends on tv to make it all better.  Or at least make me feel normal.  

Right now is probably the first time I can say that I have something in common with LaToya Jackson.  Because I am betting that she can't pinpoint what the real problem was with her relative---mental illness or drug addiction.  (The whole damn chicken and egg crap.)  And there was nothing she could do about it anyway.

Look, I am not trying to bash my mother on this blog, vent about all my wire hanger moments or make light of addiction or mental illness.

What happened to my mother is devastating.  I really could've used a good "Access Hollywood" story when I was growing up to relate to.  No joke.  No one talked about bi-polar or manic depressives or prescription drug use like they do now, since Britney Spears and the like.  Sure there was a "Knot's Landing" Episode when Karen was addicted to pain killers, but it wasn't enough to resonate with me.  

While I was trying to help my mother last year, Charlie Sheen was having his break with reality.  Remember the whole Winning! fiasco?  After spending the day begging doctors to simply "do something" with my mother, I would go back to my hotel to watch all the entertainment analysts.  Some of them were questioning how this could have happened, where is the family, how do people "let" this happen.  I got so irritated! Families don't "let" this happen.  They can fight like hell to help, but it is usually a losing battle.  Unless a person is self aware enough to seek treatment and want it for either mental illness or addiction it simply won't work.  And you cannot force a person to get better.  I just got so Dr. Drew on all of you, I love it.

This past week there were some real big life stuff happening for my brother and sister.  Life stuff that no matter what age you are you could use a mom.  We could've really used a Nora Walker (Sally Field's character on "Brothers and Sisters").  I seriously can't stop with the pop culture!  

Not only is it painful to see how lonely my mother's life is now.  It is painful to see how full it could be.

But damn it pop culture really does.  I am going to go watch an old episode of "Brothers and Sisters" and get me some Nora Walker love.

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