Powerful testimonials from members of Rebound Carers' Group, in their own words.
When my son was in what was to be his final attempt at recovery after 25 years of active addiction, I asked him to write me a letter to explain how his addiction took over his life and tore apart the family who loved him. This is what he wrote:
"I knew I had a problem very early on, but I always thought I'd be able to stop in my own way. I convinced myself that when I chose to I would be able to get off heroin even though within a couple of weeks I knew I was addicted. I'd be able to get off by smoking weed and having a few beers. How wrong I was, I thought I was in control of IT but not that IT was in control of me.
I not only convinced myself but anyone else who I wanted to, my family being the main people because they meant so much to me and they were the last people I wanted to hurt with the truth.
I had found out long before, when I was a child, the way to lie. It was only when I was involved with hard drugs I found the best way to lie and be convincing to the ones who knew me so well I really, really had to believe it myself. So I would go over every possible question I faced with a reason or story to cover every angle. If I truly believed my own lies, how convincing could I be with my own family?
At first my family wanted to believe me - and why not? I was a grown up now. I used this to my advantage. The more I lied and conned, the less they were convinced. I had to learn and become a very quick thinker. Thinking on my feet was soon mastered. It was not long before I had to use this technique a lot, in so many places and to so many people - employers, police, magistrates, judges, even old school friends who didn't appreciate my new lifestyle.
It was all about manipulation to get what I wanted. The end goal was my fix:
'Mum can I "borrow" £10 to get some baccy and bus fare?'
'Mum I'm just going out to the shop to get some baccy, only be 10 minutes'
'Mum can you give me a lift to my "mates"? But I've got to stop off at this house to see if he's at his girlfriend's, I'll only be a minute'
These examples were just the start of things. When my mum got concerned I said 'Mum I only smoke a bit of puff, I'd never take anything else!' "
Do you remember the moment you took heroin for the first time? I like to think that if you'd realised where that action would lead you'd have made a very different choice. You self-destructed, and have left yourself with physical and mental scars. At the same time you changed the lived of your loving family forever.
I am proud that you have been in sustained recovery for 5 years, but I deeply resent everything you put us through. I walked away whilst you were in active addiction but, as promised, supported you in your receovery.
Do I trust you? NO - that has to be earned over time.
Do I like you? Not really. However, I'm slowly learning to like the different person you have become, but my heart aches for the precious son I once had.
Do I love you? Always, and in spite of everything. I gave birth to you, and that bond is forever.
I understand that recovery is one day at a time. I truly hope you never forget those very dark times, take responsibility for yourself and remember that bad choices have consequences which have to be faced eventually.
When I first went to a Rebound meeting I was an absolute wreck myself due to my daughter being a chronic Alcoholic.
I remember pouring out my hurt, frustrations, crying and saying ... I can't do this any more. Everyone on the room listened to me and, when I finished my rant, everyone gave me so much support and advice that, by the end of the evening, I was already feeling better.
I now go to a meeting once a week and can honestly say ... Rebound has helped me SO much that I am getting MY life back ... thank you Rebound.
I have two children, I mention only one.
I love my secret child but I can't believe what he's done.
The upset, the betrayal, the lies, the deceit
The emptiness of lost love that made me complete.
The lost grandchildren I will never know
The messed up, angry one I do
Will the police knock at my door?
About my first born, my precious son?
Will I have to identify his poor abused body?
Will he die before me?
Will he ever be free?
My first grandchild has just been born! A gorgeous, beautiful 8lb 2oz healthy and handsome little grandson.
I loved him from the moment I saw his scan picture and I was unaware of the overwhelming feeling of grandmother's love that is experienced post arrival! I was informed by text together with his father and the rest of our family two days after his birth.
My son is an addict, he has previously been sectioned and is making good efforts to remain well. We have arranged to meet and be introduced to our new family member when he is two weeks old. I pray for my son that holding his new born son for the first time will help him out of his personal torment and cement in his mind that it's not all about him any longer.
As I try to find the brother I grew up with among the debris of his addiction.
"I look in to your eyes but cannot see you. I look deeper and I see addiction and darkness wrapped in an evil cradling.
I call your name, but you do not answer. I cannot find you.
I love you.
I will keep looking for you"
Written by a member of Rebound, June 2018
Rebound has helped me understand addiction and recovery. I have learned how to support my husband's receovery, not his addiction. To give up trying to control what is not my responsibility. I had been doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.
Rebound is safe, non-judgemental, caring and informative. I am learning to let go of destructive habits.
I did not cause my husband's addiction / I cannot control his addiction / I cannot cure his addiction
But, there is hope and Rebound helps me to support my husband's recovery and to look after myself.
I went along to Rebound with almost no knowledge of addiction, not knowing what to expect and feeling very apprehensive.
Everyone there was so friendly and welcoming. I left after first visit realising I was not alone and that people from all walks of life can be affected. Also, anything that is said within the group is completely confidential and this, of course, is SO important.
What Rebound has given me is a sense of belonging and enabled me to turn despair into realistic hope for the future.
At this time, my story has turned in to a positive and I am able to help support others within the group but if, in the future, I experience further problems as a carer I know that Rebound is there - and that is a very comforting thought.
I've attended Rebound since its inception and have found it to be a group that has provided a mix of care, support, sharing and education. It has been invaluable to me and I'm sure it has also helped my relationship with my wife. I continue to attend, even though my wife has given up the substance misuse, because I believe I need continuing support which I believe also still helps my wife's and my recovery.
So there you are with the fixed smile that says "I'm OK," and the eyes that say you are anything but.
The morning after yet another sleepless night; a night full of wonder of "I wonder if," and "How has it come to this?" The voice in your head repeating over and over "please don't let the phone ring," and another saying "please let him be OK."
The knot in the back of your neck is taut, a feeling in your stomach of being on a 'fast spin.' Your heart pummelled.
The start of another day, and what will it bring? Things don't seem quite so bad in the day time, if you keep yourself busy that is.
I find it easier to be alone, keep myself to myself. That way I don't have to pretend, lie; but who am I lying to?
He has appointments today, hope he will go. But, what if he doesn't? Maybe I should try and find him, take him, am I letting him down?
What have I done? What should I do? Where the hell is he?! If only there was something I could do. Then, in the pit of my stomach, the cold reality of knowing there is nothing I can do. But, belive me when I tell you that, even with the knowledge of stark reality, it doesn't stop you searching, longing or dull the heartache.
So there you are, with your heart pounding and, in your head, turmoil. Which way to turn now? Then, there it is again, that awful feeling of guilt and the torment of helplessness. So I pick up the phone, call him. He's not answering today; maybe he is in his meeting. A moment of wishful thinking which is quickly overpowered by the familiar feeling of anxiousness; maybe he's been arrested.
In his head, he is dealing with it, arrangements have been made. But is that the truth of it, or is it all in his head?
I feel like I am in freefall again, waiting for the collission as I hit the edge and hang there for a while, suspended.
Then, one phone call brings the long awaited offer of help, hope.
A place is available for him in Baytrees. I try to call him to give him the news, he answers his phone. He accepts the place, the help. "I really want this, Mum."
Friday 9.30, the start of the first day of the rest of his life ... the help is there, the rest is down to him.
But it wasn't to be. My son was arrested on the Wednesday and imprisoned on the Thursday.
You may think it sounds heartless, selfish even, but the strange calm feeling I have inside is so welcome. I know where he is, he is safe, he is alive.
His road to recovery has started in a different place, perhaps not what we had hoped for, but it does bring hope nevertheless. I used to say I dare not hope, for fear of disappointment, but now I am hoping with all my heart.
If the stigma and problems that come with mental health issues were not challenge enough, when coupled with the demon that is addiction (that's how I see it anyway) there is a long and uncertain road to face; dual diagnosis not only affects the person in or recovering from addiction, but their families and loved ones too.
Although he is only twenty one, my son has been struggling with dual diagnosis for longer than I care to remember. Caring for him has been a turbulent, emotional, lonely journey, and one that I still tread. It is only now that I have the support of Rebound that I have found the comfort of being able to share my torment with people who truly understand. It is such a relief to be able to talk freely, in confidence and without fear of being judged.
The weekly meetings offer a safe environment to come and sahre the events of your week. While the group is facilitated, there is empathy and friendly, informal advice, which is born out of personal experiences.
In short, Rebound has been my saving grace - don't suffer alone and in silence.
Unless you have experienced the turmoil of having a loved one in addiction, it is all but impossible to imagine the plethora or emotions you encounter.
It goes without saying, the pain of witnessing someone in the grips of any substance misuse is torture enough, but the effect it has on you, as a 'carer', is beyond pain.
'Carer' is a funny term because, as a parent, it's the last thing you see yourself as or, indeed, want to be.
My personal journey, parallel to that of my son's, has been one of despair, heartache and disbelief, one that has been looked upon with stigma and judged by those who are fortunate enough not to have experienced the like.
Up intil the occasion when a nurse, who was looking after my son at the time, asked "who supports you?" and suggested I contact Rebound. It took me a few weeks to find the courage to go to the group, even then, and for some time, still I said nothing, but listened, intently. It was is if every other person in the room was talking about my life, experiencing the same emotions and facing the same fears. In time I felt 'safe' enough to share my story, confident in the knowledge that I was not going to shock anybody or be judged.
I could go on but, in short, Rebound has been my saving grace.
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Rebound Carers' Group
117 Orchard Road