What are you doing to cope?
Well, in all honesty, I do take medication for depression and anxiety to get me through the days. I just went to the doctor and had my medication lowered because I feel like I’m in a better place now. This is not a good thing, but I eat. That’s my stress reliever and that helps me to cope. I try to keep busy too. We go to Nar-Anon meetings. I have a small business so I try to work on my projects for my small business. That’s really how I cope. Nothing over the top. I tried to get involved in more groups. I was on the board of a couple different ones but they’re more centered on legislation, and I’m not wired that way. I operate more on a personal level.
Sometimes I feel like I’m going to cry, but can’t. I do go to the gym two to three times a week. I listen to music.
I also teach overdose awareness and naloxone training to anybody that would like it. I was one of the first people to write Narcan prescriptions for people and taught them how to use it before the state said it was OK to do that. I was like — what are we doing here? We need to be saving lives. I can write the prescription. I can teach it. Here you go. You have every right to carry naloxone as a health care provider. So if you want a prescription, here you go. This is how you use it. And that’s how I helped myself cope with a lot of this. If I can help other people save their kids, I’ll do everything I possibly can. Also, in the family groups, people would give little tidbits on how to manage the dumb stuff when you have a child addicted to opioids. And one of the best things I did was we took the lock off the bathroom door. We finally realized what was going on behind that door and that he wasn’t standing in the shower for an hour. I used to call them his hour power showers. No. No. No. He was using his drugs in the bathroom. So if you have a lock on the door, you can’t get in there to save your child. Take the lock off the bathroom door. Sorry. And as long as you’re living in my home and you have this disease, there’s no lock on your bedroom door either.
I enjoy helping others and doing my presentations. I get no satisfaction or joy out of sharing how my son passed away. We’re creeping up on seven years now. It’s like opening an old wound, every single time. But everybody grieves differently. I’m out there sharing my story. I’m trying to help somebody in some way. That helps me through my grieving journey. And if I can get somebody into rehab through our quick response team, that helps me.
Obviously, I really tried to be clear in communication and goal-setting with my spouse. I reached out to friends and shared my concerns. I was telling someone yesterday that this can make or break a marriage. Good relationship skills are really important. For some people, it means going to a support group, just like an Al-Anon meeting. There are groups that meet for parents who have kids that are addicted. Those are important.
I pray. I pray and pray and pray. And I think the other thing is as best as you can, have a hopeful script playing in your head. As dark as it is, you hope there will be a good ending. Once we figured out we had a problem, I was telling myself, “I’m going to do whatever I can to try to make sure this works.” That can be hard to maintain because sometimes you can get really pissed off at your child. Actually, the most important thing to remember is that this is a disease and not something your child willed for themself. The disease took over her brain and basically stole my daughter. I needed to remember that she is separate from this. I had to tell myself that this is not my daughter anymore. I was fighting to get her back.
Prayer. Lots of prayer. My friends. Loving all addicts. I hate calling them that – I’ll use substance use disorder. I’ve got so many that I love and try to help. And you know I can’t fix it for them, but I let them know that they are loved. I don’t discriminate whether they have teeth or not, you know. I just love them and I know that they are so sick. They recognize that love and appreciate that love. They can tell I’m not fake or out to get them or looking down on them. And Paxil has helped a lot.
Shelly: I have been doing a lot of self-care, studying and learning all I can. I feel that these things I am learning will all be great skills for people in recovery, because they all need them. There was no time for self-care during Tyler’s active addiction. So I’d say the biggest thing I’m doing to cope is focusing on relaxation and my faith.
Travis: For the first 18 months after Tyler died, I had to go to the gym and physically kill myself to cope. I had to go to the gym and it was ridiculous how hard I had to train and how hard I had to work out to physically exhaust myself. To get me to settle down. That’s where I coped. To this day, I still don’t have a great network of men around me to share. I’ve never been great at that. It’s not a strength of mine. I’m working to get better. It’s natural to want to lay there. It’s natural to not want to get out of bed. It’s natural to want to feel sorry for yourself. You don’t have to work at that. That comes easy. That does not take effort. Everything in your body drives you that way. And so therefore you have to work at trying to get better. I am putting new tools in my toolbox. I’m growing in my faith. I think God has continued to stretch me. I arm wrestle with Shelly all of the time [laughter]. She challenges me. Shelly has always challenged me to grow.
Wayne – People ask me – did you take some time to grieve? And I tell them no. Because two weeks after Tyler died, we started Tyler’s Light. Tyler’s Light is my therapy. I am a complete opposite from Christy. There is an article in The Dispatch about how 80% of couples get divorced after you lose a child. That’s pretty high. We are total opposites when dealing with this issue. I deal with it by pounding my fists and I just go. I look at it as I don’t know why this happened and that this is an opportunity. Doors have opened because of it. You don’t know why, but you have to remember this is a big plan.
Christy – Wayne’s coping was to take action. A very typical man. Men and women are very different. Men take action. They want to fix it. For us, women, and for me in particular, I went to counseling. I needed to talk about it with someone other than Wayne and my kids and family members. So I sought professional counseling and one on one counseling. I read the Bible a lot more and went more into my faith and tried to make sense of it. I read multiple books about heaven. I was kind of obsessed with it. I wanted to know if Tyler is there and what it is like. I went to a clairvoyant medium. Wayne went after me because I told him my experience. So I was more on the spiritual side, trying to make sense of it and cope with it. And Wayne was trying to take action and fix this and prevent it form happening to other people. That is his therapy. We are all different.