Existence

June 24, 2012

To Write Love On Her Arms sent flowers in commemoration of Sam. It meant so much to me to have his existence acknowledged and for him to be remembered. They are a beacon of light to me, that they care about the young who struggle in their lives.
Had a discussion with a friend of mine last night about the societal changes of late. We have become so self-centered, and decisions are no longer being made for the benefit of the common good, but more for “what’s in it for me”. No wonder the young feel a hopelessness.

But then, an organization, or person, or group comes along that stops you in your tracks and gets you thinking. They motivate you to be a better person by reminding you that everyone has a reason for being, that judging is pointless, and that everyone deserves to be heard. Listening is one of the most underated skills – and hearing what isn’t spoken, even more so. That’s going to be my goal this next year of losing Sam- to stop talking and start listening harder.

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3 years

June 22, 2012

3 years already. Sam is ever on my mind, sometimes not always upfront, but ever present. I miss the feel of his face, the quiet smile on his face, the mischievious glint in his eyes, and his weird humor. We, as his family, will forever be changed for what was, and what could have been. I miss you, Sam, and I love you forever. And thank you to TWLOHA for remembering him. It means so much to me.

Who Succumbs to Addiction?

September 4, 2011

Well, it feels like fall, so I thought I could start to tackle all of Sam’s belongings – what to throw away, what to keep, what to donate, what to sell. I managed to get through one bag of throw-outs, and one box of donates, and then I lost it. After 2 years, the grief is like a knife, and touching what Sam touched, and reading what Sam read, and seeing what Sam wore was too much. Another day I’ll try again.

I read an article in the NYTimes by Dr. Richard Friedman about who falls to addiction, and who doesn’t. He refers to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health that finds that patients with mental health problems are nearly 3 times as likely to have an addictive disorder as those without. And 60% of those with substance abuse issues also suffer from another form of mental illness. It is unknown whether addiction predisposes someone to mental illness, or vice versa.
He goes on to write that the depressed and anxious patients in particular turn to alcohol and other sedatives. Sam turned to alcohol and opiates, which are terrible antidepressants with only worsened the problems he had. That led to more depression and addiction.
Dr. Freidman further goes on, “Drug use changes the brain. Primates that aren’t predisposed to addiction will become compulsive users of cocaine as the number of D2 receptors declines in their brains, Dr. Volkow noted. And one way to produce such a decline, she has found, is to place the animals in stressful social situations.
A stressful environment in which there is ready access to drugs can trump a low genetic risk of addiction in these animals. The same may be true for humans, too. And that’s a notion many find hard to believe: Just about anyone, regardless of baseline genetic risk, can become an addict under the right circumstances.”

“Who can experiment uneventfully with drugs and who will be undone by them results from a complex interplay of genes, environment and psychology. And, unfortunately, just plain chance.”

Then I think of Sam, who had the genetic risk, who was put into stressful social situations of divorce, new family, new houses, new school, new everything, and it was a disaster waiting to happen.
And how I miss him.

Amy Winehouse

July 30, 2011

Another very talented person who has died all too young. The vitriole comes out again, with statements that she deserved it, or she choose her addictions, etc. The worst is “what a waste”. Her life was not a waste, nor was Sam’s. They both accomplished a lot, and both were tormented in life. No one should judge unless they have been in the shoes of the one they judge.

Fears and Dreams

July 24, 2011

Check out the new Fears Vs. Dreams Road Trip portraits by Jeremy Cowart at http://fearsvsdreams.com/

Niece and Nephew

July 9, 2011

Had a talk with my sisters children today, who are 13 and 15. They have alcoholism on both sides of their family, and addictive behavior. I told them about Sam and his genetic make-up, and talked to them about his depression, and how he self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. Not knowing how easy it is for the addictions to begin, Sam took his chances. I warned my niece and nephew to not even try these dangerous behaviors- they may find that it feels too good to give it up, and then it’s too late. I wish someone had talked to Sam about the chances of addictions when it is in the family genes. My niece and nephew are really good kids who have big challenges in their lives, and I will try to be there for them. It will be an uphill battle.

The Gene Pool

July 4, 2011

My sister got married this weekend, and it was so good to see all of my cousins, my brother and sister-in-law. It was a good time. I was talking to another family member, and it turns out we had some addicts in the family that I did not know about. It definitely is a genetic problem. I think that in health class, your past history should be discussed along with a family tree project. The whole thing is so interesting to me – the marriages and divorces are all related to the effects that the addictions and abuses had on the families involved.

If the family histories of addiction were discussed in schools, maybe it would lead to a more tolerant attitude towards those with the problems. Maybe we can prevent the addictions by knowing about the vulnerabilies we have from genetics that we can not control, and redirecting risky behaviors that we can control.
In any case, there is such a secrecy involved because of the stigma of mental health issues, alcoholism and addiction. We have to stop condemning and start viewing people as more than their addictions.

Who died on June 22?

June 27, 2011

I had totally forgotten that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett had died shortly after Sam. Michael’s death overshadowed Farrah’s, and it seemed like their deaths were circus-like compared to the surreal death of a child.
So, this is probably in very bad taste, but I wanted to know who else had died the week that Sam did. And I found out the John Lee Hooker, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and George Carlin all passed during this day or week. Now, I feel he is in much better company.

Obelisk

June 25, 2011

Found another sketch.

It’s a glorious day today – reminds me of the days after Sam’s death. It was beautiful then, too. The day of his funeral was sunny and warm, like the overwhelming heaviness was lifted. On the 2 year anniversary, the day was dismal, which was so fitting. Becca wrote that she was missing on Wednesday – know how she feels.
But, it’s time to get outside, to experience the sun, get some exercise, take the dogs for a walk, and get on with life, however difficult this is, however changed I feel, however large the hole is where my missing parts go. Love you, Sam.