Well this post is a bit out of my normal realm, but I think a really important experience to share. I had a friend recently battle addiction and psychosis. These are areas I have a very unique insight and expertise in broaching.
When this person disappeared from my life they were surrounded by family that fought for them, protected them and he was still terrified of anyone knowing. The stigma of their assumptions, repercussions at work if the truth was exposed, just so many question marks. And when they returned and slowly started leaking details of the story and I looked at them and said, “Oh my god, of course, you were dealing with XYZ and you had these stressors and you didn’t ask for help and all of these things you were set up for failure.” And the look of sheer relief was amazing. Like you mean you know about this? I’m not the only one?. Of course he wasn’t and never will be.
And time went on, a second stint away for support and a successful integration back. But today I sit here and hold back tears at my desk. This same person who had so much success moved too quickly too soon and is back where they began. Embarrassment, shame, admitting failure isn’t easy whether it’s at work, at a sporting event, at anything…but at this its hurts so much more. And I know how to reach their family and doing so will involve putting both of our jobs in jeopardy. All I can do today is pray I find a way to help and not harm. But I know the bravest thing that this person has done was telling me they needed help and that they were terrified to ask.
I wish there was time to help them find the words to ask the right audience for help. But in asking me my heart breaks as my moral compass knows what I have to do and man is it awful. But in better times I promised a friend I’d sound the alarm if we ever got here again and now it is the only option I have.
So today I wanted to take a minute about the stigma of addiction. Many people are too embarrassed to admit what is happening until everything is so bad it can no longer be hidden. All for fear of judgement, for being different, for letting people down. And I hope if you are ever in the same situation you will understand without judgement and be willing to fight for someone who can’t currently fight for themselves.
Update: My friend is receiving help right now and I cried in a meeting when this message came across my screen, “Tell Anne Thank you. Really…tell her thank you. And that i will call her later”
Moral of the story always be willing to take the risk.