My story (Part 1) - by Olive (06/02/14)

This is the first part of Olive's story.  It tells of the various factors that contributed to her AOD and mental health concerns and the start of the process of rebuilding her life. 

Recent events prompted me to look up my family history. Curiously enough, I never got past my great grandparents from both sides of my family. The most interesting part was the fact that each member of my extended family was either an alcoholic or mentally ill or at worst, both....


 

Note: Olive has now started her own blog: 'Confessions of a Recovering Alcoholic'. Check it out.

Recent events prompted me to look up my family history. Curiously enough, I never got past my great grandparents from both sides of my family. The most interesting part was the fact that each member of my extended family was either an alcoholic or mentally ill or at worst, both.

What spurred me to look up my family history you may ask? Unfortunately, it wasn't due to the fact that I was curious about my family but to find out how many family members were afflicted by alcoholism and/or mental illness.

Needless to say, I was shocked by the results. Being an alcoholic myself and having endless bouts of depression and insomnia, I didn't expect the genetic predisposition to be so high, yet it was.

Being “raised” (I use the term loosely) by a schizophrenic mother and a depressed, alcoholic stepfather was no joy. My childhood was filled with flying dishes in the middle of the night, high pitched screams, slurring, attempted suicides, mad conversations with God, Jesus and KGB or CIA (whichever fit better at the time for my mother) and the token scent of alcohol wafting through as a constant reminder of the toxic environment I was living in.

At the age of eight, my stepfather had enough of my mother's increasing insanity and moved out. Mother and I also moved to a small apartment where she spiraled even further out of control. Leaving me at home, alone, on a nightly basis, she would visit bars and pubs, drink too much and then stumble home to in the early hours of the morning. Each night I would prepare dinner for myself, turn on the lights on, terrified of falling asleep and of every shadow eclipsing the walls. A few months later, mother  had a splendid idea of going to Moscow for a holiday. In her deluded state, I feared saying no to her and simply followed suit. Arriving in Moscow and staying in a lovely hotel, I thought I was safe. Until mother starting bringing strange men to share her bed in the same room. I was terrified. It wasn't until many years later that I realised what my mother was in fact doing. Those same men would visit my bed and I would pretend to be deep asleep. By the time it was time to return to Australia, staff members at the hotel became increasingly worried about my safety and called the hospital to have my mother treated.

I became an honorary new member of my “hotel family” who loved me like I was their own. I was treated like a princess for six weeks, read stories at night, fed delicious homemade Russian food, given toys and received the affection I desperately craved. Then it all ended with my mother's release. We flew back to Australia. I could see mother was still possessed by insanity. That was made evident when she told the taxi driver that only God would help us hysterically, I may add. At that point, the taxi driver drove us to the police station and in turn the policemen sent my mother to an institution and I stayed with family friends for several months.

It says something when as a child you would rather stay with relevant strangers rather than stay with mother when she was eventually released. Unfortunately for me I had to live with her once again however my stepfather and mother reunited and the whole vicious cycle started once again. The broken dishes, the screaming, the alcohol and the attempted suicides resumed just like the hand on the clock as though nothing had happened.

Eventually, I left home at a young age. Despite being an A-grade student only to repeat the patterns I saw as a child. In and out of abusive relationships, drinking heavily and eventually becoming an alcoholic myself, attempted suicides, severe depression and chronic insomnia. It led to a point where I lost custody of my only child due to my self-abuse and self-hatred. Even that didn't open my eyes to what I had become. A broken shell of my former self, no longer longing for life but wishing it ceased to exist.

In the end it all became too much and I ended up in hospital, told that if I continued this path a certain death would await in a very close future. An adamant doctor saw my pain and insisted I had to go into detox and receive the help I needed. I fought, I cried, I screamed but to no avail. I was going and that was the final decision. This ultimately, I believe, saved my life. It was there that I discovered I suffered from undiagnosed PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) which had caused much of my angst, depression, insomnia and most importantly my alcoholism as a coping mechanism to escape the cruel world surrounding me. It is only early days, I still struggle to sleep, suffer from nightmares however I no longer feel the need to rely on alcohol and understand why I behaved the way I did. I am finally receiving the help I have been pleading for so long.

Throughout this long and painful journey, I had only one person that believed in me the past six years who cheered me and never gave up belief that I was in fact an amazing person clouded by a past that has haunted me for decades. I finally am free.

 

Note: Olive has now started her own blog: 'Confessions of a Recovering Alcoholic'. Check it out.