It is confronting for me to tell this story because apart from family and close friends, I keep my mum’s story a secret. I don’t talk about her.
There is a sense of shame attached to having a drug addict in the family and I realised at a young age that there are people who will judge me based on my mother’s history. Drug addiction and mental health are both still stigmatised in society because people just don’t understand it. I don’t think they can ever really understand it until they love somebody with an addiction or live through it themselves.
My mother died of an overdose a week after my 21st birthday.
I remember my father walking into my room and waking me he said “I’ve got some bad news bub, We’ve lost your mum” he started sobbing and sat on the edge of my bed and cuddled me and I wasn’t sure what to feel. I had been expecting this for a few years and there were even moments in my life where I had wished for it but now that it had actually happened I didn’t feel the relief that I once thought I would, I just felt a numbness, one I hadn’t felt before.
I remember having to get daily updates from the coroner because they needed to perform an autopsy and weren’t sure if they would have her body ready in time for her funeral. I remember not showering for a week because I physically didn’t have the energy to. I remember not knowing what to say in her eulogy and the regret I felt in not writing one. The thing I will never forget is looking down into my mum’s coffin and not recognising the lifeless body that faced me.
My mother was in and out of sobriety for a majority of my life. Heroin and pills were her main problem but in her later years she also succumbed to alcoholism.
I always felt she was different to other mums but in my younger years was oblivious to the situation. As I got older I started to piece together what was going on but somehow knew not to speak about it.
Our relationship only started becoming tumultuous as I became a teenager and she developed psychosis due to her addiction. She started changing at one of the most pivotal parts of my life and just when a girl needs her mum the most I could no longer communicate with her. I moved in with my aunt and started avoiding my mum. Whenever we did see each other we would argue, partially because of the paranoia she had developed from her condition and partially due to my hostility towards her. I started to deny that she was my mother when people asked. I pushed her to the back of my mind and went on with my life.
I had not seen my mum in four years the day I found out she had passed away. I had made no effort to see her in those four years because it caused me a lot of pain that I couldn’t deal with at that time. After she passed away I felt allot of guilt. I remembered all of the arguments we had, the nasty things I had said to her and the times I wished she would just disappear out of my life, the times I even wished she would die.
It took me a long time to realise that I’d held her to blame for things she could no longer control. My mother had changed she hadn’t always been this way addiction and psychosis had taken over her.