Sunday, April 26, 2009


My wife and I took our boys to see STOMP tonight at the Fisher Theatre in downtown Detroit. We had seats in the third row and the show was terrific. It was really nice to be out together as a family and to see the boys smiling and laughing and enjoying themselves. Definitely a great night out.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I wonder if he caught a worm

I got up at 6:40 this morning and my son was up and out the door, off to an early bird meeting with his sponsor. Actually, I'm not sure if he ever went to bed. I just know that he managed to do something he set out to do to better himself. And that's saying something.

After he got up yesterday (er, I mean last night), he called and talked to his sponsor, who has also battled depression. When he got off the phone with him, he came in and told me and my wife that he was going to go to a 7:00am early bird meeting this morning, and then out to breakfast. His sponsor told him he'd pick him up at 6:30. When I heard that, I didn't really say anything. Quite frankly, I wasn't sure he'd be able to pull it off. But, to his credit, he did.

I'm not sure how this will affect the rest of the day/night, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. One step forward, at least for this morning.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Haiku blog post

8:13 at night
My son: still not out of bed
Something's got to change

How's that for creativity???

On the bright side, it's 78 degrees outside and my wife and I just got back from a long (for me) walk. Just trying to keep from going insane.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today I'm a hypocrite

I'm frustrated today. Actually, I'm way beyond frustrated. I know I shouldn't be feeling the way I am, but I'm human and sometimes I can't help it. To top it off, I feel like a big ol' hypocrite after having posted those quotes the other day about courage and about being in control of how you react to what happens in your life.

I woke up this morning at 5:30am because nature called. When I got up, I noticed the lights were on downstairs, so I went down to investigate. My son was sitting at the dining room table eating a bowl of cereal. Now this wouldn't be such a big deal if he had gotten up at 5:30 and was eating breakfast. But he was up because he hadn't gone to bed yet.

Over the last few weeks I have grown to accept the staying up late thing. But I think this is a bit extreme. When I asked my son why he was still up, he said he couldn't sleep and that he was going to go up to bed when he was done eating. And when I asked him how he was going to get up at 10:00am for his full day of classes, he assured me he would get up. So I went back upstairs.

Well, I don't think I have to tell you what happened when 10:00 rolled around this morning. My son did not get up. Both me and my mom, who was going to drive him to school, tried to get him up. It just didn't happen.

My wife and I are at our wit's end. I think we're going to try and find some type of Outward Bound program to send my son to this summer. The status quo just isn't working and it's making everyone in the house crazy. We need more sanity and less crazy. Maybe that's being selfish, but to have several people suffer daily as a result of one person's actions just doesn't seem fair anymore.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stress? What stress?

I had my annual checkup with my cardiologist this morning. (Yes, I have a cardiologist. I've had one since 1998, when I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.) Thankfully, my EKG and blood pressure were both fine today. I never really worry too much about the former, but I do worry a lot about the latter, especially since my dad and my brother have both had high blood pressure.

After the nurse took my blood pressure, she told me it was "great." But the quote of the day came when my doctor came in and looked over my chart. "Your blood pressure is perfect," he said. "You must not have any stress in your life." When I heard that, all I could do was chuckle. Me? Stress? Oh, my God. If he only knew.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another quote for today

During my therapy session this morning, my therapist recommended a book to me: Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Frankl was an MD and Ph.D. who wrote more than 30 books on theoretical and clinical psychology. He was also a Nazi concentration camp survivor. Anyway, I bought the book today and just read the foreword. One passage really jumped out at me. This is mentioned by the foreword writer as being Frankl's most enduring insight:

"Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you."

I think this book might do me a world of good.


I saw my therapist this morning for the first time in several weeks and she had a quote written on her whiteboard that made me stop and think. I've heard similar quotes over the years, but for some reason this particular quote hit me like a ton of bricks today:

"Courage is not about not having fear, but about having fear and going ahead anyway."

I think I'll type that up, print it out, and give it to my son to carry with him in his wallet. I think I'll put a copy in my wallet, too.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where's the manual?

It's Sunday morning and I'm enjoying a little bit of quiet before everyone else gets up. Quiet is good, because it signifies peace. Peace is good, because there have been some pretty tricky days this week. But, like always, the only thing I can do is deal with the difficulties and move on.

Learning to deal with the difficulties that stem from having a depressed recovering addict for a child has been the biggest challenge I have faced in my years on this Earth. And even after five years or so, it's still really hard for me. My wife is much better at it than I am, although she even wished out loud for a manual on how to get through this stuff the other day. The problem is, there isn't a manual. It's just a learn-as-you-go thing. Some things you'll get right. Some things you won't. But you can't be afraid to do what you think is best. And you have to learn to let go, at least a little bit. (That part is much easier said than done. But you learn.)

One more thing: The other day, someone posted a comment on one of my blog posts saying I was "an incredible father." While that comment was nice to read, it made me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Trust me: I am not an incredible father. I have made many mistakes along the way and I often times wish I could go back and fix a lot of the things I've done wrong. Unfortunately, I can't. So I just try to do a little better every day. But I still screw up. A lot. I appreciate the kind words, but I don't think the Father of the Year folks will be contacting me anytime soon. That's one thing I can be sure of.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bad day today

Not a good day today, despite the fact that I've got the day off from work. Today is a day my son was supposed to have four classes, beginning at 11:00am. I woke him up at 9:45 this morning. Then I woke him up again at 10:00 and told him it was the last call; that I would not be coming back to wake him up. I decided I wasn't going to battle with him this morning. If you're 19 years old, you're old enough to set your alarm and get up for school without the constant assistance of your mom or dad or grandma. My son always says he wants to be treated like an adult. Well, welcome to adulthood.

Needless to say, he didn't get up. It killed me to watch the clock tick to 10:15, then 10:30, then 10:45, then 11:00. Part of me wanted to go back upstairs and wake him up. But I resisted. Maybe this will teach him a lesson. It's time for him to stand up and be a semi-responsible human being.

All of this made for a pretty crappy morning. I even cried a few times. It's just so hard to be on this roller coaster I've been on for five years now. Yesterday, my son got up at 12:30pm and managed to stay up the whole day. We all had Easter dinner together. And things were pretty good. Then today comes and the bottom falls out. Again. Is it asking too much to have a few--or even two--good days in a row?

As I type this post, it's 2:08pm and my kid is still asleep. I'm curious to see what his reaction will be when he finally gets up and realizes that he missed school. As for myself, I'm trying to climb out of the funk I've been in since this morning. I'm watching the Tigers play the White Sox on TV and am making a big pot of Scotch broth with the leftover lamb from yesterday's dinner. Baseball and food: two very comforting things. Here's hoping they do the job for me.

Update: My son got out of bed at 8:42pm. Eleven hours after he was supposed to get up. I'm not even sure what to say beyond that. Except that the Scotch broth was awesome.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is risen

Just to show you how crazy things are around here...

Moments after I finished my earlier blog post, my son woke up and came downstairs. Yes, after going to bed at 5:15 this morning, he actually got up and out of bed at 12:30pm. He went into the kitchen, put a pot of coffee on, and went outside to have a cigarette.

I'm not sure how long this will last. Remember, last Saturday he got up early but ended up going back to bed to "take a nap" a few hours later, only to stay in bed until the early evening. We'll see. But for now, he is risen. And, in this case, the "he" isn't Jesus.

Maybe this will help put some happiness back into this Easter Sunday for me. (For the record, I know my personal happiness shouldn't come and go based on my son's behavior. I've read that and heard that and been told that a thousand times. But I'm still working on it.)

Happy(?) Easter

Today is Easter Sunday, but I'm not feeling much happiness.

Yesterday we had decided that the whole family would go out for a relatively early dinner. Our plan was to head out around 6:00pm. Unfortunately, when that time came around my son was still in bed. Yep. Still in bed at 6:00 in the evening despite our several attempts to get him up. I tell ya, it's gotten ridiculous. But instead of letting that wreck our plans, my wife and I took our other son out to dinner and left the sleeping one behind.

When we got home, he was finally up. And, of course, the first thing he did after getting up was to suck down one of those crappy Monster energy drinks. That's become his morning/evening ritual. Get out of bed, drink a Monster. I was already starting to think that the Monster was having adverse effects on my son's body chemistry and was partly responsible for his depression and sleep problems. Now, after reading a report online last night called "Raising the Red Flag on Some Energy Drinks," I'm pretty much convinced that my kid shouldn't be drinking that crap. How's this for an eye-opening sentence? This is from the section of the report that talks about energy drinks and how they interact with antidepressants:

"It could make the medication inactive or depending upon the person’s health could lead to other serious side effects."

Needless to say, my wife and I are going to sit down and have a talk with our son about what these stupid energy drinks could be doing to him. Maybe if he stops drinking them, his mood and sleep habits will improve. It's certainly worth a try, isn't it?


This morning I was awakened by noise in my son's room at 5:15am. When I got up to investigate, I discovered that the noise was him going to bed. Going to bed at 5:15am. What is wrong with this picture? I can only imagine what time he'll be getting up today. I'm guessing it's probably a pretty safe bet that he won't be at the table for Easter dinner. Oh, well...

Friday, April 10, 2009

I love this quote

One of my Facebook friends posted this quote on his profile the other day and I absolutely love it. I haven't been able to find out who the quote is attributed to, but it doesn't matter. These are words to live by for anybody:

"You can't change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future."



Someone in our house had a meltdown last night. It wasn't my son. It wasn't my wife. And it wasn't my younger son, either. It was me. I was the one who had a meltdown. Whether it was caused by the stress from work, the stress from everyday life, or a combination of a bunch of different things, it doesn't matter. I lost control. And I shouldn't have. I broke a plate (it was plastic, but still) and said some mean things I regret having said. But I made some amends last night and will continue to do so.

I have a couple of days off work--today and Monday--so maybe I'll be able to decompress and clear my head a bit. I hope so. I don't like melting down. It sucks. Big time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's not our fault

I just finished watching Intervention In-Depth: Heroin Hits Home, an A&E show that documented an epidemic of OxyContin and heroin use among teens in some white-collar Boston suburbs. I was especially affected by something the mother of one of the addicts said. She said a lot of her friends lost respect for her when they heard about her son's addiction. They automatically assumed that she and her husband had done something wrong as parents. That's a shame. A child's addiction is not the parents' fault.

I hope that if you know me personally, you don't blame me or my wife for our son's addiction. And I hope you don't think less of us as parents or human beings because our son is battling this horrible disease. We are no different than you. We've just been dealt a difficult set of circumstances that we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy. But, even so, there is one thing we know for sure: it's not our fault.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back to reality

It was incredibly wonderful to have my son up-and-at-'em at 8:00am yesterday morning. I can't even put into words the positive vibe it brought to our home. But after three glorious hours, reality kicked back in.

Around 11:00am yesterday, my son told my other son that he was going to take a nap and that we should wake him up if he wasn't up by 1:00pm. Well, 1:00 came and went. We tried to wake him up a number of times. Many times, in fact. But he didn't get out of bed until almost 7:30pm. It was another one of those nights where dinner was on the table but one member of the family was still in bed. Not fun.

I'm not expecting anything different for tonight. I woke up last night (actually, early this morning) when my son finally decided to go to bed. It was 4:20am. Who knows when he'll get himself out of bed today/tonight. It's all so frustrating.

I want a whole day like the three hours I got yesterday morning. Maybe in time that'll happen. But for now I'll just remember those three glorious hours from yesterday and how great they made me feel.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Is It a Miracle?

I believe that a miracle occurred in my house this morning and, if only for one day, I am going to enjoy the hell out of it.

I got up at 7:00am and came downstairs to take some pills, feed the cats, check my e-mail, etc. After deciding to make a big batch of chicken enchiladas for dinner, I made a shopping list and headed upstairs to ask my wife if she wanted to go to the store with me. When I got to the top of the stairs, I saw the miracle: my son, standing in the hallway, awake and dressed at 8:00am. Oh. My. God. Yesterday he got up at 5:00pm. The day before I think it was 6:00pm. And the day before that... Well, you get the idea.

I was shocked (SHOCKED!) to see my son standing there and opened the door to my bedroom to show the miracle off to my wife. I think she was just as surprised as I was. And, believe it or not, the miracle got even bigger when I asked my wife about going to the store and my son said, "Can I go with you?" OK... Let me get this straight. Not only is my kid up and dressed at 8:00am on a Saturday, but now he's asking if he can go grocery shopping with my wife and me? You could've knocked me over with a feather.

So we all went grocery shopping. And my son pushed the cart and helped out with the shopping. And unloaded the cart at the checkout. And helped put groceries in the car. And helped unload the stuff at home. And it's 9:20am and he's in the kitchen making himself coffee. And he's in a pleasant mood. And it's all so different. And I like it. A lot.

I believe that a miracle occurred in my house this morning and, if only for one day, I am going to enjoy the hell out of it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Peaks and valleys

Yesterday, my son had to give a presentation in his psychology class. This presentation is something he had had a few weeks to work on and I hadn't seen much evidence of him having worked on it. Of course, he has a lot of time between classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, so there was always the possibility that he was working on it at school. Regardless, I only asked him about the project a couple of times. Was I concerned that he wasn't going to do it? Sure. Did I want to try and control things and keep tabs on my son's progress on the project? Absolutely. But I didn't.

Well, last night when I got home from work I found out that my son gave his presentation and got 50 out of a possible 50 points. That translated to an A+. How cool is that? I am incredibly proud and hope that my son's confidence gets a boost from this success.

That was the peak. Now for the valleys.

After the high of the A+ presentation yesterday, my son failed to get up for his 9:00 class this morning. He said he didn't feel well. He also missed this class on Tuesday, which is the only other day of the week the class meets. Missing both classes in one week can't be good, especially since he's missed this class several times already. I guess we'll just have to see what happens from here on out. Hopefully he can pass the class. But if he can't, maybe there's a life lesson to be learned from it.

The other valley is the fact that my son blew off his weekly IOP (Intensive Outpatient) therapy program at Brighton Hospital today, too. I don't know what to make of that. Maybe he didn't feel well. And maybe he had other reasons for not going. Does part of me wonder if he stayed home today to avoid the weekly drug test? Absolutely. But if that's the case--and I truly hope it's not--things will catch up with him eventually. For my sake, I have to try to stop worrying. I have to take care of myself. To worry constantly just isn't healthy.

"I'm going for a walk."

"I'm going for a walk."

For most parents, hearing those five words come out of their child's mouth would be no cause for alarm. In fact, hearing their kid say they were going for a walk would probably make most parents feel good. Unfortunately, my wife and I are not "most parents." Hearing our son say, "I'm going for a walk" scares the hell out of us.

My son is a recovering heroin addict and the house that has supplied him with his drugs in the past is located probably about a quarter mile from our house. It's just across the main street that's at the end of our block; the street that separates our affluent suburb from the city of Detroit.

The last time my son announced he was going for a walk was back in the fall, shortly after he got out of rehab. I was suspicious back then and ended up doing what no parent really wants to do. I followed my son. He walked down this block and that block, never suspecting that his father was driving slowly behind him, waiting to see where his son ended up. Believe me, there's nothing like not trusting someone you love to the point of following them. I felt dirty doing it. But on that occasion, my suspicion was right on. My son ended up on the porch of that drug house. And I ended up pulling up in front of the house and ordering him to get into the car. The bottom line is that I prevented my son from using drugs that day. Who knows? I might've saved his life. But I still feel guilty about having followed him.

Fast-forward to today. About 40 minutes ago, my son came to me and said, "I'm going for a walk." When I heard those five words, my heart sank in my chest. I told him that I hoped he wasn't going to do anything he wasn't supposed to. His response was, "I don't do that anymore," as if to suggest I was crazy for raising the issue. I told him that I have concerns, and reminded him about what happened last fall. I was being 100 percent honest with him.

My son left the house to go on his walk and I wanted to follow him again. I wanted to follow him in the worst way. But instead I called my wife, who was taking my other son to his therapy appointment. I told my wife about the walk, and that I was concerned. I could sense that she was concerned, too. I said that part of me wanted to follow him, but the other part of me didn't want to play that game anymore. What am I supposed to do? Get in the car and follow my son every time he says he's going for a walk? That's crazy. And that's what being the parent of an addict will make you. Crazy.

I let my son go on his walk and I didn't follow him. As hard as it was for me to do that, it had to be done. I do not want to be a slave to my son's addiction anymore. If he went for a walk to the drug house and ends up using, we'll find out about it. His therapist has plans to drug test him at his appointment tomorrow. So for now, I'll just sit and wait for my son to come home, hoping that he didn't make any stupid decisions while he was gone on his walk.