Mental health is no joke.
Addiction is no joke.
In my experience, these things go hand in hand.
People often turn to things like alcohol and drugs when they are looking for an escape from reality.
And people with certain mental health struggles are more prone to addictions than people without.
These behaviors are a cry for help.
They are not attention seeking.
They are not purposely trying to hurt the people in their life.
They are saying in the only way they can they are drowning and they need a lifeboat.
And it is hard on everyone involved.
Having seen it firsthand through my husband’s struggles with addiction, I have seen every side of it.
I’ve lived the pain of loving an addict and not knowing how to help.
I’ve seen his pain and his struggles and how he wanted so badly to change and do better but how addiction gets its grips in a person and does not let go easily.
I witnessed him fall into a deep, dark hole of depression and self-destructive behaviors that threatened to break him and ruin our marriage in one fell swoop.
I watched the years-long battle as he tried time and time again to get sober and fell prey over and over again to the clutches of addiction.
I cried and screamed and wondered whether I would have to leave in the midst of some of his darkest times.
Addiction isn’t pretty.
But I’ve learned that the addict needs love to come out of it.
They need support and help.
If everyone who loves them turns their backs and walks away, they are left feeling like they have nothing to live for and will self-destruct in response.
Now, yes, it is important to make sure that you and any children are safe and if you are ever in a situation where you do not feel safe, you should seek help immediately.
But don’t dehumanize the person who is clearly crying out for help.
Don’t demonize them and make it impossible for them to get the help they need and live a better life.
These are matters of life and death that need to be taken seriously.
We need to change our mindset around mental health and addiction.
We need to see it clearly for what it is and stop making people out to be villains when they are in need of help.
People joke about addictions as if it’s no big deal.
People make comments about the homeless man on the corner, and how he must be a bad person and a drug addict to have landed himself in such a position.
People look down upon the one who says they’re struggling with their mental health instead of offering their ear or a helping hand.
We need to do better.
We can do better.
Love is a powerful thing.
Kindness is a powerful thing.
When we choose to show love and kindness, we are opening a door for that person.
We are telling them they are worthy of love and showing them hope is out there.
It won’t happen overnight.
But by opening that door you are making the first step toward healing for everyone involved.
My husband battled for years.
Alcohol was the number one struggle.
Over the years we also battled pornography, pills, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco.
We’ve been together for 10 years and it has been one full year next month since he finally realized that he could not drink at all. Ever.
One year sober.
After years of battling this beast over and over.
And it is a lifelong struggle.
He is an alcoholic.
And he can’t drink ever again.
It took a long time to get here.
But that didn’t happen on its own.
It took so much work from both of us.
He had to want to get help and get better and do the work to change.
I couldn’t do it for him.
I had to be willing to stand by him through his fight and help him however I could.
And after years of perseverance and hard work, we made it out on the other side.
Every story is different.
Every person is different.
But the one thing that remains the same for everyone and every story is the need for love.
Love is powerful.
Love can make a world of difference to one who is hurting.
And I believe love is strong enough to change hearts and minds.
All we have to do is believe it and live it.