At first it was cannabis. Some say it’s not a serious drug, but it hit my two younget children like a disease that races to the bloodstream and keeps on running. Neither of them had reached sixteen, so the risks were greater. Within a few weeks my son was a stranger who seemed to hate me, and my daughter had receded into the distance.
They became obsessed with the drug, and it was impossible to keep them safe. They rebelled against all rules disappearing in the evening, and trying to stay out all night. It was often hard to track them down. Once we found them at 3am at a party on the beach, stoned out of their heads, and it was difficult to get Paul into the car to take him home. We tried grounding them, but they still snuck out.
Each time we couldn’t find them I panicked.
Later, the police suspected Paul of dealing, and chased him whenever they got the chance. Usually he was too fast for them, but one night he was caught, and landed in court. The criminal justice team got involved, but it didn’t solve the problem. He began experimenting with any drug he could lay his hands on. He became addicted to cocain, and sold it to pay for his toxic fun. I was scared for his welfare, but he didn’t care. He dealt with the cocaine problem by replacing it with heroin.
When I found out about his habit I panicked and confronted him. He denied it, I handled it badly and we ended up quarrelling.
A couple of months later, I learnt that Laura had fallen into the same trap. I panicked, but didn’t let Laura see the state I was in.
Ten years on I’ve lost count of the many times I’ve panicked; rushed around like a fool looking for a cure for my children’s addictions, and trying to help them out of dire situations that they got themselves into. I’ve had gun-toting crack dealers holed up in my attic, heavies threatening to smash my door in, or smash Paul’s face in, and a couple of times they did. I had to mop him up. I’ve been threatened, bullied, conned and robbed by him. I’ve had to turn him in when he was on the run, for his own protection. I’ve refused to smuggle drugs into prison to prevent him from getting a beating. I’ve watched my daughter turn into a skeleton, witnessed her in the grips of screaming psychosis, seen her running in front of moving traffic, been told that her organs were breaking down, and she would die soon, and sometimes I rose into panic mode, while other times I sank silently to the floor, curling up until I could cope with the agony.
I’ve panicked many times over the past fifteen years, but when the worst thing of all occurred, I kept my head. If I hadn’t, my son would have been dead that first time he OD’d. He’d stopped breathing, and I resuscitated him until the paramedics came. I watched as they tried to save him. When the first shot of adrenalin went in, it didn’t work, but I was calm. When the second dose produced no result, I stayed calm. After the third shot, the paramedic told me that it was the last one she could administer. If it didn’t bring him round there was nothing more they could do. I held my breath, but I didn’t panic.
The seconds ticked by. Four paramedics stood in the room. I sat close to Paul’s feet. Across the room were two of my daughters, and my fifteen year old grandson, who shouldn’t have had to see his uncle like that. The room was silent, waiting for a horrific proclamation. Nobody breathed.
My son lay, grey and motionless, on the sofa. Time slipped away, as he lay still, and we waited.
It happened do fast that we were all thrown backwards. The paramedic who was tending to Paul nearly lost her footing when he leapt into a standing position, inadvertently pulling the canula out of his arm, sending blood spurting up the wall. He stared around him, terrified. He was shouting incoherent accusations at the room. It later transpired that he thought he was being raped, but I had no sympathy for his terror. I didn’t panic. I just screamed blue murder at him for frightening me so much by nearly dying.
I didn’t panic three weeks later, when he OD’d again, but I wouldn’t say I’ve become immune to panic. However, I’ve learnt to control it when it hits me.
The Daily Post #Panicked
©Jane Paterson Basil