I am in a parents’ group which meets twice a term, and discusses the performance of the children from our church. One of the parents had heard of Chiromo Lane Medical Centre, and the other had a niece who had been treated at the Retreat. They both spoke highly of the two institutions particularly the family visits, where relatives are encouraged to interact with each other as well as with the staff and clients.The discussion this month was provoked by one of the parents who had visited the Retreat website and seen “the cry of a girl” as she put it.
Their mind refused to accept that it was their children who were doing all those horrible things at school. Like the proverbial ostrich, they buried their heads in the sand so as not to see. All their efforts had brought nothing but more misery. Many admitted taking sleeping pills!
Shame, guilt and helplessness lead to confusion, agitation and denial. They told lies to the pastor, prayer group and even their chama were not spared. When they were called to the school and suddenly had to cancel bible study, they lied their husbands were unwell.
When their daughter was suspended from school, they lied that she had ulcers. They lied so often they sometimes begun to believe in their own lies!
Being in the group was most helpful as it was the first time they felt a sense of belonging. They did not feel abnormal anymore. Many offered to pray for others.
One of the mothers brought the whole group to tears. She told them how her daughter had started stealing her sleeping tablets when she was in form II. In time, she was found with a large number of Valium tablets that she was selling to other girls! To stop her from selling the tablets, the mother offered her more money for pocket money. That is when she moved to heroin! The Mother had enabled her buy hard drugs!
The blame game then started in ernest. At first it was the girl who was a bully. She stole things from her including underwear!
The teachers were next, mean, unfair and lazy.
They all picked on her. They stressed her and she needed help to deal with stress. Valium, and later alcohol and heroine helped.
Worst of them all were the parents. Old fashioned, Christian, backward and not caring.
She often said she was the unwanted child. On one angry outburst she had told her mother she should have aborted her! Her mother cried for three days straight!
When she was to be thrown out of the fifth school, she was in second term in form IV. She was sent home for a drug test. Teachers thought she was smoking Bhangi. She was tested at Chiromo Lane. It was confirmed. Mother panicked, obtained a fake report from a nearby laboratory and sent it to the school. On the basis of the false report the school took her back.
The following week, the mom was admitted to hospital. The blood pressure was life threatening. The lie she had told was killing her! The doctors told her as much. Luckily a psychiatrist helped her. She soon left hospital went to the school and confessed. The headmistress understood, promised to help the girl and eventually she managed a C+ in form IV.
During the December holidays, the mom took the whole family to the doctor who had treated her. That is when it all came out! After six sessions in family therapy, they all understood each other better.
The Dad spoke about his own challenges with authority in high school and how he had himself been expelled from three schools, once for setting a dormitory on fire. He spoke of his unhappy childhood and his fears that his children would be failures.
The Mom spoke about her depression and insecurity and secret fear that her husband would leave her for his old girlfriend.
The stories seemed endless!
The group eventually prayed together. The leader prayed for all the doctors, counsellors and Rehab centres. She prayed for the church and for the group.She prayed for wisdom to see that denial of the reality of drug use was the true hindrance to treatment. She prayed that the stigma of drug abuse would be eliminated. She prayed that more people would tell their stories.
On behalf of our group, i would personally like to thank you and your team for the support you offer to families of substance abusers and for especially giving us the opportunity to share our experiences on your site.