I have a creative gene in my body, as we all know, and I believe I have one child who has inherited that side of me. I know we can’t look through a crystal ball and see what his life will be like, or that of my other son, but they are starting to approach that age where puberty will hit, sex, drugs and alcohol will be on the menu, and as a single parent, you need to give them more freedom to be themselves without them taking their independence too far.
Amy Winehouse’s death is one of many tragic stories of a creative person using illicit drugs and alcohol to ‘enhance’ their creativity. For me, I can proudly say I have never taken illicit drugs or smoked a joint. I drink alcohol rarely, but if I do, it is socially and I know when to stop. I smoked my first cigarette at ten years old, the age my oldest son is now, and didn’t have another after I was thirteen. I don’t drink caffeine, but I do love chocolate! I am naturally high on life because there is so much positive in this world, like my kids, my writing career, my travels and the natural beauty that surrounds us. And of course, there are the most beautiful people, like all of you who read my blog, to share my experiences and if I haven’t already, hopefully one day, I will hear yours.
Even though I am a proud in how I live my life, I accept that there are hardships in this world and that some people just need an ‘upper’ or a ‘downer’ to keep them going. It’s when people can’t recognise themselves without their ‘upper’ or their ‘downer’ is where the trouble starts… At around October last year, I started taking a cocktail of vitamins to get through my busy work schedule. It wasn’t much – Vitamin D, fish oil and a daily Berocca (sometimes a double dose) (for those who don’t know, a Berocca is a fizzy Vitamin B supplement jam packed with other vitamins to boost your energy levels). The more I took them, the more upset I was getting about small things. I was going through a highly emotional time that involved my ex, my parents, my lover and a huge amount of uncertainty. I needed help and no one was there for me the way that I needed to be helped. I was reading into things that really weren’t there and blowing them completely out of proportion.
I kept taking the vitamins regularly until the end of April when I recognised that this was not me. I thought back to the time when I was at my happiest and realised that it was prior to my doctors appointment when she suggested I needed to take these. Is there something wrong with that picture? So I stopped taking them. And I started to make positive decisions again for myself and had the courage to do so. I wrote my entire manuscript for my book within six weeks. My infectious energy started to become embraced by others again, I didn’t have sad stories to tell anymore because I knew that there is more to life than wallowing. But I was able to recognise that within myself. And for goodness sake, these were vitamins… But sadly, for people like Amy Winehouse, who’s addiction is at a far greater level, she couldn’t.
Russell Brand wrote a compelling blog about how he didn’t recognise himself anymore and how he took the steps into rehab to bring him back to life. He noted how hard it is for family and friends to watch their loved one succumb to their addiction and not be able to do anything for them, except wait for the phone call. http://www.russellbrand.tv/2011/07/for-amy/
For parents who are going through the terrible teens or are awaiting their children to reach that age, it is a nerve racking time of the unknown. All we can do is educate our children to accept that they need to know what’s right and wrong, make them understand that even though something feels good it doesn’t mean it’s right, and that moderation is the key – it’s OK to try something, but don’t let it take hold of you. And as parents, we need to recognise the signs when our children fall down into a hole that isn’t purely puberty. You feel for Amy’s parents, watching their daughter over the years become a shadow of her former self. If her story opens the eyes to at least one addict, and makes he or she turn to family or friends for help, then her life still lives on in hope and memory.