Karl has realised he needs to look after himself in order to best support his family
“Alcohol and drugs have played a huge part in our lives, it’s infected our family like the disease it is, savaged us and split us. I know alcohol was a factor in my parent’s splitting, I’ve been told about that by my father. They split many years ago, when I was small, yet we did have a good childhood, me and my brother. My father was always in our lives. My mother met a man who she got together with. They drank together, but not excessively. They eventually married. They had problems in their relationship which depressed her and made her drink more. Her drinking got worse, a bottle of brandy every day. My brother started to use drugs recreationally, amphetamine and other things. Eventually his drug use caused him to have a mental breakdown; he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and acute psychosis. He tried to kill himself; he stabbed himself in front of her, telling her it was her fault that he was doing this. My mother seemed to blame herself for what he’d done, like she should have stopped him ever getting so bad mentally in the first place, like she should have prevented him ever using drugs. By this time my mother would be drinking 2 bottles of brandy a day. I was working and also at university. I had this stress to deal with as well as looking after my brother and an alcoholic mother. The pressure I felt was immense, I didn’t know what to do, I became depressed. I didn’t know how to stop her drinking, yet I wanted to, we would just argue all the time and always it was about her drinking. My brother continued using drugs and also started drinking. He would spend most of the time in his bedroom. My mother would spend most of her time drinking or sleeping.
My step dad became ill and sadly died; my mother hit the booze really hard, really bad. This happened about 4 years ago. She became depressed, I felt depressed and my brother was also suffering as he couldn’t look after himself properly. I felt I was going downhill, trapped not knowing what to do and not able to find a way out. I felt I had to get out but I couldn’t, I had to look after both of them. By this time, my mother would often be taken to hospital for drink related injuries; she’d fall and hurt herself whilst drunk. I tried to stop her drinking and she’d attack me for this. She’d be brought home by police for drunkenness. She started calling the ambulance often, sometimes weekly. She’d always use words like heart attack or stroke and they’d have to come to help her. I would take her home from the hospital all the time. I’m sure she was doing this for attention, the ambulance people or hospital people would be the only ones who would talk to her. In the last few years I’d try everything to keep her alcohol away from her. I found out where she hid her drink and got rid of it. I’d pick up bottles from the table and pour it down the sink. She’d go crazy, like an animal. I caught her drinking vodka straight from the bottle. I took it off her; she viciously attacked me, trying to gouge me with her fingernails. I had to restrain her. You never expect to have to do something like that to your own mother. I never took alcohol out of her hands again.
I dreaded going to work as I felt so down, so helpless. I’d be thinking of nothing else every day, all the bad things that were going on, but I didn’t want other people to see this in me, it was constant worry. I needed to distance myself from her, to not see what she was doing as I was becoming more socially and emotionally withdrawn. I had to do something to preserve my own sanity. Seeing her slowly kill herself was something I couldn’t stand any more. I moved out of her home.
Moving away has been the right thing for me. I wish I’d done it earlier. She still drinks, I can’t change that. I love her and I want so much for her to get better. But if she wants to ruin her life, I can’t let her ruin mine.”