Motherhood. We all have a vision in mind of what it’s supposed to look like: warm, nurturing, saccharine, even beatific. Even the messier versions we allow — frazzled new parent anxiety, daylight zombies — still position the mother as with-it and in control. But what about the mothers who are anything but in control? What about the mothers who have an addiction in control of them?
Jowita Bydlowska is the author of a searing memoir, Drunk Mom, about her 11-month relapse into alcoholism after her son’s birth. A sober alcoholic, Bydlowska toasted her son’s birth with a glass of champagne. Then she began drinking regularly in the overwhelming new days of parenthood. At first her relapse was easy to hide, especially home alone on maternity leave with a newborn. But soon, the addiction metastasized into full-blown alcoholism once again, causing her to make dangerous decisions about her own and her baby’s safety and shrouding her relationship with her baby’s father in lies. When she finally makes it to rehab, the reader is relieved everyone is still alive.
Drunk Mom, which will be published in America on May 27th, is a discomforting read. It’s bare-naked honesty about addiction and families will make a lot of people uncomfortable, especially those with idealized versions of what motherhood and womanhood “should” mean. It’s by far one of the best memoirs that I’ve ever read (and yes, I’m including Wild in that) both for it’s candor and bravery and for her narration. I understand addiction all the better with once-again-sober Jowita Bydlowska as the Charon to this Hades, our guide to the underworld.
I called Bydlowska in Canada where she lives with her now-five-year-old son.
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When people find out I take Adderall for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they often want to know what that feels like. What makes my brain different from theirs? I have a really hard time answering that question, because A) I have no idea what goes on in their brain and how it compares to what goes on in mine and B) it’s really, really hard to explain. That’s why I’m so in love with this video by filmmaker Ryan Higa, explaining just some of the ways ADHD manifests itself in his life. Even though I know I have ADHD, I was shocked to discover just how many of these behaviors — like, 98 percent of them — are similar to my own, including things I never even realized were my ADHD at work. So THAT’s why I can memorize a phone number easily but then instantly forget it the second I start dialing! From now on, whenever anyone asks what ADHD feels like I’m sending them this video. [Laughing Squid]
The first person that Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old who murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, killed on December 14, 2012, was his own mother. She was murdered in her pajamas, lying her in bed, with four bullets to the head. The New Yorker has a profile of Adam’s father, Peter Lanza, in their most recent issue. Written by Andrew Solomon, it is the first time that Peter Lanza has ever spoken to the press about his son’s crimes. However, what stuck out to me most was not Peter unfathomable trauma or even Adam’s cornucopia of possible illnesses — depression? OCD? schizophrenia? insanity? — but instead Adam’s mother and Peter’s ex-wife, Nancy Lanza.
In the mid-2000s, a Yale psychiatry nurse specialist named Kathleen Koenig met with Adam after a time period in which he had started and then abruptly stopped using the antidepressant Lexapro, due to negative side effects. Throughout his teens, The New Yorker describes, Adam would frequently have “meltdowns” and cry alone, sometimes for hours at a time, behind a locked door. Nurse Koenig wrote that she implored Adam to take medication: “I told him he’s living in a box right now, and the box will only get smaller over time if he doesn’t get some treatment.”
Reading that, it seems to me that Nancy Lanza was also living in a box that was only getting smaller if Adam didn’t get treatment. Keep reading »
At the beginning of our relationship, my now-wife “Charlotte” came over to my place for the first time and my room was immaculate. The pens and pencils on my desk were organized in straight lines. You could have bounced a quarter off my bed. Even the photos and posters on the wall were a study in flawless geometric alignment.
Charlotte just thought I was a “neat freak” at first, which, honestly, isn’t such a bad characteristic when you start seeing someone. But as time passed, she realized that my neat and clean ways went much deeper than just about being organized. After we moved in together, Charlotte started noticing some odd behaviors. For example, if something isn’t arranged just the way I like it on the desk, my breathing becomes heavy and I have a mini panic attack until the disorganized piles became organized piles. The first time she witnessed this, she thought I was overreacting and told me to “calm down — it’s just a little bit messy.” Yet my mind couldn’t think of anything else but the books that weren’t perfectly aligned, the pile of paper that wasn’t neatly stacked, the odd objects — a pen, a lighter, and some sunglasses — that were strewn about without any care about their placement in relationship to all of the other objects. I couldn’t continue on with my day without organizing that desk. So I sat down and organized it as Charlotte looked on with consternation.
She suddenly knew that she was in a relationship with someone who has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Keep reading »
Even if you’re generally a very “together” person, that doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to the occasional freak out, because LIFE. Maybe your hot water broke again right before work and you haven’t washed your hair for a few too many days. Maybe a friend had the bad sense to point out that really cute picture of your ex and his new lady on Instagram. Of course, it’s important to figure your major triggers so you can avoid any unnecessary emotional meltdowns, but sometimes things are out of your control. That’s why it’s just as important to figure out some ways to calm yourself down when life doesn’t go your way, because lord knows, there will be times when you need to curl into a ball with your hot water bottle and cry until you feel silly. Here are our approved self-soothing techniques that have helped us through panic attacks, meltdowns, and freak outs of all kinds.
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