Fiona’s story

My name is Fiona and I am 56 years old.

I lost one of my sons to suicide as a result of a fierce battle with addiction. No parent can go through much worse.

By the time I was 30 years old, I had had both my sons, and both were adorable, clever and funny. They were raised in north London. Both completed university degrees and were popular and talented.

My professional career has been in educational leadership and child development, something I have always been passionate about. Of course, I thought I was using plenty of my professional skills in my own parenting and could listen carefully and think and plan ahead, I had hoped that I could spot difficulties and think of relevant interventions for best outcomes…just like I did at work.

However, when addiction weaves its way into our lives, we are gradually disarmed, bit by bit. Over time our view becomes obscured as the lens we look through changes.

When someone you love is in addiction, it takes time to understand that what matters to them more than you matter to them, is their drug, whatever that is.

This is a very hard truth to watch unfold and indeed to finally accept. As a parent, or partner, or sibling, you feel rejected and unloved. The cuckoo of addiction is in the nest.

You feel that you are failing.

Despite this rejection and even while they take themselves to the gates of hell in their addiction, you don’t want them to feel alone or abandoned, so you tether yourself to them to try to ground them, to try to anchor them. As a consequence, the journey they take, you take too, repeatedly. However, you are not anesthetised. You are wide awake. The mental bruises gather, and you tire as the years go on and the grip you have weakens.

This is where the damage happens to the loved ones of those in addiction. This is exactly the point at which the help is needed. This is exactly where Mothers, fathers, siblings, partners, children and all other loved ones, need support to manage this unchosen journey in a way that can help them preserve themselves and be better equipped to live more than a half-life.

My son was in addiction for around seven years before he died and the devastation within our family has still to be fully understood. His sibling suffered in many ways during his brother’s addiction and in a different way now, after his brother’s death.

I will work with Adfam to do my best to deliver support and guidance to those who love someone in addiction. I feel that this is such vital work and still has many positives steps to make.