Maggie holding a photo of her mom.

Maggie: My mom didn't have an easy life. I don't know all of the details because my family tried to sweep it under the rug. But she killed her own father when she was about 10 or 11. He would take the girls and their mother out and molest them. One time she happened to see a gun was within reach and she grabbed it, closed her eyes, and shot. Killed him. 

Back then they didn't really have anything for mental illness, or depression, or any sort of PTSD.  So she lived with it all her life. A lot of her family kind of pushed her away. They struggled after that. They lost their bread winner and it was her fault. "Now you're making our family look uglier." Whispers on the street kind of situation. 

She struggled with depression. I'm not exactly sure how the pain pills got involved, but at some point she was given pain killers. Things started changing. She had a really good job with the county as a bus driver. I remember having a mom and then I had somebody who was laying in the bed all the time and would eventually try to take her own life. 

She would get so high and fucked up on these pain killers that she was addicted to, she would take me to school late, because I'd miss the bus, and she'd be walking around talking and acting like she was drunk which is humiliating for a child.

It was very lonely cause when that started happening people started telling me, "Your mom's crazy." or "Your mom's a recluse.  She never comes out of the house."  Nobody was ever allowed to come hangout with me. I didn't have any friends. My mom being overprotective because of what happened to her, she would never let me go out and have any friends. I just remember it was lonely and isolating and the whole thing had to do with her addiction to this stupid shit.

Finally when it caught up to her I was about 16 years old. She ended up in the hospital again and she ended up dying. It was kind of crazy. She told me like a day or two before that she was talking to angels and where she wanted to be buried so...they wanted to call it a suicide. They never could determine but the fact that she was telling me that, I think it was...

It's always in the back of your head; why wasn't I good enough? Why wasn't I enough for her to clean-up. Why wasn't I good enough for my dad to stick around with me? Yeah, it messes you up for life.

If I dream about her, even to this day, I'm very angry, and I honestly don't even know how to let that go. I've gone through my own depression. I've had moments where I'm sitting there with a belt around my neck or like a knife. I understand  now.

Even though I'm bitter that so much of my life was alone and misunderstood. I didn't know what the hell to do with myself... Nobody really helped me get out of it. I did this sink or swim thing for 30 years before I decided one day on my own that there had to be something better out there. 

BW: Did you find something better?

Maggie: For me, my job was my savior. I found pet sitting. As dumb as it sounds, that's what really saved me. A lot of it is because people disappointed me my whole life, to go into a home and have an animal like, "oh my God, I'm so happy that you're here!" That's what really started giving me a purpose. Through that I was able to let go of a lot of stuff. 

Research has documented a high incidence of comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse. Women substance abusers, in particular, show high rates of this dual diagnosis (30% to 59%), most commonly deriving from a history of repetitive childhood physical and/or sexual assault. 

- The American Journal on Addiction



Rethinking The War on Drugs

Rethinking The War on Drugs