Pat shares this story.  His experience begins in the blue collar town of Ayer, Mass., as he chronicles the difficulty of dealing with dual diagnosis in his family.

I am an alcoholic and drug user, active since 1971, until I stopped drinking in 2001.  If I knew then what I know now I never would have started.  During my heyday, I used pot, amphetamines, cocaine and LSD.  Who would have ever guessed I was that messed up; but I was!

In 2001, I was told by my Primary Care Physician that I would have to undergo chemo for liver disease or face the possibility of developing cancer of the liver.  I am happy to say the treatment was successful and I have recovered physically from the treatment.  I am now as I was then; a single parent.  My children at that time were 15, 10 and 8 years old and I was working full-time and only missed 2 days of work because of the treatment.  I can’t stress enough to my children that they should not abuse alcohol and not do drugs.  In this world we live in, these things have been so glamorized that it is sickening.

I do not know if there is any relativity to another situation that I deal with on a daily basis, but my children were diagnosed at an early age with ADHD.  Which it seems, may actually have been bipolar disorder.  My two oldest have mild cases and do not need medication.  My youngest son has an extreme case and has been hospitalized three times in (2) years.  It is not an easy thing to deal with and each day can be a challenge.  All three of my sons are very intelligent, but at times I look at my youngest son and see his difficulties and it makes me cry to see him struggle like he does.  My ex-wife – my children’s mother – also has bipolar disorder and also abused drugs and alcohol.  She has been hospitalized (14) times since 1995 and currently shares the five bedroom apartment I have with my two sons still living at home because she is unable to work because of her disability.  She became homeless 2 years ago.  I have had a tremendous amount of support from my family over the years and have had a great deal of faith in my life that has really helped me get through trying times.

I have been involved in a few support groups through the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health and The National Alliance on Mental Illness.  Having those resources available, really helped me.  Like I said, I don’t know how my children having a mental illness relates.  It just goes to show that in some way what we do may have some far reaching consequences that we cannot see.  This story was submitted by Patrick Gentry

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