This incredibly moving piece has been written by Sinead, age 29, who is a student mental health nurse and mother to a beautiful 5 year old boy. It portrays the devastating progression of alcohol dependancy, while showing how ‘out of the bad can always be something good.’ A piece of real hope!
If you have been affected by anything you read then remember Nacoa can offer help and support and if you would like to share as a COA, then please get in touch.
I grew up watching my father drink alcohol. He would drink at home and in the pub. The local pubs phone number soon became my “first to dial’ number when I was looking for him. I witnessed arguments in my home over alcohol between my mother and father and then after a while my one home became 2. My parents divorced when I was 7. Although I write this as a what will sound a horrible long world wind life with a sad outcome – I always saw the good.
My dad knew he had alcohol problems and spoke openly to me about them but it also did not stop him from drinking. When my dad moved out and got his own house, I would call to see him regularly. Usually to a messy house with cans and bottles everywhere and my dad passed out on the sofa. So i would clean the house, wake him up and make him something to eat. I was 8.
As the months and years went by I watched the alcohol take such a massive hold on him and change him, physically and mentally. He gained a lot of weight, started smoking and just was not able to do much. But it was his mental health that suffered most. He was depressed, had seasonal affective disorder and was actively suicidal. One evening when I was around 9, I called to his house to see how he was. As I tried to find the hidden key outside, I could hear him moan, like he was in the hallway. When I finally got the door unlocked, I opened it to see him just lying there on the ground, crying. There was a rope hanging from above. As I tried to console him and move him to the living room, my heart was sore and I began to cry. At the time I wasn’t sure what happened but looking back over the years, I understand. I called my grandfather to come help and then I phoned an ambulance. That was the first time (that I can recall) that my dad attempted suicide and his first admission into a psychiatric facility.
In the years that followed, he would try to stay off drinking. Would go months but would always relapse. He was advised so many times to reduce as the damage to his liver was getting worse and his other organs were suffering.
Me and my dad had a very close relationship. As I am the only child and I was a daddy’s girl. He always treated me right and was there for me when I needed him, even if he was drunk. To me and to others, he was a smart, kind man. Looking back the parenting role worked both ways- he was may father so he naturally had to be responsible for me and care for me but I always was responsible for him and cared for him. When he would suddenly stop drinking and go into withdrawals (which I learnt what that was from an early age) he would become very ill. I would take care of his needs, I got the doctors when needed, I cleaned up the vomit and I washed all the stained clothes. I was the parent.
When I was 18, I was out with friends, enjoying myself while I was young. I got a phone call from my cousin, crying. My dad had attempted suicide again by cutting his wrists. She didn’t know what to do but knew I did. So I phoned an ambulance to his house and then I phoned him back to talk to him and comfort him. I stayed on the phone until the paramedics arrived, listening to him tell me how he didn’t want this life, he didn’t want to hurt me anymore and didn’t want alcohol to take him anymore than it had. It was heartbreaking to hear that. He was taken to A+E, where I was waiting for him. After he was assessed and care for he was admitted again to a psychiatric facility.
In all this time I never once hated him. I never once wished for a different life. It was hard – yes, but he needed me. Although it was his job to care for me, I always wanted to care for him, I always saved him.
He reduced his drinking dramatically after that. But still would drink cans and he was still very depressed but not actively suicidal. I moved 2 hours away from him for work. On May 5th 2013, I had called him to see how he was doing, he told me he wasn’t feeling well, like he had a flu. So I advised him to take it easy and just rest, plenty of water! That was the last I heard from him.
I hadn’t received any messages or calls for days from him, which was strange and we messaged every day, so I knew instantly something was wrong. I was at work as a care assistant and I messaged me cousin, who lived close to him, to call in see if he was ok. After 3 hours I got a call – he was found lying on his sofa, hallucinating, yellow skin and barely conscious. Ambulance was called and I felt useless. I wasn’t there to help! He was taken to hospital and was put into an induced coma. When I arrived I was told his liver was severely damaged and all his organs where failing. As I sat beside him and held his hand I remember saying “come on now daddy, wake up, pull through this. What if I ever get married or have a baby or get into my nursing and you aren’t here!”
But he didn’t wake up. On May 12th 2013 at 12.10pm my daddy passed away. He suffered multiple organ failure but main cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver. I was devastated. I was always the one that helped him, saved him and this time I didn’t. I blamed myself for a long time. But with the help of family, friends and professionals, I realised I am not to blame, it wasn’t my fault I couldn’t save him as it wasn’t my job to ever do that. I was the child.
The week after his death I found out I was 5 weeks pregnant with my son. I was so happy but sad that he would never meet his grandson.
I witnessed a lot as a child of an alcoholic, a lot that should have made me angry and bitter but it didn’t. Because of my daddy and his life with alcohol dependency– I wanted to do something to help others like him, that was suffering from addiction and mental health issues.
I am currently half way through my degree to become a Mental Health Nurse (something my dad always knew I wanted to be) – and that’s all down to him.
He will be 6 years gone this Sunday- and it never gets easier.
But out of the bad can always be something good ❤.