Addiction played a major role in shaping Tana Amen into the woman she is today. Yet interestingly, none of these addictions were her own. Rather they were the addictions of those closest to her. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Tana and Dr. Daniel Amen give you some of their best, most practical tips for handling an addiction in the family.
For more information on Tana’s new book, “The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child”, visit relentlesscourage.com
For info on Tana Amen’s upcoming free live virtual event, visit tanaamen.com/event
Daniel Amen, MD:
Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen, BSN RN:
And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
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Welcome back. We are still talking about relentless courage of a scared child, and we are just loving having you on this journey with us. We’ve been talking about addiction and mental illness and how it affects just everybody in your family. What are some practical tips that, for you, if you are dealing with someone in your family and you’re that person who is the glue. You hold things together. You’re the fighter. How do you take care of yourself? What self-care? What does that look like, and how do you deal with what’s going on in your family?
So, some practical suggestions like reading The End of Mental Illness, that will help. Getting them to the right care and maybe Amen Clinics is part of that. We have nine clinics around the country. Our Dallas office is opening very soon. They already started scheduling people, so we’re pretty excited. But before we get into this, I want to read a review from Kim, from Seattle. My therapist recommended I look into Dr. Amen’s work. The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is the first thing I chose to listen to, while running errands in the car.
Dr. Amen, and his wife Tana speak openly and informatively on issues such as anxiety and depression and give ideas based on research, on how to manage thoughts and behaviors. They discuss a wide variety of topics as it relates to brain health, such as ADD in adults and children, marijuana, substance abuse, nutrition, supplements. Any person, at any age in life, can benefit from listening to their ideas, whether it is for themselves or someone in their lives. It’s nice to get reliable information based on research. I find their style to be validating and encouraging, rather than authoritative. It’s like getting to hear the personal conversations that a doctor has at home on various topics. Definitely give it a listen. Thanks Dr. Amen and Tana. Well, thank you.
Well, thank you.
Kim, we are grateful. If you’re dealing with someone who is struggling with an addiction or a mental health challenge, and it is stressing you out because it is-
Stressful, you want to get the help that you can. Sometimes the person who’s struggling, won’t come for help, and we see their family members to help give them ideas.
Yeah. Self-care is just as important. It’s one of the reasons I wrote my book was because it was a struggle and it was a process. I think, pain shared is pain divided. It gives people hope. They don’t need to live in quiet and shame and all that stuff. But, self-care is really important when you’re dealing with this. Learning how to … Sometimes you have a choice. Sometimes you can walk away. Sometimes you don’t have a choice. Sometimes there are children involved. Sometimes there are other reasons you can’t walk away. It’s really important to learn how to draw those boundaries, which we’re going to talk about, but it’s also important to learn to take care of yourself and re-energize yourself. So, yeah.
All right. Self care-
Tip number one. Two, is get information. Three, realize it’s more complicated than it may seem, rather than they just choose-
That was hard for me.
… not to be responsible. It may have to do with frontal lobe function, or it may have to do with toxic exposure. I had a patient this morning, their Lyme test came back positive, and that’s why they’re overwhelmingly tired. Another patient this morning, their mold tests came back positive, which may be why they’re anxious. Understand, it maybe other things than you think that they just don’t care.
I think, finally, we have to think about grace and forgiveness and that’s not always easy. Because when you, and I think we were going to do an episode just, I think we need to do that, an episode on just forgiveness. But, having grace and forgiving people is part of self-care. When you can just learn to, practice this art of letting go and forgiving people and having grace, it’s going to help you a lot.
Well, and you remember, Christine Stunn, that actually is the opening story in The End of Mental Illness. I began Chapter One with Jared’s story, that initially you actually didn’t want Chloe to play with him.
Yeah. I feel so bad. He’s the cutest little boy. Now, he’s a very good-looking older boy. He’s a good-looking kid. But I felt so bad because he was just out of control. So, I have this baby, and I’m like, “He’s just too out of control.” A lot of other parents felt that way too. They didn’t want their kids around him, because it felt dangerous.
Right. From the outside, it’s like, oh, those parents should be better.
Well, I knew better than that. It’s just, it feels, it still feels dangerous [inaudible [00:06:21]
Right. But that’s what a lot of people would think, right, if they see a child that’s out of control. When we ended up scanning him, he has a pattern we called the ring of fire, where his brain just worked way too hard. They thought he was ADD, ADD, ADD, five stimulant medications and stimulating the brain that’s on fire is a lot like pouring gas on-
Guaranteed, a kid like that, if you don’t get it treated, she was smart. She got it. She figured it out and got it treated. That’s how we reconnected. She got it treated when he was young, because those are the people that self-medicate. They can’t stand the noise in their brain.
Our ring of fire group often will go to alcohol, marijuana, opiates. It is a way to try to settle things down and it can lead them on this road of addiction that we’ve been talking about, which is just filled with car crashes and accidents and people damaged in their wake.
Yeah, and when you’ve got people with addiction in your life, I mean, it’s hard because we all want to help people. We’re hardwired to help people, but it’s really hard when you know that it just causes constant, not just drama and chaos, but it’s the same stuff over and over. You know what’s going to do it. It’s like, I know the next story I’m going to hear or the next phone call get, is just going to be the same nonsense.
Well, and it’s very important to separate events, because when you live with someone with an addiction or you love someone with an addiction, every crisis gets imprinted onto the brain and can traumatize you. So, whenever you deal with the latest crisis, you’re actually not dealing with the latest crisis. You’re dealing with all of them, and often you can make the current one much worse, because you overreact, because you’re not dealing with the moment. You’re dealing with all of the moments. So, learning how to separate that is very important.
Yeah, that’s a really important point, because that was something you actually helped me with, because I would see my sister as a tornado. In my mind, it’s like the minute my phone rang, it’s like, oh, here comes the tornado because it was all of the events all tied together. Or, here’s one, a rattlesnake. How are you going to effectively deal a situation or a person when that’s the vision you have of them, when that’s your picture.
So, dealing with each moment separately is so important.
And not labeling it, something like, that is, not coming up with an analogy like that because that’s actually, even though you think it’s just an analogy, it’s not. It’s affecting how you are able to handle it, because how do you handle a rattlesnake? You chop its head off, if you’re me.
Or you don’t go anywhere near it.
Right. Either way, you’re not effective. Yeah.
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