I Just Want off of the Rollercoaster

I Just Want off of the RollercoasterWhen the doctor prescribed Brittany Xanax, I didn’t know. She lived in Seattle and I think she was afraid to tell me, to be honest. She knew how I would react. Yet, the Xanax did help her. I thought he had prescribed her other anxiety medications and I was so relieved that she seemed to be coming out of her deep depression. We took a family trip to Mexico and although she was very thin, she was in great spirits and we had an incredible time with 22 of our extended family members and a week of fantastic memories.

Yet, within just a few months of being prescribed Xanax, she was now going thru her prescription in 2 weeks, instead of 30 days. She then started to buy it off of the streets, in order to keep feeling sane. I know she was scared of how she was feeling, yet she didn’t know how to stop her actions. This went on for several months, until once again, she relapsed with heroin.

My husband John and I truly had no idea this was happening. She hid it VERY well for several months….until the addiction became too much for her, and even she knew she had to stop.

In January of 2014, Brittany called and asked if she could move back home. At this point, she had been out of the house for 3 years, living in another state. She missed us desperately. She wanted to go back to school, finish her nursing degree, and she really wanted to spend some much needed time with her sister, Brooke. Since we were unaware of what was going on in Seattle, we welcomed her home with open arms. I was so excited to have my family TOGETHER AGAIN!

Within a few days of her arrival home, we had to go to a funeral of a close family friend. A few minutes after we arrived, Brittany whispered in my ear that she had to use the bathroom and would be right back. After about 20 minutes, I began to get nervous. That sinking feeling in my stomach was back with full force. 10 more minutes passed. Now my head was playing a tennis match of “no this isn’t happening again” to “OMG this really happening again”.   I excused myself to the people I was talking to, and went in search of Brittany. As I was walking out of the room, I was silently praying that she was just outside smoking. Or on the phone. Or ran into someone in the hallway. Begging God to not let me find her in the bathroom.

As I slowly opened up the bathroom door, that was when I saw her legs. As I got closer to the stall, I noticed her hands were hanging down, almost as if she was resting her head on her legs. “Brittany, are you ok?” No answer. My stomach was churning. My breath caught in my throat. I knocked real hard on the door, tried to open the door….nothing. “BRITTANY!”…I said, much louder this time. Nothing. I knelt down on the bathroom floor and stuck my hand under the door and grabbed her leg. She finally stirred. Thank GOD she’s alive! But at the same time knowing in my heart what we were up against again. Tears streaming down my face, and anger on my tongue….my God we are in a funeral home! “Brittany, get out of there right now. We are going home”. I had to get her out of there without making a scene. In my head this is like a movie….this isn’t really happening. Someone dear to us is dead and now my daughter is basically killing herself in the funeral home bathroom. I’m in shock, literally, just SHOCK.

The next day she finally admitted that she had relapsed on heroin in Seattle. It was getting bad again and she knew she had to get away. Her asking to come home was her silent cry for help. She didn’t think she needed rehab though. We told her that she needed to just stay home, focus on school, go to support group meetings and get her life together. We felt now that she was back home, she would have the love and support of her family and we could keep an eye on her.

It was a Sunday evening, about a week later. We were all in the den, together as a family. Both girls were sitting next to each other doing their homework, and John and I were watching the Grammy’s on TV. We were laughing, singing to some songs and just having a great night together.

All of a sudden, Brittany’s entire body went stiff. She was sitting on the floor and as my eyes travelled over to her, she slowly tipped over, fell to the ground and her entire body was convulsing. I screamed, jumped up and ran over to her. I could hear little Brooke crying “mommy what’s wrong with Mimi???!!”.   As John cradled her head, I yelled for him to put her on her side. For some reason, I just knew what was happening. She was having a seizure.

I called 911 and while I am on the phone, Brittany was seizing hard. Her eyes rolled in the back of her head, her teeth grinding, her entire body shaking uncontrollably.

It was the absolute, hands down, most frightening thing I have EVER witnessed.

Once at the hospital, Brittany had ANOTHER seizure. Both of them were Gran Mal, the most severe kind. The neurologist pulled me aside…”Mom, we are doing everything we can. If she has another seizure of this magnitude, the effects may be very bad and permanent.”
I was paralyzed with fear. I couldn’t leave her side. Please God, don’t let my baby die!!!


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  1. Kim March 28, 2016 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Oh, amazing Katie!! How did you keep all of this hidden? I hope it feels so amazing to let it all out. You guys have so many people pulling for you.?

    • Katie March 31, 2016 at 10:48 am - Reply

      Its very therapeutic my friend…and having amazing friends like you gives me the strength to talk about it. XOXO

  2. Kristine Fontes March 29, 2016 at 8:50 am - Reply

    Your story is mine also.

    • Katie March 31, 2016 at 10:47 am - Reply

      I’m so sorry Kristine 🙁 I’m always here if you want to chat….xoxo

  3. Diane March 29, 2016 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Tears in my eyes for all of you…

    • Katie March 31, 2016 at 10:41 am - Reply


  4. Edie March 29, 2016 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    I have been on this same ride with my addicted son for 7 years. He is finding success at the moment with the Vivitrol shot! Have you heard of this?

    • Katie March 31, 2016 at 10:40 am - Reply

      Edie, that is wonderful he is finding success with Vivitrol!! Brittany is currently not on any form of MAT. She had tried suboxone a few years ago, but felt she was just replacing one addiction for another. Just her personal feelings, as everyone has a different experience and what doesn’t work for one, may be a saving grace for another. She was also on vivitrol, but she ended up overdosing, as she tried to break thru the seal. At that time, she just wasn’t ready, so I don’t think really any form of MAT would have helped until she was truly ready to dedicate herself to recovery. Please feel free to email me at any time…would love to connect. katiedonovan01@gmail.com xoxo

    • Katie May 4, 2016 at 11:25 am - Reply

      Yes, its an amazing tool if they are dedicated and working a program! Such great news!

  5. Barbara harrison March 29, 2016 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    You are very brave to share your story. I hid my husband’s affiction for years. In and out of jail and rehabs . I was always trying to keep our family together. I second guess my decision to stay. After 20 year I had to get off the crazy ride. I packed my kids up and moved away. He now makes no effort to contact his children . I guess should have left years before.

    • Katie March 31, 2016 at 10:34 am - Reply

      Barbara, my heart breaks as I read your message. I am so proud of you for having the courage to leave. That must have been such a difficult decision, one that you were conflicted with for years. Its so clear you have such love for your family and tried everything you could to keep the family intact. I admire you for your strength and I’m sure your children are very proud of you as well. hugs to you

  6. Lisa Van Skaik March 30, 2016 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    Katie – I feel your pain, panic & fear! I am praying that in your next blog, they are able to zero in on what is going on with the seizures.

    • Katie March 31, 2016 at 10:23 am - Reply

      Thank you for reaching out Lisa. Her seizures were one of the many many frightening things that we as parents of addicts, have had to experience. Writing this blog has been very therapeutic for me, and I hope, ins ome small way, it can help others as well.

  7. Angel williams April 1, 2016 at 1:58 am - Reply

    As a recovering addict reading this scares me and shows me how lucky I am to be alive. God bless you and your family❤

  8. Lisa April 4, 2016 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    Praying for you, your family and your baby girl! <3

  9. Kim Collagan-Stevenson April 7, 2016 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    WOW, All I Can say is a huge DITTO, DITTO…. Bless You Katie ? Can I ask where your from?

  10. MelissA April 15, 2016 at 9:23 am - Reply

    This was two weeks ago for us too.

  11. Rose A. April 18, 2016 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Your blog is a wonderful minsitry. Our daughter had rapid detox and vivitrol implant twice. However, she has a terrible allergic reaction to naltrexone and they would not continue implants. So she tries to cut the naltrexone pills in quarters and take them to control her addiction with just ok results and relapses inbetween. Her dad at 72 is still workingto support her and we have spent more than you want to know helping her try to have a normal life. She doesnt stay with a job very long and does not do well with available cash which one has a lot in retstaurant work. At 33 she lives with us and makes us crazy. We should be retired andenjoying life but have this 33 year old going on 14 to deal with. Sloppy, crazy friends, always adrama playing out, up all night…. afraid to put her out to live on the streets. Dad afraid they will find her body in a dumpster.

    • Katie April 18, 2016 at 12:52 pm - Reply

      Oh Rose!! I’m going to email you…

  12. Jill April 26, 2016 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    Kismet. My daughter sent me to your blog. “Mom, this is you.” 7 years in – good, bad, up, down. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s so comforting to know I’m not alone. Everything you’ve written I related to. He just fell off again after 7 months clean. Breaks my heart and scares the crap out of me. I don’t know how much longer I can do this but as a mom I try so freaking hard to wake up every day with hope. Because he’s alive…just as you said. God bless you and her. When I pray for my own each night I’ll pray for yours also.

  13. Jill April 26, 2016 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    Kismet. My daughter sent me to your blog. “Mom, this is you.” 7 years in – good, bad, up, down. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s so comforting to know I’m not alone. Everything you’ve written I related to. He just fell off again after 7 months clean. Breaks my heart and scares the crap out of me. I don’t know how much longer I can do this but as a mom I try so freaking hard to wake up every day with hope. Because he’s alive…just as you said. God bless you and her. When I pray for my own each night I’ll pray for yours also.

  14. Mindi May 6, 2016 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie, thank you for sharing your testimony with complete transparency, I appreciate it and helps knowing we are not alone. I share the same struggles. My son has been an addict for 7 years. He struggles with Cocaine and alcohol and everything in between. He has been in 4 rehabs. He currently chose to go back in treatment and has been in for 9 days now. It seems like he is doing well and really wants it this time. I leave it in Gods hands daily, and try to take a loving step back and allow him to work his own program. Its very challenging to not be enabling and codependent, but that is what I learned works for us and our addicts recovery. God bless you and your family! Thank you for sharing.

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