Mother of Young Heroin Addict Opens Up and Says, ‘This is Us’
Christine Naman understands all too well that those who struggle with mental illness and addiction are not faceless numbers. They are real people who are valued and cherished by their families, and she wants the world to know and understand her daughter, Natalie.
“People are silent in their shame,” Christine said in a recent interview. “They’re quiet about it. And when you reach out and say, ‘this is us,’ people are anxious to unload and say, ‘that’s us too.’”
Christinetraces her daughter’s years-long battle with mental illness and addiction — and opens up about her own struggles with denial and the shame she carries for not recognizing the signs — in About Natalie, a gripping, cautionary tale of how a child can suddenly end up on the wrong path, meet the wrong people and get lost in the unthinkable.
“I did not know the signs or symptoms,” Christine said. “I didn’t know the looks of things or the smells of things. Often times, it was right in front of me. I just didn’t know what I was seeing.”
Natalie was just 15 years old when she became addicted to heroin. They were everyday people, living everyday lives, and then the floor dropped out.
About Natalie takes readers deep inside Christine’s emotional and mental turmoil as she grows into her new, unfortunate role as the parent of an addict. She steps on syringes left on the floor. She lives the nightmare of finding an unresponsive child on the floor and uses Narcan to revive her. She chases away a drug dealer and stays up all night waiting for her missing child to come home. She rejoices during periods of recovery and hope and is devastated during relapses. When her daughter suffers, Christine suffers right along with her.
Interwoven with Christine’s reflections are Natalie’s brilliant poems that share her personal pain and the unvarnished truth of her struggle.
Full of compassion, understanding and hope for those struggling with mental illness and addiction, About Natalie is a story of fighting for — and right alongside — the ones we love, no matter how difficult the circumstances. It is a story of keeping the faith, battling hard and never giving up.
Bestselling author Christine Pisera Naman is a wife to a beautiful man named Peter and a mother to three fantastic kids named Jason, Natalie and Trevor. In her free time, she enjoys crocheting, which she does poorly; painting, again poorly; and volunteering at her local hospital, which she hopes she does well. She is the author of the Faces of Hope series of books that are now housed in the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City. Her other works include Caterpillar Kisses, Christmas Lights, The Novena and The Believers. About Natalie is her heart poured onto paper.
She hopes that by sharing her family’s difficult story she can bring understanding and knowledge to those who do not know these problems firsthand as well as provide comfort to those who know the struggles of mental illness and addiction all too well.
For the About Natalie Addiction Comfort Community, please visit www.aboutnatalieaddictioncomfort.com.