Truth and Freedom

Growing up, I was a horrible tattletale. It was one of the main reasons Jerri didn’t want me hanging around. Jerri was always intrigued by the forbidden. Telling her not to do something was a sure-fire way of ensuring she would. And she was likely to get away with it as long as I wasn’t around. I was reminded of this as I dialed Bryce, her psychiatrist.

I hadn’t intended to tell him anything. My plan was simply to encourage him to connect with her internist, Dr. F. In fact, I hoped he wouldn’t even pick up and I could leave a vague but motivational voicemail. No such luck.

“Hello, this is Bryce.”

“Um, hi Bryce. This is Terri, Jerri’s sister? I had a conversation with Jerri yesterday and she said she’d spoken with you about Dr. F’s request that you contact him? Jerri said you didn’t want to call Dr. F. and I guess I wanted to see if that is accurate. I was with Jerri when Dr. F. asked her to have you call and I really think you should coordinate care with him. I, um, think that Jerri has, um, perhaps not been completely honest with you and I, um, think its very difficult to help her if you don’t have the complete truth. She said that you were going to um, put it in writing that you don’t have an issue with her getting Adderall–”

“I don’t think she needs Adderall that’s why I don’t write it,” Bryce interrupted. Thank, God! I was starting to flounder. “Jerri believes she needs it. I think she truly believes she has ADHD but I don’t see any evidence of that. She believes she can’t function properly without it. I disagree. If Dr. F, thinks differently . . .”

“Dr. F. told Jerri from the beginning, as long as she would submit to and pass a drug test at each visit, he would write the prescription. Last week, he said he would no longer write Adderall for her and that he wanted to talk to you to, uh, coordinate care.” Come on, Bryce. Don’t make me spell it out for you.

“Interesting. I didn’t know about the drug tests.”

“Yes, well, that’s why I think it’s important for you and Dr. F. to talk. Look, this is really awkward for me. I was at the appointment. I know Jerri isn’t telling you everything. But there’s something you need to know if you’re going to help her. I feel like by telling you, I’m disrespecting Jerri’s right to privacy.”

“You’re only calling because you care about her and want to help her.”

Yes, and how can anyone help Jerri when she doesn’t tell the whole truth? Not only does she lie to others, but she lies to herself. She doesn’t admit Adderall has any euphoric effect on her, although it’s clear to even the most casual observer that she’s operating under the influence when the drug is in her system. She says it doesn’t make her high that it just helps her concentrate and focus. She says people tell her she’s not herself when she takes it but that’s only because when the Adderall is in her system, she stands up for herself-that’s why she’s different. She doesn’t admit her ongoing attraction to cocaine. She says, “It was just one time. I’d felt so bad for so long, I thought it would make me feel better. I won’t do it again.”

Jesus once said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” What I also believe is, “You shall tell the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Jerri will never be free until she is honest with herself and those trying to help her.

On the other hand (and this is what I do to make myself crazy, turn every issue over and over again to look at it from all sides) when you tell the truth, there are consequences you’d likely avoid if you hadn’t. How will Telecare respond to confirmation of drug use? Will they tell Housing for New Hope? Will Housing for New Hope evict her? This is what Jerri is afraid of. Honestly, that worries me too. But more than that, I’m worried Telecare will decide they can’t help her and will fire her as a patient. Jerri needs their help, and frankly, so do I. There is only so much support I can provide on my own.

These are all the thoughts that ran through my head as I weighed what to do. And then I spilled. I told Bryce everything. I told him Jerri’s lab results were positive for cocaine. That this was the second time she’d had a positive test in the past year.

I told Bryce the truth as I know it and then I asked him not to tell Jerri we’d spoken. In essence, I told him the truth and then asked him to lie. How whacked is that? Now, I’m trying to figure out if I should just tell Jerri I spoke to Bryce. Thoughts, anyone?


4 Comments on “Truth and Freedom”

  1. Bless your heart, Terri. You are doing your best to look out for someone who really needs you, but also needs her medical providers to know the truth so they can help her. I wouldn’t lie to Jerri if she asks if you told Bryce, but I’d keep quiet until it comes up, if ever. She may just think that the doctors coordinated, which is what they should be doing when prescribing medications. Bryce can address the issue with Jerri without mentioning you; he’s probably skilled in this area if one of his specialties is addiction. But bottom line, do what feels right for you, whether it’s telling her, or just doing your best to help her in the best way you know how. Your discussion with Bryce is the least of her problems, especially if this recent setback triggers any adverse housing or caretaker issues.

  2. I’ve found that the hardest thing to do is to rationalize my behavior when helping someone who is not rationale. Therein lies the dilemma and I’ve taken the stance that if it will help my sister in the long run than I will do what I have to do. There are still some things I have never told my sister that I have done that she blames on other people like my parents or her ex-husband. My goal is always to maintain a connection with her so that she feels comfortable confiding in me but I will do what I have to do to help her even if its not telling her all of the truth if that will cut her off from me emotionally! It is very tough though.

  3. Susan says:

    Quick response, Terri. I’ve been working through some things myself recently. What I have realized is that in trying to keep someone’s “secret,” in trying to work around their issues, in trying sometimes (ha, sometimes, . . . try FOR YEARS), to pretend, I created issue after issue of my own. While I truly believe there are moments where “little white lies” are kind, “That’s a great color on you,” “I love your new hairstyle,” etc… I believe if you examine your heart and believe you are sharing the information for the right reasons, Jerri will be helped more by your honesty than by being protected. In “protecting” from truth, we create more issues for “them” and for us. I think this is why it is one of God’s Top Ten: Thou shalt not lie. Speak truth in love.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes you have to love someone enough to let them hate you. This is the situation you find yourself in now. You love her enough to helpl her, even at the risk that she will hate you for that. That is depth of love most people do not understand because they are never faced with such a situation.

    You have done what is necessary to help your sister. I think you should let the truth run its course now and see what happens. I would never lie to Jerri about speaking to Bryce, but I wouldn’t volunteer it either. Be patient. Let things play out.

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