Chasing Nirvana Clean
Simone Ochrym, a nurse and self-described helicopter mom, knew something was wrong when her 16 year old came home one day. He just didn’t seem quite himself and somehow – deep inside – she knew. Telling her son she would be right back, she went to the nearby CVS drugstore and grabbed an at-home drug test.
Returning home, she presented her son a cup and said, “Pee in here.” He ran out the door with his mom’s words trailing at his back, “I’ll be here when you get back.” And, sure enough, back he came – with a container of someone else’s urine. A plan that I’m sure seemed foolproof to a 16-year-old. Not so. Mom caught on immediately and insisted that he provide a sample of his own urine. He did. It tested positive for cocaine.
And that began a 10-year journey – a mission of sorts - a lifetime of lessons crowded into 10 years – a mom and son relationship that spanned a lifetime of new experiences in only one decade. A relationship that expanded in love and cemented itself in tears – of anger, joy, fear, optimism, disappointment, advocacy, passion, compassion and especially…love. The kind of love that every parent knows. The kind that says, “I love you more than life itself” or “I’d slay a dragon for you”. THAT kind of love.
Simone herself reports that when your child is experimenting with or using drugs, you have no choice but to be a helicopter mom. “Drug use can lead to death”, reports Simone, “I was very aware that death was a possibility.” This helicopter mom then became a mom with a passionate purpose. What Simone learned along the way demonstrated the powerful message that our society behaves in ways that often either ignore or passively promote the misuse of drugs. These included a school district who shunned her and said she could not talk about drug sales at their school. Parents that dismissed the possibility that that their child may be experimenting with or regularly using drugs as the harmless risk testing of an adolescent. Even a parent whose child was on house arrest for distribution of drugs who, when confronted, said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” When Simone forcefully replied, “Nonsense. You are nothing but a liar!”, he remained steadfastly in denial. And finally, a doctor who prescribed her son opioids following surgery despite a clear history of abuse and a nurse mom advising against it.
This young man had every resource available to him and the best mom a guy could ask for. But he clearly travelled his journey during a time when our community was unwilling - or perhaps unable - to see the harm they were causing by pretending the issue wasn’t GREAT BIG and REAL. An amazingly sad situation because even some small changes in the trajectory might have resulted in a different outcome for one deeply caring mom, and her precious son - now deceased.
Today, Simone Ochrym now dedicates her life to capturing images and stories from those who have walked a journey similar to the one her son walked. She does this in his honor and has never told this much of her own or her son’s story before. Why? Because she feels VERY strongly that his story is his and he’s not here to tell it, hear it told, or defend it. And because she believes the general public knows a lot about the drug addiction journey. With the opioid epidemic growing at an unprecedented rate, we are deluged with reports about the story of addiction. Little, if any, of the focus has been on the story of recovery. The story of triumph. The story of how one moves from the devastation of suffering with addiction to the satisfaction of beating addiction. That’s where CHASING NIRVANA CLEAN comes in. It is Simone’s commitment to reframe the focus. To help promote the possibility of recovery. To educate the community (and beyond) about the happy, content, full lives that carry the formerly addicted into their own personal realm of clean nirvana and a full and fabulous life.
Please take some time to visit the CHASING NIRVANA CLEAN website by clicking on the link below. I promise, you will be glad you did. In viewing the stories, you will view hope, in a powerful, palpable way. Simone reminds us that recovery is possible, it happens all the time - one step, one day, one person at a time. And it is remarkable for each and every person it happens to and for those who love and care about them.
Thank you, Simone Ochrym. You are powerfully honoring your son’s memory and, in doing so, making your son very proud. I’m sure of it!