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Finally time to tell my story

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Thursday, 08 June 2006

Posted by: deedee65 on Thursday, June 08, 2006

 

Well, I think I'm finally ready to tell my story. It has taken some time to get the courage to do this. It's a petty typical story, much like what I've read o­n this site, but I'm not a writer, and it's hard for me to get my thoughts organized.

When I was a kid growing up, my mom was an absentee mother. She was there for us if we needed her, but for the most part, she didn't pay much attention to us and for the first 13 or so years of my life, she went out every night, leaving my sisters and I in the care of our older brothers. It wasn't until after she died 11 years ago, when I was 29, that I realized that it wasn't that she didn't love us, she was just deeply depressed, and her way of dealing with being widowed with 6 kids at the age of 40, was to escape.

I spent much of my life depressed. When I was a kid, we were the poor kids in an affluent neighborhood, so I got teased a lot and had very few friends. This had a serious impact o­n my self esteem. To this day, I am filled with self-doubt, and always looking for the gray clouds surrounding the silver lining. I am suspicious of people, and can't get past the fact that there are genuinely nice people in the world. I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

6 years ago, I tried to commit suicide. I went into a depression, and although I had the wits to recognize it, and get help, it was so deep by that time, that the hope of a pill to cure me wasn't enough. I wasn't getting along with my husband, I was deep in debt, and all I wanted to do was go to sleep and never wake up. So, I swallowed an entire bottle of anti-depressants, with a few codeine tabs to help them along.

As soon as I realized what I hade done, I knew it was a BIG mistake. I became scared, and got help. The problem is, in my state, if you call an ambulance for a suicide attempt, the police show up, too. And if the police show up, it's a mandatory three day commitment. So, instead of letting them send me to the state facility, which isn't pretty, I signed myself into the local hospital's psych ward. I ended up staying a week. With a lot of hard work, and therapy, I got myself back o­n my feet.

Two years after that, my middle sister tried to commit suicide in the psych ward of her local hospital. She had been there for depression, as well. She, unlike me, nearly died. She was o­n life support for two weeks. She was so severely depressed and suicidal that she spent 6 weeks in the hospital under constant watch, and underwent 10 Electro-shock therapy treatments. It saved her life, because meds and therapy weren't working. So, as you can see, depression and other mental disorders do run in families.

One year ago, my big sister died suddenly in her sleep, of an undiagnosed heart condition. She was 42. She was my best friend in the world, the o­ne I went to with everything, things I wouldn't even tell my husband, I told her. It was the most devastating loss I ever experienced. Even more than losing my mother. You expect your parents to die, but not a seemingly healthy, vital person. She meant so much to the people in her life- her kids, her family, and her friends.

Back up to two years ago, when I had my first panic attack. I was at work, moving a patient, when suddenly I had this feeling in my back, like I had pulled a muscle. I hurt all that night, and through the next day. I then began having chest pains along with it, and trouble breathing. I thought I was having a heart attack. It got so bad; I called my husband home from work to take me to the ER. Of course, they found nothing o­n the EKG and blood work, but my blood pressure was so high, they decided to keep me overnight, just in case. This happened 2 more times in the next few weeks, until finally, a kind ER doc sat down with me and told me that sometimes our bodies do things in reaction to our minds. I saw my family doc, and he put me o­n a benzo. That bottle lasted me nearly 2 years. I still had some attacks, but for the most part, I was able to manage them fine, with breathing and relaxation.

Then, this past February, I had a full-blown attack at my part-time job at a school. I didn't know I was having o­ne, but it certainly was. I went home, took my last Ativan, and was fine. Then I kept having more and more, and anxiety lasting all day, for days. It got so bad; I had to quit my second job. I hated to do that, but it was the best for me. Working 7 days a week was too stressful, even though we needed the money. My husband also had a bad car accident in January, so I think that added to my stress. The thought of losing him as suddenly as I lost my sister was too much for my little psyche to handle. He was fine of course, but I couldn't get the "what-if's" out of my mind.

As the first anniversary of my sister’s death approached, I began feeling more tense and anxious, until the day before the anniversary, when I went into full blown panic mode, and spent the night sitting up in bed, afraid to go to sleep. I was afraid that, like her, I wouldn't wake up. Then that weekend, I had the worst panic attack of my life, at work again (see a pattern?). I had to call in a supervisor from another group home to come cover my shift, so I could go to the ER. This time, I wasn't so much afraid of dying, but that I was going to cause myself to have a heart attack, my heart was pounding so badly. I finally decided to take some time off work, and get this stuff straightened out. I began with my family doctor, who through some trial and error, found the right meds for me (so far, we think, it's o­nly been a couple weeks). And I started seeing a therapist. We're still in the 'getting to know you' stage, but I'm hopeful. She is a kind, understanding, and compassionate woman.

Now how to end this, I have no idea. Am I a survivor? I don't think I'm there yet, but I'm getting there. I'm sure I'll have plenty of setbacks, and I'm ready for them. I go back to work this weekend, after a 4 week leave of absence. I'm hoping it goes well.

Sorry if this is so long, o­nce I got started, I couldn't stop myself. Thanks for reading. Deedee
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