February 27, 2012

Jeri's Story


This is an extremely difficult post to write because I was the awful family secret for 10 long years. When my youngest son, Cameron, was born, I suffered from postpartum depression. Desperate for answers I went to my medical doctor and first was diagnosed with PMS (premenstrual syndrome) then later with depression. The doctor told me I would have to take anti-depressants for the rest of my life. It was a hopeless diagnosis.

I was like a bull in a china closet, trying unsuccessfully to fight my way out and breaking everyone in my path. The mood swings were horrific and frightening, the anxiety attacks were debilitating, I was unable to concentrate, felt disorientated and crazy… nuts… insane! On top of that I was irrational and mean. All I wanted to do was sleep because when sleeping I didn’t have to feel anything—it was my safe place. There were no good days and that was when I was medicated, first on Prozac and then Zoloft.

When my family was in public we would put on our happy faces and pretend we were normal. Heaven forbid if anyone guessed how dysfunctional we were. I worked outside the home and work got the best me. When I came home my husband, Charlie, and our four children would walk on eggshells, fearful of saying or doing something that would set me off. Whenever I experienced a dreadful outburst I would storm to my bedroom to sleep it off—when I awoke I would apologize and let everyone know how sorry I was. It was a vicious, repetitive, never-ending cycle. Charlie tried to get me to go for counseling once… there was no way in “hell” that I was going to go to some shrink and have them tell me I was crazy… NO WAY. No amount of reason could or would ever change my mind.

For some reason, after 10 years I decided I had been medicated long enough and decided to take myself off. I did this cold turkey and without a doctor’s assistance. I do not recommend that anyone ever do this. It was the stupidest and most dangerous thing I have ever done. However, an interesting thing happened; I became painfully aware of my behavior and was literally mortified. I will never forget the day I lost my temper and was appalled by the way I acted. Charlie lovingly told me I was getting better, and that I used to be a lot worse. I cried. I was finally mindful of my husband and children and realized the HELL I had put them through for the past 10 years. The kids were all so little when I got sick... newborn to age 8. A crazy, insane mother was the only thing my boys knew and I could only hope that my girls had a few fond childhood memories. My poor family, what had I done! Suicide became my focus. Someway, however, I found the strength and courage to heal. I will never allow myself to go to that dark place of depression again.

One day I came across an article that explained when a bi-polar individual is prescribed anti-depressants, symptoms become masked, and both depression and the manic state is elevated. I believe that I was, gratefully, misdiagnosed. Had my illness been identified as bi-polar or manic depressive disorder, I probably would have assumed the medical field’s “no cure” diagnosis was the truth.

I no longer believe in “no cure” diagnoses—they leave you feeling downhearted and hopeless. Today the world is at our fingertips and we can Google many illnesses and diseases. As we search for answers to things that plague us, many times we continue to feel disheartened because there seems to be no hope. I am here to tell you, there is hope. Life is meant to be enjoyed. I have a dear 85 year old friend who says, “I am going to live until I die!” She is a wonderful example of living life to the fullest.

I definitely have regrets for what my family went through and I know that after 12 years we are still healing, but thankfully, the awful family secret is out of the closet. I am no longer that insane wife or crazy irrational mother. Manic depression stops here. My children can look at me and see the peace and happiness I enjoy each day. I believe that my experience, as dreadful as it was, happened for a reason. If this post can give just one person the strength and courage to heal, then it was all worth it. May God bless, for he is the source of all light and truth. True healing comes by Him and through Him.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for Sharing Aunt Jeri. I love you so much, and you have been a great example to me. I know that this blog will help others to begin the healing process.