I was born on October 11, 1957. I have an older half-brother from my father’s first marriage. I have a sister who was born in 1961. One of my first memories is standing by her crib, watching her. My father will be 83 this year, and my mother died in 1997. She had diabetes type 2 and heart problems. There were good times growing up—standing in front of Mama’s tulip beds in our new Easter dresses, spending Sunday afternoons at my Grandma’s house with tons of food and family fun, Christmases with special presents (Mama always knew what I was interested in), and day-trips to the mountains, with homemade sandwiches and sodas (a treat growing up). But my ‘bad’ memories outweigh the good memories. It doesn’t help that I’ve lost a lot of memories over the past 8 or 9 years, due to the medications that I have to take.
My mother and father were from large families by today’s standards. One was one of 12 and the other was one of 13. I never can remember which was which. I do know that family gatherings were large and loud, usually full of laughter and arguments. I don’t remember my parents having friends outside of the family. I guess there were enough of the families to keep up with, without adding extras. I didn’t always feel like I belonged with those families, not sure why.
As a child I was sexually molested by an older male family member. I was never told what was right and what was wrong by my parents, it just wasn’t spoken of in my family. My sexual education was a film seen by the girls at school in the 8th grade. I still didn’t understand everything, and didn’t feel like I could ask anyone for further explanations. I learned by experience with my first (and only true) love. We learned together.
I wasn’t brought up with a lot of self-esteem. I’m sure that my parents didn’t mean to be cruel, it’s just they were brought up that way too. I can remember my mother telling me that, “you’ll never amount to anything, you’re so slow.” I was severely humiliated by my father once, when I was 11. I developed physically very early, for my time. I was wearing a bra when I was 10 years old, and was in a B cup by the time I was 11. About that time my mother introduced me to using deodorant. I was a bit lax about using it in the beginning. One night at the supper table, my mother told me, “you need to use the deodorant every day, I can smell you.” That was only the beginning of my humiliation. When I went into the bathroom to take my bath for the night, I didn’t realize that one of the doors didn’t shut completely. I took off my shirt and my bra, then rubbed my fingers under my arms and sniffed them. That’s when my father said from the kitchen—which had a perfect view into the bathroom—“Smells good, don’t it?” He hadn’t said anything while I was undressing or let me know that he was watching me. From that day on, I shut and lock bathroom doors when males are around, and have used deodorant every day, so I guess the lesson was taught. It just could have been taught in a better way.
When I started school, I was a year younger than most of the other students, because my birthday fell before October 15th. That was the cutoff date for entering school then. I was smaller, but it turned out that I was smarter than most. My first grade teacher called me her little bookworm, and could hardly keep enough books for me to read. I was never athletic, and Phys Ed was my worst part of the day. I loved school and my teachers until I got the one that said I could make straight A’s if I’d only apply myself a little more. Until then I had gotten by with A’s and B’s, with little effort on my part. The year after I had her, I made straight A’s until I left school. Ours was a small community school, divided into elementary—grades 1 through 6—, junior high—grades 7 and 8—, and high school—grades 9 through 12. I got my fair share of being picked on in junior high. I was introverted, as I have always been, and was labeled as being a lesbian. I didn’t even know what that meant. I was the one that the boys threw the spider on, and it went under my dress. Talk about breeding contempt for my fellow students.
Our county schools were consolidated when I entered my junior year of high school. All of a sudden we went from a class of approximately 250 to a class of over 1000. Talk about culture shock. Dean and I had started dating in our sophomore year, and that continued on into the new school. I had never skipped school until then, and the classes no longer seemed to matter. We became sexually active when I was 15, and I got pregnant when I was 16. My parents were splitting up at the time, and I wanted out of a bad situation, so I guessed that’s why I allowed myself to become pregnant. I was thrilled. Our parents, not so much. I remember my mother, who was sleeping in a bed in my room at the time, crying the night that we found out ‘the good news’. There was no such thing as single mothers in our small towns, so we got married, which was fine by me. I soon learned that I knew so little. Dean found a second shift job, and we set up house in a trailer owned by his grandparents. I got pregnant in February, we married in April, and neither one of us could handle school when our senior year started. DD #1 was born in November of 1974. She was such a good baby. It scared me to death when she slept through the night when she was 2 weeks old. I made Dean get up and check on her that morning. She was lying in her crib, smiling and cooing. Dean and I had some rough times before she was born. He had a friend that would take him out drinking after they left work at night, so we were always short on money. I remember eating potatoes that we got from his other grandparents and popcorn many nights during my pregnancy. A nutritional diet wasn’t high on my list of priorities at the time. But she was born whole and healthy, due in no part to me. And the change in Dean was amazing. He was a great father, changing diapers and helping out so much with her. Like I said, she was an easy baby to love.
After DD was born, Dean and I really started screwing up. He lost his job, and we moved in with my father—BIG MISTAKE. He expected me to keep house, which I was in no mood to do. We took care of DD as best we could, which wasn’t very good, considering our ages and inexperience. We applied for the Air Force and were accepted. I don’t know why Dean decided not to join, but I chickened out. I had a counselor at a later date tell me that I had a fear of success (I was sure it was a fear of failure). But we decided that Dean’s mother could take better care of DD than we could. So we turned custody of her over to my MIL. Something I’ve regretted many times until this day. But she was cared for very well, and we saw her almost every weekend.
We moved several times and ended up in Hickory, about 25 miles from our hometown. Now that doesn’t seem like a lot these days, but it was a major change for us. Dean found work, and I drifted from job to job. Nothing that I could get with only a GED held my mind for very long. I was working at a knitting mill at a dead-end job when I got to the point that I couldn’t take it any more. I hated the job, Dean and I were always arguing about something, it seemed that we were never going to get DD back, and so I tried my first attempt at suicide. I felt that I had nowhere else to turn. I ended up riding in a state trooper’s car to the hospital, where I was put in an alcove, given something to drink and a bowl to throw up in. I felt more deserted than ever. Dean was called from his job, and came and took me home. I don’t remember very much of that night or the next day, I had taken sleeping pills and at least some of them were in my system. The hospital had arranged for me to see a therapist, who promptly put me in group therapy. Now I’ve tried group therapies several times with different counselors, and it has never worked for me. I end up leaving the sessions feeling more anxious than before the meetings began. My MIL told me that I had to wait at least another year before we could get DD back. That didn’t help any. I felt that I would be better off if I had her back, that she would give some focus.
I found a job and some good friends at a restaurant near where we lived. I was the cashier and was very good at it. I could talk to a stranger for a few seconds at a time and not get so nervous that I couldn’t do my job. And I was good with numbers and money. Dean and I were doing better at getting along, at least most of the time, and we finally got a lawyer and got DD back. She was 5 years old, and I had missed so much important time with her. I know I was impatient with her at times and wasn’t in touch with being a mother to a little girl. She had to grow up too fast.
I decided that I needed to go back to school, to be able to get any type of job that I could stand. I enrolled in Architectural Drafting and Design at the local community college. I was eligible for student aid, so we made it, just barely at times, on one income. I did well in school, as I always had, until the end. Again the fear of succeeding or failure, whichever it is, struck again. I quit needing only one class to graduate. I was so stupid back then. Oh heck, I still am, just have a little hindsight on my side now.
I went to work at the new Burger King that opened a couple of miles from where we lived. I was working the late night drive thru, and hating leaving home at 9:00 pm. But I went anyway; I knew we needed the income. I did talk Dean into going to the community college for an automotive technician degree. He graduated, and found a good job with a garage that he enjoyed. He eventually got a job with a dealership, and while he learned a lot while there, he didn’t like working on commission.
We moved back to our hometown, and rented a house from my uncle. It was right beside the house that my mother rented from him too. I had gained great respect for Mama, but still didn’t feel close enough to her to talk openly with her. Dean and I were both still working in Hickory, and driving to and from work. A lot of time apart. I quit a job that I had down there—a production job that I never make production on, too slow still—and looked for a new job nearer to home. I found one, and then found out that I was pregnant again. SURPRISE!!!!! I was let go from that job as soon as they found out, saying that the position was being dropped. So here I was, pregnant, no insurance, and out of work again. And Dean threatening to leave town and never look back. Felt like I was slipping backwards again. Once again we made it on one salary, barely. DD #2 was born in January 1987. She wasn’t an easy baby. She had colic for 5 months solid. I walked with her, rocked her, patted her back, fed her to watch her throw up, and generally zombieized myself. (I know that’s not a word, but it described me at the time.) She finally got past it and was a true Mama’s girl for a long time. I had to have my gall bladder removed when DD2 was a year old, and was very thankful that we lived beside my mother, she was so helpful. She watched DD2 while I recuperated.
That’s when the troubles with DD1 started. We had DSS called on us by one of DD1’s friends, had to go to family counseling, as she rebelled more and more. When DD2 was about 2 years old, we bought a doublewide trailer and moved in behind my MIL. DD1 moved in with MIL and that worked for a while. And it was during this time that I started having trouble with my menstrual cycle. I was bleeding nonstop. I had to have a hysterectomy. That was a hard 2 months healing from that. The weekend before DD1’s graduation I was called up to my MIL’s house. I knew DD1 was pregnant when I got up there; no one had to tell me. I held her on my lap, and we just hugged each other. At least she graduated from high school. I was proud of her for that. She didn’t get married. The father had more children already and it wasn’t worth trying when we all knew it would be a mistake. She moved back in with us, and had her son in November 1993. Gwen and I came to odds once again after he was born. I couldn’t believe that she couldn’t help out a little around the house during the day when we were at work and school. It wasn’t long before she moved out.
I was once again flitting from job to job, and returned to school—several times. Trying to find my niche. I was in the accounting curriculum at another community college when I was hired by a textile mill as a temporary assistant in their payroll department. I learned fast and when one of the payroll clerks quit, I was able to move into that position. I loved that job, and I was good at it. I worked well with the supervisors in the departments that I did the payroll for, and made new friends. Dean and I grew apart as I grew into this job. We were fighting all the time, and decided to separate. We tried to keep it civil for the sake of the girls.
This was in 1996, and Mama started having heart problems. She had to have a stint put in, and that helped for a little while. She was back in the hospital at Christmas that year. The daughters and I bought a small artificial tree and decorations, took them to the hospital and put it up on her nightstand. The nurses loved it. She got to come home after Christmas. DS helped out so much more than I did (she is a nurse), and I felt so inadequate. Mama got sick on the 20th of January of 1997, and her doctor admitted her to the hospital on Sunday. They spent most of the day Monday trying to stabilize her to move her to a better hospital, but she didn’t survive the move. I was at work, not realizing how serious the situation was. I waited there until Dean showed up, and we went to the hospital. I couldn’t believe she was already gone, I didn’t get to tell her goodbye or that I loved her. That still haunts me. To top it off, the other payroll clerk at work had quit on Monday, and it was payweek. I tried to balance doing 2 jobs, and help with the funeral arrangements. Again, DS stepped up and had to deal with most of the details. Payroll was done on time, thanks to the help of other people at work, and me taking work home with me. It was pouring rain for the burial, and DS and I joked that Mama and her sisters were laughing at us for being outside on a cold wet afternoon. That was her sense of humor. I still miss her so very much, and continue to grieve for her. I’ve had a counselor tell me that I didn’t really grieve for her at the time of her death, which I can agree with—I worked over 40 hours that week along with everything else that was going on.
Dean and I officially separated in October of 1996. In December of 1997, I took my inheritance from Mama and bought a trailer. I was able to put in a community about a mile away from DS’s home. I was in trouble from the start—poor budgeting and not accounting for all the costs involved. I fell behind on my house payments almost from the start. When the notices about payments started showing up in 1999, I panicked. And the depression set in again. I tried to kill myself again. This time I was hospitalized while the doctors tried to get me stabilized on some psyche meds (that’s what I’ve always called them). This happened in February, and I moved out of my trailer. Now I don’t even remember where I moved to. I was let go from my best job, which I still loved and was still good at, in May of 1999. I know it was because of the fact that I tried to make people see that the new clerk wasn’t paying people correctly. She was the CFO’s sister-in-law.
I tried to find a new job, and was finally hired at K-Mart, as a cashier. In June of 2001, I moved into public housing. It was the only place that I could afford. The rent was based on income, so that helped. My work suffered though, and I was absent more than I worked. On September 11, 2001, I met with a lawyer to begin my bankruptcy proceedings. Like every other American that day, his mind wasn’t on work. I didn’t fully understand what was happening until I got back home, where I was in shock, thinking that the events happening couldn’t be happening. The world was changing right before my eyes.
I lost my job due to my absenteeism. I was about to be evicted from my home again. I drifted from job to job, feeling so lost once again. Dean helped me out more than I deserved, loaning me money and helping me out while I looked for work again. I got some temporary work from time to time. During this time I had found a new job, a rental supervisor. I start the job the week before Easter. We were closed for Good Friday. I slept in that day, and when I woke up, I felt strange—mentally. I bathed and got dressed and took all the money that I had in the house. I didn’t know where I was going, but I was going somewhere. I ended up in Minnesota, where DD1 was living at the time. I ran out of money before I got to her house, and they had to come get me and fill my car with gas. I spent Saturday night with them, still not sleeping, and they gave me $80 to get me back home. I got home Monday morning, still wide awake, and Dean came to my home to give me hell for pulling such a stunt. Because I had missed work on Monday, I lost my new job. I was back to square one, once again. This was in 2004. I read an article in a magazine that described my symptoms perfectly. What I had been living with since I was 15 was bipolar, or manic-depressive, disorder. I was going to a free clinic in a nearby town, and my medical problems started showing up. My psyche drugs were being adjusted from the time that I started going to the clinic. My psychiatrist that I saw there finally put me on lithium, a drug that had been used successfully for years for manic-depressives (bipolars). From the time that I started on the lithium, I started feeling worse than better. My speech started slurring, I became so tired that I could barely get out of bed, let alone think about work or such ordinary things like eating, bathing, or getting dressed. I only did what I absolutely had to do to live. I was in such bad shape that I stumbled at the next clinic that I went to while seeing the doctor. He immediately ordered blood tests, and found that my lithium levels were at a dangerous level. My medicine was poisoning me. I was in such bad shape that I thought I was dying, and I was. They took me off the lithium and I started improving. It took several weeks before I felt good again, but at least I wasn’t dead this time. I still wasn’t working, and Dean was still helping me with my bills.
Somewhere along this time, Dean and I started seeing each other again. He made it very clear that marriage again was not in his future. I was ok with that, I was just glad that he was back in my life in some aspect. I had never stopped loving him, and while he says that he doesn’t love me, I can deal with us being very good friends. We have an unusual relationship (one which most of his friends don’t understand), but we get along better now than when we were married. I put him through hell, along with my own, not knowing what was going on with my mental problems, so I’m glad that he at least knows what is going on now, and compensates for my mood swings, which I still deal with occasionally.
Eventually my psyche meds started failing me again, and I once again tried suicide. It failed again, and I owned up to the attempt about a week later in a counseling session. Another week in the hospital, which I didn’t really want to do, but it was to readjust my meds again, so I relented and went.
I was still being treated for depression and was seeing a counselor at the clinic. She asked me if I had ever considered applying for disability. At that time I had been diagnosed with diabetes type 2, hypertension (I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure when I was 25), post menopausal problems, PTSD, anxiety, and chronic depression. I applied, eventually hired a lawyer, saw a judge (this was while I was under the influence of the lithium, so I didn’t present myself very well), and was granted the disability. I finally got a settlement payment in 2006. I was able to repay Dean for all the times that he had helped me out, and I felt good about that. DD2 also got a stipend for the time that I was awaiting a settlement. She put it in the bank, and was later able to get a car when she needed one.
I have tried numerous times to kill myself, and this is the first time that I have admitted that to anyone. Each attempt failed, and I have finally gotten to the point that I can control the urges (the thoughts appear in my mind almost everyday), mostly by thinking how much I would hurt my family if I should ever succeed. So I don’t try.
My current life is still being filled with new medical problems. In the fall of 2011, my doctor became concerned about my pulse rate. It was only in the 30s and 40s range. So my list of doctors increased with a cardiologist. It was found with tests that I have an arterial septal defect (a hole in my heart). This and my heart rate led to a catherization to determine how bad the AS defect was, and to implant a pacemaker to regulate my heart rate. I have recently started having increased blood pressure and this is affecting how my pacemaker is functioning. Still working with my cardiologist on this latest development.
So to sum up my current medical conditions I have:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Post Menopausal ES
- Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 3
- Moderate AS Defect
- Pacemaker for Bradycardia
- Allergic Rhinitis
- Moderate Retinopathy
- Bipolar Type 1
- Chronic Depression
I see a variety of doctors including:
- 2 Ophthalmologists
I have ridden a roller coaster of extreme emotional states since I was 15. I have lived with doubts and questions all my life, I suppose most people do. The meds control that for the most part now, but they leave me feeling empty, and have robbed me of most of my genuine happiness and creativity. I sleep too much (usually about 12 hours per day), don’t eat well or exercise, but I seldom drink alcohol and have never smoked. So I guess I have a few things going for me. Some of my medical issues are hereditary, and some I have brought on myself, but it’s how I live.
Along the way, I did go back to school, in the Accounting program. I was doing this totally for myself, to prove that I could finish something. I graduated in 2008 with an associate degree in Accounting. I DID IT!!!
On a totally different note—religion. I consider myself to be a Pagan, with a bit of Wiccan thrown in for good measure. I was raised in a Christian environment, but I was always the one who questioned the things that are supposed to be believed. I simply don’t have the simple faith that Christianity calls for. I worship Mother Nature and the cycle of life—the lunar cycles, the yearly cycles, and the cycle of life, birth and death. I believe that when we die, the spirit survives—it’s just too strong not to continue to exist. I believe that each person gets their joys and happiness in the next plane of existence. Each spirit can split into as many spirits that are needed to make others happy. We will be surrounded by the people, animals, and things that make us happy. I know that this is in no way conventional to any religion, but I have found more peace in living my life by the Wiccan rede than any other time of my life—And harm ye none, do as ye will. I have an open heart, I don’t try to convert anyone to my way of thinking, and I don’t anyone to try to “save” me. I’m not lost, and I don’t need saving. I am comfortable with myself, and have gotten rid of things and people that have made me sad for so long. I am becoming as happy as I can with my situation and the meds that I have to take to keep me from harming myself and others.
I feel that I have a fairly full life now. I love my sister and brother-in-law, my daughters and sons-in-law, my darling grandsons (I have 2 of them), and Dean. I have my reading, jewelry designing and making, crocheting and sewing. I want to learn how to knit too, so I have a goal for myself. I have a dog that I dote upon, and she loves me too. My life is as good as it has ever been, and for that I am thankful.
I know this has been a long post, so I appreciate you hanging in there with me. Please leave me a comment if you are so inclined, and leave an email address so that I can get back in touch with you. Thank you, blessed be, hugs!!!