Sunday, June 29, 2008

For Irene and Katherine

Irene and Katherine,
May this always be the place where you feel free to vent and rant, where you know that someone wants to hear you. I hear you and my heart bleeds for you both.

My oldest daughter has suffered from depression and sought treatment without my badgering her. My younger daughter's first husband was an abusive alcoholic, probably bipolar. Her second husband is bipolar and controlled on meds--he's a real sweetheart. I cannot imagine the excruciating pain that you both live with.

If I ever make a little difference for someone in writing about my struggle with manic depression, then I've fulfilled my promise to myself. When I had my come-to-Jesus moment in the hospital back in 1995, I knew that if I accepted my disorder for what it was, I'd fight for myself tooth and nail. I'd fight against the stigma of mental illness. I'd demand the care that I needed. Your children were victims of our dismal mental health system. We should all fight for those who do not get the care that they need.

You can write as much as you want in my Comments. I would rather see you do that and feel perhaps a little momentary relief because you've opened up and told your story to me and those readers who have walked the walk.

I say that to you all. This is not just my blog--it's yours, as is The Knitting Curmudgeon. I treasure my readers of both and I want to hear those voices, be they in pain or in happiness. Got it? Good. May the higher power guide you to peace.


Carol in NoVa said...

You are one of the people I can credit with helping save my life. Your openness helped me walk into my doctor's office and tell him that I was depressed, suicidal, and could not drag myself out of bed on the weekends and I needed help now. He put me on meds and sent me to a therapist and not only have I actually made lilies bloom from bulbs, but I've acquired the cutest pug in all creation. As part of my therapy, I've also realized that my depression is hereditary and while I deplore a lot of what my mother did, I know that she didn't have a lot of choice about it and she had to have been in an incredible amount of pain.

Katherine said...

Thank you. We're looking for a psychiatrist for my husband now. He may have a form of bipolar that doesn't have mania per se, but dysphoria and a kind of manic ocd where he moves from obsession to obsession, learning everything he can, working on it all the time until he's wrung it dry and the next thing catches his attention. Given that bipolar seems to be genetically based, it makes sense that he has it, rather than the generalized/acute depression that he's always been thought to have.

My main rant with him is his failure to seek help with any of his medical issues until they almost kill him. It drives me nuts and I stopped making appointments for him long ago, he won't keep an appointment I make.

Irene Johnston said...

Thanks so much for your kind words of support. I think you will understand when I say that my only 2 depressive episodes in the past 13 years were during the time I was watching my daughter's slide into madness..the first hospitalization for a drug overdose when all this madness first began and once more when I finally realized that there was nothing I could humanly do to save her from herself. For the 2 years up to her death I was trying to maintain my own sanity because I could feel it slowly slipping away and I was, and still am today, on the highest level of 2 antidepressants that I could safely take. I believe, in my heart, that she is now at peace and in a far kinder place than this world. I am hoping that she is jamming with her favorite blues musicians and some of her friends that were also taken far too young.:) I am still planning on "fighting" for the proper treatment of those with mental illness. I have kept a journal over many years about the treatment that both my daughter and I received during our hospitalizations and many of the humiliations that I was forced to suffer during the time I spent there. Because I ran a support group with a friend of mine in the ministry I have made many contacts over the years with the "higher ups" in the mental health system. Once again thank you for taking the time to maintain this blog. Maybe in our lifetime, especially with new brain imaging techniques, a kinder and more humane form of treatment will be implemented for the mentally ill.

kim said...

As a parent of a bipolar child, I support the efforts of the Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation. I received the following email today regarding mental health parity. I don't think the link will work as a link, but it should be able to be cut and paste into a browser window. Even if you don't see this until after 7/9, please contact your elected officials.

Congress has reached a final agreement on the terms for a mental health parity bill. We expect a vote on this important legislation in the coming weeks. Please, take 5 minutes today (Wednesday, July 9) to call Congress! CABF has been advocating for the passage of a mental health parity bill since our inception and it will have a profound effect on many Americans. This historic bill, when enacted will:

Completely end insurance discrimination against mental health and substance use disorder benefits for over 113 million Americans, requiring full parity coverage with physical health benefits.

Provide parity to all aspects of plan coverage, including day/visit limits, dollar limits, coinsurance, co-payments, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.

Preserve strong state parity and consumer protection laws while extending parity protection to 82 million more people who cannot be protected by state laws.

Ensure parity coverage for both in-network and out-of-network services.
Call Congress today!

Your Senators and Representative want to hear from you! Ask them to enact legislation to end insurance discrimination facing people with addiction and mental illness.We're in the final days of this Congress and we need your help one more time! Please clink on the below link to find your Representative/Senators. Included in this link is a call script.

Thank you for your advocacy!


Susan Resko
Executive Director

CABF wishes to acknowledge the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry for providing this material.

Anonymous said...

You are all incredibly strong, amazing people. Know this.