Wendy's Blog

I am the Proud Parent of a Mentally Ill Daughter
The most memorable moments of Becky as a teenager were in emergency rooms, in the principal’s office, or in the waiting room of a therapist. We fought her unnamed demons for years, unclear if any of the therapies or medicines were doing any good at all.
She dis not graduate high school, but her brilliance in testing got her into an open enrollment college. At the end of her freshman year in college she had been living on her own for six months. She had not found a job, she had borrowed our car but rarely came to class. Her roommates described her as sleeping most of the time. In April of that year she came home one afternoon and asked is she could talk to me.
“Dad, …I don’t have anything to live for…I need help…I need to stand on my own..” There were no tears, just a realistic, bleak description of where she was in her miserable life.
We sat in our living room with no place to go. No solutions. For seven years we had tried. We have tried all combinations of depression drugs. We had tried all doctors. We had tried everything.
In my religious tradition on rare occasions when divine guidance is needed a father can offer a special prayer. We prayed, eyes filed with fear and tears, even anger. And then I uttered the words that I will never forget.
“Becky, this will be the best year of your life. I promise.”
I will never forget the look she had on her face. It was a combination of surprise, anger and hope. Surprise that I would say such a bold thing. Anger that I might be wrong. Hope that I might be right.
That day we decided to start over. We decided to find a new doctor and check to see if there were physical issues aggravating the depression. Since our family doctor had become to be seem and “part of the problem,” we picked a doctor our of the phone book and made an appointment.
A few days later Mother, Father and daughter entered the office of Dr. Darrell Stacey, a family practitioner who happened to worked a lot with patients suffering from mental illness. After a complete exam we went in together for the consultation. It began with a familiar set of questions.
“Have you tried this drug.”
“Yes.”
“Did it help?”
“No.”
“Did you try it in combination with that drug?”
“Yes.”
“Did it help.”
“No.”
“This one?”
“Yes.”
Help?”
“No.”
Finally he came upon a drug combination she had not tried.
“Can you try this for three weeks and see if it helps?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“Doctor, I have not got three weeks.”
Silence. We knew what she meant.
Then the doctor said words that I had been waiting to hear for seven years; words that made him an instant family hero; words that changed our lives.
“Come back tomorrow. Call me on my cell.” He produced his card and wrote his cell number.
“We will beat this together Becky. We can do this together.”
Becky did not go back the next day, but she did go back the next week for blood tests and talk. Later she tried the recommended drug combination and got a bad result. After about six weeks Dr. Stacy called her with news.
“Becky, you have been treating depression for seven years, but you are bipolar and many of the drug combinations we have been using on you made it worse not better. In addition, you are hypoglycemic, which means that an empty stomach will have a devastating impact on your moods.”
That was ten years ago. The worst year of Becky’s life became here best, with better ones since. She found a wonderful job, reentered school, and she fell in love and was engaged to be married. He wonderful husband understands her illness and is her partner in helping her stay healthy. They are now the parents of three children.
“Dad, I now know what it is like to be happy.”
She still struggles, but there are more good days than bad.

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Posted in by Wendy.


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