part twenty

During the next few years I ended up with a therapist. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, this was not encouraged however a *sister* I knew referred us to him after I shared a bit with her about my husband’s bipolar disorder. This therapist was a Witness elder and while ordinarily that would be a difficult thing, he was different. Very different. He’d been to college before he became a Witness, became a therapist before becoming a Witness, encouraged his daughters to go to college, had a wife who finished college and was basically a well rounded, well grounded, reasonable adult male who just happened to worship Jehovah. It was weird. It was different. It was just what I needed.

I made the initial appointment to discuss my husband. (yea, I know) I ended up two hours later taking a few tests and talking about some things I hadn’t thought about in years. He did set up an appointment for my husband before I left and I was convinced this would be the best thing for my husband too. (oy. I was ummm…clueless)

This was also the first time I was diagnosed with depression. Chris worked closely with a doctor in our city and I got an appointment with him to discuss depression and treatments for it. I will admit that until this time I literally had no idea I was clinically depressed. That said, the worksheets they give you about the signs of depression? Every single item on them applied to me. Good grief. I left the doctor’s office with a prescription for an antidepressant and tears just rolling down my face. What an eye opener that was.

I was exhausted. It was one thing to be a busy mother of three with a wacked out husband. It was an entirely different situation to be the one with ‘issues’. The process that would open the floodgates had begun. I was 28 years old.

I tried to go to meetings. I tried to be a good Christian. I wasn’t very successful. I missed alot of meetings. I didn’t go in service although I turned in a field service report every month anyway. I reported a bible study with my daughters even though I never had one. I figured it wasn’t really lying because I did talk to them about Jehovah whenever it came up in a conversation.

When I did go to meetings, I’d sneak in after it began and leave before it was over. I left my children at home with their father if I went to the meeting because it was more than I could cope with to take them. My youngest daughter, in fact, rarely ever went to the Kingdom Hall. She is a better person for it I think now. My oldest daughter would spend the majority of her time there in the bathroom screaming so it was definitely easier to leave her at home. The last time I took her to a meeting she was 9 or 10 and I left her in the bathroom screaming because she would not stop. I was asked to remove her from the building.

I never put her in that situation again. Did I feel like I was dooming my children to certain death? Yes. Did it make me feel like I was a terrible parent? Yes. Did any of that change my actions? No. I simply could NOT do it. If I became determined to get to the meeting, I would get literally ill. I knew that I was displeasing Jehovah. It didn’t make any difference. I began to experience all kinds of physical issues. I was in pain. My lower back and my legs were hurting all the time. I had a headache every single day. Even with the antidepressant, I was crying all the time. I’d had a weird kind of pain in my arms since I was a very, very little girl and it became almost unbearable. I barely left my home. I kept the drapes and blinds closed all day. I was afraid to leave my house to even get the mail. The anxiety I began to experience was painful in the extreme. I thought I was losing my mind.

I became more aware of things I’d never really thought about during my life. People would say things to me about stuff I didn’t remember, tell me I did things that I swore I did not. Whereas before I would brush it off like it was nothing and think to myself they were nuts, I began to wonder what on earth was wrong with me now? I mean, how could so many people say things like that? I must be stark raving mad was my thought. My therapist and I were doing some work. I still felt uncomfortable about the therapy thing but I kept telling myself he was an elder so it was ok. He did ask me about my meeting attendance but he never once gave me grief about it. He understood why it was difficult and had some issues with the way things were handled in the congregation. He was a good guy and I loved his family too.

At some point during this experience I took an MMPI. It’s a test used by some in mental health professions to aid in diagnosing folks with a few screws loose. (ok, that was an attempt at humor…no offense intended) When my results came back, my therapist called to ask me some questions. I asked him if he did this with everyone. He said “No, but I don’t get many of these back that suggest two different people took them either.” I told him he couldn’t be serious because where the hell would I have gotten another person to take the damn thing for me. He told me we’d talk about it some more when I came in for my appointment later in the week.

Later in the week came along with my appointment. We talked about the results of this test and I was not amused to say the least. I’m sure I have the copy of the report somewhere in all this crap in my house but I haven’t seen it in years. I remember it said something about being neurotic though. I also remember feeling like there was something terribly wrong with me and that it explained alot about my life. But I was pissed. Here I’d been believing that it wasn’t me all this time and this damn paper said it was. Of course, that isn’t what the report said exactly but for the time and place I was at, that’s what I believed it all meant. It was kind of devastating. I do remember that he kept saying to me “You act like this is a bad thing.” He didn’t seem at all phased by any of it. He simply told me it was a tool to be worked with.

He was right of course. I know that now. But it certainly sucked hearing about it then.

to be continued

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I’m having trouble with the fact that all this was *before* 28! Wow. But that Is about the time I had “issues,” too.

    Your reaction was so typical. None of us deal well at the moment we are told *it IS ourselves*, at least to a degree. It is so much more comfortable to blame it on everyone else. And I’m surprised that you were on an anti-anxiety med, but perhaps (very common) you didn’t relay to the doc that you were having those issues.

    Traci, You’ve got grit, girl. Once again, I admire you for making it through all this. 🙂

    Reply

  2. No matter what the issue or how it presents, nor even how many contributing factors are involved: at some level, when we learn of our own involvement in our situation(s), THAT is the moment we begin learning to control who we are. Lynilu’s right, you DO gots grit, girl. Sending love!

    Reply

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