Despair to Deliverance: A True Story of Triumph Over Severe Mental Illness

Sharon DeVinney, Ph.D. and Robin Personette

 

CHAPTER ONE – THE MELTDOWN

 

The story begins with a phone call from Robin. She and I had been working together in therapy for almost ten years. She usually didn’t call between sessions, partly because she was very aware of and careful about boundaries, but also because severe anxiety about making phone calls was one of her symptoms. If she ever called it was only to reschedule an appointment, which was a rare occurrence.

“I’m not doing well. Can I see you sometime today or tomorrow?” Robin asked. I was stunned. This was huge. She had never been this blunt about feeling bad, or this direct about asking to see me.

“What’s going on?” I asked, trying to hide my surprise.

“I don’t want to talk about it right now. I’ll explain when I see you,” she said. Her voice sounded flat, like she was depressed, which was typical for her at that time. She did not sound overly distressed.

“I’m booked today, but have an opening tomorrow at noon,” I said. “Is that soon enough? Are you okay?”

“That’ll be fine. I’ll be okay,” she replied with her voice continuing to sound flat. In retrospect I should have canceled my other clients and squeezed her in that day, knowing how significant it was for her to make this request. But, she said she would be okay. I knew her well and trusted her to be honest with me.

At that time Robin was a 36-year-old, single woman who lived alone and worked as a case manager at a mental health agency in a neighboring county. I was a busy psychologist in the prime of my career, working at a large community mental health center with a full caseload of adult therapy clients. When I walked toward the waiting room at noon the day after her unusual phone call, I knew Robin would be there. She was always on time for her appointments. Always.

When I saw her I immediately knew something was very wrong. Robin was sitting with her head in her hands, looking exhausted. After she got into my office and started talking, I immediately noticed her speech was slurred. She looked very anxious with her leg vigorously bouncing, a sign of her significant anxiety I had seen many times before. I asked what had happened that led to her call the previous day.

“I went to work Monday morning and got a voice mail from my boss,” she said. “She had left it on Friday afternoon. She was saying what a good job I do and how valuable a team member I am, and how important my contributions are. It made me start crying and I couldn’t stop.” Robin said she told a co-worker she wasn’t feeling well and then just went home.

Robin had been depressed for the previous year. I knew she had not been sleeping well, and I knew she had been having suicidal thoughts. Her psychiatrist and I had been trying different medication options to get her significant depression under control, without much success. It had been frustrating for all of us, since medication is usually an effective form of treatment for depression, and Robin had always responded well to antidepressant medications in the past.

9th Street Chronicles

William Self

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There is, of course, a more apt description—the manmade version. Junction City is also a town that seldom listened or looked into the plaintive faces that were trying to reach for the American dream. Imagine, for a moment, 1962 when it was an Ozzie and Harriet world clinging to the old-school, mom-and- pop values with the devil center stage; who doesn’t go anywhere without God, the Bible, church on Sunday morning— you better watch out, you better not pout—with an Oh Henry! candy bar, a white hanky and a yoyo in his pocket.

It was a time when divorce was so unpopular that if a married couple split up after 40 years of marriage it made the national news; homosexuals were called queers and fairies, and African- Americans were referred to as “Colored” politely and nigger whenever they wanted.

The “N” word had a unique dexterity in African-American lexicon and could be used affectionately, i.e., “my nigga;” pejoratively, “Black shiny nigger;” or politically, “nigga, please.” Women were tethered with aprons and the lack of birth-control pills; the word, ecology, entered our consciousness for the first time, John Glenn orbited the earth..

My Spectacular Bid

Steven L. Werder

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Before my life as a teenager, not much of anything happened.

 

I was, for the most part, good and rarely got into much trouble.

 

But when my teenage years came upon me, I was pulled into another world. A world that existed at night.

 

Whether that was night world was good or bad, right or wrong, it’s for me to know and for you to decide. A night world that existed for me in Callaway County, Missouri. This is my story…

You Can’t Crack Me… I’m a Rubber Duck!

Charlie Northage

I find it quite easy to remember back through the years, even back as far as three years old, although my short-term memory right now is a bit hit and miss. I am a visual person and the pictures of my past come flooding back very vividly as I recall events and experiences from my life, which is quite useful when writing this, my memoir.

I’ll try to keep to the facts, and the inspiring or emotional things that help it to flow, and not become boring, even though I have limited school education.
I’ll start with Christmas 1963. I was three years old then, although I was born in 1959. I received a pedal car from Santa. I was absolutely overjoyed at getting it, because it was exactly what I had dreamed of, and more!

It was red in colour and made of tin I presume. A typical old style, kids pedal car that you might now see occasionally on the Antiques Road Show. Wow! Was I happy! I couldn’t wait to give it a go.

We lived in a two up—two down terraced house in a small town in the North East of England UK. It was a nice friendly sort of place as I remember, and my Mum and Dad seemed quite happy to me at that time. We didn’t have a garden, we had a yard, which led out into an entry.

I took my new pedal car out into the entry, and away I went, pushing like mad at the metal pedals, where my feet fitted snuggly, and ‘bombed off’ down the entry. I’ll bet my face was a picture, as I was grinning from ear to ear with excitement. In fact, I do have a picture of me in it, and may end up using it for all to see.

After a while I remember needing the loo, probably from all the excitement, like a little puppy when it greets its owner who’s been away all day, and has now come home. So I went inside.

On my return, my beautiful little peddle car had been stolen! I can remember to this day the disappointment, sadness, and sheer horror that it had been taken. That was the first of many disappointments and immense sadness that I would experience in the journey of my life.

I recently told a friend about this moment, and his answer was, “what sort of **** would do such a terrible thing to a little boy.” He was right of course. At that tender age I thought the world was full of nice people.

Of course it is not. It was a very sad way of finding that out. I, of course, went back to being the nice little boy that I was, being brought up by my loving Mum, still totally oblivious to the fact that life was going to become harsh!

French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley

Linda Kovic-Skow

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Part One
The Dubois Family

1

“Je suis américaine. Je ne parle pas français.”

It took equal parts sign language, broken English and even more broken French before I understood the train attendant in Paris. Two more transfers? You’ve got to be kidding. Cursing my high-heeled shoes, I dragged my luggage down endless platforms before boarding my final train. An hour later, just as the sun set over the Loire River, we pulled into Songais. Only three other people disembarked and went off on their separate ways, hastening around me as I wrestled my suitcases into the station. Filled with both apprehension and excitement, I surveyed the room, looking for Madame Dubois, but no one there fit her description. Wandering over to one of the tall arched windows, I pressed my face against the pane, peering left and right.

The Songais train station sat on a narrow cobbled street, lined with one white stone building after another, each attached to its neighbor. The structures varied in height, either two or three stories, their rooftops gabled, some with severe peaks. A few buildings presented Juliet balconies trimmed in black wrought iron, their built-in flower boxes filled with raspberry-red geraniums. Seeing no cars or people in either direction, I refocused my attention inside the building.

As I waited, a million thoughts jumbled in my head. How would Madame Dubois react when she discovered my lie? What would I do if she refused to let me stay? Was there a train back to Paris tonight? Even if I could persuade her to let me stay, what about her husband? The longer I waited, the more agitated I became, startling whenever I heard the slightest sound. A woman entered the station, her heels tapping a steady beat on the linoleum floor. When I saw she carried a suitcase, my heart rate returned to normal.

“Avez-vous du feu?” I flinched as a handsome young man leaned toward me. Fumbling through my reference guide, I found the word feu, which meant fire, and tried to make sense of his question. Convinced this was a come-on, I glared at him and refused to answer. His shoulders slumped and he shook his head as he walked away. A few minutes later, it occurred to me he merely wanted a light for his cigarette, but by then he had vanished.

“Bonsoir, Mademoiselle Kovic.”

I spun around and saw a tall, statuesque woman, far advanced in her pregnancy, walking toward me. A burst of adrenaline surged through my body. With each step, her dark blue wool coat opened, exposing a large belly. Stopping in front of me, her lips forming a thin smile, she extended her hand in one swift motion.

Beloved, I Love You So…

Melody R. Green

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Introduction

 

Thank you for picking up your copy of Beloved, I Love You So… A 40 Year Love Story Told in Letters — a book born out of enduring love.

 

This book was created organically, out of a need for me to express the love I continued to feel for a man who played an important part in my life, and who I was never able to forget. Over the course of 40 years, I continued to remember him, often wondering what he was doing and whether he was thinking of me.

 

In the early days of our love, much of our communication was played out in letters sent back and forth over the miles — so when the relationship ended, writing letters to him became a way for me to continue to communicate with my beloved across the distance of both physical and mental space.

 

The letters contained herein were originally intended as a way for me to process my feelings, but as I began to show the letters to friends, it became clear that others profoundly identified with my story. Eventually, a friend encouraged me to share the letters publicly, both as a way to continue to process my own feelings, but also as a way to help others laugh, cry, and heal from their own journeys through the ups and downs of love.

 

It is my hope that by reading Beloved, I Love You So…, you’ll find something that speaks to you, and that you’ll be able to identify with the many emotions, feelings and messages you may have wanted to send to that past or present special person in your life. It fills me with joy to think about helping others through the simple act of publishing my own story.

 

Whether you’re a regular letter writer or not, may Beloved, I Love You So… offer you those heartfelt love letters you’ve always wanted to receive.

 

Letter #1

Beloved,
I’ve loved you such a long time.
Sometimes joyfully, sometimes resentfully, and sometimes painfully.
I’ve loved you in meetings, trysts, holidays, and letters.
I’ve loved you in times together and times apart.
I’ve loved you as you’ve travelled the globe and I’ve stayed put.
I’ve loved you in the sunshine and in the rain.
I’ve loved you close up and from afar.
I’ve loved you as a young girl and as a mature woman.
I’ve loved you in tears, happy and sad.
I’ve loved you under the sun and in the wistful night sky filled with moon and stars.
I’ve loved you in all of my body.
I’ve loved you with my mind, my heart, and of course my soul.
I’ve loved you even when I haven’t wanted to, when I’ve pushed you from my heart and mind (or at least tried to).
I’ve loved you when I’ve pretended not to.
I’ve loved you openly, longingly, willingly, and not.
I’ve loved you when I thought I had no more love to give, and when I closed my heart to loving you.
I’ve loved you when you’ve travelled the world to see me and when you’ve gone away.
And here I am about to start my late mid-life, not yet crone and not wife . . . and still I love you.
I’ve stopped judging me for loving you.
I’ve stopped trying to figure out why or how I could.
I’ve stopped calling you and me names like fool.
I’ve stopped asking for loving you to be gone from me.
I’ve stopped running from all our history, real and imagined, present and not.
I’ve stopped trying to be with you and not . . .
I’ve stopped . . . I’ve stopped . . .
It’s when you stop that magic happens.
What is . . . is.
I love you. That is all.
Dear Beloved, love is all there is between us.
Love is everything. Everything is love.
Love is all.
I accept without wishing, wanting, hoping, desiring anything.
I accept I love you, dearest Beloved.
That truly is all.
And my heart is full and deeply grateful to experience this love for you.

Beloved, I love you so . . .

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