In 1990, I finally sought psychiatric help for my depression. I was prescribed elavil and one month later my life was changed. I felt alive for the first time in 10 years. I then actually spent time grieving for all the years I lost to depression.
As far as living went, nothing really changed. I had my son Robert with me again, I was still in the military, I was still looking for love in all the wrong places. After the depression lifted, I went back to partying on the weekends, essentially becoming a functional alcoholic.
In the process of looking for love, I found myself pregnant again. I met Chuck in Spain. He was in the Air Force. He was a weapons loader. I actually met him when he was a patient in the hospital. I was his nurse. I can’t remember how we ended up dating. We hit it off and had a strong attraction to each other. Sadly, our relationship was pretty short. We met at the beginning of the first conflict the United States had with Iraq. His squadron ended up be sent to Turkey to get ready for war. I couldn’t believe I was in the military, getting ready for a war!
When I found out I was pregnant, I was happy and ready to have another child. I called Chuck and told him. He was shocked, but ended up being happy as well. He wanted to get married. Initially, I was willing to get married, but fear took over and I backed out. I was too afraid of being abused again. Our relationship died after this.
I finished my active duty service in March of 1991 and moved back to Pennsylvania with Robert. We lived with my mom and I got a job in a telemetry unit at the local hospital. My younger son, Galen, was born June 11, 1991. His father came after he was born. He held him and photographed him and then he left. He has never been much a part of his life. Despite all this, 1991 was actually one of the best years of my life. I was very happy.
After taking elavil for a year, I decided I didn’t need it anymore. It was actually interfering with feeding my son at night because it made me quite sleepy. I felt confident I would be okay without it. I told myself I would never let myself get that depressed again. Now I knew what symptoms to watch out for.
I wanted to spend my time making up for all the fun I missed out on when I was depressed. Those things included drinking, going out to bars, parties, getting tattooed, anything superficial. I pretty much gave up on men. I decided I would have to learn to love myself before I could love somebody else. I ended being celibate for 8 years. I actually focused more time on my boys than I had before. They were a handful and I was grateful to my mom for being like a second mother to them.
My older son was developing some disturbing emotional problems and I kept telling myself he was going through a phase and would out grow these phases eventually. I think this was when I started to really ignore my problems. I figured if I didn’t think about them, they would go away by themselves. I didn’t want to relive the past, I didn’t want to face problems at all. I just wanted to be happy. I would refuse to think about anything that might make me sad.
Of course this turned into a cyclical pattern. I would ignore stuff until one day I’d look at my life and have a complete freak out, wrought full of screaming and ranting and raving and crying. Then I would calm back down again, beg my boys to forgive me and go back to life as usual. I will never fully know the damage I caused their little minds with my uncontrolled behavior. It didn’t occur to me that my life was still a mess because I wasn’t where I was before so I must be better, right?
While I was working in the telemetry unit, I had an undeniable experience of the power of God. I worked the night shift, from 7 pm to 7 am, 3 nights a week. Telemetry is where a patient is admitted when they are too sick for the medical/surgical unit and not sick enough for ICU. It was around midnight and we were sitting at the desk charting when one of the patients died. We could see by the monitor her heart was stopping. She was a DNR, do not resuscitate, so we didn’t jump up to do anything to save her. The do not resuscitate order is instituted at the request of the patient. We called the medical resident to inform him of her death. He arrived some time later to examine her and pronounce her dead. After he left, the nurse responsible for this patient’s care went in to do post-mortem care while we went back to charting at the desk. She called us. She sounded like she had fear in her voice so we went in to her. The patient who had been dead for well over 15 minutes was not dead anymore. She was breathing and her heart rate was picking up by the minute. We informed the doctor and watched as, throughout the rest of the night, she became more animated (like a zombie, it was very creepy). She ended up making a full recovery and going home! According to medical science, a person cannot go longer than 6 minutes without oxygen. After 6 minutes brain death occurs and then bodily death. I can tell you this is true for all the rest of the patients I’ve ever taken care of. After this night, I had no doubt God was real, but sadly, I still lived without Him. Frankly I didn’t know how to come back to Him.