8/25/18 #SameHere Hero: Trudy Hibler

Today’s #SameHere🤙Hero:Trudy Hibler. Talk about vulnerably laying it all out there so that others can relate. Divorce, abuse, isolation, genetic predisposition, failure of a staff of professionals to treat properly, later-in-life diagnosis, and the list goes on. But you read her words, & you can tell how her experiences & now perspective has grounded her. I have put the remainder of this one in the link in our profile bc it’s long, but what a powerful share. I’m floored by the strength she has shown to go throughout what she, & to still keep on ticking & persevering.
“My mother definitely suffered from depression & anxiety.  Looking back, it’s very clear.  Growing up, though, I had no idea why she yelled & screamed all the time.  And I mean All. The. Time…using horrible language.  My father caught the brunt of it & I often wondered why he stayed.  He could never do anything right. We were poor as could be, & I wondered why mom didn’t get a job.  I know now that she couldn’t.  She simply couldn’t work.  By the time I was ten or eleven, she couldn’t even go grocery shopping.  If she did go, she stayed in the car, parked where no one could see her.
By this time, I was experiencing symptoms of depression.  I was molested by an uncle when I was 12.  I was raped repeatedly by a boyfriend when I was 13.  I had  no idea it was rape.  This was my boyfriend, after all.  My parents allowed me to become an emancipated minor when I was 15 & I married my then-boyfriend.  There was an agreement in place with my parents that I would complete school.  That agreement was soon broken.  My husband was an abuser &, like most, kept me as isolated as possible.  It wasn’t difficult for him.  We lived in the country, at least a mile from our nearest neighbor.  Five years later I gave birth to a beautiful boy.  That child gave me the strength to break away.  It was difficult because there were so many threats hanging over my head, but I stood up to my husband & to his parents when they threatened to take me to court for custody.  They eventually did, but I won.
I was depressed through much of that first marriage.  I attempted suicide once, but when I didn’t succeed, I just figured I must have a purpose, & it was up to me to figure out what it was. I lived in fear & with anxiety during those years.  After my divorce, I lived with my parents for several years.  I was still fearful of my ex & there was safety in numbers.  I feel like I slept the first two years, but I began to form a life of my own.  However, I had episodes that I couldn’t explain.  Periods where all I could do was sleep followed by periods of increased energy & mood.  Doctors couldn’t explain it & other than the low periods…not depressed, but just low energy…I was healthy & becoming happy.
I remarried five & a half years later, a man who had custody of two sons of his own roughly the same age as my son.  Other than financial stress, life was good.  Well, except for those periods of see-sawing energy.  My husband attributed it to my menstrual cycle which made me mad because they occurred randomly, not in conjunction with my cycle.  Again, though, checking with a new family doctor just turned up the advice to ‘eat more leafy greens.’ If I were to be truthful, the financial stress brought about a lot of anxiety.  I think financial problems do that to anyone, but I was raised poor & always felt partially responsible for my parents financial position.  They never, ever said anything like it, but I knew putting clothes on my back & feeding me cost money. Then during my first marriage, despite wanting me to be isolated, my husband wanted me to ‘carry my own weight.’ That attitude, that I needed to carry my own weight, followed me into my current marriage.  My husband kept reassuring me that I was doing all I could do, working full time & caring for the home & kids, but I felt I should do more.  I guess guilt is an emotion I carried over from my childhood.
My husband & I gained custody of two of my nephews.  Their upbringing was horrendous.  I tried turning them in to child protective services a couple of times but no one would investigate.  Finally, though, at 12 & 6, we were granted custody of these boys.  Interestingly, we had also just purchased a house 2,000 miles away. The house was a sometime in the future type of residence, but gaining custody of the boys left us with no choice but to get them 2,000 miles away from all the family drama.
Our new family doctor began treating me for depression.  The move put 2,000 miles between me & my son.  This still hurts me tremendously.  I was also being treated for insomnia.  Our doctor referred us to a therapist he knew & we began family counseling.  After a few months, Jane* (not her real name) asked to see me privately.  She sat down in front of me & told me she believed I have bipolar disorder.  I felt like laughing…me?…with bipolar disorder?  However, all I knew of bp was the wild highs & the lows if bp 1. This is what my sister, the mother of the nephews, had.  Then Jane explained about bp 2 & how it differed from bp 1 while telling me about the signs & symptoms.  It took a few minutes for it to click…my energy swings.  Bipolar disorder 2 fit them like a glove.  She asked to refer me to a psychiatrist she knew & I said yes.  I was 42 by then & had lived with symptoms for at least 32 years. Finally…help was on its way.
Or so I thought.  My story isn’t complete without telling about my first experiences with a psychiatrist.  He was very kind, in a fancy office in a fancy hospital in a big city.  But very kind.  I tried all kinds of medication, but it seemed they just didn’t work for very long.  A breakdown led to a brief hospitalization where I was placed on lithium.  Lithium was wonderful for a while, but became toxic.  A second breakdown happened a couple of years later, & my doctor told me we’d already gone through most medications available & the next step was to try ECT.  So, I spent two weeks inpatient & two months out patient, traveling two & a half hours each way, receiving treatment.  I was already feeling a bit desperate because medications weren’t working.  Even an MAOI didn’t work very long.  I questioned whether or not I was working at my own recovery.  Still, all I wanted to do was sleep.  Then I got the news that my psychiatrist was no longer going to be accept our insurance.  Add to that a therapist who left town without notice after discovering her husband was having an affair.
I was a bit of a train wreck about this time, but learned of a psychiatrist in my own small, rural town. A nurse practitioner I saw occasionally gave me a referral to this psychiatrist’s nurse practitioner & I began seeing her.  When we realized the course of action we were on just wasn’t working, she turned me over to the pdoc.  I’m crazy about this man.  He has saved my life on at least two occasions.  The first was when I began seeing him.  I was a bit frustrated at first because he didn’t  make any big changes like my former pdoc did.  Instead, he just made gradual changes in what I was already taking.  He talked to me carefully, though, & I knew he listened to me.  We talked about endorphins, synapses, & other psychiatric phenomenon.  And little by little, I began feeling better.  I chose a name from a list by the door of therapists to see & really liked the one I selected. She’s just excellent at helping me view something from a different light.
The second time my doctor saved my life was during a period where I suddenly just went down hill.  I called on a Friday evening & his nurse told me to be there very early Monday morning, but only after asking if I’d be okay over the weekend.  When I saw him, he said he’d thought about me all weekend & just felt strongly impressed that we should add a small dose of lithium to my regimen.  I was concerned because of my past experience, but he reassured me that a dose as small as he was prescribing shouldn’t be a problem. I do respond quickly to medication.  Within two days, I felt myself smiling.  A day later I heard myself laugh.  It hasn’t been a completely uphill trajectory, nor have I been completely stable.  I have to take my medications regularly, & therapy is a must.  I also enjoy painting.  Not painting pretty pictures…I  just don’t have the talent…but painting furniture & such.  I enter the zone when I’m doing this.  Other hobbies include wreath making, making fabric flowers, & decoupage.
I’ve told the mental health portion of my #SameHere story before, just not all the details about my mom’s illness, my early marriage, suicide attempts, & various other portions of my story.  Everyone, well, almost everyone, was very supportive & continues to be supportive.  I’ve been greatly blessed with marvelous friends & a husband & children who are second to none.”

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