First I would like to start that I was born in the summer of 1961. I had a brother 10 years older, and two sisters eight and seven years older than me. I do not recall my mother at all however I was told I was very close to her. In 1965 it was a wet fall and my parents were desperately trying to harvest the last of the year’s crops. My mom was in a tractor pulling a combine behind when she got stuck in a puddle. She was having difficulty and my dad was at the other end of the field. My brother who was 14 saw everything unfold, the tractor started to lift from the front and the tractor flipped over her. When my dad arrived at the scene he told my brother to get Uncle Mike (my dad’s brother).
My brother recalls that he ran across the field jumping over windrows losing his runners and by the time he got to the car was not winded or tired from the run. When my Uncle Mike arrived he concluded my mom was dead and nothing could be done. I believe under the shock my dad just wanted his wife out. I do not know any other details except that I wasn’t told of her death immediately and didn’t go to her funeral, I was four at the time. I do recall going to different homes to be looked after until I was in grade two and my dad got remarried.
I must have been a timid and shy girl when i started school, being different than the rest and not confident to tell the teacher what was happening. One rule was that once the final bell rang for recess no one was to ask to go to the washroom. Well one recess, it turned out I didn’t go. After the bell rang I asked the teacher if I could go to the washroom, the reply was, “No”. I ended up peeing my pants, which the next day resulted in the boy behind me in class calling me “skunk”. That name stayed with me till I graduated.
Then there was the marriage between my dad and his second wife. She had already raised a family of three and had grandchildren close to my age. By the time I was in grade four the marriage was explosive. At one time my brother had come back from University an argument had started between my parents and my brother ended up hitting her. My home life was wild needless to say.
By the time I was in grade six my class mates would delight in throwing my jacket, mitts, hat, books, scribblers whatever and yell, “skunk”, until the teacher arrived. My self esteem was very low. However between my home life and school life I preferred school it was a break from the stagnant air at home. All my parents did was yell and argue calling each other names in Ukrainian or not talk to each other at all. During the summer months I would recall my brother and I standing outside and waiting for our parents to finish arguing. Around this time my sister was working in Winnipeg and she asked if I could come to the city with her. That was the best thing that could have happened to me.
However when I came home my step mom was sleeping in my bed. About this time I was cooking for my dad and brother and lived in a power struggle of sides. My dad and brother against my mom and I. What a situation when a 12 year old girl feels sorry for her step mom instead of her real father. The marriage ended with my dad hitting her. It was a marriage that should have never been however my dad felt desperate that he needed a wife to raise his children.
When the marriage was over I was euphoric jumping and high fiveing the beams holding up the school. Acting crazy and happy in school. My grades were going up. However I was only close to my girlfriends. the boys knew I was “skunk”.
When I took one year of University I realized I couldn’t read, heck it was no surprise I couldn’t read back in grade six, but I enjoyed psychology and read slowly my “Intro to Psychology” and my child psychology books. University was way to hard for me but I stayed with a wonderful aunt and uncle and found there was something in life I liked: Psychology.
My next move was Winnipeg where when I moved to live on my own I didn’t mix with others. I started dating on a Christian Dating service and was meeting every man in the dating service or at least it felt so. However, it wasn’t until my boss took me to a social with a guy she wanted to go out with. That gentlemen was to bring a friend of his own. Needless to say my boss and her friend broke up, and I met my husband to be.
My husband did propose to me one afternoon at his parents cottage however later that evening I realized I hadn’t had my period for awhile. I was pregnant at that time! When my father found out, he was opposed to me not marrying until after the birth of our child. My fiance was still living with his parents, and the reaction from his domineering mother was to wait until I’d had the baby.
The marriage took place at my husband’s parents backyard just a few months after our son was born. Our marriage was troubling from the start. I knew only to yell, and my husband needed the last word and to be right. There were good times however our fights were explosive! The good times must have been good though, because we somehow managed to bring two more sons into the world.
By the time we had our third son their were obvious physical traits that needed to be diagnosed. When we would go to the doctor nothing could be found until one time when everything lined up. My son was showing his “tics” and the doctor saw it. He was diagnosed with minor Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD, and ADD. A lot of letters but it just meant a difficult situation to raise a child. It caused stress to an already stressed marriage. My husband and I owned a store together and were suffering financially.
I recall yelling at my children constantly, I couldn’t get control, I would cry with them wondering aloud why they wouldn’t listen to me. I was a wreck! One day I prayed, “why Lord do I have such problems with my kids,” my dad didn’t yell at us kids like that.
Not long after in the year 2000 I started journaling to my biological mom, to Oprah and to the Pope. Eventually I was going to bed later and later. I had started journaling in January and by the time it was March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day) I wasn’t sleeping at all but feeling fantastic. I could solve the whole world’s problems. I was paranoid of my husband, I didn’t trust him. We had a contest going on at the store selling shamrocks for a dollar. I was taking blank ones posting sayings on them and taping them all around the store. Our employee was frustrated with ripping them down. By evening I was way out of control, I don’t recall but I called the police.
After they arrived and everything was sorted out the police took me to Dauphin Hospital. I was unruly there, sneaking out and biting nurses, so was then placed in the isolation room. There I saw myself as Jesus, but then my mind would flip and I’d see myself as the anti-Christ. It was the most terrifying time of my life. I couldn’t sleep because of that dilemma spinning in my head. I also felt I was living during the time of Hitler. Between peeing and pooping in a hole in the floor I eventually did crash and fell asleep on a mattress.
The next morning a nurse gave me a bath first thing. I felt blessed by her, after having such a horrific night it was great to be treated so special. The year following my mania, my mood plummeted. I spent much time in Dauphin Hospital. Then my family decided to switch doctors and go to Brandon Hospital. I was diagnosed with “Bi-Polar Depression“.
During that year a lot of time was spent in bed. I slept at night and had no energy to get up in the morning. I would have supper and go back to bed. On weekends my husband started pouring water on my head so I would get up! I hated him for it but it worked. I would stay up for awhile eat supper and then go back to bed. I had no desire to live and felt it would be just better if I ended my life. I figured I would be doing my husband and kids a favour.
My marriage was not doing well, and with my illness it was putting more stress on the situation. Also we were suffering financially with the store. I was giving up on life not knowing a way out. Then one day one of my sons spoke to me and said he didn’t want me to end my life because he would miss me and that he loved me very much. That conversation saved my life because then I realized he would miss me. It meant everything to me that someone loved me and cared.
When I started going to Brandon Hospital it was decided that I would try Shock Therapy (ECTs) where they put you to sleep put one or two paddles on your head and shock your brain. The therapy worked to bring me out of my depression however I did lose my short term memory. I then decided to stop on my own when my family couldn’t believe how I couldn’t recall things like my sister’s 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration and I was one of the bridesmaids! Or my kids winning a major volley ball game two weeks later, and other significant events, Once I went back on mediations everything was much better. I described my emotions as a little better than average.
I was dealing better with my children. However I wanted to figure out how I could get better and how I could understand my illness. I didn’t trust God because I felt He tricked me in the isolation room with the Christ and Anti-Christ thing and the Hitler scenario. I read many books to get many ways of understanding. My marriage was still on shaky ground and we couldn’t talk to each other. I took things too personally, couldn’t say anything back in a calm way and felt the worst off in our marriage. After many years of struggling with the store, our three sons antics and my off and on bouts of depression going to the Hospital or crisis centre in Brandon life was a challenge. However I was starting to feel I was better off now than before I got sick. As our boys started to graduate and leave home, the stresses started to decrease.
Eventually my husband and I decided that major changes were needed. He went to Winnipeg to get a job and I stayed home to run the store. By this time every company who needed money was calling the store and I had to deal with each call. I was talking to each person explaining our situation and everyone seemed to believe that we would pay them. The worst people to deal with was Revenue Canada she could care less about me, they just wanted their money so they would freeze our account take all our money from the bank, just nasty people. We decided the best option was to declare bankruptcy. As time went by I started going manic again and didn’t realize it. I was feeling great that I was able to talk to all the companies and they believed me. Except for Revenue Canada, they scared me so much that I would break down in tears.
Eventually a friend of mine told me to close the store and asked me to pack a bag with my medications and brought me to her place. She realized I wasn’t myself and wanted to look after me I ended up going to Brandon Hospital and was shocked to be caught off-guard with mania, however my Doctor said my body just reacted in different ways with stress.
My husband then took a course and learned to drive a semi-truck, and then got a job hauling freight from Canada to the Mexican Border and produce from Mexico to Canada. Life was getting better I only had myself at home but realized how I missed my kids. I was suffering from the empty nest syndrome so decided to volunteer at the elementary school.
My husband and I talked to each other every night. He would be gone two to three weeks and i would look forward to him coming home. Then one day I couldn’t reach him and then the next day. A call from the RCMP told me that my husband had been arrested and was in serious trouble. (At this point you realize that my husband is Paul, the author of this blog!)
Two years later I was driving from Regina and my husband was serving 8 months in jail. If you haven’t experienced it you wouldn’t believe how slow time could go. I ended up going to the Brandon Crisis Centre which I highly recommend however this time I started suffering from nerve pain and could not move off my bed so an ambulance was called and took me to hospital. When I came home I was lost. I received many letters from my husband, but only could talk to each other once a week for 20 minutes.
My husband eventually was released one month earlier than expected, and after one week we had forgotten the pain we had suffer being separated. From the first week my husband started going to church. He had changed, and now every time we argued he would tell me how irrational my thinking was and explain how he loved me and that he had changed.
When we were first married I loved him, and now I loved him again. However not everything is fantastic the town we live in is not the friendly community it use to be to us. And family has judged us without giving us a chance. I have a hole in my heart that others could just say “Big Deal, I don’t care about them”. The problem is I do and it hurts.
You are not alone!
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