Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Writer's Workshop Wednesday - Jennifer from It's Not My Workout, It's My Diagnosis

Welcome to Writer's Workshop Wednesday!  This is my way of paying it forward to all the people out there who want to start writing, but don't have their own blogs yet, or who are established writers that are looking to appeal to a different audience. I have also opened this up to those who would like to post anonymously about topics that are too difficult to write about publicly. Each week, I will host one or two posts by different writers.

I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them.

This post is written by a woman that I met online when she reached out to me after one of the posts where I wrote about my son's pre-diabetes diagnosis. Jennifer's daughter is a Type 1 diabetic, and she has helped me tremendously through this scary process, helping me find resources and other people who understand what life is like when you're at the mercy of this condition. 

She's become a friend and an ally, and she shares with us today another hugely important piece of her life journey. You can find her on Twitter, on her blog or on her Facebook page. Ladies and gentlemen, with love and respect, I give you Jennifer.

I am alive
Mental institutions are places for crazy people and criminals who won an insanity plea. Their families have given up on them. They have dropped them off without bothering to look in the rear view mirror Their relatives are being stuck with huge needles that will stop them from struggling and trying to escape. It's like a Catholic form of Purgatory. Everyone is just waiting around waiting to see what will happen to them next, and they have no control over it. They are places that have padded white walls, and bars on the windows. People have vacant stares and they talk to inanimate objects and they scream at the top of their lungs for reasons that can't be seen.

Mental institutions were not for moms like me. Moms who had a military husband, a 3 yr old and a 1 year old, were just not a part of that world.


I remember hiding in the bathroom. I was not hiding from my kids or my husband, they knew exactly where I was. I was hiding from a situation that I could not deal with at the time. I hadn't driven for years and my husband had just bought us a second vehicle. Talk about pressure. I knew I would be expected to drive, not because my husband was cruel, but because I was a mom. Moms drive. They take their kids places. That's what moms do. Except for this mom.

I received my license at 17 1/2 years old, and only because my aunt, sister and brother-in-law took me out weekly to practice driving. My parents had no intention of helping me drive. It would be loss of control over me, in their minds. I joined the Air Force at 18 and pushed all of my anxiety and depression behind me in order to get in. How I got past the screening process is beyond me. How I got on the fucking plane is beyond me.

Fast forward to getting married within the next six months to a man I barely new and moving overseas to Okinawa, Japan. You know JAPAN. Where they drive on the other side of the road.


I had refused to go to work, which would be AWOL, but I did not care. I could not go. I was choosing prison time over just freaking driving and going to work. I was eventually diagnosed with agoraphobia and anxiety disorder and was told I would have to get out. I received an honorable discharge, only by the grace of God and the assessment of a doctor at the HAWK, because it felt under medical issues. They thankfully saw that I was not a bad person, I honestly could not GO to work.

The next day, I found out I was pregnant with our first child. Our child was born two months early but was ok. Our next pregnancy was a missed abortion which means I was four months pregnant with a fetus that died at eight weeks old, unbeknownst to us. It was beknownst to us when I ended up hemorrhaging and came very close to needing a blood transfusion. Add in a loveless marriage at the time, with surrounding issues and you can see where I was heading for rock bottom.

Add baby number three and a move to Arizona. Baby number three had acid reflux from the time she was born, two teeth by the time she was two months old and severe colic.

Add another move to Texas. A year later, a purchase of a minivan that I had no intention of driving.


I started planning my suicide to coincide with the time my husband would be home from work. I didn't want the kids to find me and I didn't want them to be scared and alone. I started researching what drugs would kill me in what amount of time. I loved my kids but I couldn't be a mom to them, the mom that they deserved. They needed someone who could drive, and take them to playdates, and not fear things constantly. My husband needed a wife who could cook and clean and get dressed once a month. I was holding everyone back.


I didn't want to ruin my kids for the rest of their lives. Their only female role model in their life was me at that time and I didn't know what would happen to them, since my husband was active duty. They needed me. I was their mom. But...I couldn't be there for them at that time.

I was supposed to have a friend pick me up to go to the gym. We liked to go late at night around 11 when the kids were in bed and so were the hubbies. I was in the bathroom, crying and shaking. My husband knew something was really wrong and I was out of control. I met my friend and my husband outside and I told them I need to go to the hospital RIGHT NOW. My friend stayed with my children and my husband took me to the ER which led to a month in a mental institution.

Mental Institutions are places for people who don't have the right amount of chemicals in their brain to deal with high levels of stress. Husbands drop off their wives and wonder what the hell is going to happen to their family, and how they are going to explain to their little ones that mommy chose to be somewhere else, rather than with them. Mental institutions are places that have "Day Rooms" and lobbies and snack closets for movie time and group time. Mental institutions are places where people can either drag you down deeper into more socially inappropriate behavior or they really try and reach out to you and tell you truths that hurt. There were bars on the windows, I'll give you that one.

Mental institutions were for moms like me, but only for awhile. Some people do get better and I am proud to say that I am one of them. I still struggle daily, but I know when I need help and I am not afraid to ask for it.



  1. Great post! Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. I'm so glad you knew you had to ask for help and had the temerity to do it. I'm also glad your friend and husband had the common sense to LISTEN when you said you needed help and not try to pretend your problems away.

  3. Fantastic post. I visited one not long ago to see my very best friend in the whole world, while she was in one. What resulted was a day of wonderful. The people I met were awesome, normal people, who just found it too hard to be them. I was moved to poetry

  4. I am proud of my friend. It can be hard as a mom to remember that we have to take care of ourselves in order to put our family first. And, to hear her say the same things I thought when I felt like my children would be better off without me. Jennifer, you are a beautiful person and my ray of hope a lot of times. Thank you.

  5. Wow. That was really scary. And you are really brave.

  6. I am sitting here crying. You are so brave to get the help you needed. To stick around for your kids.

    Not common knowledge (I blogged about it once but then took it down) I've been there. Rock bottom. In a mental ward. I'm glad I did because I'm here now with my children. I'm alive and getting better every day.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It's good to know I'm not alone, and that you are brave enough to get help, and share it with others who might need to know it's okay to reach out for help.

    -The Insomniacs Dream


Some of My Most Popular Posts