In my previous post, I failed to mention the counselor I went to before Adam was born. After we moved to DFW my husband and I met a man who ran a Christian counseling center. He immediately recognized that I was not happy and asked a few leading questions that lead to us telling about our loss. The man said he would like me to see one of his counselors and it would be free of charge as the church he went to had given him funds to use for this purpose. Not having insurance to pay for such, I accepted the offer. Being Christians ourselves, I felt good about this decision. I began seeing J once a week. I felt he was helping somewhat, until about six months later. I had told J that I had pictures of Meredith's funeral and a baby book I had made for her. He asked to see these items, so I brought them in. He asked to keep the book for a week so he could look at it. I didn't want to let it go but I finally agreed. J had it with him the next week when I went in but he tried to talk me into letting him keep it, saying that having the book kept my grief fresh - that I needed to get rid of what visible memories I had of her. At one point I thought he wasn't going to let me have it back, but in the end he did. Then he started to ask me about doing an exercise where we would burn her pictures and in theory "burn" up the bad memories. I finally agreed to this, had copies made of her photos, and took them with me for the next visit. We did the exercise and he asked me how I felt. I told him I was saddened, but I had other copies of her pictures, so I would be okay. J became very angry with me and said I had cheated on the exercise - he meant for me to burn ALL of her pictures! I told him that would NEVER happen. When I left that day, he was very angry. J was very cool toward me for the next few sessions. When I found out I was pregnant with Adam a short time later, J pronounced me "cured" and I quit seeing him. He was a very well educated man but he was stupid enough to believe a new baby would totally cure my grief. I didn't trust counselors after that and didn't seek out another for nearly 19 years, even though my depression never really lifted. My life was manageable, so I struggled on. The births of our children did help me tremendously.
Over the next few years, my family doctor would prescribe antidepressants and I would take them temporarily, but then I would quit. Raising three children and working kept hubby and me busy. Often I didn't have much "me" time. As the children got older, the old sadness returned and stayed. Adam graduated from high school in 1996. I cried during the entire baccalaureate service and most of graduation. I became so depressed that I lived for the weekends, when I could come home and stay in bed all weekend. Hubby and the kids did all the chores and cooking on the weekend. In fact, they were doing most of it during the week as well. I struggled off to work on Monday, nearly too tired to put one foot in front of the other. The tissue box was my constant companion at home and in the car, I cried so much. I began to be plagued with physical ailments - pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, and an inexplicable loss of 30% of my kidney function. When I was ill, I really didn't care if I lived or died.
I decided to try a counselor and medication again. Our regular doctor prescribed an antidepressant and I was allergic to it, as well as the second one I tried. The third one worked and I began to feel much better. I saw four different therapists and none of them was a good fit for me. Let's just say they all reminded me of J in some ways although not nearly as bad as he.
The next counselor was G and she was a jewel. Also a Christian, G was the first counselor who validated that Meredith was worthy of my grief. She helped me to walk through all I had been through with our baby and relieve myself of lots of the sadness that had weighed me down for so many years. G also saw my husband and me together and he began to understand the magnitude of my depression. She helped me to realize that the extreme sadness I felt after Adam graduated was the "empty nest syndrome" - even though he still lived at home, he was going to college and preparing to leave home in a few years. He was the baby who had brightened our lives tremendously after Meredith's death and I was already "mourning" his exit from our home. I believe firmly that God lead me to G. I believe she saved my life and I owe her a debt of gratitude for the five years she nurtured me. Dr. D was a Godsend as well, working with me to find medications that were right for me and recommending G to me.
About the same time I started to see G, Dr. D wanted me to see a psychiatrist. All those years I had feared psychiatrists because of their stigma, but since I trusted him, I did what he asked. Dr. F was a Christian man and I saw him for 11 years before he retired. His main role was to regulate my medications. I felt blessed to have these caring Christian professionals in my life. My depression improved greatly. There was a purpose in life again.
I should have predicted it, but I didn't. In 1998, the twins were preparing to graduate from high school. That spring, the old sadness started to return, even with counseling and medication. I even briefly contemplated taking my life so Dr. F suggested a wonderful day program for depressed individuals at a hospital a mile from our home. In May of that year, I took off the rest of the school year and started the program. Our girls had "senioritis" very badly, so I would drop them off at the very door each needed to enter school in the morning and go on to my program. I went for three weeks and felt a huge return of energy and purpose.
Again, I should have seen it coming. In 2001, Adam was married and left home for good, he and his wife lost their first apartment to fire, my cousin's baby boy died tragically at six weeks of age, my health deteriorated further, and 9/11 devastated our nation. I was distraught once more. Dr. F told me about another program, as the hospital close to us had closed. Hubby took me there and picked me up every day for two weeks in November of that year. Since then I have been doing fairly well, thank the Lord. I do believe God uses caring professionals to do some of His work. I see my doctors regularly. My counselor now, R, is a wonderful caring Believer. Many, many people have prayed for my healing. God saved the best for last, as in early 2009 I found the blog Caring For Carleigh and was introduced to Holly and a whole world of women who had suffered child loss. I found I was not alone. How I wish that there were no need for Carleigh's blog, that babies were all born healthy, and no one ever had to tell a baby goodbye. Sadly, that is not reality. I just cannot thank you enough, you loving women who have shared with me and helped my healing tremendously.