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Life Survivorship

March 25, 2016

Life Survivorship-3

In my last really long, sad diatribe about my two nervous breakdowns, I failed to mention that in the midst of going to the church for help and going to various counselors all over the county, I’ve also had a great set of friends helping me through these difficult times.


© Marie deHaan

Today, Tami—I’ve talked about her in my book and in this blog way more than once—took me to lunch at Anthony’s where we had fish and chips and a good, long talk. Afterward, I made her wait in the car while I practically licked the sidewalk trying to take this picture of a helleborus plant in Anthony’s front flowerbed. (You may remember that Susie—another great friend, even though I’m allergic to her—and I just bought a few of these beautiful plants while we were killing time waiting for the results of my CT scan last week.)

When I came home, there was a card in the mail from another friend, Melanie, letting me know that she was thinking of me.

How do any of us do this thing called life survivorship? We have friends to help build us up. I can (gratefully) rattle off a long list of friends in no particular order: Jodi, Jenny, Melissa, Michelle, Laurie, Bobby, Rose, Andrea, Cate, Linda, Lynn, Lucy… the list goes on and on. Friends and members of our family… they are there to help us through the bad times, and thank heavens for that.

By |March 2016|Life Survivorship|

March 25, 2016

Life Survivorship-2


March 9, 2016: Second session with Haley. Photo by Kat

Eighteen years ago, when I had my first “nervous breakdown”—the words I use to describe my falling apart over recovered memories of sexual abuse—I knew that I needed to find help and I needed to find help fast.

I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t perform simple tasks like cook dinner or take care of three small babies in our 850-square-foot house, and I couldn’t spell words. While I realized that the first two were pretty common problems when dealing with depression, I also realized that the third made me certifiable.

There was only one panic attack that I remember and all I can recall about that panic attack was the following order of events:

  1. Mr. Rogers came on whatever television show Ken and I were watching.
  2. I wigged out, for lack of better wording.
  3. Orange juice for diabetic shock (even though I didn’t have diabetes) was mentioned.
  4. The ambulance came and carted me away.

Once I arrived somehow to the emergency room, the only thing I remember is that the doctor asked me and Ken (without any sort of blood test) if I had a thyroid problem. Boy, could I tell him some stories. Except, because I wasn’t speaking, all I managed to reply was, “Y-E-S. Y-E-S.”

I was given a prescription for Zoloft or some other anxiety medicine, which I did not fulfill. As I’ve mentioned before, I also sought help from the church. That was a dismal failure. I finally sought counseling from a woman I did not know.

I do not remember much from those few sessions. All I know is that I did not jump off the nearest bridge, I began speaking again, and I decided to bury my memories once again.

Fast forward eighteen years to my second “nervous breakdown” which began a month before Thanksgiving. I sought help from another member of the clergy, but the poor man did not feel qualified to help me (which I understood). Therefore, I went to a woman in Anacortes for a one-hour counseling session; called another woman from Mount Vernon and set up an appointment, which I ended up cancelling because it just didn’t feel right; and had two separate sessions with another woman in Bellingham who specializes in childhood sexual abuse. To say the least, it was a very exhausting (and expensive) holiday season.

Finally, I made the decision to go to Haley. I’ve talked about her countless times throughout this blog already. My biggest reason for going to see her is, I have blubbered in that woman’s office more times than I can count, especially when I tried to stop all chemotherapy treatment. She pretty much knows me inside and out.

I don’t know how long it will take for me to get over all of this crap or if a person ever really fully recovers from such a traumatic thing as sexual abuse. All I know is, I’m sure going to give it a valiant try. And keep waiting for God to show me what He’s got in store for me next.

By |March 2016|Life Survivorship|

February 7, 2016

Life Survivorship-1

Weeping WillowIt has been a heck of a few days since writing that last (really hard) letter to my benefactor. I’ve been walking around in a daze, alternating between relief that I could finally put into words what I’ve been feeling all of these years, to slinking around groups of people thinking to myself, “Did I do the right thing? Does that person know? Is that person going to stop talking to me now that I’m damaged goods?”

Here is a poem I wrote back in 2008 to help me deal with this situation. I hope that if there is anyone else out there dealing with a similar scenario, you find it helpful.

Weeping Willow

I am a weeping willow,
A solitary tree, standing in the expanse.
Pruned almost to the ground when I was still young
I must stop weeping and move on with my life –
Forget the pain and abuse of long ago.
The heavy winter snows will come once again
And try to smother me with their possessiveness.
Just when I think I will be dragged to the depths
Never to return again,
The spring sun shines forth and whispers to me that
Life is worth living once again.
Soon, my leaves begin to fall one by one
As the autumn breezes begin to blow.
Naked and exposed to the world
My branches send forth my pleas toward heaven.
I know my grace and beauty shall return.
My resiliency shines through as I survive
Through the ups and downs of the seasons.
I pray the sun will come out once again
And I will weep no longer.

© November 21, 2008
Marie de Haan


By |February 2016|Life Survivorship|