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60 Year Old Woman Seeks Grant Money To Overcome Effects Of Bipolar Disorder

by Nancy Gardiner
(Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, USA)

I never really thought I would live to be 60.

So far, I have outlived my parents (dad was 40 and mom was 44), my two older brothers, a daughter, nieces and nephews and several friends and acquaintances.

Three of them took their own lives - my mother when I was 13, my daughter when she was 20, and a son-in-law just two years ago.

It is always difficult for anyone to deal with these deep losses. It's more so with the instability of mental illness, the roller coaster of emotions, hills and dips of tremendous ferocity.

In the Spring of 1969 I was able to graduate from high school and enlisted in the Women's Army Corps, but was unable to continue and was discharged under honorable conditions after ten months.

I moved to the Northwest in 1972 to marry my high school sweetheart. He and I bought a small business which we held for 21 years and began a family.

The first of seven children was born in 1975, a daughter. Eleven years later she had five sisters and one brother.

After the last child was born, I had a complete hysterectomy and fell into one of the many depressions our family endured.

After 27 years of marriage I filed for divorce. The same year one of our 20-year-old twins took her own life.

I have pretty much been "cruising" through life since then, medicated and counseled by a host of providers. Sadly, there is no cure for bipolar disorder and other devastating mental illnesses.

Bipolar disorder is a mood impairment. Jeckyl and Hyde is how I like to describe it. It is a constant seesaw of emotions that can become dangerous to oneself and others.

There is very little warning of an "episode," either depressed or manic. If not recognized early the chance of hospitalization increases along with the chance of suicidal behavior.

The bipolar person is desperate to escape the never-ending onslaught of anger, confusion, desperation and fear.

Treatment consists of medication and psychotherapy for life! I have tried to take my own life at least a dozen times.

Each time there was a stay in ICU then a stretch on the psychiatric ward. On one occasion I was court ordered to spend three weeks at the State Psychiatric Hospital in a distant part of the state away from family.

My children tell me of their experiences growing up with mental illness.

After years of struggling, I applied for SSDI and SSI and my claim was accepted in 2001.

I'm currently on three psychiatric medications and see a mental health nurse practitioner once every three months.

My family is a great help to me in many ways.

I grew up in a true middle-class neighborhood until the age of 12. My early twenties were spent working at the local deli and McDonalds, mostly just scraping by.

Sporadic jobs over the years were usually terminated due to the instability of my emotions. My last employment was in 2000.

Since then I have survived on monthly disability payments of $735 plus $112 in food stamps.

Owning a vehicle is out of the question. The maintenance alone is expensive, not to mention gas prices.

I walk to nearby businesses come rain or snow. My children help me with trips to appointments, tests and the grocery store. This is a burden to them as mothers of young children and families.

This situation greatly decreases my independence and self-esteem. Gifts, especially at Christmas, are difficult to afford even when "homemade".

There are four things I can afford - rent (Section 8), utility, phone and Internet. After that I am severely limited.

Household necessities are next in line and include laundry, paper goods and cleaning supplies.

Pleasures like new clothing, dining out and movies are out of reach. This increases my isolation from people and can play havoc with my emotional stability.

I have been unable to hold any employment since 2001. The cyclical nature of bipolar disorder has routinely disrupted attempts to earn income or further my education.

I am looking for grants that would help me increase my quality of life. Better housing, perhaps a vehicle, an occasional Big Mac, or a new pair of shoes would be great.

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