My depression started during my marriage. One day, my husband took everything
and left. He took $9000 from our savings. I didn't have any financial support
or means to support myself. Then my depression became much worse. I was
a nurse, and when I'd help my patients up, I'd start dropping them. I didn't
feel like I had any strength in my legs. This was a good job, and I had
done it for twelve years, but people started saying my mind was not on
my work. I eventually lost my job.
All I could think was "What happened? How could my husband abandon me
and leave me basically homeless?" And I was homeless. I ended up
sleeping in a flower shop, because flowers were a mood lifter for me. I
was isolated-I didn't tell my friends what was going on. Every morning
I'd try to get up but couldn't. It was like being in a dark hole. I had
lost my concentration. I couldn't think anymore-what was in my head was
just so overwhelming.
I was isolated for six to seven months. I started calling up different
mental health places to see if I could get a therapist. I was told there
were none available, and that I either had to be hospitalized or referred
to get one. Eventually I was referred to Victim' Services in Miami and
started doing therapy there.
During this time I was talking like a child. This was one of my symptoms.
Wherever I went, everyone recognized me as a little girl ... a 35-year old
talking like a little girl. The minute I spoke one word, everyone looked
at me. So at that point I never felt comfortable going out into society.
I was basically moving from shelter to shelter. Broward Partnership for
the Homeless staff and case management helped me a great deal. For six
months, I was in Henderson, a mental health facility for homeless and dually
diagnosed people. During that time I was still talking like a child. I
was really following the people that were around me, because I couldn't
make any decision for myself. I left it up to my case manager. Luckily,
every decision she made for me was the right one.
I started creating my own recovery network, which still helps me to this
day. I created all different forms of therapy. I love to work with flowers-the
color brings me joy. I do a lot of artwork, which keeps my mind busy. I
go to all kinds of lectures and workshops, whether they're related to me
or not. I do fundraising, walkathons, Reiki, and advocacy work.
And I volunteer a lot. Talking to other people and helping them also helps
me. I had done childcare, but was afraid I couldn't do it again, so instead
I volunteered at my church. There, I was able to work with children. And
they offered me a paid position there for a few hours a week.
I went back to work in a flower shop full-time, against the advice of
my therapist. The stress got to me, and I had a heart attack last March.
I had to have open-heart surgery.
My life was put on hold again. I had to take it easy and I didn't like
it. But you have to have patience in recovery.
I am really doing well in my physical and mental recovery. It's been two
years I haven't had anxiety problems, and a year since I stopped taking
medications for depression. And I'm planning to keep it like that! After
my surgery, I thought I would be more depressed than ever... but I'm not!