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Updated on November 12, 2011

Up until today, Lynn had avoided attending Group but after all she had experienced of this place she wasn’t concerned with what Nurse Rogers had to dish onto her plate. She should have learned caution instead of the bravado she now felt.

Chairs arranged in a semicircle, three aides today and the Queen called court to order.

“Well Lynn”, smiled Nurse Rogers as all eyes turned to her, some in greedy anticipation, but more with a shadowed pity, ”you are joining us for the first time today.”

“Why must people state the obvious", Lynn thought, her medication had leveled out her emotions slightly but not erased this new anger that boiled just under the surface. She waited, without reply for the next gem of wisdom to be let go.

“So, why don’t we start with you, dear? We share our feelings and what brought us here on the first time around and then after you speak others will have a chance to respond.”

“God in Heaven”, Lynn’s mind began racing, ”What do they want? Hello, my name is Lynn and I’m a confirmed insane person?” That’s how they did it at Al-anon meetings she had been to. She waited for further direction which did not come, only eyes watching her, the group’s and those of Nurse Rogers.

Borrowing from her Al-anon experience Lynn pronounced, “I found my life to be unmanageable and came here for help. I hope to get better and go home to my children soon.” She paused, hoping she’d said enough and looked at the faces of the others here in mandatory participation. Jenny, her roommate, had been excused to attend a meeting with her doctor and parents. Mr. Waters was piled into a chair eyes glazed with medication. James was writing something on his shoe with a pen and not even trying to conceal it. Zach was stretched out in his chair, legs crossed at the ankle, chewing a toothpick into small splinters and staring at the floor. Lynn noted his right eye was bruising nicely but there was no nose brace as she had hoped for. Julie was wringing her hands or knitting with invisible needles, it was hard to distinguish and Pat was smiling encouragingly at her. She returned her/his smile.

“Very well Lynn. Now what brought you here. What issues will you be working on?” Nurse Rogers was prodding and there more than a hint of impatience to her tone.

“My doctor and I will discuss my issues.’ Lynn’s voice was firm.

“And so will we.” Nurse Rogers voice was equally firm. “It is part of the process.” She retrieved a file from the small stack beside her chair and scanned it. “You have two children, where are they while you are with us?”

“Being cared for by my friend”, Lynn’s chest was beginning to feel tight.

“And how does that make you feel Lynn, someone else having to care for your children?” Nurse Rogers nodded with approval and looked at Lynn expectantly.

“Do you enjoy torturing people? Do you get your rocks off sitting on your throne handing down sentences of guilt and shame? Did they teach this to you in Nursing or is this just your nature?”Lynn spat back at her.

Pat let out a mix between a chuckle and a giggle and quickly covered her/his mouth.

“So it makes you feel guilty to have to be here while someone else cares for your children? How old are they?

“Seven and four”

“So one is in school? That would be the girl, Nurse Rogers turned another page in Lynn’s file. "The one diagnosed as having hyperactive/attention deficit disorder? Do you feel responsible for her condition, Lynn?”

“Do you feel responsible for mine and the other patients? I can see where you would as you seem to delight in adding to our pain!" Lynn was envisioning another trip to the Quiet Room and was welcoming it at this point.

“I have two baby girls”, Julie’s soft voice interrupted." I take very good care of them and watch over them and I make booties for them. Have you seen the last pair I made?"

Nurse Rogers corrected Julie and reminded her that her daughters were not babies, a fact they had been discussing in Group for some weeks now. Large tears rolled down the cheeks of this middle aged woman who lowered her head and said nothing.

That evening, after talking with Jennifer, Lynn learned that Nurse Rogers was always the most confrontational on a new patient’s first Group. Lynn supposed it was to establish who was in charge and remind them that she knew all of their secrets but Jennifer laughed it off as just being part of the price she paid for her parent’s giving in to her latest demand. “Just make up something that gets her off your ass – that’s what I do and then act like whatever she says has really opened your eyes. She’ll move on to someone else once she gets what she wants – just give it to her. Are you watching the movie? I think it’s something halfway decent tonight.”

Lynn declined the offer and sat in the coffee area chain smoking and thinking about her children. It felt like her chest would explode when she thought of them, wondering if they were frightened and decided to ask her friend to bring them for a visit as soon as she could. They had small private rooms for family so they wouldn’t see where she was even if they could have possibly comprehended. She had told them she was very sick when she kissed and hugged them goodbye as Ellen was getting them into her car. She could manage little else, no time frame of when she’d return, no promise to get better soon, only a desperate need to be cared for instead of being the caretaker. She had discussed this with Dr. Pinden at their meeting early that morning and he explained that she was having Panic and Anxiety attacks. They did not have to be tied to a particular incident as was the case with the PTSD. Apparently these insidious creatures lay wait in her brain and could pop out whenever they chose. He even admitted to mistaking her symptoms for a delusional disorder and had started her on medication for it, which explained her headaches and other symptoms. As far as the anger, she would discuss this in detail with the psychologist and determine the sources and learn coping skills to help her with it and the Anxiety and Panic Attacks. He felt another day or two should bring great improvement as the medication had a chance to build up in her system and he wanted her to think about when she would like to go home.

Sleep refused her any comfort that night and she took Jenny’s word for it that the third shift didn’t care if they were in the coffee area as long as they were quiet. She made a pot of coffee, asked for a light for her cigarette from a nurse who was doing some charting and picked a chair with her back to the wall so she could keep watch in case anyone else decide to join her. She allowed her mind to wander back to the past months before she had ended up here. She was still seeking a reason for these illnesses unexpected appearance when things in her life were actually better than they had been many times. She had attended the local junior college while working part time and raising the children alone. It had been the worst time in her adult life, financially, and she often wondered if they would make it. She had finally given in and applied for food stamps which were a big help but she paid a hefty price for them with pride taken in trade by a social worker that had seen too many people living off the system.

After getting her Associate’s Degree she had started the University in a nearby town. She had wanted desperately to attend the State University but at the time that decision was to be made she was with Bill and he was not about to leave his job with the city and reminded her about changing her daughter’s schools. She knew all too well what that could do to a kid and she agreed to attend a four year school that didn’t offer her actual choice of classes to become a Legal Assistant. She would have to pick up those classes later but the next two years were plenty for her to concentrate on for the time being. As par for the course she and Bill had a large blow up and she and the children had moved out soon after starting junior college. It was actually easier without him to worry over and once asleep she didn’t have to be concerned if she’d be awakened by a drunk in a rage. If only he would have paid child support she wouldn’t have had as much stress as she found herself trying to deal with. While she had been able to work in the food service at the junior college while attending classes, she had to find a job outside of the University. There was also the difference in the community of students, nearly all younger than her and most fresh out of high school with full support from their parents. She had studied at home with a book from the library, took her GED and started Jr College at twenty-six. The school was geared toward the majority and if a class was canceled it was posted in the dorms so she found herself wasting precious time on more than one occasion waiting for an afternoon class when she could have been home catching up on homework and spending time with her children. She used this as study time but most of her study was done after the kids were asleep and she was often up until two in the morning to be able to keep up. She was up at six-thirty to be able to have her daughter ready for school, her son ready for daycare and catch her ride to the University. She worked a split shift at a restaurant in the same town as her school during the lunch break and after classes some days and often waited on her classmates who paid little attention to her anyway so it wasn’t an embarrassment, just a fact of life as she needed to live it. The only time she had an issue was when she was trying to make a point in Government class one day and got into a debate with a young lady who, lacking valid argument ended her statement with something about defending her point to a waitress. Lynn had laughed at her but she laughed alone.

Half way through the first trimester she was called to the Student Office for the third time to take a call from her daughter’s school. Lynn was trying to save enough money to move to the school district that had a Behavioral Disorder classroom for students with various learning disabilities and Hyperactivity but saving out of her budget was almost an impossibility. She had petitioned the school board to allow Traci to attend the school but even though they were considering it they warned she would have to provide transportation. She was having a difficult time getting a ride to attend her classes and cussed Bill a thousand times for taking the only car they owned. The Assistant Dean had called her into his office the week before to tell her that if she missed one more class without a doctor’s excuse she would be failing World Religions class and if her grade point average dropped below her current 3.5 she would lose her partial grant.

Reading the Sunday paper was a luxury she allowed herself and she stumbled upon an opening for an assistant printer that required a High School diploma or equivalent and paid enough money to support herself and the kids plus save enough to move in just a couple of months.

Her printer was in the basement and the tiny window afforded her a glance at people’s feet as they hurried past. Unfortunately it didn’t open and she was also located right next to the ink room where everyone filled the tanks for their machines. There was a large fan that was supposed to provide ventilation but it was a good twenty feet from her station. She was making her way across the tipsy topsy floor, headed for the water fountain to splash cold water on her face when she toppled over and fell against the stack of envelopes just finished by the worker nearby, whose outraged voice she heard cussing her as she drifted into a semi-conscious state and onto the floor.


Submit a Comment

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image

    Linda Rogers 

    7 years ago from Minnesota

    Your story is so educational in so many ways. How mental health is viewed by those who don't understand. Your strength to carry on with kids as you struggled with mental illness. You working many jobs and going to school. I am exhausted by all the juggling you did. You are such an inspiration!

  • stars439 profile image


    7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

    Wonderful Hub, And the Accomplishments were awesome under the difficult circumstances. GBY Dear Heart.

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    LOL - yes, it was Q

  • QudsiaP1 profile image


    7 years ago

    Mind boggling...

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    SOH - I had grants to help me through school but no help with living expenses - that was just the hard part. I loved going to school and learning was just amazing to me. My first A got me addicted and I went in to thank the professor - it was Criminal Justice class and he told me not to ever thank anyone for a grade - especially not him - I had what I EARNED. Whoa - I remember that to this day though and apply it to some areas of life. For too long I thought I "earned" all the abuse and bad stuff - had to learn to sort that one out to the way he meant it.

    Yes, that nurse was a real biatch - I've thought about it a lot of times and measured it with a different frame of mind, time to heal, all that - nope! She was a Power hungry, sadistic, evil nasty biatch! And I was one of the stronger ones - I only wish I could tell you she didn't pick on the weak ones, but she did.

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    Ahh, thanks Scarlett. When you have a disease that travels through generations of your family, you have to try to stop it with you, if you can. I wish this had done it sooner, I wish the medications had been the right ones or that the right ones would have been available back then.

    Mental Health issues need to come to the forefront of awareness before they will get the attention and funding necessary to fight back hard enough to end the residual fall out. I'm sick of the shame and secrecy that still surrounds it to this day. Tell someone you have diabetes or another insidious disease and they don;t usually abandon you or shrink away - tell them you have Mental Health issues and wathc what they

  • SomewayOuttaHere profile image


    7 years ago from TheGreatGigInTheSky for you Pooh....putting yourself through school too.....i know it was tough...i can't even imagine how tough it was...but in the midst of it all you were thinking about you...somehow, someway...You...

    ...the mental health system still doesn't work...arrrghh...nurse rogers was a terrible person with no big systems, it's hard to weed those type of folks out...they'll always be around...

  • Scarlett My Dear profile image

    Scarlett My Dear 

    7 years ago from Missouri

    Pooh, the more I read, the more I realize what a fighter you are! There is so much to learn from someone who recognized that they needed help and then sought it out for the general health and safety of their children, no matter the cost to your pride. You are a strong woman with much to be proud of!

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    I do feel like a lab rat sometimes - you? The last two I tried, Pristiq, thought I would die!!! and then for the fybromyalgia they gave me Savella and my head pounding was the only thing that saved people around me from certain death. I still have to apologize to the receptionist at the doc's office for being short and sarcastic with her - YEAH ME SARCASTIC, would you believe it? LOL

  • LaurieDawn profile image


    7 years ago

    I can so relate to the health care back then, and how they were not prepared for someone with anxiety, PTSD, or anything related. They medicated and tried to get to the issues at hand, only I fear they had no clue.

    And sad to say, it is not much better today. In some regards with the medicines that help some, and some treatments, but I still find it lacking.

    Keep on writing Lady!


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