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Welcome to my blog. I hope we can help each other endure the pain of the addiction of a daughter or son.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Then and Now

My husband and I adopted Beth when she was 2 days old. It was the happiest day of our lives. She had the delighted attention of two loving parents. Her paternal grandparents lived right next door. Beth spent time with these proud grandparents every day. She was a beautiful blue eyed baby girl.

She swam in their pool, painted pictures with her artist Nana while her Pop Pop helped her to learn tennis.  She fished with her Dad and was his special helper in the garden. She always loved animals. She had a dog, guinea pigs and chickens. She took very good care of them all. Animals love her. Even very old and sick animal crawl right in her lap when they won't let anyone else touch them.

 Beth was an excellent student and athlete. She was in the top 10 percent of her class in high school. She was also the number one tennis player on the varsity team from ninth grade on. She played field hockey as well. She was also in the soprano section of the choir and was the best flute player in the school taking the first seat in the flute section.

It seemed that she was destined to be very successful. She was always a bit of a moody perfectionist. But she used this perfectionism to achieve good goals. She dominated her tendency to get blue by working out and driving herself in both academics and sports.

Beth had a few good friends since childhood. She seemed to be a leader in her circle. They came to her for advice and I often  heard her give them good advice.

All of that was before her mental illness took over. At sixteen years of age there was a big break. When I went to pick her up from school she had a wild look in her eyes. She kept staring into space. I remember saying…  “ Beth, are you mad at me?” She said, “I am just mad at the world.

Her withdrawal was extreme. She would not talk to the other girls on the tennis team. She was their star player and she did not even know their names. Both Nana and I asked her if someone had hurt her. She was a beautiful young girl and it crossed both of our minds with this sudden dramatic change. She never told us then, but it came out years later in rehab that she had been drugged and raped by a group of men. It was her first sexual experience.

I am so very sorry that she never told me. This all might have turned out differently if she had. I think that she always had trouble dealing with her emotions. There was a tendency in her to get sad and moody. But, I think without this event, she would have made it into young adulthood with just a little more than the normal anxiety.

As it was, she kept this big secret. She got very irritable and depressed. She continued to get good grades and work at the mall but she could not sleep. She had nightmares. She still dreams regularly of being dragged by her legs.  She continued with her activities but she no longer enjoyed them. This traumatic rape is what led to her post traumatic stress disorder.

It was around this time also that she injured her knee. The Dr. said that a torn medial meniscus is typically a football injury which is the result of a tackle and twist injury. He was puzzled that it occurred during tennis. It might have occurred during the rape.

Beth had 5 surgeries on her knee over the next few years. She lives in pain. If she were my age they would replace her knee but she is too young for that. She needs a knee replacement on the left knee. They took so much of her meniscus out that it would no longer support her weight. At 20 she had a meniscus transplant. It helped some but she could no longer play sports which was her life. That knee now pops and hurts. It has arthritis in it and she often wears an unloader brace to make the pain bearable. She does not take pain meds due to her past drug problems. Her other knee hurts from overuse.

Beth lost interest in everything that she used to enjoy. She went through the motions for awhile but she also started to self-medicate with drugs. When she was in a treatment center and they were drug testing her every day they finally diagnosed her with bipolar disorder. She was clean and sober but she had a full blown manic episode. She shaved her head. She dressed in black and she thought that people were following her.

It seems as though antidepressants can make a bipolar person go manic and that is what was happening to her. They got her on mood stabilizers then and she improved. The problem is that often she goes off her meds because she thinks that she is better. They also bother her as the side effects make her drowsy and they also make her have trouble concentrating.

Even when faithfully taking her psychiatric medications, Beth frequently has days when she is incapacitated by the symptoms of anxiety and depression. She also has panic attacks that cause her to hyperventilate. She spends these days crying or sulking. She does not talk much, is extremely irritable. She does not comb her hair or wash at these times. They occur as much as once or twice per week.

She has attempted suicide three times since her 20th birthday. She has lost her car, her boyfriend, her college and all her friends. She has been homeless on several occasions for months at a time.  She has gone to rehab several times. She has successfully finished and is making a valiant attempt to get her life back but her PTSD and bipolar depression still make it impossible for her to have a normal life.

She looks for and starts many jobs but her poor attendance and inability to deal with people well make these jobs short lived. She tried going back to college and passed one course. They let her take an incomplete due to frequent absences from depression. The next course she was to sick to ask for an extension and then it was too late.

In summary, my daughter was a victim of a traumatic gang rape. It was her first sexual experience. This led to her PTSD.  She probably always had tendencies to depression but this and her knee injury plummeted her into a major depression where she could not get out of bed.

She has been diagnosed with bipolar depression but only after taking medications for simple depression for several years. These antidepressants were actually making her mania worse.

She is a very different person now than the way she was or what she ever hoped to be. She does not get much joy from life. She lives in constant physical pain from her knee but rarely complains of it. It is the mental illness that bothers her. She has a tremendous sense of emptiness and loneliness.  She has panic attacks where she gasps for breath and fears for her life.  She is frustrated by how far she is from what she used to be and what she hoped to achieve.

Please pray for her and our family.



  1. If this letter doesn't touch his/her heart, I don't know what will. It sure touched mine.
    love & ((hugs))

  2. I pray that blessings are showered down on you both. Healing, healing, bring the healing.

  3. Such a touching letter, so moving and honest. Reading about Beth as a young child could have been my daughter's life. I have often wondered if something traumatic happened to my daughter or what triggered the dramatic change for her. My mom was severely mentally ill, so I think it may have just been in the genes. Life always seemed a little traumatic for her. I am so sorry for your Beth. She did not get what she deserved--so unfair. She is very fortunate to have you for a mom, to love and support her now.

  4. I hope that she will get the help necessary to get better. Hers is a sad and difficult story.

  5. Anna, i'm speechless right now...I've known Beth story from earlier blog posts, but reading it again and imagining this vibrant young girl who is not dealing with such a debilitation mental illness makes me sick. Rape is evil. No one that has not been through it can imagine the horror of it, especially when more than one person is committing the rape. I am so sorry. I can't stand knowing she suffers, and so many others, as well as my son. :(

  6. Anna,

    This letter is so beautifully written and such a touching tribute to your daughter. I hope she realizes how much you love her. She is lucky to have such a wonderful mom. Sending love and peace to you and Beth.


  7. Dear Anna,

    I am moved and touched by your story. Your daughter and mine have much in common. My daughter had a special way with animals. She has struggled with mental illness and gone on and off her meds. Her life is far from what she (and I) imagined.

    I will keep you both in my prayers. Hugs.

  8. I'm so sorry Anna,...and am praying for your daughter and you and the rest of your family to be blessed with peace. Rape changes someone's psyche in such a horrific way. I'm just terribly sorry that your daughter had to suffer as she has. Blessings to you.

  9. This is so sad. I hope one day she can use these circumstances to empower her rather than keep her down. It really broke my heart to read this story. I will be keeping her in my thoughts.

  10. Your daughter's story is so heartwrenching! We ask ourselves why, why does so much suffering have to afflict one person. I am praying for you and Beth and your whole family, for solutions, for healing, for grace.

  11. Also, has your daughter ever read The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender. He is a therapist specializing in sexual abuse and healing from that. I read it for me and then have passed it along. There is a workbook that goes with it. She may not read it, but he said what no one else ever did in ways that touched my soul deeply.

  12. Anna. Thanks for sharing the story of Beth's journey. Geez - it's easy to understand why/how Beth started numbing herself. Is she getting individual therapy? Maybe now, with proper DX and medication, she can start to heal. Beth is lucky to have you for a mom and advocate. Hang in there. We're all cheering you on and sending you peace . . . and love. Peggy