A Second Chance at Life


A woman tells her story of how an attempt at suicide, mental disorders, and infidelity led to her divorce, and later leading her to seek professional help.

July 31, 2013


Man:                Divorce of the end of a relationship. But it can also be the start of a lot of good. You might become a better parent, a better businessman, a better person. What’s your story?


Woman:          We married February 21st, 2002. Approximately nine years, eight years. June 21st 2010, so I have a total of four children. I had three with him. I have one previous to our being married. I have a 17 year old, a 9 year old, a 5 year old and a 6 year old.


It was a good marriage up until I started miscarriaging. I got very sick with depression. Instead of working through problems, I’d run away from them. I’d end up in the streets just wandering for hours and hours and hours, until he finally came and got me. He was always there. He always came to get me.


Then I started into suicidal tendencies, trying to take my own life which kind of led up to our divorce. He came home one day and just told me he didn’t want to be married anymore. At that point, I was using drugs and I was self harming.


I tried to kill myself the day I was committed into the SwedishAmericanHospital. I ended up going to jail from SwedishAmericanHospital for the suicide attempt. The suicide attempt was arson, because I tried to kill myself by fire. I was at such a low point that it didn’t matter how I died anymore.


In 2004 and 2005 it got really bad. By 2006 I was full blown in depression. We were both so into our addiction that it didn’t matter to either one of us. It just was a problem that we kept sweeping under the rug. It wasn’t something we wanted to deal with at the time. I’d wake up,

I’d take care of the kids, so take the kids to school. When they were at school it was substance abuse — literally not functioning through my day, until I had to pick up the kids again. And then I knew I had to be there to take of them again.


I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t sleeping right. I could stay up for days on end. I wasn’t eating right. I was basically not taking care of myself altogether. I wasn’t seeking help for my mental illness. I was in another hospital.


I mean, I know my condition now. I have bipolar II borderline personality disorder, and sometimes I still hear voices but the voices have gone pretty much away. But I mean, they’re not ever going to be completely gone away. The medication helps to a point.


From 2006 to 2007 I was in full blown suicidal tendencies. I found out I was pregnant. I had pre-postpartum depression instead of after it being pregnant, beforehand. And I was told I was a harm to my child. I was basically put in hospital arrest.


My husband came up there every day. He was supportive. He tried to say it was his fault. It wasn’t his fault, it was our fault because we didn’t deal with it sooner. After my daughter was born, everything seemed to become fairly okay. I mean, we had our rough patches and I wouldn’t say my depression got better. We worked through them.


The doctor said it would be hard. I was on medication for a little while. I thought I got better, and I stopped taking my meds again. I’ve learned I can never stop taking my medication.


Then I found out I was pregnant with our fourth child, which was kind of like a miracle for us, because my tubes were tied. We found out two months prior to having her, and that was because my emotions were going sporadic again. I was feeling depressed. I’d feel happy, depressed, happy, depressed. And someone just told me to take a pregnancy test.


I was fine for a while after having her. We lost our house. We lost everything in Michigan. We moved here to Rockford. My husband has family that’s not too far from here, but I knew not a soul here.


His family didn’t like me. It was hard moving here, because I moved away from my family. I moved away from my Dad, which was very sick. My family is in Michigan. His family said they could be more supportive than what mine was being at the time.


It was more convenient of a drive than to Michigan, because to Michigan it was like a five and a half hour drive for them. To Rockford it’s only an hour and 45 minutes.


Prior to moving here, I got a job. I was working. I came home early one night to find my ex-husband on the phone with his first wife. I won’t quite go into details as to what was going on there, but it was of a sexual nature.


We had a fight. Things progressed from there to me not being able to trust him when I was at work, because I was afraid she was calling. Then he came home one day and told me he didn’t want to be married anymore.


That’s when I was at my lowest point, but the trust issues were there. I was already down and depressed about it. My anxiety was up. Drug use didn’t help. I was just so lost at that point. That’s when I tried to kill myself.


I spent seven months in jail, was convicted of arson. It was February 2010 to February 27th 2010. I remember somewhat, me and my husband were fighting at the point. I was told I was not a good mother. I was neglecting my children. He told me he didn’t love me and he wanted to go back to his first wife.


I just broke down and lost it, and told him to leave. He left for a few minutes. I turned the gas on, made a pile of clothes underneath me, and I set them on fire. Had he not come back in, I don’t know what would have happened because I was so far gone they said when they found me.


I was so numbed, when I ended up in the hospital, I guess I tried several times while I was at the hospital, still to try and kill myself. They had sedated me so that I couldn’t attempt to kill myself anymore.


I ended up in the psych. ward. A couple of days later, I finally realized where I was at, again — back in the hospital. My kids were outside in the vehicle. The kids were no-where in the house when I did this.


I don’t really know what was going through my mind. I mean, I just heard my husband tell me he didn’t love me anymore, that he wanted to leave me, to be back with his first wife. That I was the worst mother he knew, even though all I did was take care of the kids. I took care of him. I was working full time. I was working at night, so I’d come home during the day. I wasn’t sleeping because I had to get the kids ready for school. And then he would want to be taken care of.


Unlike him, when I was using drugs, I went to sleep, where he would take drugs and he could be up for days on end. I used to love him. He’s the father of my children. I mean, at one point we had thought about getting back together.


In my own case, I couldn’t do it anymore, from so far from that marriage to walk back into it. I’m afraid what would happen. I can’t say I wasn’t completely not angry with him when I was in jail, because I couldn’t have any contact with own children.


I was furious. But all that furious just kept rage in me, and I didn’t like the rage that was inside of me. Because rage builds into anger, which builds into hate. We’re taught to love one another.


I had a Restraining Order put on me. I was allowed no contact with my kids whatsoever. They couldn’t call me, and I couldn’t call them. I took three months to be able to call them, to just be able to talk to them on the phone.


And that was the only contact I was allowed with my kids, which was really hard because my baby was only one when this happened. So, she had another mother living with her, who she calls “Mom.” So, it was hurtful to hear that, because I kept telling her, “No, your Mommy’s on the phone,” and she’s like, “No. This is my Mommy.”


I lost everything. I lost my pride, my own respect of myself, because it’s considered a Class X felony. I was allowed an hour out a day. The rest of it, I sat in a cell with nothing to do, except for my thoughts.


A lot of hatred at that point, but a lot of belief that maybe this was just a plan somebody had for me. I was jail and I couldn’t do nothing about it anymore, except for trying to get better, trying to take into prospect of what I was doing wrong, that the drugs weren’t helping.


At the time it was Janet Wattles, they finally sent somebody in to assess me. I was not allowed into general public until three months after my stay there. So, I had no contact with anybody else, other than one hour a day.


March 7th was the first time I entered the jail. I was given no bond. I was released [July 28th 2010]. I was living on the street first. Then someone told me about Crisis for the Rockford Rescue Mission. I ended up going there for two and a half months.


It’s a center for women to say they have no home to go to. So, it’s like a homeless shelter for women. They gave me a place to sleep, food in my stomach. They sent you over to the Mission for food, because at the regular Mission you’re allowed breakfast and lunch; and then dinner was the Crisis building.


Being that I liked being at the Crisis building, because I was free to walk throughout the day, it was still like being in a jail. You had to be in by six o’clock. You had to take showers when they said. You had to eat when they said. You had to wake up and do chores when they said.

It’s a nice place to go when you have no place to go, but it’s still like being in a jail, if you’ve been in a jail. You had no control over how you functioned, except for when you were out from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at night, you were allowed to wander the streets.


And at that point, I was seeking help at Janet Wattles, but I was still being offered drugs at the same time. You want to get high; you want to go do this. Marijuana, heroin, speed; but my focus was on my kids at that point.


I continued to seek help at Janet Wattles. I got put on medication that really helped. It’s a center for people that suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar. They help you get on medication for depression. They help get you on medication, they help you with the case manager. They helped me get on social security.


At first, I was [inaudible 10:06] going to this. Either way, I was in medical crisis beds a couple of times, because I felt really depressed again. I was feeling self-harmful again.


Crisis bed is their option instead of going to a hospital, you go to a house and you sit. They monitor you, but you’re not allowed to go outside. But you’re allowed to watch TV. You’re allowed to do this and that.


You’re under a doctor’s care there, still. I was only there twice. I continued to seek help at Janet Wattles. They had an employment services place where they were helping me look for work, but that ended in 2011. They shut that part of it down.


I’ve been in Janet Wattles since 2010 to the present date. I still attend there. They helped get me on Medicaid. They help me get food stamps, help me get my medication because at the time, I couldn’t afford it, so it was government funded.


I went through several different medications before they found the right mixture of medications. A couple of them were to help me sleep; otherwise I’d stay up for days on end still. Anxiety, anxious thoughts that just keeps me awake. But my main focus was getting my kids back.


I wasn’t having suicidal tendencies. I wasn’t as depressed. I went to the Rockford Rescue Mission. I sought out help there for my substance abuse. I continued to get a lawyer. It’s been a battle.


I was eventually given supervised visitations. The Mission helped me so I could have my kids on overnights, but they were all supervised by somebody throughout the night. The kids were checked on. But legally I fought with my husband for visitations to my kids, because there was an Order for Protection still that he was not willing to lift.


I think he was concerned that I would try and self-harm again. My nine year old knows what happened. My young ones don’t, so it’s still fresh in my nine year old’s mind what I did to myself. He was told what happened, because he saw me dragged off in handcuffs, and put into an ambulance.


The Judge at the time said I wasn’t a harm but he wasn’t going to lift the supervised visitation. So, the Judge honored his wishes for supervised visitations, which I was granted. But I had to find a way to get to Wheaton so I could see my kids, because at that point they were living in Wheaton now, with his parents.


From there, the mother that was doing supervised visitations, she wasn’t doing the supervised visitations. She would leave during them. His family was starting to feel comfortable with me being around them.


I mean, I was in a public place. I communicate very well now with my ex-husband. We finally came to an agreement, and what was it…February 2013, we finally came to an agreement. The Judge had to kind of convene a little bit, but other than that, we had come to an every other weekend agreement. I get them Easter. I get them either Labor Day or Memorial Day. I get them every other Christmas.


This is my whole history. I could have chosen to do the alcohol and the drugs again, but in my mind, I was concerned that that was my first thought is, “Do I want them to see that type of person? Or a type of person that they could respect again.”


We put the kids first — their needs. I’m a parent half the time, which is every other weekend. But I try to be involved in their report cards, their after school activities, their baseball games; talking to them daily on the phone. [James] telling me what they’ve done, how they are doing in school.


We try and communicate like if they’re in the hospital, he tells me they’re in the hospital. If they’ve been sick, he’ll tell me they’ve been sick. If something goes wrong like my son got beat up one time at school, and there was legal issues there.


He puts the kids’ needs always in front of his. The kids have to come first in this, because my son’s in counseling because of everything that happened on February 27th 2010. He’s been in counseling since then. He has angry rages and he’s even said to the point where he said he wanted to harm himself, which I feel really responsible for because he saw it from me.


I go to my probation. I do my community service work. I give volunteer in the community. But I’m still not allowed that chance to go back to work. I don’t want to have to wait till I have my records sealed, because that’s seven years from what I’ve been told. And if I have to wait seven years for a job…I don’t feel depressed as much as I used to.


I mean, I loved my husband when we were married. But the drugs — he did them more than I did. But then, when he’d work, he worked hours upon hours. He was never home. So, it was like I was doing it all on my own. But I wasn’t. He was there.


Remember, the kids have to come first. I mean, you can argue till you’re both blue in the face but if it’s hurting the kids, you’re not going to get anywhere. The kids have to come first in this.

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