Our Lives Disappeared With Bipolar Disorder     
The Fourth House
  By – Sheri de Grom

Our perfect lives were swept away by my husband’s disease of bipolar disorder before we’d had the opportunity to fulfill our hopes and dreams. When we met, Tom was not yet diagnosed as bipolar disordered nor were the coming symptoms present.

Even when they did manifest, Tom was first diagnosed with single episode major depression.

Two weeks passed and Tom was as emotionally paralyzed as when I’d first admitted him. If anything, he was more withdrawn than he’d been fourteen days earlier. He seemed to take one step forward and then two steps back. His condition, whatever it was, had a mean streak. He wasn’t getting better.

My days rolled into a vacuum and I put one foot in front of the other. Exhaustion overwhelmed me. “Please God, what is going on with the man I love?”

Arriving home after visiting Tom, my best friend had already reached my house. She’d managed to get the wood-burning fireplace going; platters of fresh vegetables, fruits, my favorite cheeses, and a smoothie were waiting for me. I knew somehow it was going to be a long night, and it was. I also knew I could count on my best friend, Catherine. She’s been with me for years, years before I’d even known Tom.

The day wasn’t over yet, not for me. The internist had left a message with Catherine for me to call her right away. She had reviewed Tom’s charts and noted that the attending psychiatrist had changed Tom’s diagnosis to Bipolar Disorder. I held the phone away from me as if it was an unwanted appendage and Catherine took it out of my hand. I fell into her arms as the tears fell heavier than the December rains slamming the house. The hell with being invincible.

Please, God, do not let those magical days with Tom be over. You gave me the greatest gift of all when Tom walked into my life—unconditional love. I beg you, bring the man I married home.

I’d asked for a diagnosis that explained Tom’s long months of depression and then the bouts of unexplained times of endless energy and grand ideas.

I’d asked our internist to keep an eye on Tom’s medical record and to be kept informed. I’d asked her for answers and now I had it. What could I do with a death sentence?

The devastating news of the bipolar disorder diagnosis shook me to my core.

I’d spent hours in my gardens arguing with myself and at times asking for God’s direction in what I should write and how much of the truth I should tell when educating others about this disease of bipolar disorder that we live with every day.

The same arguments traveled through my mind each time I was asked to speak publicly on the subject. It didn’t matter the size of the audience. How much should I tell was always the magical question?

In 2000, I signed on to speak via the DC speaker’s bureau and it turned into a full-time job. They placed me as the keynote speaker before more convention dinners than I ever want to think about again. Every week in 2000, I spoke at least once for the American Medical Association and often two and three times.

In 2001, I asked to sign on with the DC speaker’s bureau for anything mental health related and that brought me more opportunities than I could keep up with. Leaders in the mental health field were hungry to learn how to approach legislation and the steps necessary to have their ideas turned into legitimate proposals. That was a fun, filled year.

I continued to cross the country and enter and exit more time zones than I wanted to think about. But, if I didn’t speak out, who would?

Tom was able to travel with me in those days and we were able to explore large cities and attend cultural events that we would otherwise have missed.

In 2000 I wrote a non-fiction manuscript illuminating the disease and how it tore away at us day-after-day with no relief. As I laid bare the road we’d traveled and wrote the truths of the disease, it dug into my soul with every word put on paper. My mission: I wanted other couples to know they too could survive this beast of a disease as long as they had unconditional love on their sides. I wasn’t promising a life without bumps and scary nights of emergency room admissions but, on the flip side, we had endless days and nights of walks on the beach in Carmel, California, fun trips along the Pacific Coast highway (of which neither of us tired), antique hunting, rejoicing when a piece of Tom’s jewelry design work was mentioned in some well-know artist journal, or when we watched the unveiling of a full-wall stained glass masterpiece he’d designed and meticulously put into place for a church.

We were equally celebratory when I brought a case to a successful conclusion for the government or had located and verified evidence to save taxpayers millions and sometimes billions.

But when I shopped the completed manuscript, editors and agents alike told me I either had to be a psychiatrist or a famous person before anyone would pick up our story and read it, let alone believe what I reported. No one wanted to hear the truth of how one couple continued to love and cherish amid bipolar disorder. After all, the statistics tell you it’s next to impossible to achieve.

Life continued to pass by and I wrote another manuscript as I dealt with Tom’s illness. This one was pure fiction. It was a great distraction from everyday life and I had so much to learn about writing fiction. Using the written word for maximum efficiency was my best weapon for twenty years of government service, but that was government writing. I had to learn fiction writing from the ground up.

I’ve been blogging since December, 2011, and it’s now or never. I can do what I said I was going to do or I can forget about the subject most near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, the latter is just not possible. Tom and I are forced to live with bipolar disorder in our marriage twenty-four hours of every-day.

What I will do is tell you the truth. It may not always be in the order that events happened but I’ll do my best to keep our story in sequence. My desire is to give you an idea of how the disease progresses. After all, no one with bipolar disorder is supposed to live beyond fifty-five and Tom is now sixty-seven.

I’ve gone through many of my old journals and have shocked even myself that we managed to stay sane when going through so much unreasonableness in the healthcare community.

I’ve read and followed some amazing blogs written with an openness and willingness to share. These individuals allow us into their home and show us exactly what’s happening. It’s time for me to do what I promised myself I’d do: to reach out and let the world know statistics are just statistics. When everyone else tells you to walk away, that’s their opinion. They don’t have your strength or the love you have to share with another individual. I listened to my heart and never once have I regretted that decision.

Additional blogs told from the heart include:

  • http://kateswaffer.com : Creating life with words. Kate’s blog is uplifting. She’s diagnosed with early age on-set Alzheimer’s and is approaching the disease as if it’s the Olympics training for her life.
  • http://pifuk.wordpress.com/2013/09/15 : Patrick Fisher’s parents live with him. He shares the caretaking of his father, who has Dementia and roams the house at night. The blog I highlighted above speaks directly about the emotional see-saw we caregivers find ourselves on from time to time and what happens when we can’t take it any more.
  • http://terry1954.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/a-sisters-thoughts : Terry has been the primary caregiver of her brother Al for a long time. Not only is she his physical caregiver, but she offers him unconditional love, spiritual guidance, recreational choices—and above all—she provides him the knowledge that when it’s time for him to slip away, he will not be alone.
  • http://albuthomeless.wordpress.com : Cheryl and her husband are recovering from financial ruin. She speaks humbly about the ordeal her family lives on a daily basis in today’s economy.
  • http://miketerrill.wordpress.com/2013/09/12 : Mike writes the most selfless blog I’ve yet to encounter. He has cancer and knows the end is near. However, the lead to his blog reads: “Living Life to the Fullest from the End Stage. Just because they say the end is near doesn’t mean you can’t live.”
  • http://notdownorout.wordpress.com : Cheryl’s blog is a representation of daily life and surviving a serious bout with cancer. I strongly recommend you follow her blog. Little things I’d never given a thought cause me to stop and ponder, why didn’t I know this before? It’s these truths that writers such as Cheryl share with us that educate and allow us to perhaps be somewhat kinder and, gentler toward those who are in remission but in need of our continuing outreach. Cheryl also is a terrific story teller. Don’t miss out on her wicked, twisted, plot twists.
  • http://unshakablehope.com // : Bill writes one of the newer blogs I follow and I unconditionally recommend reading his uplifting words without hesitation. He was thirty-six and living the American dream when he was diagnosed with ALS. Within a year he could not walk or talk. Bill believes a disease or any life-change should not define the individual.

There are many other blogs I could share. Each one writes something different and offers a slightly different thought. These writers have given me the courage to go forth with ‘The Fourth House’ series.

I’ll still have my opinion pieces plus Morti and me and we can’t forget book reviews. I just wanted to do a little housecleaning before I continued.

Thanks to everyone for their continued support and encouragement.   

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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  1. God is Good says:

    My sister has been diagnosed bipolar and schizophrenic. Sadly she is also aggressive, violent and abusive and has been since I was young … so much so that when my daughter was 6 months old we had to say enough and draw a boundary, which saddened my mother (my daughter is now nearly 13 and my mother is now 86) but which i think kept me in one piece emotionally.
    She is not a Christian yet, neither is my mother.
    I recently met a bipolar Christian who showed me what a relationship of God could do …
    When my mum dies we inherit the responsibility …
    Sadly she is in hospital at the moment …
    I am so glad to read a good story … I tell mum (barely believing it myself) that with life there is hope … knowing that God could and wants to …
    Anyway … thank you for writing
    God is Good!

  2. mihrank says:

    wow – this is such great and amazing idea showing gratitude and appreciation…

  3. “But when I shopped the completed manuscript, editors and agents alike told me I either had to be a psychiatrist or a famous person before anyone would pick up our story and read it, let alone believe what I reported. No one wanted to hear the truth of how one couple continued to love and cherish amid bipolar disorder. After all, the statistics tell you it’s next to impossible to achieve.”

    After reading this I was saddened to know about the closed mindedness of some people, especially in that they were closing their minds on something positive.

  4. My heart goes out to you. Life is so capricious. I have no idea of God’s plan. I have ‘problems’, but they are physical. I often worry how I would live without my husband. I just wouldn’t, but you must because he needs you. I am in awe of your strength.

    • Hi Jacqui – It’s nice to see you here. Life takes interesting twist and turns. I put one foot in front of the other, just like everyone else. Tom and I love each other unconditionally and I cannot imagine living my life without him. Bipolar is a tough illness and it never goes away, therefore I keep learning everything I can and keep searching out the best medical care I believe that’s available. I trust your year is in full swing and I do hope life is moving along nicely for you.

  5. Wonderful info .I’m a retired VA psych RN. Few spouses stay together and I commend you and your husband for keeping your marriage intact. I know a lot about BAD. It was my area of deep concern and expertise. I wish you much luck with your writings.

    Best regards,

    • Thank you for stopping by to read with me. I so appreciate your comment. We have the best psychiatrist Tom has ever had and he just happens to be at the VA. Tom had been hospitalized 27 times before we met this doctor. We’d never used the VA for Tom’s care as I had full pay BC/BS. It was by accident that we found this doctor and have been with him for 8 years.

      • Thanks for the reply. You are very lucky to have a good VA psychiatrist.

        • He’s the best psychiatrist Tom has ever had. The doctor has been promoted to an administrative post and no longer sees patients (what a shame) but when this happened he gave me his private cell for me to call whenever we needed him. The doctor has never failed to answer on the first ring or to see Tom within 36 hours. He told me once that he does this because I am so involved in Tom’s care. We’d planned to retire on the west coast but we will not leave this doctor – he’s that good!

  6. Dear Sheri,

    You are a voice of immense depth, wisdom, and compassion, to shine a light on this subject so that we, your readers, may learn and better understand, and hope that compassion will come off the page and arrive where it’s needed the most. Blessings to you, Tom, and all the lives you touch where the light is needed.

    Wishing you and yours a peaceful New Years.


  7. huntmode says:

    Reblogged this on Chasing Rabbit Holes and commented:
    Bipolar dis-ease. Two words that can scare you or save you. Sheri de Grom writes with truth and a soft starkness of what it can mean to a couple devoted to one another. Read it. If not for you, perhaps a friend or another family member. In my family, there were four children – two boys and two girls. One brother and one sister were diagnosed bipolar. The first when I was 12 and the second I think I was closer to 18. Ever since, I have waited for me to manifest it. I am 59 year old. So far, so good. Thank you to Sheri and all the others who reach out.

  8. huntmode says:

    Sheri, I am so GLAD to see this post. Never you mind that stats, what you are sharing is very important – if you were to be the only couple, so be it – you would still have lit the way for those that follow. With admiration, HuntMode

    • Huntie – I just read a couple of your blogs and was getting ready to get off the computer for the night and saw you had left a message. Thanks for stopping to read and leave a comment. I’ve never worried about the stats but I have been upfront with others contemplating a marriage. My thought, if they have to ask then unconditional love probably isn’t in the equation. Hugs to you my friend.

  9. inesephoto says:

    Sheri, I am reading your older posts, one at a time. So grateful I got to know you. Also thank you for sharing the links to the other blogs. I will forward them to the people who are living with similar sorrow. Have a peaceful Sunday!

    • Thank you so much for reading my early blogs about Tom’s and my relationship with bipolar disorder. Had I known on our wedding day what I know now, I would still have married this kind, gentle and gifted man.
      I also appreciate your passing my blog to others that may find my information helpful. I promised myself I would be honest about our lives when I started my blog. I want others to know it’s possible to remain committed to each other and have unconditional love when one partner in a relationship is bipolar. The statistics are against every couple. The divorce rate is 90%. It doesn’t have to be that way but both individuals must be committed to the marriage and their lives together.

      I’m in love with your photography. It is awesome. Sheri

      • inesephoto says:

        Sheri, I admire your courage and devotion. I will read all your early posts, there is so much to learn. Thank you for your comments! I am truly honored and humbled.


      • Thank God you’re in the 10% who hang in there with their bipolar spouse. My “ex” shunned me from the moment I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, which was amended to Bipolar Disorder long after we divorced. When I told him the doctor said I was depressed and prescribed medication, he literally turned his back, and as he was walking away he said in a monotone, “Let me know when you are better.” We stayed married “because of the child” another five years. It would have been much better if we had divorced immediately, for all concerned.

        • Laura – I want to shake that ex-husband of yours and hammer some sense into his head but then I know things don’t work that way. They never do. My immediate thought (and no, not from me trying to read anything into what you’ve written because that’s not my function) but I’ve met many professionals – such as my Tom and you that are brilliant beyond compare, at the top of their game and are recognized as being the best among the highest of standards in their chosen field. You are sought out over and over for your opinions and have your work (it doesn’t matter in what field, Tom’s happened in museum quality blown glass and working in precious gems and gold designing one of a kind pieces), and I’ve always believed it’s the terrible sucking away of the person into the deep dark depression that brings the person first. We, the spouse, aren’t familiar with this new mate of ours and in my case, I was willing to do anything to get my Tom back. I know I didn’t always make the best choice but neither did I make the worst. I was always at his side reminding him and soothing him that no matter what, I would always be there, always loving him and always supporting him in what ever manner was needed.

          I cannot imagine how horrific your pain might have been and still is, that your husband walked away. That’s not an option God gives us when we take our wedding vows. I’m not a highly religious person and have much to learn but when I met and married Tom, I knew I’d finally met the man that would fulfill every hope I’d ever had. We dated exclusively for years as I was going through a very long and very nasty divorce when we met. I was already into the divorce proceedings five years and knew there were to be years before everything was finally closed out. It was messy forever and sometime I may write about it.

          I’m angry that your husband walked away instead of becoming educated on what you, as his wife and the mother of his child, needed the most at this time of your life. When I do public speaking on behalf of individuals married to those inflicted with mental illness, I always have a long discussion about how the person suffering did absolutely nothing to bring the disease on and it IT IS NOT THE MENTALLY ILL’S PERSON’S FAULT! To remember that no mater how much they, the caregiver, might need a hug right that very moment, their spouse may not be able to provide it, but I know from living with this disease of Tom’s for so many years that the hugs, intimate conversations and the joys of watching a beautiful sunset together are activities we can now enjoy because I never left. It’s simply not an option.

          I must agree with you, no one should stay married for the sake of a child. Children know what’s going on and they have a hard time understanding everything that’s going on but I honestly believe they have a better chance of obtaining a healthy life if they only have to cope with 1 positive person instead of 2 dysfunctional individuals always at war with each other.

          I invite you to join me for my upcoming blog titled, ‘When A Man Loves A Woman.’ A fellow blogger suggested I toss something like this into my blogs ever once in a while. And, as always, I so appreciate your stopping by and commenting. Sheri

          • Infinite blessings upon your precious head, Sheri. I have no other words to express my gratitude to you.

            On a completely different note, we may know each other from the glassblowing world. The fiftieth anniversary of Toledo just passed. My father and one other person were the organizers and main presenters at the original event.

            And I will keep an eye peeled for your upcoming post!


            • Laura, That would be oh so special to have a a regular connection with you. I so miss going to regular art shows wherein glass blowing was the featured medium. Tom is no longer able to blow glass because of his compromised lungs and all the nasty chemicals psychiatrist have pushed on him through the years. He has major museum and hotel entry size pieces scattered all over the world. Somewhere down the line I plan to include some of his glass pieces that I rescued from fine galleries because I knew I wanted them for our home and that he probably would no longer be able to blow glass. I will be featuring some of Tom’s jewelry designs in precious stones and gold and white gold in some of my upcoming blogs. I try to post once a week but this past month has been a challenge. You’ll find my last post at ‘Life Through Me A Curve Ball.” I hope to have a new blog up this week.
              You are a special lady, Laura. It comes through in your words. This world is honored to have you in it. Please don’t be a stranger to those of us that love and care about you. Sheri

  10. Hello Sheri,
    I stumbled on your website. I encourage you to self publish or keep looking for publishers who will publish your memoir, as a sufferer from bipolar and ex librarian, there are books out there written by sufferers and loved ones that have been published, don’t let the opinion of the bigname publishers stop you! I just read one that was published recently called Praying to the Goddess of Mercy by Mahita Vas. She’s not a celebrity or a psychiatrist. It was very good for me, I mean not all of us are can laugh at ourselves like Carrie Fisher, or appreciate being anthropologised like Kay Jamieson.

    • Thank you so much for visiting my blog and your encouraging words. I argue with myself everyday with what I’m going to do with the material I’ve written and other thoughts and material I’ve simply stashed away. Writing has been a way for me to cope with my husband’s illness. It was especially valuable for me to have ‘a place to go’ during the many years I had left to work before retiring. Thankfully I was able to retire with twenty years from federal government and that’s allowed me the time to care for Tom.
      If you wish to read additional bipolar related blogs, my ‘fourth house’ series is now around 8 or 9 blogs.

  11. pilbra says:

    I’ve gone to your blog before and read in amazement at your words and life. You put depression in understandable words. I have written over the year to escape depression and put my life in some sore of perspective. I have come out the other side and discovered writing in a different way.

    • Pilbra – Thank you for coming back and reading this blog. I’m thrilled you’ve survived depression and are able to express yourself with beautiful insight. I try to get to your site as often as possible as you are a loyal follower and that means so much to me.
      Tom’s depression is clinical and he can be overwhelmed and non-functioning for months at a time. We are in that situation at this time. I used to think I could do something to make him happy again but I know that’s not the way it works with someone who’s clinically depressed or any other depression. It’s a chemical in-balance, but then you already know that. Thanks again, Pilbra. I sincerely appreciate your reading with me. Sheri

      • pilbra says:

        Your most welcome all the best wishes in the world to you both. You come to my blog quite often and read my stuff. I am just amazed at the following on my blog

  12. findingmyinnercourage says:

    Sheri, your words cannot be measured by any means! You speak from deep within your heart! You speak from personal experience. You speak from research! You have provided extremely valuable information – your voice is important at so many levels! I so admire you and your gift to connect with all of us! Blessings!

  13. I’m bipolar, Sheri, and although I have struggled with depression all my life, the meds have kept me fairly steady since my one manic episode 20 years ago. –John

    • Hello, John. It’s nice to see you here. I wish Tom were able to take lithium – it seems to be a medication that works wonders for so many with the mood swings. However, we discovered lithium turns toxic in his system – a discovery we made after the drug had destroyed 1/3 of his liver. The extreme mood swings are particularly tough for me as a caregiver and they have wrecked Tom’s body as that’s when the doc’s add more and more meds. Thankfully we’ve had a wonderful psychiatrist the past 7 years that monitors Tom’s medications ever so carefully and doesn’t over-prescribe. On another note – I really enjoy your daily photo entries. I told Tom about your site and he loves your witty comments and I’ll hear him chuckling from time to time.

      • After 17 years on lithium, they switched me to another med in 2010 because of kidney damage, but the damage didn’t stop where it was. Learned a month ago that I have 3rd-stage Chronic Kidney Disease. Saw a nephrologist for the first time yesterday. For now, all I have to do is limit protein intake and lose 25 lbs.

        Oh, and tell Tom I like him without even meeting him. Neither of us DESERVED to win this genetic lottery.

        • John – I couldn’t agree with you more. Neither of you deserved to win this genetic lottery. I think the reason I have beautiful gardens is because when I’ve seen all the suffering I can take, I head to the gardens and work out my frustrations on weeds and such. I’m so sorry to hear about your Chronic Kidney Disease. That is not a good role of the dice. A best friend of ours has 3rd-stage Chronic Kidney Disease (he’s not biplar so it’s not from medications – in his case it’s all genetics). He’s also diabetic and it’s strange. Many of the foods good for him as a diabetic are not good for his kidney disease. Tom is also diabetic and in his case it has nothing to do with food or genetics. One of his psych meds later came with a black box warning that it could cause diabetes.

          • My garden is therapy for me, too, especially my rose garden. My flowers are frequent “guest speakers” on my blog. Saw the nephrologist for the first time on Fri. For now all I have to do is limit protein and lose 25 lbs.

            • Gardens are a blessing. I thought I’d fall over when my neurologist said I had to lessen my gardens by two-thirds. During the time we lived in Monterey, CA, one of the last doctors Tom saw there introduced him to antique roses and of course Tom was in a manic state and you might imagine how much of the household budget went into antique roses. Tom’s ideas that come on with mania are often flash in a pan interests and when the deep depression follows, he no longer has an interest in whatever it was that he’d been frantically doing for months on end. I’m not a particular fan of antique roses and of course I’m the one that always ends up taking care of them when Tom abandons them to fend for themselves.

  14. How amazing you are, that you continue to love and care for your husband. I and my bipolar dis-ease (hyphen intentional) managed to get rid of two husbands and several significant others in between. It’s destroyed my life, robbed me of my career, and left all of my important relationships in tatters. Bless you for not abandoning your husband in his time of need.

    • Laura – I’ve learned a lot along the way. Tom, my husband, wasn’t diagnosed until we’d been married about 18 months. We dated exclusively for enough years that I’m well acquainted with the man I married as well as ‘not’ the man I married. My blogs on the subject of mental illness are primarily about the journey Tom and I have been on with his disease. As my father said, as he was walking me down the aile, when I married Tom, “It took you 40 years but, you finally got it right!”
      I married young and my first husband was a victim of Vietnam. If interested, I wrote about it here: http://wp.me/p22zGl-Aa
      I’d only known my 2nd husband 6 weeks when we married each other for all the wrong reasons. The marriage lasted 10 years (only because it took me 5 years to get divorced from him).
      With Tom, unconditional love came fast and we had a solid friendship to build on and I believe that’s what makes everything okay when things are really hard.
      No one should ever be abandoned. I hope for you that one day just the right man will walk into your life and you too will know your heart has come home to rest.

  15. windhound says:

    Thank you for being so articulate.

  16. heila2013 says:

    Dear Sheri,
    Thank you for this very informative and touching post. And for the valuable blog recommendations. Through my son’s coping with schizophrenia I have met several people with bipolar disorder so I know what you are talking about. What I did not know, is that people with bipolar have an average life expectancy of only 55 years. That’s shocking.
    Thanks again. Heila

    • Heila – Thanks for stopping in to read with me. I think those of us with a loved one of bipolar disorder and those with a loved one with schizophrenia often cross paths and lend help and support as we travel the same paths of finding the right treatment for the individual we love. We are always learning about both of these diseases and many others that make up the medical arena. I look forward to reading your posts. Sheri

      • heila2013 says:

        So true dear Sheri, the learning never ends.
        My son’s medication helps him to a certain extent but not enough. Lately, his psychotic fears are closing in on him again and rather than adding pills, as offered by his (publicly funded) psychiatrist (the Israeli health care system is different from the American one) we are now trying alternative methods. Today for instance, we have an appointment with a shiatsu therapist. And if that isn’t satisfactory, we’ll go on searching… BTW, my son also has IPEC treatment, which is something wonderful. Unfortunately, that is not state-funded so he can’t see the therapist that often.
        My next post is about the changes in the DSM-5.
        I wish you a wonderful day. Heila

        • Heila – I’m looking forward to reading about how the new changes are affecting both providers of care and the care provided patients now that we have the new DSM-5. We have many providers that have gone out of business because of the new DSM-5 and treatment not exactly matching the new criteria established. IMO, we opened the door for a great deal of fraud and far less treatment. Sheri

  17. gpicone says:

    I’ve never heard of people suffering from bi-polar disorder having a life expectancy of 55. Most of the people who I know with bi-polar disorder are over 55…and the diagnosis of this disease seems to be growing in leaps and bounds…most of my married friends have at least one child diagnosed with it! How do you or anyone explain this recent growth in the disease? Just curious…

    • In the early eighties and even today, the consensus is that individuals with bipolar disorder will not live beyond 55. Matter of fact, they are considered the fortunate few if they do live that long. The toll the disease takes on the body is staggering. Add in the medication factor and the added dangers to the body and trouble is brewing. The #1 killer of individuals with bipolar disorder is suicide. I’ll be adding posts on that very subject and how Wayne Lapierre, National Rifle Association executive vice president hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about when he uses mental health and gun control in the same sentence. Gun’s must have a mechanisim wherein they are controlled. Do you believe the weekend mass murders in Chicago are committed by individuals [all] with mental illness.
      I believe the increased diagnosis of bipolar disorder has a great deal to do with money. Yes, the disease can genetically be passed from parent to child but placing the bipolar label on a child and have that follow him for the remainder of his life in his medical record will scar him for life and preclude him for engaging in many career paths, etc. A psychiatrist tried to hang the label of biplar of one of my husband’s grandsons when the child was 3. I said no way! The psychiatrist wanted the treat the child with anti-psychotics and I came un-glued to say the least. Can you imagine what that would do a child’s maturing brain.
      The real get rich quick scheme is when the psychiatrist persuades the patient that electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT) is a requirement. In our case, the doctor told me that without ECT, Tom’s depression was so severe he would commit suicide within six months or his medications would destroy what was left of his body in a year. Still, ECT was the worst decision I ever made.
      ECT is big business. It equates in dollars and cents for the doctor to having a second full-time income. ECT is not regulated by any agency and the procedure has never been tested for reliability. However, the psychiatrist makes money, the hospital has added revenues with both the patient’s room, surgery suite, anesthesia, and minimum 2 ECT assistants.
      My bottom line is that I believe more and more individuals are being dignosed with bipolar disorder because it contributes to the financial well-being of the psychiatrist, the pharaceutical companies and other facilities such as inpatient care, and the list marches on.
      I believe my husband’s diagnosis is correct. However, his grandson was a full-blooded little boy that loved to race himself until he fell down exhausted. He also has an inquisitive mind, much like his grandfather. Science and math are his favorite subjects and as a junior in high school ranks #2 in the entire state of N. Carolina. Can he be moody–of course–is he suicidal–no. He’s a young man on the cusp of doing great and imaginative work that pharmaceutical drugs hasn’t negated.

    • My dad was bipolar and died at age 72 of emphysema from being a heavy smoker all his life. I was diagnosed 20 years ago and am now 64.

  18. Denise Hisey says:

    Sheri, you are doing great work by sharing your story.

    • Thank you, Denise. Sometimes when I dig through my dozens upon dozens of journals, I remember some really beautiful times Tom and I spent together. Amazing times that bring both a smile to my face and a tear to my eyes. We still have some awesome times. Now that I’m battling my own limitations, Tom and I share are revised plans for the future. We discovered just this weekend that together as partners we have two good left hands. Using our two left arms and hands results in a good pair. Who knew? Love is grand.

  19. Sheri ~ You are always pressing forward…..thank you so much for sharing your lives and experiences. The picture of grace, you are. ♥

    • Paula – I had several bloggers ask me if i was comfortable telling Tom’s and my story as events actually happened. I’m relying heavily on my journals and will do my best to try to stay within the bounds of showing the events as they marched across our lives. Mental illness is so prevelant in our country and just a day ago, I read a quote by the Vice President of the National Rifle Association, Wayne Lapierre, that nearly sent me up into smoke. He said, and I quote, “Afther the Washington Navy Yard shooting referring to the danger of mentally ill people being able to access weapons.”

      Wayne Lapierre has no idea of who buys guns and for what purpose. You’ll never hear him talk about the gang wars on the chicago streets, or New Orleans, or Oakland, or New York, or any large city in this nation. Neither will he talk about how weapons is one of our highest exported goods – what does that say about our country?

      I have a personal blog coming up wherein I begged every agency I could think of to please place Tom on a do-not-sale list for purchasing any weapon. Tom didn’t want to hurt anyone else and he never has. He didn’t want to terrorize animals and he never has. He only wanted to use the gun on himself to put himself out of the pain and anguish of the disease and with the hope that I would somehow have a better life.

      Mental illness is not the problem with gun control. Bureaucrats that make it possible for automatic weapons to arrive on the street are that’s where the buck has to stop.

  20. Lignum Draco says:

    Sheri, your thoughts and actions are from the heart. I wish you both all the best. It’s a difficult journey but it’s good to read you. I suspect you are speaking on behalf of many many others who do not have the words.

  21. gpcox says:

    You are always helping others, Sheri – you’re a true saint.

    • GP – No, never a saint, but thank you anyway. You are providing such a valuable service to the men and women of the wars they fought. And, it’s impossible to assign a dollar value to the historical information you are providing for the rest of us to read and absorb. Often I believe I must have been either asleep during history class or at a minimum day-dreaming. It’s nice to see you here. Have a wonderful day.

    • GP – Your encouragement is one of the elements that pushes me forward. I hope to be able to get the VA Official Photographer to join us on some of our activities. (However with the government shut-down, he’s one of the employees on furlough]. Wouldn’t it be grand to have other VAs join us in this endeavor. The smiles are priceless. Tom is a national award winning photographer but most nights his trembling hands refuse to stay still long enough to set up the shots I’d like to have. Interestingly enough, a homeless veteran that attends another group session that I’ve popped into ocassionally is also a photo-journalist. Tom’s equipment is quite expensive but I think if I get Tom to stop being so stubborn, Tom could work with the vet and together they could get priceless pictures. We’ll just have to see how I gently I can pull this off. Please check to make sure I have successfully erased all of your home information. I did locate a e-mail – do you still use it?

  22. runningonsober says:

    I’m so glad you are speaking and sharing your truth and experience, Sheri, thank you.

    “I listened to my heart and never once have I regretted that decision.” — I love this!

    Thank you for the other blog links too. I love inspirational stories, and I admire all writers who aren’t afraid to roll-up their sleeves and share the good, bad and ugly of their struggles and challenges.

    You touch so many lives with your words; thank you for making a difference.

  23. Thank you for your kind words and for mentioning my blog, Sheri.
    I was thinking about you this morning. My wife took her mom to get her hair done and witnessed a road-rage incident (yelling, threats and hand gestures…) at the entrance to the salon. Minutes later the enraged man stormed into the salon and began yelling at the woman fixing my mother-in-law’s hair. After he left, the woman told my wife it was her son and he’s Bipolar and the doctors cannot seem to find the right balance of meds to help him. She then burst into tears and said that pretty much everyone, except her, has pushed him out of their life because they cannot cope with and don’t understand his Jekyll and Hyde Bipolar disorder. Sad!
    I will have my wife email her a link to your blog.
    God bless you (and her) for not giving up!

    • Bill – I wish grace wrapped around the mother with the bipolar son but more importantly I pray a psychiatrist or a medical team will find a balance of what the son needs. I’ve never had to cope with such behavior and feel so blessed by God. It sounds to me the young man may have been in a manic phase and had no control over his emotions. Tom spends more time depressed than manic. I always worry when I hear about such behavior fearing the bipolar individual may not be taking the meds they are prescribed because they all have side-affects. I’m glad your wife was with her mother during the incident. Otherwise it would have been doubly traumatic for your mother-in-law. God has blessed me in that although Tom has one of the hardest to treat forms of bipolar disorder, he doesn’t try to self-medicate with illegal drugs or alcohol. I’ll have more of that in a later post. God bless you and your family, Bill.

  24. Sweet Sheri, this is a heartbreaker ~ I sorrow for you both, more than you know. My ex has a mild case and refuses to be diagnosed ~ He tried several times to kill me, but God truly made me aware when it was happening. Jeffrey has declined as well & there’s so little we are left with of what we had… Remembering seems what’s left. These are great links and, your honesty is a watershed of undoubtedly ! Don’t lose faith, you’re such a powerful spirit and God cannot desert your cry! Tell me what I can serve you with? I really love you !

  25. Sheri, the value of the words you share with your readers cannot be measured in any tangible way. You speak not only from the heart but through experience combined with intense research and study. I have always admired the topics you choose for your posts but none more so than this. Voices like yours are the most important way to create a level of understanding and build a community of support. I don’t always comment, but I am always here. Thank you for all do.I’m so sorry you and Tom are faced with these challenges but somehow you have found a way to turn your experiences into help for others. You are a gift.

    • Patricia – Thank you. You are singing music to my ears this morning. It’s strong and vibrant women such as yourself that constantly remind me that I too can keep marching one step at a time to accomplish not only better mental health care for the fully insured (like Tom) but also for those that are uninsured. Unfortunately, Obamacare is not going to help individuals with mental illness and I’m totally against the shallow package he’s presented as the end all for our countries health care crisis.

      On another note, you may notice that I love keeping up with your travels and your novels. You may note that when I visit, I may read several post at one time. Now that I have become Tom’s fulltime caregiver, a chunk of my time is spent taking care of his needs. Please know I love, love your work. Most of all, thanks for supporting me and my continuing journey.

  26. atempleton says:

    I admire that you have the courage to share this. Writing it down must help you, and sharing it certainly helps others struggling through their own difficulties. I wish you some peace of mind.

  27. Pingback: The Art of Caregiving: How to provide support and encouragement for those with cancer Reviews | MESOTHELIOMA

  28. I love your spirit! Don’t ever give up. The interest your readers show in your blog posts should make publishers think again. Experts on living with the diagnosis are the ones in the midst of it, not the ‘specialists’ in the medical profession.

    • Renee – Thanks for your encouraging words. I’ve read some really ‘dry’ medical journals, textbooks, professional articles and they really didn’t teach me all that much. What the readings have provided me is a strong sense of what works and what doesn’t and i’m able to make sound decisions about Tom’s care on a daily basis. I’ve read well over 200 books on the subject (most in the academic field) and the experts give many case studies as examples. I don’t want case studies as each patient is so different. I want individual attention – is that too much to ask in this day and age?

  29. I continue and will forever continue to read your posts, Sheri, because they are so honest and so insightful and the love you and Tom share is SO obvious, seeping through each and every line of what you’ve written. I, too, cannot imagine anyone saying that the public would rather read a doctor’s POV on the subject of bipolar disorder. To my way of thinking, I’d rather hear about the journey from someone who’s living it every day. Thank God for the good days you and Tom have, although it looks like they might not outweigh the bad days, but you still have each other and your love sustains you.

    • Patti – It’s bloggers such as yourself that have been with me from the beginning of the very first blog I ever posted that continue to inspire me to march forward. I owe you nothing less than the truth. It’s those rare moments when I see a twinkle in Tom’s eye or I see each of the shih tzus cuddled next too Tom, on opposite sides, to insure he won’t fall out of bed. The pain Tom is in makes him trash about a lot and Scooter and Miss Priss are always at the rescue.

  30. Mae Clair says:

    Sheri, every time I read about your journey with Tom and the unconditional love you share, I’m humbled and amazed. I wish you only the best as you continue that journey and I look forward to learning from The Fourth House series. I’m glad you haven’t let publishing obstacles or the opinions of pub houses stop you. Your message will surely touch and help others traveling the same road you have. Hugs and blessings!

    • Mae – My twofold desire is to let others struggling in a relationship that a marriage can indeed be a beautiful thing. My second purpose is to informan the general public that those with bipolar disorder are not gun waving out-of-control individuals. Television is the worst culprit of all when it comes to portraying what true mental illness really is. Like Patti, you have been a wonderful supporter of my blogs and I’d like to take this opportunity to thanks you for your loyalty and support over the years. BTW – I wrote a comment regarding your latest novel on your guest interview last week but I don’t think it went through on the comments. I want to get it in here that it’s a truly magnificcient read and if all well and l and I have internet access, I’ll post it on Friday Reads this week as the great read I think it is.

  31. Bless you and your generous heart for telling the truth, which we all know is not an easy task. It’s heartwarming to hear how, as a couple, you two have managed to stay together and still love one another. Bless you.

    • Thank you, Tess. Yes, sometimes writing the words I feel is though my heart is ripped out and someone wants to stomp on it – but with the legislative efforts and accomplishments I’ve been able to bring about as a result of what I’ve learned has made my journey more than worthwhile. I begged clinicians for years for studdies I could read about individuals that had survived bipolar past the age of 55 and what seemed to work and what didn’t. Of course there was literature and zero research going on. I was not content with this bit of information and started hammering at large national research labs to start working on information about this particular subject. I love you tag line for your blog, Let’s CUT the Crap! I’ve used about every other lines I can think of when dealing less with less than compotent doctors.

      • You are an amazing woman. Kudos to you.
        I don’t like beating around the bush and I get impatient. The first time I said, “Let’s Cut the Crap,” I raised eyebrows so I decided that’s the way to get to the bottom of things. 😀

  32. Your courage and commitment is amazing Sheri. Sending you lots of best wishes for the continued journey.

  33. ksbeth says:

    best to you both, this has been a long and harrowing road for you to say the least. i’m happy you can remember the joyful moments in between the challenging ones. you are a mouthpiece for those who cannot speak these words themselves. thank you for this, it will help many, take care of yourself too, don’t forget – hugs, beth

    • Beth – I was wishing just this morning for a nice juicy gala apple. but, the only way that’s going to happen is is I go to the market. Of course I miss the preence of my fun-loving, whitty Tom and on the other hand, he told me he honestly loved to shop and proved it to me thousands of times over and over. Now I do all the shopping, run all the errands, etc. I’m sure this doesn’t seem like much and honestly — before I sustained this last injury, I took it for granted. No more, He was a prince for all he did for me on a daily basis. On the days when he could get out and about I never worried. Now, those are my jobs. I hope I’m not coming across whiney.

  34. NotDownOrOut says:

    Sheri, Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us. I don’t know why publishers thought a layperson’s actual experience living with someone experiencing bipolar disorder would be less marketable than a doctor’s view of the disease. When I was diagnosed with cancer I read more books by people with cancer than by people without. And I learned more about my medical side-effects from treatment from other cancer patients than I did from the warnings given by my doctors. If I had to say how much it helped to read someone’s account as compared with medical reports of side-effects, I would say it was 90% more helpful to read accounts than reports. Oh well, as in your marriage, you have persisted rather than given up. I’m grateful for that.

    I cannot imagine how brave you have had to be–and fierce. It sounds like you have had to be fierce to get Tom assistance. Based on your accounts and my life’s timeline, I don’t recall there being much talk at all about bipolar disorder when some of these events were unfolding. I’ll bet it was a lonely trip through diagnosis and treatment. How inspiring that you found ways to find good in the challenges and had the help of good friends like Catherine as you moved forward.

    I had the opportunity to visit with a relative this weekend who was speaking about my divorce (a very old topic) and he said, “Your husband ruined your life.” It made me think about how swiftly we sometimes declare a matter a disaster and are prepared to give up. I would hate to think it ruined my life. It sounds like you also defy statements about yourself. I will not count you out just because you seem to be playing a difficult hand. Some people do not give up. And, in their efforts, encourage others to do the same. I look forward to reading more.

    Thanks also for recommending my blog. I appreciate your support.

    • Cheryl – You’ve taught me so much by reading your blog. Ideas that may not have entered my mind if I hadn’t read your essays and some of how you manage to cope with life-threatening illness on a daily basis. I can’t tell you I’m not affraid, because I am. I second and third guess my self after each decision I make. My ground rule is that Tom is not is not to be institutionalized no matter the situation. I simply will not allow it. You stood up proudly for yourself and others and I’m in awe of your accomplishments. You are a full-on advocate for cancer patient survival.

      • NotDownOrOut says:

        I respect your decision to avoid institutionalization. Think about every novel in which a character has been described in a manner that suggests mental illness. We locked them up. People took to darkened bedrooms. And we got comfortable with that as a therapeutic approach when the only one who feels better is a person uncomfortable with being the presence of a person who is different.

        Last week I sat at school all afternoon in a student lounge working. I’ll tell you how some are treating their family members with mental illness. They send them off to college. I sat across from a woman who talked to herself in Chinese for several hours while doing math calculations. She was not soft-spoken either. She may have been experiencing a manic episode because she was both frenetic and deliriously happy. It could have been schizophrenia because she spoke to her own reflection in a nearby window. I sat behind my computer screen and observed because I had no notion of who to call or even whether to call. But I can tell you that the young woman did not get herself into college in that state. And I much doubt she went home that night to family keeping her on track or supporting her.

        If we cannot institutionalize or send people away for others to handle, then we would have to be committed to solutions. What are those solutions? I feel for families dealing with this type of illness. Many conditions have cures. Others may be terminal. But a person can live a long life with some forms of mental illness. And sometimes parents must count on their other children to take over for them. And sometimes spouses need to do the same. Right now it is a family medical condition, but we as a community do not step up and support those families. We “graduate” children and step aside.

        I watched a documentary on PBS last week about a high school program in NYC that assists learning disabled teens graduate from high school. One of the teachers spent her free time visiting adult care locations to see if they would help her graduates retain occupational and life skills after high school. She worked hard for her students. But their families were short on resources. The only local program that provided free transportation to and from its facility won out, and it made ongoing education optional. People did not transition to jobs. There were no job coaches to visit the workplace once a week to help the individuals stay integrated in society. They languished in front of TVs. It costs money to provide something other than a pill. And we find money for many problems, but not enough money for science, research, and support on challenges relating to mental health, regardless of the form in which it presents.

        I don’t know what to do. But I empathize with you and respect you for not taking the “easy” path of walking away. I still believe that I must account for what I do sometime to someone, and I think I have to keep working at doing the right thing if I am able.

        • Cheryl – Your comments are always so well thought out. I’m so with you on avoiding institutionalization. I well understand in ‘some’ instances it’s simply not possible to avoid, however I knew having Tom locked up was not the answer and that he would quickly deteriorate. Tom is a genuis and his artistic skills continually blow me out of the water. I consider myself fortunate to be the one Tom elects to spend his moments of joy or quiet reflection.

          The young woman you describe in the student lounge, I feel sad on her behalf. How puzzling her new world must seem. I’ll agree, it doesn’t sound like she was the one that got herself into college. I have a good friend whose daughter was a straight ‘A’ student, never a problem with authority, active in many activities and excelled in all. Along about the middle of her senior year of highschool everything fell apart for this bright and talented young woman. She became unkept, stumbled around where before she was a good athlete, refused to do her school work and more often than not didn’t show up at school at not. She also crossed over to participate in the use of illegal drugs.

          Her mother soon took her out of high-school and started the lengthy and exhausting search of finding out what had happened to her daughter. After months of hit and miss, the diagnosis was schizophrenia. In this situation, there was enough finances invoved, the girl was able to meet the basic standards to graduate high-school and lives in a privately held group home that a number of parents put together for their children. When mental health issues hit home, money can play a huge difference in the quality of life the individual can have.

          I also agree with you in that mental illness ‘should’ be a calling for brothers and sisters or children to step to the plate in assisting the primary coordinator of life activities and medical care the family member with the illness. Unfortunatelly that’s not the case. In our situation, I’m it. No one else has stepped to the plate. Tom’s daughters, by a previous marriage, have not participated in his life since he’s been ill. This is inexcusable behavior as far as I’m concerned.

          • NotDownOrOut says:

            I absolutely agree about family. I cannot imagine how I would live with myself for walking away from my own dad. We can choose our friends, but family . . . . I know I’ve been lucky, but walking away would be hard. I cannot tell anyone how hard my divorce was, but it took decades to put the whole thing into perspective. I do commitment well.

            Tom sounds special, but I’m a little partial. I think he’s the one who is most lucky. Have a good night. Let’s hope our elected officials figure out a way to get the government open again. You have enough to worry about already. Hugs!

            • Deborah – My sweet and precious Deborah. You’ll never know how often I think of you and the grace you accept your own dibeliting disease. Last evening I went out into the garden and my neighbor heard me in conversation with you! I told him about this beautiful and gracious woman I’d met through my blog. I also mentioned I often used your writings for my own Bible study and he was happy. I’m so sorry to hear about Jeffrey and his refusal to get help. You cannot force someone to seek help. I’ve been through the suicide attempts with Tom and it takes so much out of you but then you already know that.

              On a positive note, I’ve started my container gardening with a vengence. I’m currently in the process of hiring a high school senior to help move large containers as I want to move many of my roses to a place where I can still take care of them and enjoy them all at the same time.

              Tell me, how are you. You may use my e-mail address if you like. Sincere hugs all the way around. Love, Sheri

  35. Thank you for sharing this aspect of yourself, your husband and your life together . And thank you for including us in your blog. As for the other blogs, I follow them too. AMAZING community! I think we draw strength from eachother somehow. My friend Brynn, had a favorite saying ” We do seem to find eachother, don’t we? ” Anyway, Sheri, GOD BLESS YOU and YOURS.

  36. Pingback: Sharing Our Stories: Mental Health Monday | A Way With Words

  37. Sheri –

    Your blog was recommended to me by another blogging friend. First, let me say I commend you for your positive spirit and great compassion for your husband as he battles bipolar. I know first-hand how difficult this can be.

    I can certainly resonate with your story. In 1995, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a medication-induced psychotic episode (I was being treated for depression). By the grace of God and love of my family, especially my faithful wife, I have battled the illnesses and survived many ups and downs (including a suicide attempt).

    I, too, have written a book — a spiritual memoir called “Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission” that traditional publishers won’t touch. With the help of a growing team of advisers (currently a “prayer team”, an editor, and a marketing expert), I will be self-publishing. I’m planning on a public release of March, 2014. (I provide updates on my website – delightindisorder.net).

    I would greatly enjoy reading your story. Perhaps we could swap manuscripts?

    • Hello Tony and welcome – I read much of your attempt to pursue traditional publishing last night. Not only are your stories entertaining but they ring so true. I went so far as to attend two Christian Writer’s conferences where I could pitch my manuscript in person, but still no takers. A few asked to read the manuscript but I never know if that’s because they don’t want to say no to us or if they really think there’s a grain of possibility to what I pitched.

      I’ve since torn the manuscript apart. I use parts of it for story telling at public speaking engagements. My manuscript is too old to consider self-publication at this time. Because I am a lay person I would need to back up all my statistical information, etc. and my heart isn’t there at the present time. I’m currently working on another fiction novel and enjoy fiction a lot more than tearing my heart out day after day.

      • I’m so sorry to hear of your frustration with traditional publishing. My experience, while frustrating, was tempered because I have some wonderful supporters, including a free-lance editor, who have been behind the project all the way. I now have an emerging team. In addition to my editor/agent, I have a graphic designer/marker and contributing poet. Three men from my church are providing spiritual counsel and soon will guide me to financial advise/oversight. I’m so blessed!

        I’m glad to hear you have moved on. Sometimes it is easier to tell the through through fiction.

        Well, I’m leading a Bible Study on Psalm 13 tonight — “From Pleas to Praise” where I will share some of my story. I’ll check out more of your blog later.

  38. gdwest123 says:

    A very moving post Sheri and you’ve taught me a lot. Wishing you and Tom all the best, and hoping against hope that you’ll find a way forward.

    • Hello and thank you for visiting my blog. Each day I look for games Tom might play on his iPad to keep his mind active. I can’t do a lot of that as he tires rapidly. If you know of any adult iPad apps that have to do with mining for goal or other precious metals and/or precious stones – I love to hear about them and see what Tom would charge (including his own time and research).

      Bipolar is a visious disease and it took almost everyting Tom was used to exhibit

  39. Brieuse Bernhard Piers-Gûdmönd says:

    Well – what can I do? What can I say? Who the heck am I? My insignificance pales into nothing when I realize how much you are doing for people to understand bi-polar disorder. Keep at it. There is a reason for everything. Thanks for what you (and your husband) are doing.

    • Brieuse – I visit your blog and am continually amazed by the quality of your work. Never sell yourself short. When I send your blog forward to a friend that may not be blogging, your work is a way for me to add something to that individuals day. Your work, in that moment, brings them peace, joy and comfort. We put our work out there and we never know where it will land or what will become of it. Thank you for reading with me.

  40. giorgethomas says:

    You seem to have handled this so graciously. How annoying that publishing a memoir on your experiences with this disease is only dependant on you being a professional in the field! My advice would be to self-publish on Smashwords or other such like site so like-minded people can download it onto their kindle, iPad etc. Whichever way you go, I wish you the best of luck!

  41. booklaurie says:

    Sheri, it sure sounds like God isn’t finished using you yet — you OR Tom — and while I wish you’d get a break every once in a while, it’s amazing to see what you’re doing with everything the two of you have been handed!

    • Hi Laurie – It’s so nice to see you here. I saw your name flash across the top of my iPad late last night and wanted to stop and ‘visit’ with you at that moment. My guess told me you were probably in the middle of teaching a class and you were already spending many hours at the keyboard.

      Honestly, I could use a break. Now that I’ve become a full-time caregiver, everything else has to get squeezed in somewhere else. I’m determined to finish Ava & Elliot, but for now, I’m doing what I need.

      Add to everything else, the government shut-down. All 5 of our retirement income checks are as a result of government employment. I’ve also called a hault on all contract work until congress can get their act together. I’m no longer doing field work but am directing staff that does. It’s a stress I don’t need at the present time and thousands upon thousands of people are at risk.

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