I had the chance to interview someone I knew since my school years. Since I was held back in first grade, she was in the class ahead of me, but we are the same age. I lived next door to her older sister and nieces and nephews as a kid. She was a late in life child. I knew she struggled with something in school but didn’t know what until I was an adult and learned about mental illness. She has had a rough life and I believe her story needs to be told. This special woman is Mary Swabik and she is a friend whom I admit I misunderstood as a teen. I am so glad we reconnected.
Here is my interview with Mary.
What type of mental illness do you have?
MDD (Major Depression Disorder), anxiety, and PTSD (Post Traumatic Disorder)
What are some of your symptoms?
I have panic attacks and things that trigger them. I am never happy, I have to force myself out of bed and to do daily activities.
What has caused your PTSD?
I faced abuse starting at age ten when I was raped by my uncle and cousin. I was physically and verbally abused by my mom. She would tell me that I would never amount to nothing, she said I couldn’t talk right, and that I would end up in an institution.
In a special school I attended, I was locked in the cooler for not eating my lunch. I was also in several abusive relationships.
How has your family reacted to your illness?
They have not been in my life for twenty years. I only have contact with my oldest daughter.
Do you have positive relationships in your life?
Most of my friends are older and we go to church together. I have several mother figures in my life.
Has your illness led to bad relationships?
I had gotten into abusive relationships with ex-husbands and female friends.
What has helped you cope with your mental illness?
Talk therapy and God. I have been in and out of mental hospitals since I was nineteen, and I have been in a state hospital for eighteen months.
Do you have any coping techniques?
Breathing into a bag, praying, and talking it out.
What advice would you give to others struggling with mental illness?
Take your medication, find a good counselor, and have a support team. Mental illness is not your fault. It is an illness.
What advice would you give to other women being abused?
Get out of the relationship and it’s not your fault. Most importantly get help. If it’s physical call the police and press charges. Don’t ever drop the charges. Stay away from the abuser no matter what he promises.
What steps are you taking to reach recovery?
I take one day at a time. I pray and I have people pray for me.
Mary has lived a rough life and deserves our support. She has many struggles in her life and could use your prayers. She grew up in Ripley, New York and now lives in Florida. She has a kind soul and has a strong faith that helps her through the many heartaches she has faced. She is a survivor in many ways and will someday be standing in the light of recovery with God carrying her.