I have a huge confession to make, one I am embarrassed to admit. A few years ago when I started writing on the Internet, I didn’t know a thing about technology, the Internet, or computers. The fleeting information I did know helped me skin past college with minor struggles.
It is truly amazing how much has changed since then. I know what Goggle is, Facebook doesn’t sound like acne cream anymore, and I am confident Twitter is not Tourettes Syndrome or an STD!
I have commanded a sum total of 210,000 people who have read my literary works thus far. I have met some very exciting people who are vastly different from me. It feels like I have toured the world, yet I have not left my humble post in rural West Texas.
I say this not to brag, but because I have been enormously blessed by loyal viewers/readers who have opened their guts up to me via email- those who I have never met but have been thrilled to help along the way. I guess I am one of those sorts of people that others seem comfortable sharing their darkest secrets with!
One such person, a middle-aged woman, followed me from one blog site to another and from one news site/article submission site to another. I am very humbled and honored by her loyalty and dedication to reading my literary works. Though she doesn’t know me, has never met or spoken to me by phone, and doesn’t know my real name (no one on the Internet does actually), she trusted me to interview her about the darkest, most raw parts of her life recently. She has only known me casually for a little over a year. This is not my first interview- nor will it be the last. I am so moved and touched that she would talk to me about things she hasn’t talked to anyone else about. I can’t thank her enough!
I should warn you now that the material you are about to read is graphic and disturbing and is not intended for children and sensitive viewers. I hope you can patiently read this lengthy interview and leave with knowledge and understanding about the unique struggles of mental illness and abuse. All names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.
Please state your name.
“If I wasn’t living in the same house with my parents, I’d be more than happy to use my real name. But if they caught wind of what I was writing about them, my hell would be even worse than it already is. So, I’ll go by the name of ‘Star Bright’.”
Where did you live-and did you grow up there (town or geographical area is fine)?
“I now live outside of Atlanta, GA in an ugly town full of ignorant people. I was born in Atlanta, moved to North Carolina when I was 11, back to Atlanta at 17 years of age and since the age of 24, have moved all over the United States.”
Are you married, divorced (how many times), or single? We will discuss the details of your marital status later!
“I’m divorced. I have been married three times. I’ve been single for over 12 years and have rarely dated since then.”
How old are you?
Tell me about your family (the one you grew up with only): sisters, brothers, parents’ married, divorced, dead, close or distant relationship with them and where they live. We will discuss details later!
“I am the oldest of three children, me, a brother, and a sister. I have no contact with either my brother or sister and probably never will. So, needless to say, we are not and have never been close. My parents have been miserably married going on 58 years. They are still alive and I now live in this miserable house with them.”
You are afflicted with Bi-Polar Depression, is that correct? Correct me if I am wrong.
“Yes, and also post traumatic stress, obsessive compulsive, extreme neurosis, and extreme sadness.”
When or how old were you when you were diagnosed?
“I was diagnosed around 2004 in Nashville, TN, in my early 50s.”
Please tell me about the events that led up to that diagnosis.
“Since society thinks pills and doctors are the only answer to solving problems, and after spending almost all my entire life in hell, I decided to give the doctors and medicines a try, but, that f***** me up even more so. Sorry about the bad language, but I’m mad.”
That’s okay; I just want to make sure I can publish this. I will censor the curse words.
Tell me about the symptoms you were having.
“Acute sensitivity, non-trust issues with everyone, extremely neurotic, fear, self-medicating with alcohol, and just wanting to die all of the time.”
Do you know who was the first person to voice concern about your health- and why?
“No one has ever voiced concerns over my health issues. I tend to pick ‘leechers’, not people who give a d*** about me. My parents are sick themselves, so how can they help?”
I was an adult, “Star Bright”, before I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder or MDD (the kind you are born with) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD (due to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by my ex-spouse and because of losing my three kids). My parents were clueless about why I had fits of uncontrollable rage mixed with paralyzing fear and anxiety. Since my parents were ignorant about mental illnesses in general and didn’t know what was wrong, I naturally didn’t a clue what was wrong with me as well. I remember begging my dad all of the time why I was not “normal”. Would you say that Bi-Polar had a similar affect on you growing up?
“My parents were totally clueless as well, but that’s because they weren’t paying attention and were so involved in their chaos, us kids didn’t have much of a chance. Growing up in a house of chaos seemed normal to me because that’s all I knew. Being the eldest child put an enormous amount of pressure on me because I had to keep the house in order, make sure my parents didn’t kill us or each other, or themselves, and pretend everything was okay outside in the real/fake world. It wasn’t easy for my brother or sister either. Both my parents are mentally ill, but they don’t know they are sick because they live in a house of DENIAL. My mother’s savior is her religion and my father doesn’t have a savior. Not sure if I answered this question well…”
My poor parents were blamed by professionals for the cause of my behaviors. I was put on all sorts of medications that didn’t work. At one point they falsely thought I had epilepsy! Did you have a similar problem with being diagnosed? What medications were you put on? Were you explained about any tests/medications/procedures that were done on you?
“I was never put on medications as a child, not until I was in my early 50’s. I was put on Wellbutrin, which didn’t help me at all, then a couple of other medications that made me worse, but I don’t remember their names. Medication scares me out the yen yang.”
Wellbutrin didn’t work on me either; it actually made me slightly psychotic!
If MDD wasn’t a well known disorder/affliction/disease in the early 1970’s, how much did people know about Bi-Polar when you were young?
“I never heard of Bi-Polar until a few years ago.”
I believe I was hospitalized twice for MDD. How many times were you hospitalized?
“I’ve been in a psycho-ward once and that was worse than being in the real/fake world.”
Did you feel suicidal?
“That’s why I was in the psycho ward. I’ve tried to kill myself several times, but the last two times were with real intentions of being dead. I’m not sure what the other suicidal attempts were about. I have spent a great part of my life wanting to die and begging God to let me have a quick heart attack and move on to a better planet.”
Now let’s go for the “hard” questions (smile). You’ve indicated in your correspondence with me that you had a “troubled childhood.” Do you feel comfortable with sharing with me why it was that way? Feel free to not answer if this question makes you uncomfortable!
“I’m not going to let society make me feel ashamed of what these perverts did to me as a young child that stole my life, so yes, I’ll tell you what you want to know. I was molested by three surrounding neighbors by the age of eight, one religious fanatic neighbor on a regular basis. During this time period, one of my good friends was shot by her sister who was trying to shoot her mother. My friend Vicky was only eight or nine years of age when she was shot, my age as well. Meanwhile, living around these three child molesters, one a child herself, a toxic neighborhood and inside a house of chaos, well…I didn’t have much of a chance. Then in my early twenties, my father became obsessed with me, wanting me to be his girlfriend, making continued sexual advances towards his daughter. That sheer hell went on for over 15 years, until I finally told my mother. Guess what, she shut the door on my face.”
I’m sorry to hear about the molestation…that disturbs me. Was there any legal justice served on those who molested you?
“No legal justice was served on those who stole my young life.”
What about your dad? Wasn’t it awkward to move back in with your parents?
“I never went to the authorities about my dad; my mother looked the other way. He finally stopped a few years ago because I was becoming extremely angry with him. I moved in with them in 2005 for a few months, then recently moved back in October of 2009 and am desperately trying to figure out how to get out of this sick, nasty, negative house. It is very awkward at times because he (dad) can be very mean and cruel. He can be very nice at times. But, you never know when he’s going to go into a rage, so it’s very uncomfortable here. Plus, both of my parents are very dirty and buy stuff all the time, so the house is crowded and cluttered. I would guess there are close to 200 cans of dog food still waiting to be eaten and if my mother finds a coupon or more dog food on sale, she’ll by another 20-30 cans. I’m the complete opposite. I don’t like a lot of material items, just need the basics. I can’t stand dirt, so I am constantly cleaning up after my parents, the nasty parrot, and the dogs that rule the house.”
You mentioned earlier that you had ‘no contact with either your brother or sister and probably never will.’ Do your brother and sister have mental illnesses?
“I have hardly been around my brother since I left home at 17, but I do remember him trying to get hit by a bus when he was around seven years old. So, my guess would be yes, he has a mental illness. He’s 49 years old and no one in our family has ever known him to date or have a relationship with anyone. He is an alcoholic. My sister is just a mean b**** whom I don’t hang around either. But, I would have to guess yes, I’m sure she’s got some mental issues doing down.
Since you brought it up…do you drink to ‘self-medicate’?
“I used to smoke pot, but that’s about it. I still self-medicate with alcohol.”
You have used the word ‘chaos’ numerous times to describe your family life. What exactly do you mean by that, as people have different definitions of the word?
“My parents probably cheated on each other. My brother used to chase me around with a big butcher knife when we were young. The few times I’ve been around him as an adult, he acts disgusted by my mere presence. My sister and I used to pull each other’s hair out growing up. In 2008, I was selling ads for my sister on her website. We had a disagreement over her doing something very sneaky and unkind, but I was still selling ads for her. Then, I went to e-mail a potential client a letter and the sister had cut off my business e-mail account. That was her way of firing me, no notice, nothing. I begged for my job back and never heard a word from her again. Next thing you know, I’m getting evicted from my apartment so I decided to try and kill myself. I couldn’t believe my sister could betray my like that, knowing I had no money coming in from anywhere else, no boyfriend, no husband to support me. That did a major number on my head, the betrayal and knowing I had no other means of financial support and in a recession. I would call that abuse. I can’t find it in my heart to forgive her, but I have forgiven my dad.
That’s good you have forgiven your dad. Elaborate about your education and career. I know you’ve said that Bi-Polar has had a serious negative affect on it. Would you care to explain?
“Growing up, I was always made to feel stupid, called stupid, had looks of disgust from my father’s face because I was stupid, was called stupid by so-called friends, so NO, I didn’t go to college. They don’t let stupid people into college, not that I know of anyway, unless there is a stupid people’s college somewhere.
I’m assuming it’s because of my Bi-Polar and just being purely f***** up, but since I graduated high-school in 1971 and up until 2008, I’ve had at least 75 jobs, probably more. I can’t stand working for clueless idiots and being around back-stabbing co-workers.
I am one of the most hard-working, conscientious people you will ever meet. But, one thing I’m not is an a**-kisser and that worked against me. I also couldn’t understand why people were so mean and dishonest, so that caused me to go from job to job. I never got fired. In fact, when I’d quit, sometimes they’d beg me to stay. But, once I get fed up, there’s no going back.
Did anyone work with you to overcome these issues-like professionals, family, friends, etc.?
“Since the early ’80’s, I’ve gone to at least eight head doctors…NONE OF THEM WORKED. Maybe I’m just beyond repair, but I have to say, a lot of the head doctors are clueless.
So, you haven’t had professional help for your Bi-Polar disorder in over 20 years, am I correct?
“I have sought help many, many times for my problems. The last counselor I recently saw told me to spend 10 extra minutes in the grocery store for therapy, and I can’t stand going to the grocery store. I told her I had two issues I wanted to deal with that day and she never even asked what they were, just told me to spend more time in the grocery store… last time I’ll go to her for help. I live in a small, ignorant town, so there’s not anyone here who can help me. I’m trying to get back to Atlanta. There are much more possibilities of getting help in Atlanta.
(Laughing) I despise going to Wal-mart for similar reasons, it exacerbates my GAD.
What did you want to do in life as far as a career/education that you found difficult or impossible to do because of Bi-Polar?
“I thought I was supposed to be June Cleaver. Now, if I had to do it all over again, I’d be an actress, musician, and writer, anything in the creative arts. That’s what makes me feel alive. I would never have a child. The pain and guilt that has put me through is still unbearable to this very day.”
We’ll elaborate about your child and love life later. Please tell me more about your frustration, regrets, anger, and sorrow for the way things transpired with your career/education. I am asking because I wanted to be a cop or forensic scientist so bad. However, I couldn’t focus on my education because of my symptoms of MDD and GAD. I also made very poor choices in my personal life which I blame on MDD and GAD. Many times I ponder if I had the proper medications, like I have now, would I have been more successful and happier, like my younger sisters.
“Do I have any frustrations, regrets, anger, and sorrow? ALL THE F****** TIME!”
Let’s talk about your love life. I’m not asking about “bedroom information.” How did Bi-Polar affect your love life? (Mention here if you have kids and how old they are. The following questions pertain to your kids as well as your significant other.)
“I have a 28 year old daughter by my second husband. I don’t have a love life… haven’t dated in years. The thought of sex is repulsive to me. I was raised to find a husband who would support me and I fell for the Leave It To Beaver scenario, wanting to be June Cleaver. Anyway, I married Chris at the age of 19. Most of the girls wanted Chris. He was super good looking, captain of the football team, king of the senior prom, funny, smart, and everything a girl could want in a man. Guess what, he picked me to be his girlfriend, then wife. I never even considered he was lucky to have me because of my low self esteem. After putting him through college (waiting for my June Cleaver degree), while he was fooling around on me with other women, doing all of the cooking and cleaning, trying to be the perfect wife, then the abortions, well, I had enough and left the bastard. He begged for me to come back, but there was no turning back. Then, I moved out to Los Angeles, California in the mid-seventies. I was in heaven for a while in Los Angeles, around all those free/lost spirits. I married a child prodigy musician, Brad, in 1979 and had daughter Ashley in 1981. Then I married a cocaine addict in the middle ’90’s, the worst mistake of my life. After the third husband and divorcing him in the late ’90’s, well, I haven’t been the same since, not that I’ve ever been normal, but he sent me over the edge. I also take the blame for poor decision-making and horrible role models.”
Lets back-track for a moment and discuss what worked and what didn’t with Bi-Polar treatment, and how it affected your career as well as your relationships.
“The first time I ever felt any real connection to this planet was when I had my daughter Ashley in 1981. She was born in Anaheim, California. The instant she was born, I felt something good inside clicking. That worked for me. Because of my mental setbacks, which she doesn’t understand, we now don’t have a good relationship. She’s 28 years of age, and she views me as an outcast. Her step-mother is rich which means ‘stable’ in my daughter’s eyes. One day she’ll find out the truth.
The only thing I have found to work for me is love and respect from the human race. That’s when I feel alive, but so rarely do I ever run across people who make me feel this way. Financial security also works wonders, but being Bi-polar, post traumatic stressed, obsessive compulsive, paranoid, and full of insecurity and sadness most of the time…well, not much works.
So, you’re not on any medications right now…
Did you find it difficult to talk to your significant other(s) about your Bi-Polar?
“I wasn’t diagnosed with Bi-Polar until I no longer had significant others and believe me, they had their mental setbacks as well.”
At what point did you want to tell anyone in any relationship about your Bi-Polar disorder, or discuss it with them?
How did your parents react- I am sure they know you have Bi-Polar disorder. I know my ex-spouse used my MDD against me in our divorce. My current spouse thinks any mental disorder is bologna and isn’t a real affliction… despite my spouse having a mother who is Bi-Polar, also having an uncle who likely suffered from undiagnosed depression before he committed suicide, and having a grandmother who was Schizophrenic.
“We don’t talk about real issues in my family. When I tried to kill myself in 2005, my dad took me to the hospital and the subject never came up again. Before leaving to go to the hospital, I heard my mother say, ‘make sure we don’t get stuck with the hospital bill.’ “
Were you worried that your daughter would have Bi-Polar?
I think my daughter has Bi-Polar. Of course I’m worried. Suicide runs in my family. Both of my grandparents on my father’s side committed suicide, one with a gun, the other one starving herself to death.
There is a plethora of information about Bi-Polar disorder as well as MDD and GAD all over the Internet, in magazines, and in newspapers. It seems like everyone is an expert on the subject. It’s a stark difference from when you and I grew up, when no one seemed to know anything about mental illnesses in general or knew anyone suffering from mental illnesses. How do you feel this has helped you deal with Bi-Polar?
“It has only affected me in a negative way. People don’t understand Bi-Polar.”
And exactly how has this been negative for you?
What stereotypes do you find are still rampant about Bi-Polar? Do you believe the virulent information out there about Bi-Polar has caused these stereotypes to linger or worsen?
What misconceived ideas do you think people have about Bi-Polar- I know you and I have discussed this at length over the past year. You’ll remember me saying the other day that I told my new (part-time) boss that I take psychotropic drugs for depression because I knew it would make me positive on my drug test and I didn’t want that to be an issue. He wrinkled his brow with surprise. I also know that when I talk about my depression people react one of two ways usually: change the subject and pray that I follow cue (my family’s favorite recourse); or wonder if I am suicidal (how my new boss reacted). Not everyone who has MDD, GAD, or a mental disorder wants to fly a plane into a building or drown their kids in a bathtub. Would you say that is generally true about Bi-Polar?
“That we are crazy and inhuman? I’m one of the gentlest people you’ll ever meet. I don’t think most of us fit the stereotype of flying an airplane into a building.”
You have frequently inferred that your voice is silenced by your Bi-Polar disorder. What else would you like to share about Bi-Polar? Take this opportunity to raise your voice! (Please keep it ‘PG-13, so I can publish this).
I don’t recall saying my voice is silenced by my Bi-Polar. In fact, I live out loud now. Maybe as a child and young adult, yes, but not anymore. I tell it like it is.
Indeed you do, Ms. Star Bright, indeed you do! Thank you for letting me interview you. Words can’t express my indebtedness and gratitude to you.
I realize this article was long, and for those who have read it in its entirety, I am also unabashedly grateful! Sometimes the truth is uncomfortable to hear, or it’s quite lengthy and exhausting to read. However, even though I have been around mentally ill and mentally retarded persons, and/or convicted felons my entire life, the desensitization of dealing with those populations didn’t prepare me for the story “Star Bright” shared. It is important to have the multitudes of regurgitated medical research documentation out there to glean understanding about mental illnesses. However, nothing can quite hold a candle to the recorded personal experiences of dealing with mental illness, particularly Bi-Polar. It’s been a joy that God has sustained “Star Bright’s” life, for if He hadn’t, I would never have met such a beautiful and talented woman such as her!