Living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Type III – Hypermobile

Mental Health Problems

I had mental health or emotional problems. I do not know which of these terms to apply to the following issues accurately, so I will just call them mental health issues. In addition, I do not know if any of these are related to or a result of EDS3. Please be sure to address this issue if you have determined a link.

I had my first mental/emotional breakdown at the age of 11. My favorite uncle was killed in a car wreck, and I had never told him that I loved him. At the cemetery, I watched until they began lowering his casket into the ground. That image sent me over the edge. At first my mom thought it was normal for her emotional little girl to cry at her uncle’s funeral. At the grave site, I was sobbing loudly, which was starting to attract attention. At first, Mama said, “Shh, Baby; settle down.” My eyes stayed fixed on the cold, hard ground swallowing my favorite uncle, and my sobs became frantic and desperate. My mother then realized this was not normal grieving. She immediately tried to turn me away from the grave site, which sent me into wailing as she tried to reassure and soothe me. I was inconsolable for days. This event was never reviewed or treated by any health professional. However, I consider this a watershed moment in my life, if you will pardon the pun.

Suicidal thoughts overtook me and pervaded my thinking until I was 22 years old. I started taking Prozac for depression at the age of 20, which is also the year I got married. By the time I was 22, the suicidal thoughts faded away. As much of the credit goes to my husband as it does to the medicine. He spent fully the first year or more of our marriage re-training every negative thought that I issued. He taught me to be more positive. This was a monumental task performed strictly based on true love. Unfortunately, though, he could not beat my genetics. Depression came back full force in the form of Post-Partum Depression (PPD) when I had our son. When our infant was only two weeks old, I went to a psychiatrist for treatment, baby in tow. The doctor burst into alarm and would not allow us to leave his office until he got my mother on the phone, requiring her to promise that she and other stable members of my family would provide 24-hour per day supervision of me with our baby.

One factor that contributed to my depression at that time was my inability to nurse our son. I had done a tremendous amount of research on early childhood development when I found out that I was pregnant. I was painfully aware of how vital colostrum was to an infant’s health and development. I was equally aware of how important the act of breastfeeding was to the mother-child bond. My reaction was amplified by the PPD. I felt like a criminal failure to my son. I was once again prescribed anti-depressants.

When I was in my mid-30s, a different psychiatrist diagnosed me with Bi-Polar Disorder. I had an older half-sister who had been given that diagnosis, as well, when she was in her 20s and still living at home with my siblings and me. She would not take her medicine, tried to run away from home (yes, in her 20s), and attempted suicide at least once that I know of. The havoc her behavior wreaked on my whole family, especially my parents and even siblings no longer living at home, induced me to believe that I should never refuse medicine that others feel I should take. That led to serious problems later when I was diagnosed even more anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety medications, and opioids. After 30 years of marriage and taking care of me through mental and medical problems, my husband tried to commit suicide. I did my best to meet his needs for love and care despite my own deficits, and he came home after one week in a behavioral health hospital. Three weeks later, while standing in our bedroom, he said, “If I have to stay here one more second, I will die.” He left the house for I do not know where. I lay there stunned and devastated. I thought, “If I’m that much of a burden to the man I love most in the world and on my son (who had previously voiced his resentment toward taking care of me), then clearly I shouldn’t be here.” With that, I got into the dry bathtub with a pair of knives, and I tried to cut my veins from my wrists to my inner elbows so as to bleed out before anyone came home. I believed that was my duty to relieve my family of the burden of dealing with me.

My husband came home before I died, found me, and called paramedics. I spent a week in a behavioral health hospital myself. My husband visited me throughout the week and was as kind and loving as he had ever been. So, I was shocked once again when the social worker told me that he was very angry and would not come to get me from the hospital. The hospital shuttle actually drove me home. Because my husband refused to grant me admittance to our home, the shuttle driver called the police. I had never even had a speeding ticket and now the police were being called to our home. I was horrified and mortified, but mostly confused. My husband had never made me feel like this was even possible. The police informed him that I could not be barred from our home, and he packed his things and left. Simultaneously, our son, now 21 years old, packed a bag and left. I then discovered that, when I was in the hospital, my husband had taken everything I owned and stored it in a warehouse storage unit.

Less than 18 months later, we were divorced, I was living alone in a one-bedroom apartment, wondering how my life had come to this. How much of this was a result of EDS3? Six months after the divorce was final, a friend mentioned that she had talked to my husband while we were getting divorced and that he indicated to her that he had deep wounds, that people can be mean when they are in pain. Was she trying to tell me that this happened because I was mean? Another sister of mine (not the one diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder), who was very close to my husband, had indicated something very similar during the separation, saying that I was very hard on my husband and son. Did I become mean because of the pain from EDS3? Did I become mean because of the mental illness? Did I have an excuse? A reason? Was I just a wretched, bitter woman?

Playing Nicely with Others

Since then, I have made a concerted effort to be a kinder, gentler person to everyone I come in contact with. The sister I just mentioned says that I have indeed become kinder and gentler. It is too little, too late though, for restoring my relationships with my ex-husband and son. My ex-husband has a live-in girlfriend who wants to marry him, and our son has cut off all contact with me.

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