Story: Woman Loses Family and Many Years to Misdiagnosis

Woman pictured is not the woman in the story.

Woman pictured is not the woman in the story.

Editor's Note: The woman who shared this story asked to be kept anonymous. This story shows the critical importance of finding a qualified psychiatrist who does a thorough workup before you accept any mental health diagnosis.

I think I've been sick for a long time. When I was 19, I got married and had my first child at 21. I felt like it wasn't fulfilling, even though I loved her and was very devoted. Life seemed so blah to me. People asked if I was depressed, but I associated that with something not to be really admitted to. I mostly learned to deal with the feelings of life being unfulfilling and tried my best to do the mom thing, even taking up homeschooling and working hard to learn the ropes of it, spending lots of time with my children (I had four) and doing what I could.

My husband had a good job, money was not a problem. When my last child was born, I finally got the courage to tell the doctor that I felt depressed. After every birth, I had felt worse and then felt a bit better as the baby turned about two. So in 2004, after the birth of my fourth child, I went and asked the doctor for something to help with depression. He gave me Paxil. I took it for about a week and felt much better. When I visited again, he told me to increase the dose. When I did that, I could not sleep, felt 'high' and could not focus. He sent me to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me in one visit with bipolar disorder. She put me on lithium.

After that, I spent my time in bed, thought I was superhuman, and shaved off all my hair thinking and believing I could assist in finding a cancer cure. I had gone out of my head. I told my family I needed to go off this medication. I did that and soon went back to an almost functioning person who just felt 'down' again. Between 2005-2007 I had several different things happen to me including a stroke-like experience where I couldn't form words properly and doctors ran a CT scan and said there was nothing wrong. In 2007, I felt like my brain was not working right. I tried to explain to doctors who said I was in a manic state and put me on bipolar meds again, this time divoproex and even rispiridone.

For the next five years, my life went downhill. I could not teach my children properly, I slept multiple hours a day, I could hardly think. I ran away from my marriage and all four of my children in 2010. The ministry became involved in our family and said the children had to go to school. After I left, my life became a nightmare. The courts said I was unfit to care for the children, so I lost time with them. I was so sad and had no resources. My mind would not function even with the loads of drugs I was on meant to help me.

I became very very sick. In 2012, I went to ER and admitted myself to the phychiatric unit. It was there that they ran tests and found my liver enzymes too high and pulled me off all meds. At this time I was also experiencing much pain in muscles and joints, frequent infections including cellulitis to the face, multiple bladder and kidney infections, MRSA boils that had to be drained and removed, pneumonia multiple times, asthma, and blood work showed a rheumatoid factor that was elevated.

To make a long story short, I was diagnosed with Lupus in October of 2012 by a rheumatologist who took me seriously. Up until that point, doctors saw me as overly emotional, finding issues with my health that 'were not there' and so therefore I must be having mental issues, etc. I cannot describe the emotional pain and trauma I have endured. I am now on methotrexate injections, plaquenil and cipralex for anxiety. I am not at all 'mental'. My mind has become very clear for over 3 years now since the diagnosis and treatment for Lupus. I am so sad that my life has been so destroyed by the wrong diagnosis I was given. But I know that nobody will admit to it or take any responsibility for this. Women were by far the kindest to me. Many men were cruel and heartless, insisting I 'go home' and treating me like I was a lunatic. I hope that doctors listen to this story if possible and think before jumping to conclusions on mental health diagnosis.

I lost my family and am rebuilding. Two of my children, now teens, live with me, and my oldest (almost 21) is on her own. My youngest was 7 when I left and is now 12 and lives with her dad. Life is happy and good for me again and I have had a lot of healing. Blessings to others and don't let doctors dismiss you!