From the time I was a young child until I was 17 years of age, my father and his brother raped me and in other was sexually abused me. I did tell my parents about my uncle, who started the abuse, but following that, my father started in with the worst of it.

Then, when I was 36 years old, my baby girl died, and when I was 40, my teen-age son drowned while out with friends. The house caught fire, my husband and I could not get past the deaths of our children, and we ended up divorced.

Some months after the unexpected death of our son, I started into therapy, both individual and group, and I was placed on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. I was suicidal and still am occasionally when the stress factors in my life rise too high. I was diagnosed with major depression, an eating disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks and some obsessive/compulsive components. Three years ago, all of these various disorders were moved under the umbrella heading of posttraumatic stress disorder.

At age 53, I have spent 13 years on various medications, and in various group counseling situations, and when necessary, in one-on-one therapy. When life is calm for the most part, I get along okay. However, I nursed my mother for 1-1/2 years through the day of her death, had my house—my “safe place”—up for sale with strangers walking through it, purchased another house and had to move to a place where there were no window coverings to protect me from the outside world, had my daughter move across the United States from me, and have been taking care of my father, all of this at the same time. My symptoms were exacerbated terribly. All I could think of was death.

I was very strong in nursing my mother through her last months, and I am strong in taking care of my father. The other stressful situations are now over, and my medication seems to be working again, as does my individual therapy sessions.

I have relapsed under heavy circumstances a number of times and experienced “suicidal ideology.” However, when the brunt of the stress backs off, I am then able to cope again for the most point. Unlike the others, I cannot say I was okay in three months, or a short given amount of time. Rather, I’ve lived a roller coaster life, and my psychiatrist and therapist have both informed me that I am “delicately balanced” on my medications, and that they do not believe that I will ever be able to give up my medications. They also state that I will require therapy “as needed” for particularly stressful times in life. But there are the times when from the outside, my life looks as normal as any one else’s.