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What’s Wrong?

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:25pm

It all started in the fall of 1973… I was 46 years old. The medication described by the Orangeburg County Mental Health Department didn’t seem to be helping me. I didn’t understand why I was depressed. I had no reason to be. I had married a loving husband after my graduation from Duke University and we had had four precious children, three daughters and a son, and were soon to have a son-in-law. What was wrong? I knew something was! But I didn’t know what.

Eleanor, our oldest daughter, had already set her wedding date for June 1, 1974, to be right after her graduation from Columbia College. I was trying hard to go to the bridal parties given for her during her Christmas holidays, but my general slowness in everything I did and my inability to cope with everyday situations was becoming more and more distressing to me… and my family. At times my mind would just go blank in the middle of a sentence and I wouldn’t be able to remember what I had started saying. As the wedding date drew nearer Eleanor chose the gowns she wanted her bridesmaids to wear and I, already finding it hard to make decisions, took far too long deliberating on which gown to wear as the mother-of-the-bride. Finally, I chose a pale green one… and later had my shoes dyed to match.

My condition steadily worsened. By late March, 1974, I was referred, by my family physician, to a psychiatrist, a Dr. K. Huggins in Columbia, SC for psychiatric evaluation… and treatment, if needed. I was given an appointment for April 1.

At the session, Dr. Huggins asked me some questions. Yes, I had already been on medication prescribed to me by the Orangeburg Mental Health Department. Yes, I had lost both my father in 1970 and then my mother in 1972. And, yes, I had felt so terribly frustrated cleaning out their large attic, trying to decide what to do with all of their many things. Should I throw this away… or not? Maybe I could use this myself… but where? … This to go to the Orangeburg Historical Society… or would they even want it? Give this to one of the children… but which child? So many decisions! Dr. Huggins wanted to see me again in two weeks. Before I left I was given a second appointment for April 17.

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