McMinnville, TN - 2017-11-30
Mary Grace: My father wouldn’t allow us to go to counseling. He said that we need to just pray to God, and he’ll take care of everything. He didn’t want us going to other people to talk– thinking they might steer us away. When he passed away I got a divorce that same year and decided that I would finally seek counseling.
I was thirty-two, depressed with anxiety, and had borderline bipolar there for a while. They put me on a couple of different medications, but I got low down to where I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have a car to drive and I had this five-year-old child that I’m having to raise, by myself– no child support, $142 a month, and food stamps. That’s how we lived.
We still managed… We had public transportation, so we took that to the doctors and the counselor and stuff. That’s when I came into the knowledge of the peer support centers. I was in awe. I had no idea these programs were around, and I told them–I said, “One of these days I’ll be working for you because I want to give back.”
[I eventually got a job] driving the vans at the peer support center. I love to drive. That job was just perfect. I was in a place where I could be depressed and not be in fear of losing my job. If I needed to take a day off just because I did not feel mentally well, I did not get in trouble for that.
Each step I take, it’s like it was meant to be. It took eleven years working with this company for me to get this manager’s position that I’m in now.
I just… I thank God. I still get depressed; I still have my anxiety; I have panic attacks on occasion in large crowds, but I’m learning so many new things. I learn so much from the people that I work with. I’m hoping and praying that they’re learning from me too. I just can’t see my life doing anything else.
BW: Your dad kept you from seeking treatment for years. Do you think that if your dad had not passed away you’d be on this path?
Mary Grace: I don’t think so. I think that he just wanted us to stay in church and believe in God. I was just so afraid I’d disrespect him. The Bible says don’t be disrespectful to your parents. I was Miss Goody-two-shoes. I did whatever I was told to do.
BW: You wish you would have gotten into counseling earlier?
Mary Grace: I do. I think I probably even could have helped my father more in his illness and everything.
Then, my mom too–she finally admitted to me after my dad passed, out of the blue–she says, “I know how you’re feeling when you say you’re depressed,” But she was like me; she didn’t believe she had to go to counseling. I wish she had of. She might still be alive today if she had.
BW: Is there any particular incident that really impacted you?
Mary Grace: I have never gone public with this… When I was nineteen, I was in college, and I was still that good little girl for the most part, but I got pregnant, and I had an abortion. I was against that, totally.
The guilt and knowing that it was wrong–it was a life, and I’d always tell everybody else that, “Don’t do that. It’s horrible,” It still is. My story is still the same even after it happened. Don’t do it.
BW: Why did you decide to do it?
Mary Grace: My boyfriend… He’d take me up in these mountain places and whatnot, just the two of us, and he would get out, and he would threaten me. He would punch me in the stomach, not hard but just showing me that he could do it. Then, my mother said she would be no help to me whatsoever, that I couldn’t move back home. I was scared of my dad. Real scared then. I didn’t want him to know.
[My mom] finally told him after it was all said and done. He told me that he would have took care of me, that he would have made it right. I think that’s kind of when I became daddy’s girl. That’s hard. It’s still hard today, but I know that my baby is waiting for me in heaven. We’ll meet one day.