About Cathleen

Cathleen’s Story

gibson (2)It was 2008, I had finally been called up for my disability hearing. I had been diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder and had been hospitalized a few times, and it had made it difficult for me to hold a job. But now, it just didn’t seem right. I was finally working and things were looking up. How could I accept disability for not working when I now had a somewhat, thriving Mary Kay business? I discussed the options with my husband and we both felt that if I went in and was honest with the judge, that was the best thing to do, I could deal with whatever the outcome would be.

I was nervous. I don’t really know why. Maybe it was because he was a man of authority. I had always feared people, especially men, with authority. We, my attorney and I, went into the room. All I remember was me telling the judge I had now started working with Mary Kay and I didn’t feel right accepting disability if I was now making money working. I remember him telling me he was very impressed. He said he was impressed that with my severe medical Bipolar history, he was amazed that I was doing as well as I was and that he was impressed that I was trying to make a go at it in Mary Kay. Because of that, he awarded me a “Lump Sum” of disability. He said, “if at any time you need to come back to receive Social Security Disability Benefits, you will be granted them”. I was so happy for telling the truth and for sharing my heart! It felt so good to know that even though I had a mental illness that had disabled so many people, I still was making something of my life!

See Savannah’s Story.

I needed to find something to do that would allow me to stay at home or at least be available for Savannah if she needed me. That is when I found Mary Kay. I sold Mary Kay in between caring for Savannah, which actually didn’t give me much time to sell Mary Kay. I also have another daughter, who is 12 years older than Savannah. Her name is Mandy. She is an absolute sweetheart. As all this was going on with Savannah, Mandy was going through her own trials as a teenager… When she was a Junior in High School she became pregnant with our cute little granddaughter, Lily. But what a trial it was for Mandy and our whole little family while she was pregnant! We were blessed to have Lily join our Family on April 10, 2004.

Mandy and Lily lived with us until the spring in 2006. She and Lily moved out on their own. Steven and I were having problems… Steven suffers from depression and has for most of his adult life. Again, I don’t remember most of what had gone on but I do remember believing that he had hired a hit man to kill me and I had convinced most of my family of this. I had hired an attorney and filed a protective order and one day as Steven was coming out of work, a Sheriff gave him the protective order. He was so confused… He said to the officer, “I just talked to her a couple of hours ago and she asked me to stop at the store on the way home and get some bread.” He didn’t know what had hit him. I have journals talking about how afraid I was of him and how I was afraid to even let Savannah be with him. But the judge had allowed him visitation with Savannah. I was trying to get that changed.

There were many people who knew Steven and I who tried to talk to me to help me change my mind but I wouldn’t change my mind. I was going to divorce him. I didn’t want anything to do with someone who had hired a hit man to kill me! How could they even ask me to take him back?

Steven started talking about committing suicide. It scared me but all I was concerned about was that he was going to kill himself in front of Savannah. That is what scared me. I told my attorney and he told me to try and tape record a conversation where he says he’s going to kill himself. I was never able to do that.

Then one morning I got up and for some reason, I looked at my phone. I usually never looked at my phone unless it rang – which most of the time I never picked it up until later in the afternoon. I noticed I had a text message. No one ever sent me text messages. It was a message from Steven. It said, “Good-bye. I love you. The back door is open.” My heart sank! It was like I had been asleep in a nightmare and someone had just woken me up. My heart was racing! I didn’t even know where he lived! We weren’t supposed to have any contact. That was what the protective order said. No contact! I knew he lived in the next town over but I didn’t know where! The text had been sent around 11:00 PM the night before and now it was 8:30 AM. I called 9-1-1. I told them about the text. I told them the situation. I gave them the description of his car. I told them the basic vicinity of where I though he might live. They said they would send someone out to drive up and down the streets looking for his car and they would call me back.

I don’t know how long I waited, but it seemed like a lifetime. Then the phone rang. I answered it. I was so worried about what they were going to tell me… “We found him.” I asked if he was still alive. “Yes, he was blue and foaming at the mouth, but now he’s just mad and fighting us. He doesn’t want to be alive”. I was so relieved. I told them I would meet them at the hospital.

I can remember seeing him lying in the bed barely hanging onto life wondering what it was that I had done. Where had my mind been? It was like I had been in an out of body experience for months… I didn’t understand any of it.

After Steven got out of the hospital, I went with him to a Psychiatry appointment and the Psychiatrist started asking me questions. He asked me about this “hit man”. I explained to him that it was something that I thought was real but now I didn’t. I didn’t understand it myself. He talked to me about a disorder called “Bipolar Affective Disorder”. It was shortly after that that I started treatment for this disorder.

In December of 2007 I was helping my husband run seasonal Christmas stores in one of our malls and my Mary Kay Director came by. She asked me why I was working there. I told her it was fun. I told her it was my husband’s business and mine. She said, “You have your own business and you could be making a lot of money if you just work it.” I started thinking about it. I talked to Steven and did a little more research and we decided that if I just put a little more effort into my Mary Kay business we could both be able to stay at home with Savannah and each Christmas he could run the seasonal stores. I had previously run companies of my own, so I knew I could do this. He agreed, after the seasonal stores were closed, to pick up the slack around the house and take care of Savannah, and I would hit it hard in Mary Kay.

So, from the end of January 2008 to August 2009 I went like gangbusters! Something happened in July to set me off though. I’m still not exactly sure what that was… I was on my way to being a Director, I was driving a Mary Kay Car, had won Mary Kay diamonds, was in the Circle of Excellence (don’t remember what that is, but I have sash that says it), had approximately 300 clients, was selling product like crazy and BAM! It all came to a screeching halt. I look back on my planner and there is nothing written in my planner after August 1. It’s like everything just stopped. I know I stopped all communication with my Director. I know there are records where I start seeing my Psychiatrist more steadily and a counselor.

Then in October I went in to have a hernia surgery. When I came home I got double pneumonia, the swine flu and an infection in the incision site. I needed to go back to the ER. My husband was at work and couldn’t take me so my friend, Mary Ann took me. I had a really high fever and a severe headache. While I was in the ER, they gave me a shot of Toradol. As soon as they gave me the shot, I started to see things coming out of the walls. The machine in the room started moving and I knew things weren’t all right. I asked Mary Ann if she could see that. She didn’t know what I was talking about. I then knew something really wasn’t all right if I was the only one seeing these things. She called someone into the room. I was so scared!

The next thing I knew was I was being checked into the hospital. I spent the next 4 weeks in this hospital working with the doctors, trying to make the hallucinations go away. Nothing they did seemed to work.

Eventually, I was transferred to another hospital and underwent 5 weeks, 3 times a week of ECT Treatments (Electro Convulsive Therapy). While I was in the hospital I had become friends with a girl we will call Pam. She was married and had two children. She was in the hospital, being treated for depression. One night her husband came to visit her. He brought her some OREO’s. After he left, she came walking in with the OREO’s. A couple of the guys on the Unit said, “It’s not fair that she gets OREO’s and we don’t.” She got upset and threw the cookies at them. She walked to her room. A little while later I walked to her room to see if she was okay. When I walked to her door I couldn’t believe what I saw! She had hung herself with her bed sheets! I was the one who found her! I didn’t think I would ever forget what I saw! I was so upset! It was horrible!!!!!

After this happened, I was not offered any counseling and I was terrified to talk to anyone regarding the situation. I was convinced that evil spirits had made her do what she had done and that evil spirits were going to come and get me. There were months that I wasn’t able to be alone after that experience.

After that day we added Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to my list of Disorders…

What I learned later, was that is a “normal” symptom for someone who has psychotic episodes, which is what was happening to me because of my Pschizo-Affective Bipolar Disorder.

After the 5 weeks of being at that hospital and undergoing the ECT Treatments, my memory was wiped clean. When I came out of the hospital all I remembered was basically my family. As far as I can recall, it was even difficult to walk. Everything was so new, so overwhelming. On the way home from the hospital, Steven handed me my cell phone. I picked it up and looked at it. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with it. It looked like something I’d never seen before. He said, “That’s your phone.” I started to press the buttons and found that there was a directory on it. I didn’t know any of the people listed on the directory so I started to delete them. Steven asked me what I was doing. I told him I didn’t know these people. I told him I was deleting them.  He said, “No, no, no! Don’t do that! You know those people.  You’ve just forgotten who they are.” I couldn’t figure out why I needed them on my phone if I didn’t know who they were.  Life had become so confusing…

I remember feeling terrified and didn’t really know what to do with myself. I was very depressed and spent many, many days in bed. Because of what I had witnessed in the hospital, and because it had been kept “hush-hush”, my husband didn’t even know it had happened until about a month after I had been released from the hospital. It was at a Psychiatry appointment that I broke down and it all came out. The psychiatrist and my husband were in awe. I spent the next several months dealing with that.

I also spent several months trying to make sense of life. Trying to figure out basic things. I didn’t even remember how old I was. I didn’t remember how to cook; I didn’t remember anything about my previous life. I went to www.google.com several times a day to ask questions. I also got onto www.facebook.com. Those two websites really helped me to remember things. It’s amazing how valuable it is to see a person’s face, also to see a person’s profile or what they do or where they’re from.

After about a year, I was brave enough to read my journals, as sporadic as they were, from my past. I don’t know why I was so hesitant to read them, but I was. One thing that I learned from  that it is very important to keep a Gratitude Journal and that when you keep a journal you should write things that are positive and not dwell on negative things. I learned that I wasn’t a very positive person in my “past life”. In a way, I wish I hadn’t read the journals, but I did, and I can’t change that. There were times that I read the journals and I felt I was reading about someone else’s life. I didn’t recognize the people I was reading about and still didn’t recognize the situations and still don’t recall the events. There is no rhyme or reason as to why I remember some things and not others. So I now keep a Gratitude Journal and make sure that the journal I keep is as positive as possible.

I didn’t remember anything about my Mary Kay business. After a little while I started to remember a few people I had worked with and a few customers. I have very little recollection of any past occupations that I was involved in. I have had to rely on my husband to fill me in on what I have done in the past. According to him, I used to be very good at Computers. I used to have my own Computer Consulting Firm. I also, at one time was a Process Improvement Facilitator and helped companies improve their business processes. I’m lucky now if I can figure out basic computer functions. I am so blessed that I have people who are willing to assist me to make this website what it is today!

One day my husband pulled a beautiful motorcycle out of the garage. I said, “Where did you get that?” He said, “You were with me when I bought it.” I had no recollection of him ever having a motorcycle. He jokes now about having a boat too…

I came out of the hospital in December of 2009 and today I have systems in place that assist me with my every day tasks and people are amazed that I ever suffered a brain injury! What a true blessing – blessing I have to share with everyone on this site, as well as the many clients I have been able to help!

About this site: I wanted a way to help people. I wanted a way to get my story out there so others didn’t feel like they were alone in their struggles. There were times that I had a hard time dealing with everything that happened to me. I guess it was like mourning a loss – a loss of part of my life after losing my memory… But there are two ways to look at everything. I decided to choose to look on the bright side. I have a whole future, to make new memories…I wanted people to know that even though there are things in life that happen, you can choose to be happy, that life can still be amazing, if you want it to be. It is a choice. I hope this site allows you the opportunity to do that.

I want this site to be a support for all of those who are going through some kind of mental illness or some kind of brain trauma. I want this to be a place where family members of those patients can come to get support. I also want people to realize they have a choice as to whether they want to get well or not. I believe that we all have that choice. I am much better today – mentally and physically – than I was in 2009! It is possible! Whatever you put your mind up to.

I want this place to be a place of HAPPINESS. I believe that happiness and laughter are the best medicine for any ailment and that is why I created the Happiness Corner. Norman Cousins in his book, “Anatomy of an Illness” cured his own debilitating tissue disease by watching Marx Brothers movies for an hour each day. He said, “Laughter may or may not activate the endorphins or enhance respiration, as some medical researchers contend. What seems clear, however, is that laughter is an antidote to apprehension and panic.” He also said, “Hope, purpose and determination are not merely mental states. They have electrochemical connections that affect the immune system.”

I hope you visit this site often and hope you enjoy being here and spending time laughing and looking on the bright side of life. That is where I spend most of my time now.

For most of the first year and half after losing my memory, I spent time working on the left side of my brain, trying to make sense of everything that happened to me. I then went to my bookshelf and found three books by SARK (what an inspiration). I decided to see if she had a website. I then saw she had an e-program called “Dream Boogie”. That is where the dream of this website came to be. So I have SARK to thank for helping me realize my Dream. She got that right side of my brain working. I’m so happy I got it working it’s a great place to spend time in.

Also, there is a Dr. named Jill Bolte, who had a stroke that shut down the left side of her brain; the right side of her brain continued to function. She wrote a book about her experience called “A Stroke of Insight”. There is a video on Oprah.com that you can view here where she talks about it. She’s amazing! If we could all tap into the right side of our brains, this world would be an amazing place!

Since creating this site I have become a Certified ARTbundance Coach and teach wellness and healing through Creative Healing. I have become a Certified Advanced Reiki Practiioner under Usui Reiki Ryoo International Center for Reiki Training and have products and programs that support all those individuals who are living with challenges and obstacles that are keeping them from reaching their highest potential.

I’m passionate about whatever the mind can dream it a can achieve and I live this every day! I would love to have the opportunity to help you make your dreams come true! For more information about my Coaching Services, go here, and for my Choosing Joy Program, go here.

If you have any questions, or want to make a suggestion on improvements or additions to this site, please contact me.

Sincerely and with lots of hugs and laughter sent your way,
Cathleen Spacil