In 1986, after I had graduated with my master's degree in social work, I got a job working as a mental health tech at the University of South Florida Psychiatry Center. I knew I was not ready for a high stress full time social work job.
I was hired by a very kind doctor who was interested in my piano playing. As a part of my interview, he took me down to a piano room in the hospital and had me play for him. He hired me to work on the adolescent unit at the hospital.
Until this time, I had thought that my life's calling would be working with troubled adolescents. Two weeks on the adolescent unit cured me of that delusion. Taking care of twenty four defiant and deviant teenagers was too great an onslaught to my own somewhat shaky psyche. I asked to be transferred to another unit.
I was transferred to the geriatric unit in the hospital, and I loved it at once. The elderly patients were actually appreciative of any attention given them, a great change from the hostile teenagers I had been working with. And there was a piano on the geriatric unit which I could play for the patients.
I worked at this hospital for almost three years. I didn't even mind the occasional "dirty work" we had to do: changing diapers or cleaning up other messes made by the patients. Many of them were like children, and had to be treated as such. This was my first exposure to working with Alzheimer's patients, and I discovered what a terrible disease it was. Patients with minds that had gone to mush.
Perhaps because I enjoyed the job so much, I was in a kind of remission as far as my own symptoms went, although I continued to take my medications. I still had a lot of anger in my system about my past before Scientology, and I tried to seek out counseling for this, but because I had no insurance I was not able to find a satisfactory counselor.
I lived in an apartment not far from the University, and had a succession of roommates, the last one being an Iranian girl whose boyfriend also lived in the apartment. When this arrangement failed, I moved into a one bedroom condo where I stayed for several years.
Suddenly, after three years at the psychiatric hospital, my symptoms re-emerged and I had another breakdown. I had to leave work. I drove around in my car, and I decided to commit suicide. I took a number of pills, but then went and turned myself in at the Northside Psychiatric Center. I was just so discouraged with my illness, I thought of suicide as my only way out of a bad situation. But at the last moment, I cried out for help.
And got it. One of the doctors at the psychiatric center sympathized with my situation, and signed the forms to have me apply for Social Security Disability. He said I needed a rest from work, and he was right.
The disability came through, and I resigned from the USF Psychiatry Center. To pass the time, I wrote my books, and started a small business selling t-shirts on campuses to raise some extra money. I spent a lot of time corresponding with other ex-cult members and collecting their affidavits. I was hoping that one day their testimonies would be helpful if there should ever be a government investigation into the activities of Scientology.
Of course, this never happened. Scientology has always managed to hide successfully behind the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution, even though it is not a religion, but a form of enforced psychological slavery.
I was having a relationship with a man named Jack C., and for over a year we were companions. Toward the end of the year, I became pregnant, even though he had been tested and was not supposed to be able to conceive a child.
This time, I decided to keep the baby. I was very excited about being pregnant, for the first time. My mother even sent me some baby clothes. My sister lent me her maternity clothes.
Everything was going fine until one evening at the beginning of my fourth month, I started to bleed. I went to the hospital emergency room, and the bleeding increased. My hopes were shattered. There was no doubt about it, I was having a miscarriage.
The emergency room was very busy that night and I had to wait to be seen. I went into the bathroom, and I felt the tiny fetus come out of me. I looked at the tiny partially formed figure in the toilet and I started to cry. I went out to find a nurse, but no one was available, so I simply flushed the fetus down the toilet.
But at the moment that I passed the fetus, I had an unusual experience. I actually felt as if someone was leaving me. I felt as if there had been a presence there. My crying was not so much for the physical remnant that I saw in the toilet, but for the absence of this presence. I felt like I was saying goodbye to someone.
This experience changed all my ideas about abortion. I now knew that abortion was wrong, at least for me, and that I would never have another one. I knew that a child was involved, even in that early stage of the pregnancy.
I was finally seen by a doctor, but by that time everything was over. The bleeding had finally stopped, and I just wanted to go home.
Not long after that, I had another experience which related to my physical body. I was standing in my bathroom one day when I felt a grey cloud descend over me. I began to get sick. My hair started to fall out in clumps. I felt awful. I knew I had cancer.
I visited a friend in New York City for Christmas that year, and he was surprised by the amount of hair that accumulated in the shower each morning. Clearly, I was not well.
I was still brainwashed against doctors by my years in Scientology, so I decided not to seek medical help. Instead, I went to a health food store and bought a large supply of chlorophyll and started to take it with other vitamins. I also started to juice carrots and red cabbage in my juicer every day and drink that.
I came down with a terrible case of diarrhea which lasted for three days. Then, one night, I passed an ugly looking mass which I knew was my tumor. After that I began to improve. My hair started to grow back and I started to take long walks every day to get my strength back. Within three months I was back to normal and the symptoms have never recurred. But I still take vitamins as a preventative measure.
In 1987, my parents came to Florida for the winter. But it was clear that something was wrong with my father. For one thing, he was depressed. Retirement had never suited him. I think he felt useless.
One day, I went over to their apartment and found him sitting alone in the dark, the curtains drawn. That gave me an indication of how he was feeling. He became interested for a short time in a gardening society, but soon he became too sick for even that.
As he had had so much heart trouble in the past, including two heart bypass operations, it was a surprise when the doctors made a diagnosis of cancer of the pancreas. In the spring, he went back up north with my mother, and he made a trip to the Mayo Clinic to see if they could do something about his pain.
I was still working at the psychiatry center at this time. On a Friday, I called him at the hospital in northern Michigan where he had been admitted. I didn't even recognize his voice. I knew instinctively that I should go up there at once.
I made the three day drive, and when I went into his hospital room, I didn't even recognize him, he had lost so much weight. There were two men in the room, and I couldn't tell which one was my father.
His doctor sent him home to die, and he came by ambulance to the cottage by Lake Superior where he died several days later. In the hospital, while he was still coherent, we had several conversations. He said he wished he had been a better father, and he thought we had a special family.
Those conversations changed my feelings about him forever. The anger that I had harbored against him for so long was gone. It was impossible to be angry with someone in so much pain and who was dying. That reconciliation changed my life. When he died, I felt a sense of peace.
Up until that time, my bulimia had continued to be a daily problem. I had lived with this secret for twenty seven years, and I had purged at least twenty five thousand times during those years. I don't know why it didn't kill me. I can only attribute it to the grace of God.
My last episode of bulimia occurred shortly after my father died. I think with all that anger out of my system, it was time for a change.
One day, after purging, I suffered a headache so severe, that I knew if I ever purged again, it would kill me. The headache lasted for three weeks. I never purged again and I know that I never will. Because I know that if I do it will kill me.
I will say that bulimia is a terrible disease. People might say, "Well, why didn't you just stop?" But it's not that simple. It is a disease. It can't always be stopped by an act of will. God knows, I tried often enough. It took hitting bottom for me to quit, as with other addictions.
By 1992, after five years of selling t-shirts on college campuses, I was ready to try to work again. I got a job as a home health social worker with University Community Hospital in Tampa. It was a challenging job, but I enjoyed it. I had a wonderful supervisor who supported me all the way.
I would hide my occasional bouts of shakes by getting up from whatever meeting I was in and leave the room. I took tranquilizers to help me get through the work. But I managed to function enough to get the job done. Again, I was having a temporary remission of sorts.
I worked for the hospital until 1995, when I again had another breakdown. To say that I was discouraged would be an understatement. I ended up back in the hospital twice in the summer of 1995.
When I was released from the hospital, they gave me another chance. The hospital let me come back in a part time position that they felt might be less stressful.
But it didn't work, and in November I was back in the hospital, this time at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.
It seemed that my career as a social worker was over. I just couldn't tolerate the stress of a full time job with the pressures of working in an understaffed hospital.
I decided to reapply for Social Security Disability. The application is pending at this time.
In losing my job, I lost everything. I lost my apartment and had to pack up my things and put them in storage. I returned to Michigan to live with my mother.
In Michigan, I took a course as a nursing assistant, and began volunteering in a local nursing home. That is where I am now.
The future lies ahead. In spite of many discouragements, I must go on. I will try to live as productive a life as possible.
However, I cannot delude myself. The years of nervous breakdowns have taken their toll. I will never realize the potential that I might have had without this illness.
I can only say that through everything that has happened, my faith has been strengthened. We are on this earth for such a short time. I have gotten used to death through my work in the hospital and in the nursing home. I have no illusions of immortality.
For whatever reason, God has seen fit to bring me through the terrible disease of schizophrenia. I spent twelve years in a satanic cult trying to find a cure for my illness. In the end, I have found that there is no cure. There is only palliative help in the form of the various medications that I must take each day.
Yet, I am lucky. For a schizophrenic whose father was once told that I would never live outside an institution, I have done fairly well.
I have traveled to Europe. (I was given a two week trip to Holland, Denmark and Belgium by my brother who was at the time working in Amsterdam for a Dutch chemical company).
I have written two books. I have had my own business. And I have at various times been able to work and function in the "normal" world without people knowing there was anything wrong with me.
I have always had friends, people who have shared my journey in one way or another. And I finally have peace with my family. I enjoy my nieces and nephews and I do not regret not having children of my own. Perhaps God knew best when I had my miscarriage. It's all I can do to take care of myself, and I even need help with that. What would I do now with a child?
Above all, I have emerged from my forty eight years with a deep faith in God. He saved me from the car accident in 1966 with a fever of mysterious origin. He saved me from the cult with a miraculous deliverance. And He even, I believe, saved me from cancer.
I am grateful to be out of the cult. Many of my former friends are still in there. At least I am free. Free to live and to make my own choices, not living as a hypnotized robot controlled by the will of another, a despot who even though now dead, continues to exert his influence upon the unfortunate followers of the cult of Scientology.
The future lies ahead. And what will it bring? In this, I am in the same boat with the rest of humanity. I simply don't know, any more than you do, what lies ahead.
Do I regret the past? The answer is no, not any part of it. It has been a great learning experience. It has made me more humble. And it has brought me closer to God. Is that not what life is all about?