More Than a Bandaid


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175 in stock


By Sue Heisler

ISBN: 978-1-84991-533-5
Published: 2011
Pages: 140
Key Themes: bipolar disorder, depression, family, hope, empowerment


More Than A Bandaid begins with the author’s birth and life amidst a dysfunctional family. She had her first major depressive episode at age 19, and her second at age 35, when she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 1991. The book follows her life as she rides the rollercoaster of mental illness and discovers new and different diagnoses along the way. The illnesses were deeper than anything one could slap a Band Aid on, and her faith and determination bring her through to a better place in life. This book is about hope.

About the Author

Sue Heisler is married, has six grown children and is currently involved in the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance as a chapter president and support group facilitator. She works part time at a low income housing project doing activities with the children and running a support group for the women. She lives with her husband and pug in a small town in Vermont.

Book Extract

On April 27, 1954, a girl named Suzanna was born in Washington DC. The last of four children, I was born into a home of unrest. Shortly after I was born, my family was evicted from our home and had to go live with Nanny and Pop Pop, my mother’s parents. My father had lost his job again. By the time I was two, my father was in jail for writing bad checks. My mother divorced this man, who was so unstable that he couldn’t hold down a job. He had grandiose mood swings and always had the perfect get-rich-quick scheme. But, of course, somehow the money would always disappear. He was a pleasant and loving man, but my mother had had enough of his mood swings and the rich-oneday/ poor-the-next life, she just had to get out. She didn’t want us exposed to the turmoil. We were fine at Nanny and Pop Pop’s. My mother got a secretary’s job at the Air Force Base and worked very hard. Nanny took care of us, and I was with her so much I thought she was my mother. I remember how sad and scared I was to leave her, and move to the big house when my mother remarried a few years later.

The man my mother married was a stable man, at least as far as a job was concerned. He was a pharmacist, and he was always in demand. Sometimes, he worked two jobs because pharmacists were needed so much. But stable? Not mentally or emotionally. He was not a pleasant man, nor naturally a loving man. He did, however love me, and was always kind and generous to me. He was shy, but had a temper. He and my mother would often fight, and sometimes the fights would be bitter and violent. He broke windows, broke down doors, hit her twice that I know of, and she just always kept egging him on. Once, when I was about 10, I was sitting on the sofa and Daddy came into the room and turned the porch light off. My mother, who was ironing in the next room, came in and turned it back on. She said, “My son is still out and I like to keep the light on until all my children are home.” He came back in and turned it back off, and went back upstairs. She came back in and turned it back on. He came down, went out on the porch, picked up a garden tool and broke the light. It made a loud crashing sound. I was scared. I wanted to run upstairs, but I was frozen in my seat. My mother came back into the room as Daddy came back into the house. “What are you doing?” she asked, as if he was crazy. “I wanted that light off.,” he mumbled, and started up the stairs. “Go ahead and break them all, see if I care,” she said in a daring voice. He went into the other room, came back with the iron and started swinging at the overhead lights, breaking them, shattering glass all around the room. The noise and the flying glass petrified me. I began to scream and cover my head. I don’t remember anything else until I discovered myself at Nanny’s house. Yet the next day we were all together shopping for new light fixtures. It was crazy, and scary. Yet, it wasn’t the fights that bothered me as much as the silence. They lived in separate rooms shortly after they got married, and they would literally not talk to each other for months at a time. If my mother needed grocery money, or something else, she’d leave him a note on the dining room table and he would produce the needed item the following day. My mother did not allow us to talk to him. He was evil, at least when they weren’t getting along. Often, when my mother wasn’t home, I’d wait for him to come out of his room and I would talk to him. Since I was the youngest, he used to bring me trinkets. I was his favorite. I never knew any other father and, to me, he was my daddy. When I was four, I used to sit on his lap and pour the cream and sugar in his coffee and stir it up for him. My mother, for some reason, didn’t like him using cream and sugar, and made him start drinking his coffee black. I lost my little job. Whenever I was talking to him and he heard my mother’s car drive up, he would disappear into his room. He didn’t want me to get into trouble. Sometimes, I’d get “caught” talking to him and he’d go back in his room and I’d get a chore to do as a kind of punishment. He loved me in the only way he knew how, and I loved him, too. As bad as it was at home, he would never leave. I didn’t think he’d ever leave me. But we would leave him! After a fight, we often hopped in the car and headed to Nanny and Pop Pop’s and stayed for several days. My mother would say that this was it, she had had enough. But they would reconcile for a few weeks and they’d talk and we’d all have dinner together and it seemed like a real family.

But something would set my mother off, which would set Daddy off and there’d be violence again. And we would leave, usually to Nanny’s, sometimes to my Aunt Ethel and Uncle Bob’s. They had kids our age, Tommy and Robbie. They also had a baby named Julie. One night, when I was about seven, my older brother was babysitting us while my mother was at a PTA meeting and Daddy was working. I was craving sweets so badly, and there were no cookies or any sweets of any kind in the house. All the kids were upstairs watching TV so I looked in the baking cabinet and found some candy sprinkles. I carefully opened the lid, but it came off too fast and the sprinkles went flying all over the kitchen floor. I grabbed a broom and swept up as much as I could. I thought I had done a pretty good job, but I figured my mother might find out and be mad at me. So I didn’t stay up, I went on to bed.


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