Rose Delaney’s Common Threads Stories of Survival & Recovery From Mental Illness
I found the following story of Rose Delaney in the book Common Threads post on the book publishers website.
Rose Delaney is a remarkable woman. After years of isolation and long-term
hospitalization she found her way back to a life filled with possibilities. She is a leader
in the f ght for quality mental health services for consumers throughout the state. Rose
continues to live in Lehigh Acres and work with the Compeer program with NAMI,
and she is a proud participant in the Florida Self-Directed Care program.
Rose identifies many of the same common threads for recovery that our other storytellers
have. She particularly emphasizes the importance of peer support and the value of
educating yourself about your illness. She is a wonderful example of the power of helping
I knew from childhood that there was something wrong with me; at least I felt
that way. I was always so serious. I always had to make sure, even when I was little,
that everyone else was okay or happy. Th roughout my childhood, I remember
hearing my parents say to other people that I was this perfect child. We take
her places and she is so quiet and well behaved was a common phrase. So I just
thought that was it, I was a quiet, well-behaved little girl. Meanwhile, I felt so sad
inside and didnt know how to express this to anyone.
When I started junior high school, I began having horrible panic attacks. I would
fear when I got home from school that there wouldnt be anyone there and I
would be all alone. It didnt matter that this never happened; I was just scared it
would. So I started to skip school. I would sneak back in the house and stay there
all day. Eventually, the school notified my parents. They brought me to the school
counselor. I told them of my fear, and they just said it was the anxiety of starting
junior high. Inside, I was just desperate for someone to listen to me. I knew there
was something else going on.
High school was horrible. No one realized there was something deeply wrong
with me. I think that made it worse for me. I just continued to try to hide it from
myself and everyone else. I felt as if I had to live up to the perfect child my parents
saw me as. I didnt want to cause them any problems, so I would keep everything
inside. I had suicidal thoughts back then but never acted on them. I was very, very
depressed, yet my parents still just thought this was my personality, quiet and well
Eventually, I got married. I think I went for someone who I thought would take
care of me. I didnt think about his character and how he would treat me, just
that he would take care of me. I didnt fi nd out until the day we went to get our
marriage license that he had been married twice before.
At first I was told I couldnt have children, so it was a surprise when I became
pregnant. I had a very rough pregnancy. I was bedridden from my fourth month.
Th is was very stressful for me because I was alone in the house all day. After I had
the baby, the stress continued. My daughter was premature and had to stay in the
hospital for a month. I just continued to keep everything bottled up inside. The
first time I saw a psychiatrist was after the birth of my daughter; I was 22.
My husband came home one day when my daughter was about a year old. I was
sitting in the corner on the floor just sobbing. I couldnt take care of the baby or
anything. The doctor suggested I see a psychiatrist. This was my first experience
with a psychiatrist, who said what I was going through was normal. I just had a
baby; back then, they called it the baby blues. Youll get over it and everything
will be fine, the psychiatrist said. I wanted to scream at this doctor, Everything is
not going to be fine! Its not fine! My depression really progressed from there, and
I really only just existed. I did what I had to do to take care of my daughter and be
My first manic episode was in my mid to late 20s. I went on a major spending
spree. I bought for myself and everyone else. I dont mean fi ve dollar things either.
I maxed out all of our credit cards, took all the money out of our checking and
savings, and left us with nothing. My husband didnt know at first because I
always handled the finances. When I started coming out of the mania and into the
depression, I realized what I had done. Bills were coming in, there was nothing
in the bank, and I didnt know what to do so I had to tell him. He was livid! He
didnt think this was because of a mental illness or anything. He just thought I
was this horrible person to have spent all the money with no regard for how hard
he worked or anything. This was the beginning of the decline of the marriage. He
started seeing my best friend. Then one day, out of the blue, he told me he wanted
Once he left and I had to tell the family what was going on, they were very
supportive. They found me a place to live with my daughter. My daughter was 5
and it was hard on her. One day I received a call from school that she was upsetting
other children because she was telling them that her father died. Th e school
recommended she see a psychiatrist. When I would take her there, I would think to
myself that I was the one that needed to be seeing a doctor.
It was about a month after my husband left when I decided I just couldnt take it
anymore and swallowed a bottle of pills. My parents had gone away and had taken
my daughter with them because they thought this would be good for me. My
brother, who was about 18 at the time, was the one who found me. I remember it
like it was yesterday. He was shaking me and screaming at me, If you dont tell me
what you took, Ill kill you! Now, years later I feel so bad for putting him in that
position. That was my first suicide attempt.
Within a year, I really went manic! I went through all that I had left. I had a job
as an office manager and was PTA president. The PTA needed to raise money, so
I thought the best way to do this was to raffle off a car. My position as an office
manager gave me check-writing privileges, and I chose to use those privileges to
purchase the car for the raffle. I never thought what I was doing was wrong. I
justified my actions. I figured since my boss was always donating money, this would
be like donating money to the school. I thought I wouldnt have check-writing
privileges if I werent allowed to decide where to write the checks. During this time,
I never thought I was manic or realized anything could be wrong. Th en, of course,
I swung into the depression and realized what I had done. I went to my boss and
told him about the car. He didnt take it too well. He pressed charges and I was
By this time, I was suicidal and was placed on 24-hour suicide watch at the jail.
I had to wear paper clothes. Th e guard, who was male, told me to change into
them. I told him I wouldnt until he walked away, not realizing they had the
mirrors. He walked away, and then I heard them laughing as I was changing. I was
mortified! I was detained until they sent me to a local private psychiatric facility a
few days later. I stayed in there for about 6 weeks, but the doctor felt I still needed
additional inpatient care. My insurance had lapsed out, so they took me back to
the community mental health center until a bed opened at G. Pierce Wood State
Psychiatric Hospital. This was in 1987.
I was frightened. When I was admitted to G. Pierce Wood, I was coherent enough
to realize what was going on. The hospital wasnt in the best of conditions. On
arrival, I was taken to the Intake Ward. Most of the people on this ward were pretty
psychotic. People were fighting and screaming, and I just sat there wondering
how this place was supposed to help me. When I fi rst got there, I was kept pretty
heavily sedated, almost zombie like. My dad and my uncle would come up every
day to see me. They were very upset when they saw the condition I was in. They
set up an appointment for me to see a doctor. At first, the doctors said they had
to keep me sedated to get me stabilized. My father didnt understand what they
meant by stabilized. He just thought I was drugged and that was it. To him, that
wasnt stable. I became okay. I felt protected by two of the older staff members.
I think they saw that I wasnt streetwise and didnt know the ins and outs of
this type of facility, so they took me under their wings. Some of the other residents
didnt feel so inclined and used to call me Princess. My parents would bring stuff
for me, and this bothered them. They would take the stuff that was brought to me
and lock it up and not give it to me when I asked for it. So I said something and
filed a complaint. The doctor wanted me to tell him who was doing this, but I was
frightened because I knew they would retaliate. The doctor kept assuring me that
nothing like that would happen. I told him that he wasnt here at night and didnt
know. Well, sure enough, something was said to the people who were hurting me.
Th at night, they humiliated me in front of everyone, saying, The little princess
complained so now we cant do this or that and its all her fault. Of course, some of
the other patients there believed this, so it was pretty rough at first.
Eventually, I was transferred to another ward. I tried to make friends with the staff
once more because I was afraid that I was going to be mistreated again. The stuff
that went on there, I used to say I would write a book about it. Then I thought
people would just think I was psychotic if I did tell them some of the going-on.
People would think I was mentally ill and fabricating stories. This wasnt the case,
though. Things that were happening there were not in my mind. Staff members
were having sex with clients. I was at this hospital for more than 3 years. Clients
were getting pregnant. Th ere was physical abuse. Verbal abuse was constant. Most
of the workers didnt care. I dont mean the nurses or employees who had degrees.
Not to sound demeaning, but the other workers werent educated and were just
there for their check and that was it. Th e night staff in particular would come in
and just eat and watch TV. To have gotten better there had to take shear willpower
because you knew for certain that you werent getting any help from the staff .
Common Threads Stories of Survival & Recovery From Mental Illness