NNDC Faces of Depression Profile Articles
Meet NNDC Face of Depression-Glyniel Garner
- Please tell us a little about you: (where you live, age, education, profession, etc.)
My name is Glyniel Garner. I am a 52 year old wife and mother of three children residing in the Jacksonville, Florida area. I am the founder of Life Enciplement Support Services, a support and educational organization, which hosts the support group “The Marriage Alter. “ This group is a safe and confidential haven for “Mentally Challenged Marriages.” The goal is to help couples in stressful relationships due to mental illness preserve and improve their relationships through support, coaching, and accountability of their thoughts and actions.
As a support group facilitator, life design coach and pastor, I bring my own life experience to the table, having dealt with many life challenges, changes, and struggles. In addition to my own life experiences, I received certification as a Board Certified Biblical Counselor and a Certified Marriage Mentor under the AACC. As a support group facilitator and life design coach, I provide the group participants with direction, guidance, and support in an ongoing partnership designed to help them improve their personal lives and relationships.
I have always had an interest and passion for psychology, and graduated from Erickson College International, Vancouver, BC, in Solution-Focused Coaching (SFC) a future oriented, strength based model of communication that holds several key presuppositions from NLP into the framework of coaching with a strong future orientation. Rather than focusing on what hasn’t worked in the past, or what is “broken”, SFC holds the following tenants: There is no such thing as failure, only feedback; People always make the best choice available to them at the time; People work perfectly; The meaning of communication is the response you get; Choice is better than no choice; People already have all the resources they need, and that symptoms – aches, pains, anxiety, depression, etc. are communication for needed action.
Disciplined and experienced in the art of active listening, I take an individual approach with each client, customizing it to fit their needs. I work with them to facilitate personalized, creative and resourceful strategies that best fit them and their situation.
- How has depression affected your life?
I have experienced depression in multiple areas of my life. In 1976 at age 14, I experienced my first bout with depression. My father was an alcoholic and he was in a terrible car accident after a day of drinking. My father never came home. At a young age, I was faced with abandonment issues, depression, anxiety and panic disorders.
I married my first husband at the age of 22. It was a traumatic short marriage that ended in divorce due to his physical abuse. When I left him, I was seven months pregnant and feared he would hurt my child as he had hurt me. My first child was born two months later. In that same year I met and married my second husband. With all the stress and life changes of a recent divorce, new marriage, young baby, moving and new responsibilities, I was completely overwhelmed and ended up bedridden with severe panic attacks for weeks. I decided to take charge of my life and sought therapy. After years of therapy, I learned and understood the triggers that bought on my anxieties and panic.
2011 brought multiple life stressors. My mother was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. Although stressed and anxious, I was able to use the tools I had learned in therapy to stay stable. Then, after some difficulties in our marriage, my husband was diagnosed with Schizo-Affective Disorder, a psychological condition that comprises both psychosis (loss of contact with reality) and mood disorders (such as mania or depression). His was the depressive subtype with a negative outlook.
The man I once knew and married, was no longer there. His personality changed tremendously and depression and psychosis grabbed him and has not let go. Like many mentally ill people, he didn’t believe anything was wrong with him, so he was not always compliant to taking his meds.
I felt helpless. I read every article and book I could find on Schizo-Affective Disorder to better understand what he was experiencing and then began a quest to getting my husband back. The man, the husband, and the father he used to be. I felt him slipping away into some black hole and heard the echoes of my voice screaming out his name as he fell deeper. I again fell into a deep depression. I went to my doctor for help and she suggested anti-depressive medication. I declined. I wanted to work on my situation and how I was handling my husband’s illness. I was anxious, tired, stressed angry, I realized I was co-dependent and that my husband’s illness was becoming an illness for me as well.
- What would you like other people who have similar stories and circumstances to know from your experience?
You are not alone.
When you experience mental illness in marriage, it’s hard to keep the relationship together. The spouse with mental illness will often seem to check out of the marriage. The other spouse will find themselves alone, stressed, tired and angry. It wasn’t uncommon for people close to me to see my plight, and wanting the best for me, would tell me to leave him. The counselor my husband was seeing told him that he should get out of my life so I could remarry and be able to give my youngest son a step father who can finish raising him to be a man. I was hurt and shocked to hear this come from someone we sought out seeking support. We stopped seeing that counselor.
Although many marriages with the issue of mental illness of a spouse dissolve into divorce, I didn’t want that to happen to ours. After all I had endured in our marriage with his mental illness and all the advice to leave him, I could not do that. He is sick. Would you leave your child because they are sick or a parent ill with cancer or other serious health issues?
Keeping in my mind and heart the marriage vows we took at our wedding, I decided to fight and then to help others in mentally challenged marriages do the same.
- What has been your biggest learning or inspiration from what you have experienced?
I have learned that your loved ones mental illness is not your illness. The challenge is even more difficult when it’s your spouse. Living with a mentally ill spouse will change your whole life. I really don’t believe in the “new normal” theory. There is no normal when you are dealing with any serious illness, and it’s even more difficult when it’s a brain illness.
Having support from peers, family, friends and mental health professionals is essential in both treating the illness and helping yourself to help your loved one. I have also found that participation in support groups is an important part for the recovery process of your relationship. I believe both the mentally ill person and their loved one need to have hope and support as the foundation for ongoing recovery of their relationship.