Woman Survives Bipolar, Suicidal Thoughts with Burke’s Help

Carolyn doesn’t mince words when explaining what Burke has meant to her. “Without Burke, I’d be dead.” She was tired, bitter and except for the elderly father she cared for, estranged from most of her family. For the better part of 10 years, she says, “my life was in shambles.”

Burke Counselor Cindy Carswell agrees, “she was as serious about suicide as anyone I’ve ever known. It seemed that nothing made her happy, but she’s become a poster child for not giving up. She’s become an incredible inspiration to me.”

Carolyn’s illness required a combination of medication and counseling. Both have been remarkably effective, but neither were quick fixes. Finding the right medication took some time, and Carolyn says many of her meetings with Burke staff felt more like arguments than counseling sessions. But she stuck with both and feels that her life is back on track. Carolyn recently shared her survival story on KTRE-News 9.

By Malcolm Hornsby (KTRE – LUFKIN, TX)

Over 20 percent of Americans 18 and over will suffer from some form of depression each year. Over the past 40 years, Carolyn Ivy was among that group.

“The day that I came to the Burke Center was the day I decided I was going to die,” said Carolyn Ivy. A truth not many would willingly admit, but for Carolyn, telling her story is almost like therapy. “I didn’t have a reason to live really. It piles up on you, year after year and it just gets worse and worse,” Ivy said.

It, simply put was her life. Since childhood, she’d dealt with depression, causing a strain on the relationship with her family. And if that weren’t burden enough, in 2007, news came of a darker reality. “I’m bipolar. I’d been to several doctors and they’d give you something and it wouldn’t work and they’re like ‘Well, let’s try a little bit longer’,” said Ivy. A waiting game with an end seemingly non-existent. Feeling there was no real solution from doctors – Ivy formed a plan of her own.

“I thought of different ways to do it, but I could never get right down to what I wanted to do about it,” Ivy said. “She was probably more serious about suicide and ending her life that anybody that I’ve ever met. She had plans, she had intent, and she had a history of it,” said Cindy Carswell. Anger fueled by pain. “In this world, I couldn’t find my place. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. I really didn’t think anybody would care,” Ivy said.

But after a final failed attempt at suicide, doctors intervened with another solution…find The Burke Center and get there immediately. “When they came out and got me (at Burke’s Mental Health Emergency Center), everybody was so caring. I was crying and they were comforting me and everything. Then once I got in a room with a girl and started talking to her and she was actually listening,” Ivy said.

A cry for help answered. It was only up from there. “I had my personality back. I wasn’t mad anymore. I’m happy just about all the time. I greet people on the side of the road, ‘Hey, how you doing, have a good day’ and I used to just walk around mad,” Ivy said.

“I think Carolyn has been amazing. She was one that really truly wanted help,” Carswell said.

And now she’s passing that help off to others, starting with her father who has cancer. One ‘clothing protector’ at a time. “Because in the nursing home, they don’t want to hear bib. So I made him one and I had a friend’s husband so I made him some. And I thought, ‘well, this is something good to do, I love to sew,” Ivy said.

She’s made 103 since January. A giving spirit, no longer hindered by confines of depression. And along with that new lease on life, comes a new something else. “I just had a facelift. A new me,” Ivy said.