Two carts visited me each day. A third only came every other, and that was more than enough. In the morning, the breakfast cart. Then the med cart. But the cart with the squeaky wheels drove fear straight through my bones. Dr. Herlihy had a bedside manner only found with true Southern gentlemen. He always did. Old enough to be my grandfather, he treated me as if I were one of his own. I knew he wouldn’t keep hurting me without a good reason. But that made it no easier.
As always, I begged Dr. Herlihy not to do it. Not to put me through the anguish of shock therapy. “Please, please,” I said. “Don’t do that to me again … I promise I’ll be good.” I sat upright on the hospital bed—the one they keep in the special room—one leg crooked and tucked under the other, dressed in hospital finery—a cotton gown with fleur-de-lis designs I could barely make out.
Dr. Herlihy sat near the end of the bed. He wore dress slacks, a crisp button-down shirt, and a whiter-than-snow lab coat with his name stitched in red across the lapel pocket. Dr. Charles Herlihy, III MD. His eyes held sorrow as he shook his head in that calm and gentle way. He placed a hand on mine and said, “I’ve got to do it, Sister Jefferies. You’re a sick little girl, and I’ve got to help you. Can you understand that? Now open your mouth.”
I was too weak to fight. Besides, I trusted him. Dr. Herlihy was the only psychiatrist to hold the office of president for the Jefferson County Medical Society. And, as the doctor who broke the Black Widow case, he was famous. He took only the most challenging cases. Like mine. Like me. I stretched out like the good girl I’d always been taught to be, opened my mouth, and let him slip in the rubber guard—the only thing that kept me from swallowing my tongue as God-only-knows how many volts of electricity were pushed through my body. Sent there to right my wrong thinking.
The nurse who administered the anesthesia stepped over and placed a palm on my forehead. It wasn’t meant to comfort, but it did. I no longer knew how long I’d been there this time. They’d taken most of my memories. Left only the worst: steel institution doors that always sealed the same; a cold room that held me in its calloused grip; white walls that moved in a bit closer each day…
Do you feel like you’re gonna hurt yourself, Mrs. Jefferies? We have to take everything, Mrs. Jefferies. You’ll get it all back when you leave, Mrs. Jefferies. But of course, I knew, I’d never get it all back.
Join the conversation by adding your comments below!
Tell us about a sickness you endured.
By LeeAnn Jefferies with Eva Marie Everson
Amazon Price $7.95
In her decades-long modeling career, LeeAnn Jefferies represented such companies as Bobbi Brown, Avon, Princess Cruise Lines, Marks and Spenser, Modern Bride, and the Home Shopping Network. As an in-demand model for Ford Modeling Agency, she traveled the world and “rubbed elbows” with celebrities. But her greatest career accomplishment has been opening dialogue about Bipolar Disorder and its accompanying diagnoses, providing hope for millions. LeeAnn and her husband Kenneth make their home in North Carolina. They are the parents of two grown children and have been blessed with two grandchildren.
Eva Marie Everson was born and reared just outside of Savannah, Georgia, in the charming small town of Sylvania. She has a southern accent which gets a little more southern every time she crosses the Florida/Georgia state line. She loves hiking in the great outdoors and enjoys pushing herself to new heights, both physically and spiritually. Eva is an ex-nurse and a seminary graduate. She and her husband have been married since 1979 and have three of the greatest kids ever and the most amazing grandkids. When she’s not writing, she’s editing. When she’s not editing, she’s running Word Weavers International, an international membership group of writers who, using the art of critique, become iron sharpening iron. Eva is also one of the two directors of Florida Christian Writers Conference. She speaks at writers conferences across America and to women’s groups as well as to congregations.