Meeting of minds:
Couple forms Blount mental health support group
by Melanie Tucker of The Daily Times Staff
Larry and Linda Drain, of Maryville, have started a Blount County Chapter of the Depression and
Bipolar Support Alliance. The first meeting is Tuesday at
Blount Christian Church. Linda was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in July 2007.
Photo by Mark A. Large / The Daily Times
Out of their struggles has come strength.
Out of their misery, hope prevails.
And now that Larry and Linda Drain have identified the elephant in the room, they want to connect
with others who may be fighting the same war.
The Drains, who reside in Maryville, are starting up a chapter of the Depression and Bipolar
Support Alliance, a national organization based in Chicago that focuses on these most prevalent
mental illnesses. Linda, who was born an epileptic, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in
July 2007. This couple now wants to openly share their story to show others who are victims
there is help.
Linda had a vagus nerve stimulator implanted in her chest about three years ago to help control
her epileptic seizures. This was after years of medication and even brain surgery.
The implant never seemed to work, Linda said, seated in her living room last week. But on
July 10, 2007 she did more than complain.
Larry was at work and his wife called, frantic, and told him she was going to take the implant
out herself. Larry, who has been married to her for 26 years, didnít take her serious.
"Who cuts their own chest open?" he remembers thinking.
He came home to a sleeping Linda. But the next morning he discovered she had in fact tried
to remove the chest implant. There was a 3-inch gash in her chest, and she had even gone so
far as to take a hammer and beat herself in the chest, trying to break the stimulator.
When Larry told his wife he
would call the police if she didnít stop hurting herself, she ran and was found two hours later,
hiding in a closet. Larry said Linda had scared the officer so badly he almost pulled out
his gun and shot her.
"That was the day we found out the name of the elephant," Larry explained.
"Linda was bipolar."
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual
shifts in a person's mood, energy and ability to function, according to the National Institute of
Mental Health. About 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the population age
18 and older in any given year have bipolar, the NIMH reported. Bipolar typically develops
in late adolescence or early adulthood.
Symptoms of manic
behavior can include increased energy, excessively euphoric mood, extreme irritability, racing
thoughts, need for very little sleep and restlessness. Signs of depression are decreased
energy, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, feelings of guilt or helplessness, empty
mood, difficulty concentrating and feeling fatigued. Those with bipolar disorder swing back
and forth between these two with periods of normal moods in between. Some become
Looking back, Linda believes she suffered for years with the disorder before doctors made the
diagnosis. She said her epilepsy was complicated by itself and depression is often
associated with that illness. "There was just so many other things going on that my
bipolar was overlooked," she said.
The vagus nerve stimulator was turned off at the time of Linda's new diagnosis with
bipolar. She has also been placed on medication for the condition and said she is feeling
better than she has in years.
"I can think more clearly," she explained. "Before, I had racing thoughts
and depression. Now I don't have all the distractions and I am more in
The Drains are starting a chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance because there
isn't one here and they want to reach out to others like themselves. Larry said it's often
very difficult for persons with depression or bipolar disorder to ask for help because of the s
tigma attached to mental illness. They hope that by sharing their day-to-day battles those
who need support will want to become part of this group.
This is not a group that will dispense medical advice, Larry stressed. He said the purpose
is to bring people together with similar concerns, provide professional speakers and someone to
listen. The Drains want to put together a data base of mental health care providers once
the chapter is established.
"We are not experts," Larry said. "We don't have all of the answers.
We don't even know all the questions."
Linda's epilepsy is under control, and she is responding to the bipolar medication. She
said she used to feel so guilty for her unexplained behavior. She recalled breaking every
dish in her kitchen during one rage and said she is grateful to now know what was going
"In retrospect it was obvious," Larry said. "It was so easy to see that we
never saw it." Bipolar is thought to be partly genetic, and Linda said she believes her
suffered from the illness. She just wants others to know there is help and hope.
is thankful for every day and stand strong in their faith in God. Linda said she believes
starting this support group is part of His plan for her life and she is eager to get
started. The pastor at Blount Christian Church, Barry Clanton, has been very supportive of
the Drains and this chapter upstart.
"The weight is less heavy when it's shared," Larry said.
Originally published: January 07. 2008 3:01AM
Last modified: January 06. 2008 9:48PM