flesl.net paired story 1-8a (Susan Dime-Meenan)

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Susan Dime-Meenan

Susan Dime-Meenan was born in Chicago, a large city in the central United States, in 1955. Her family life was happy. Her parents loved her, and she often had the company of her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. But from the time she was in primary school, Susan knew that there was something wrong with her. She sometimes felt empty and sad, and when she felt that way, she was shy and quiet. At other times she was happy, friendly, and energetic. Susan didn't find out what was wrong with her until many years later, when she was twenty-seven. Then she discovered she had a mental illness called manic depression. More than four million Americans are manic depressives.

Sometimes victims of this illness are ‘manic’. they are excited and full of energy. Hundreds of thoughts run quickly through their minds. They feel very powerful. They make plans to do wonderful and difficult things. They spend lots of money on things they don’t need. They do dangerous things without feeling any fear.Sometimes manic-depressives are ‘depressed’. They feel bad about themselves. They can’t enjoy life. They don’t want to work or be with other people. They think about killing themselves and sometimes they do this. Manic depressives often have physical symptoms because of their illness: they have pains in many parts of their body and think that they have a serious disease. Susan was like this.

While she was a teenager, she started to have many strange medical problems. She had nosebleeds that she couldn’t stop. She vomited for no reason. She had terrible headaches. She went to see doctors about her problems. Sometimes they thought she had a problem with her nervous system. Sometimes they thought she might have a blood disease. Sometimes they thought she had brain cancer. The doctors did several ‘exploratory’ operations to see if they could find the cause of her problems, but they found nothing.

Susan got married when she was nineteen. She hoped that that would solve her problems, but it didn’t. She kept having headaches and feeling pains. A year and a half later, she left her husband.

Even though she was feeling sick, Susan went to a special school to learn how to be a court reporter — someone who takes notes at trials. At the age of twenty-three she started her own court reporting business. The business was successful and soon Susan had lots of money.