Hope, Courage & Triumph

by Connie Bent

"“I’m thankful for my experiences I had with Jerry, some good and some bad. He opened up a new world that this small-town girl would, otherwise, never have experienced. Each experience helped to mold me into whom I am, and if I had not married Jerry, my life would not be what it is today.”"

After nine years of marriage, Connie is widowed at the age of 25 and has two children. Despite her fears of facing more pain if she falls in love again, she goes out one night to a party in the bachelor’s quarters, where she meets Jerry, chief oral surgeon at Davis Army Dental Clinic. The two date, marry and begin a seemingly idyllic life. Then Jerry’s demeanor and habits change, a temper emerges, he forcefully disciplines the children, and without warning withdraws from Connie only to return to her with boundless affection.

Jerry’s confusing and erratic behavior leads to an alarming medical diagnosis, which soon disrupts his career and their home life. As Connie struggles to help Jerry any way she can, he continuously retreats from her deeper into his denial of his own medical condition until physical violence pivots Connie to protect herself and her family. Despite all of her efforts, unforeseen circumstances change her world forever.

This timely autobiography is at once simple and complex, a deeply personal account of a woman’s unexpected challenge with her husband’s downward spiral into mental illness. The events Bent details here are at times disturbing but no doubt important to both her own healing and helping others learn and understand the nature and consequences of mental illness. She carefully balances the tragic recollections from her marriage to Jerry with fond memories of happier moments with her children. Out of this darkness is an uplifting ending as we read about her determination to move forward with her own life and toward a better future.

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