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Exposed In Utero at Camp Lejeune

by Civilian Exposure

The following is a personal story submitted to Civilian Exposure and published as part of our new series: “Contamination Chronicles: Personal Stories of Exposure”. If you would like to submit your story, you may fill out our form here or send directly via email to share-@-civilianexposure.org.

I was exposed in utero and lived in Camp Lejeune for the first year of my life. We lived in “Terrible Terrace One”. This is where the worst part of the contamination was. We lived there until I was about 7 months old. I have 2 sisters, one who is 2 years older than me and one that is 9 years older than me. We all lived there.

I was part of the initial study of children who were in utero about 25 years ago. They only asked about cancer.  I didn’t think to tell them that I was diagnosed with severe depressive disorder and bipolar condition. I had already had miscarriages & surgery for endometriosis. I applied for the Camp Lejeune Family Member Program. I was diagnosed at age 12 with major depression (after attempting suicide).  I can remember being depressed back to the age of about 5.  I also have severe non allergic asthma which had onset as an adult, bipolar 1 that was diagnosed in my early 20’s, severe anxiety,  and fibromyalgia.  I have severe degenerative disc disease and severe degenerative joint disease.  The only other person in my family that has the severe degenerative disc & joint disease is my mother, whom had never had an issue until 5 years after her exposure at Camp Lejeune. 

No one in my immediate family has depression as severe as me nor are they diagnosed bipolar. My oldest sister also has fibromyalgia. Mind you, she was exposed to the water longer than I.  After doing the research and finding out that depression, bipolar & other neurobehavioral effects might come from exposure, I submitted my paperwork as well as my psychiatrist filling out the paperwork. Then I gave my psychiatrist permission to submit all my records to them. 

The military says it will cover neurobehavioral effects, depression, bipolar issues, etc. Guess what? They won’t. They (VA) sent me a letter stating I do not meet the criteria to receive coverage for neurobehavioral effects.  Why? They said it was because onset is not consistent with an association with Camp Lejeune contaminated water exposure. My question is what the heck does that mean?!

It is not NORMAL for a person at the age of 12 to attempt suicide and be hospitalized into an adolescent psychiatric hospital for 3 months thereafter.  Are they really trying to tell me that my bipolar condition that was finally diagnosed in my early 20’s (after another suicide attempt) is not consistent with an association with the contamination?  How in the world can anyone say that I was not severely depressed and bipolar prior to age of 12?  At that point I was placed in Juvenile Services and was a ward of the state because I was classified as a “bad seed” throughout my teenage years.

No, I was not a “bad seed”. I had undiagnosed issues, therefore untreated bi-polar 1.  I also had several miscarriages.  I was diagnosed with endometriosis at age 18. I had surgery, got pregnant, and  had one healthy son. I also had six more miscarriages and finally a full hysterectomy at age 36. 

My severe non-allergic asthma, severe anxiety, fibromyalgia, severe degenerative disc disease and severe degenerative joint disease has caused me to be on Social Security Disability from age 43.  What more information could the Camp Lejeune Family Member Program possibly want? My understanding is that since I was not diagnosed as major depression & bi-polar earlier then that would have been good? 

Well guess what?? Doctors back then did not diagnose children with these conditions.  They just said the child is misbehaving.  What a pity. 

We lived there in 69-73. This is a joke and the military needs to be held accountable!

Guess I will hire an attorney.

Note from the Editor: The author currently resides in Maryland. The account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.

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