Homeowner fighting depression finds help
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent October 27, 2012 6:40PM
Deborah Brewer helps Porter County animal control officer Greg Nemeth remove a dog from her home in Valparaiso Monday Oct. 15, 2012. Animal control officers removed seven dogs and a cat from the home. | File Photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 29, 2012 6:21AM
VALPARAISO — There’s a Dumpster outside Deborah Brewer’s Union Township house, and she expected a second one to be delivered for this weekend.
After Porter County Animal Control officers removed seven dogs and a cat from her home on Oct. 15, the county Health Department expedited a repair or vacate order because of the condition of the home, which hasn’t had running water for two months and was inches-deep in animal waste.
The order, posted around Oct. 18, gave her 10 days to clean up the house or move out.
Brewer decided to clean up. By Oct. 19, she had a Dumpster out front and that weekend, half a dozen of her co-workers and her brother got to work. In addition to tackling the inside of the house, they trimmed bushes and fixed her garage door.
This weekend, she expected 12 people to help with the work, including a team from a professional cleaning company that volunteered to pitch in.
Brewer, 61, admitted on Oct. 15 that she suffers from severe depression. On a recent morning, she said she was once “very nitpicky” about keeping her house clean, but gave up more than two years ago when depression took over, perhaps because of the death of her mother, who lived with her.
“It puts you down. As much as you want to get up and do something, you can’t. Now I have to,” she said.
She surrendered the dogs and cat removed from her home to the Porter County Animal Shelter for adoption, and has nine cats left. She plans to surrender all but two of them.
Brewer spends her days cleaning and is staying with a friend; she’s on leave from work until next month. In addition to attending to her home, Brewer is attending to her mental health; she is now on medication for depression.
Noting that depression runs in her family, Brewer said she’s tried different medications the past couple of years but nothing worked.
“Then it got a hold of me. I know it sounds like an excuse, but it’s not,” she said.
Brewer has lived in her Salt Creek Commons subdivision home for 20 years. She said her life will obviously improve now, and she lived day to day in terror about what might happen to her.
She estimates her house is 90 percent cleaned up, something that would not have happened if Animal Control hadn’t shown up after a complaint from a neighbor. Brewer never thought about asking for help.
“I was too embarrassed to ask. I always thought I was going to snap out of it and do it. I just never did it,” she said, adding she can’t say she’s glad Animal Control and the Health Department stepped in, but she’s maybe a little relieved.
“I’ll be better. I had to hit rock bottom and I did. I will adjust myself and keep going.”