All posts by thetypicalbroad@gmail.com

Depression, The Rage Factor, and Making Healthy Choices

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You’re running late for your favorite gym class. You speed all the way to the gym and curse every red light you hit. You finally get to the gym, run through the parking lot, and dart past the front desk after swiping your key tag. You rush toward the locker room when suddenly you SLAM into a girl coming down the stairs with boxing gloves on.

You automatically offer a rushed apology: “Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” And instead of saying sorry herself, or that it’s okay,

She just fucking LAUGHS at you.

And it’s not that, “how funny we just ran into each other!” laugh. It’s that SINISTER laugh that you’ve heard so many times before. That demeaning laugh. That laugh coming out of so many middle and high school girls’ mouths when they knew something was wrong with you, but didn’t have the right word for it. So they called you “crazy bitch” and “psycho.”

And you turn your head in disbelief at this rude bitch as she’s walking away, still laughing. You want to follow her, yank her by the ponytail, rip off her gloves, and ask this dainty cunt just what the FUCK she’s laughing at.

You want to make her face look like Ronda Rousey’s after Holly Holm was done with her.

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And if you were drunk enough and ran into this same bitch stumbling out of a bar, you probably would.

And that scares you.

You don’t know where this rage comes from, because your parents NEVER raised you to think or be that way. It’s so alien and you know it’s not who you really are.

Instead of following her, you go to that gym class. And you turn your focus onto that hateful bitch in the mirror instead.

And you kick. her. ASS.

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Niacin: You Take My Breath Away, or Reasons You Shouldn’t Self Medicate

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Let me preface this story with the following statement: I AM AN IDIOT.

Now that that’s out of the way….

A couple of months ago, before I was able to get an appointment with a psychiatric medication provider, I was desperate. I was incredibly depressed and knew something was off with my medication. But without being able to see a medication provider, I was shit out of luck.

So I began researching vitamin supplements that could help with depression. I already take Vitamin D, which is well known for helping with depression. I used to take St. John’s Wort as well, until I learned that it could interact with birth control.

During my online research, I came across Niacin. People in various online forums were raving about how it helped with depression. So I decided to give it a shot.

The first day I took Niacin, I was eating lunch and suddenly felt HOT in my normally cool office. Was I running a fever? I looked down at my arms and they were bright red. I was breaking out in a rash. I pointed it out to my coworker, who noted that my neck was also bright red. I immediately drove to urgent care.

The diagnosis? I was experiencing a common side effect called the “niacin flush.” The nurse told me it would fade away soon and not to take niacin again for at least a week. If I began taking it again, I should start with a half pill first. I later realized that the multivitamin I take daily already has a day’s worth of niacin in it. So I stayed away from any additional niacin after that.

Yesterday, as I was eating breakfast, I eyed the niacin bottle again. I hate seeing things go to waste, even if it’s a bottle full of a vitamin I could be allergic to. (I know. I’m an idiot.) This week I got a pill cutter for my other medication, so I decided to give niacin another chance. I took half of a tablet with breakfast.

About 15 minutes later, I was doing my makeup and started feeling nauseous. Were the strawberries I put in my oatmeal bad? I thought. Just then, my cat Sandy approached me. I reached down to pet her.

When I rose, I couldn’t breathe. I felt what I imagine it might feel like to have an asthma attack. I tried letting air out. Nothing was coming back in.

Was there something bad in the air? I bolted toward the door and went outside. I was still wheezing. Did I need to call 911? Where was my phone? I didn’t know what to do. Would water help? I quickly poured myself a glass and returned to my back steps to gulp it down.

In the midst of all this, I probably started to have a panic attack, which made my breathing worse. But I was finally able to catch my breath outside after that glass of water.

I came back inside, still worried if the house might be the problem, but our carbon monoxide alarm wasn’t going off and Sandy seemed fine.

It was the niacin. I later confirmed this when I learned that shortness of breath could be a side effect.

The worst part of the whole experience was the fact that I was alone when this happened. Greg had already left for work yesterday, and if I did need to dial 911, I would have had to do it myself while worrying about trying to breathe and get important words out such as my address.

Let me repeat: I AM AN IDIOT.

I felt lightheaded and a little dizzy for the rest of the day. I was thankful to have made it to work where there were people who would be there in case I passed out or something. I drank coffee and ate chocolate to make sure my blood pressure was up. I got a big hearty lunch and ate all of it, even though I’ve been trying so hard to watch my calorie intake. I ate way too much yesterday, but at least I’m not in the hospital or dead.

Eventually the niacin left my system. I threw the bottle away when I got home from work.

Never again.

The lesson? Don’t try to self medicate. Be careful with vitamins and other supplements and please, please, please talk to your doctor about any you are taking or thinking of taking. I still can’t believe what a terrible effect an over-the-counter vitamin had on me. Please be safe, everyone!

A Poem I Wrote About Depression When I Was 14

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First day of high school.

My Depression

What the hell has happened to me
I used to be full of energy
Now it’s all gone
It’s been taken away from me
By my depression
It bites my arm
But does me no harm physically
Nothing’s wrong with my body
Just my head
It’s taking over me
It’s telling me over and over
What’s going to happen eventually
I don’t want to think that now
I don’t know how this happened
How is this going to turn out
How is it going to be
I’m so sad
Yet so happy
I’m full of it
Yet so empty
People ask what’s wrong
I say nothing
Life is fine and dandy
I’m just a little sleepy
Maybe a bit moody
But I’ll be all right
Don’t mind me
And then I hear them say shit
About my attitude problem
I have none
But they think differently
Then I get angry…
And I walk away
I thought suicide was the only way
But I didn’t want to hurt anybody mentally
And it still haunts me
That I thought that way…

Boys, Bitches and Hoes

Yeah, they really want you
They really want you, but I do too
I want to be the girl with the most cake
I love him so much, it just turns to hate
I fake it so real I am beyond fake
And someday you will ache like I ache
-Hole, “Doll Parts”

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Me, 5th Grade, rocking a perm

12/17/93 (10 years old)

I slow danced with Brian tonight! And I think he has a crush on me too! The slow dance was so romantic. We danced to “Ease My Troubles.”

2/15/94 

I don’t know what’s the matter with me. I’m just going so crazy about Joey. I want to say I love him, but he’ll just say, “I don’t like you.” I want to go out with him but he will be embarrassed if he went out with me because I am a complete dork to him.

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With Belle and the Beast at Disney World.

Undated.

A couple of nights ago was the dance. I slow danced with Joey five times, but I figured out that he loves Jennifer. He kissed her on the lips and held her tight.

3/7/94

I went to Stephanie’s birthday party. At night me and Joey and Stephanie watched half of The Fox and the Hound. Joey had apologized about me not going out with him. I hate him now.

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Prior to a skating recital, wearing my Mum’s awesome faux fur coat.

3/14/94

Marc told me that Sal thought I was pretty. Marc is going to ask him if he will go out with me. I hope he says yes! He’s cute with his glasses on. Plus, I need a boyfriend.

Undated

Does Bobby Like Me?

Clue 1: Christine asked me if I liked him.
Clue 2: Amanda whispered to Christine that he did like me.
Clue 3: Amanda asked me if I had a boyfriend.

He is going out with me!

3/27/94

Me and Bobby are going out. He likes me! Now I don’t feel lonely anymore! I love him. He’s cute and especially nice!

(Entry crossed out – Wrote below it: “Not anymore. We are just friends.”)

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Clockwise from top left: Me, Amanda, Bobby, and Christine. Awesome neighbors! First day of 6th grade for me.

4/21/94

A week ago was the dance. I danced with Eric five times in a row! I think he likes me. He held me wicked tight. Now I have a little crush on him. But I feel guilty because Amy really liked him and was crying. Plus Jessica was P.O.ed because she liked him too and wanted to get a chance to dance with him. But he kept asking me to slow dance and I kept on saying yes to him. I am really crushed. I love him though. I think he loves me too.

5/30/94 (11 years old)

Sal is going out with me. He’s so cute! But Amanda told everybody I was going out with him and I got embarrassed. I am quarreling with her now. I think Sal thinks that I told everybody. I hate Amanda. I really love Sal.

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My dance recital costume for “Boys From New York City.”

6/7/94

I feel so stupid. Joey asked me out. I had to say yes. Plus he gave me a sticker that said, “I love you.” But there’s a little problem. Actually, a big one. Jennifer dumped her boyfriend Steve to go out with Joey. I told her that I was going out with him and she was really p.o.ed. Now we are feuding. Amy asked Joey if he would dump me for Jennifer. He said no. She said to me not to keep my hopes up because he’ll dump me. I don’t believe her. I will keep my hopes up.

It’s just that we kissed and danced at Paul’s party. I didn’t know she dumped Steve for Joey. She blames me. I didn’t know!!! Andrea tried to make me feel better, but she couldn’t really. God, this is the worst day of my whole stupid life.

Jennifer is just making me feel so bad so she can go out with Joey but I tried to tell her that Joey does not like her. She kept on saying, “I have a bad life because of you Lisa.” I can’t believe me and Jen’s friendship is over because of Joey. I feel like crying my eyes out. She hates me so much! I can’t take her anymore!

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Jen, Andrea, and Me.

10/28/94

Guess who I have a crush on now? Matt. Rachel really likes him and is going out with him. I hate her now. I pretend to like her, but I don’t.

I <3 Matt!

11/26/94

Ok. I’m crazy for Matt. He is the cutest guy I’ve ever seen! He’s cute, caring, funny, nice, perfect! He’s the best! I always hang around with him. He’s going out with Allison. I hate her now. I pretend to like her.

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Christmas.

12/17/94

Guess what! I’m going out with Eric! I asked him out at the dance last night. I danced with him every dance except one.  I asked him to dance and he said ok. I had Jen ask him out for me and he said for me to ask him out myself. So I did and he said maybe. Then after 15 minutes he said yes. I danced  with him the last couple of dances  and it was working out good already.

2/11/95

Guess what dude! At the dance last night I slow danced with Ben. I asked him again, and each dance we got a little closer. Then, Melissa asked him out for me. He said yes!!! But then that bitch Tracey tried to make me jealous by holding his hand and putting her arm around him. What a hoe!!! But I think I won him back because I danced with him all the dances and she danced with another kid. I was glad. She better stay away from him or I will fight her. I wanted to kiss Ben to make her open her mouth wide in awe, but I didn’t do that because that was only the first night. The best thing I like about him is his voice. He has a sexy and deep voice.

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6th grade. This girl will fight you.

We Went to the Marriott and it was Beautiful

Dec. 31 “92” (9 years old)

I went to the New Year’s Eve parade. It was so fun! Amanda came with us too.

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Amanda and I.

Jan. 13 “93”

Today was a waste of time in school. But at night, at 8:00, I had a snowball fight with my family (except for Sean). I’ve had a nice day today.

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Me in the snow: sitting on top of my Dad’s buried car.

Jan 25 “93”

I have a wart on my foot. I hate it. I have to put some kind of medicine on it to make it feel better. But it looks very weird on me!!!

Jan. 30 “93”

I am sleeping over Amanda’s house today. We’re having the time of our lives! Amanda is so crazy tonight. We are laughing our heads off!

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Feb. 15 “93”

I went to the ice show “Beauty and the Beast”! It was very fun! They had snow cones in a Chip cup! Then me and Amanda went to the Marriott! It was beautiful! The ladies room smelled like bubble gum! Me and Amanda are going there on Sunday.

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Don’t Give Up: It’s a Wonderful Life

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post called “The Giving Up Disease,” which is about my struggle with depression and recent trouble finding the help I need. The response to that post was unbelievably immense and touching.

When I wrote “The Giving Up Disease,” I felt like I was almost at the end of my rope. The response I received made me feel like George Bailey at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. It brought me hope. It gave me joy. It helped me face the following days with courage.

It made me truly understand that no man is a failure who has friends.

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That line always makes me cry at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s funny, because my husband and I both have our moments in the movie that make us cry. He loses it when George’s brother arrives and deems George “the richest man in town.” I lose it when when George reads the note from Clarence.

That line, that no man is a failure who has friends, holds so much more meaning for me now.

Thank you to everyone who reached out to me with words of love and encouragement. You literally saved my life.

Below are some of the responses I received from friends and family members. For the sake of brevity, I am only sharing initial responses. Many of these responses led to in depth conversations about mental illness and personal struggles that were honestly some of the greatest conversations I’ve had in my life.

I will share these responses anonymously to protect everyone’s privacy. I share these responses to show that people really DO care and that you are not alone if you struggle with mental illness.

~

Hey Lisa, I just read your blog and I just wanted to let you know that I care about you. I don’t know if it means much, but you and your husband are two of my favorite people. I know we don’t see each other enough, but every time I see you I am so excited to be near you and just hang with you because I truly think you are great. I don’t have any expertise or advice for you, but I am always around. And for what it’s worth, I am always glad to see you and/or hear from you. Take care!

~

Lisa- even though we don’t know each other well- just know that people are rooting for you to find inner peace and solace.

Pat yourself on the back for having that kind of self awareness and hug yourself for being the kind of person who recognizes the unhealthy characteristics that don’t help you grow, and teaching yourself through baby steps how to develop into the person you want to be for yourself and for others.

It’s a huge transition, especially when muddling through this transformative time while depressed- I am not quite in the same boat, but I’m in a similarly reflective transition in my life and it’s fucking rough when my worst enemy is myself- so I understand on some level (although I respect and appreciate that your journey and struggles are your own!)

Just letting you know that you have cheerleaders giving you big high fives- on your good days and bad.

~

Oh how I relate to The Giving Up Disease. So many years of battling with myself. I recently made a major life change and while so much is better, I found (surprise/no surprise?) that this shit still follows me, like its a part of me. I have been having such a hard time finding my self worth and recently conceded, after 31 years and with some help, that I need to seek medication to balance myself out. Each of us who deals with this obviously has a different story, but in the end that feeling of being alone is the same for everyone. So reading your words expressing so many of my own thoughts, while heartbreaking, brings a tiny ray of comfort that, in some way, we’re not alone in this. I won’t give up if you don’t. Much love to you.

~

Lisa I just read your article. Wonderful writing. I cried because I deal with it too. Like you, I’ve tried lots of different meds. Sometimes it helps, sometimes not so much. At times I feel like I’m all alone and its gonna be that way forever… Hang in there my friend. And I will pray that you and your brother can work things out.

~

Just read your blog on depression and giving up things. Also about your relationship with your brother. I’m so glad you finally were able to get in to someone about your depression! Hope they change your meds to help you with the weight gain as I know how that feels. I don’t know if I ever told you that I take Dexadrine for my depression and then clonazapam, trazadone, and restoril to sleep. This has worked for me for 5-6 years and I lost 25 pounds. Lost another 35 by swimming year round at the local gym’s indoor pool. Then my doc moved to California to be near her only child. I was stuck with another doctor who took me off all of this last year. I said this has worked for me for years, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! His reasoning was that someday they probably will quit working. I knew he was just temporary and in a few months I got a lady nurse practitioner who works under a psychiatrist. Long story short, I’m finally back on what I was on as I had gained 30 pounds in 11 months. So I have lost the 30 plus 25 more as I have been eating healthy, dieting and been more active over the summer. They can give you dexadrine for depression that’s not responsive to other antidepressants. It’s called off label use. I take 10mg of extended release once in the am when I get up. The meds to sleep are because fibromyalgia pain keeps me from getting to sleep and to stay asleep.

If I was in your shoes with your brother I would write him a real letter about being sorry for whatever you have said to him that broke you apart from him, that you want to have a relationship with him and his family. Keep it simple, don’t make excuses and don’t bring up whatever caused the rift even if you were right and he was wrong. That’s how I would handle it and I hope I don’t sound preachy as unfortunately I can be pretty blunt. Love you and keep blogging! I admire people that can write so eloquently. Hugs girl!!!

~

I just read your blog post and wanted to reach out with words of encouragement and prayer. I think I got a general sense from your post, but if you have specific prayer requests, please let me know. I don’t have any experience personally with depression, but I do know the challenges of family members, substance abuse, etc. I hope you can resolve the situation with your brother. It seems to be a major factor in your current state of mind. My experience is that God soften people’s hearts to hear your message when you’re ready to deliver it. For what it’s worth, I encourage you to reach out to him when you feel ready. Again, don’t want to be pushy/preachy. Only you know the details of the scenario. Will be praying for you! XOXO

~

Good morning! I cried through most of your blog this morning. Don’t give up. I love you! This is the contact info. for the shrink my brother sees. I went to him myself and really liked him. I hope it helps!

~

I wanted to let you know that I’m thinking about you and would love to get together if you are up to it. You can even just cry if you want to. The giving up disease sucks, but I don’t want you to give up.

~

Hello old friend!

Although we haven’t spoken face to face in damn near 15 years, I’m glad we have been social media “friends”. It’s given me an opportunity to watch your life as you moved to the Midwest, got married, and made your triumphant return to the East Coast. I’m not a religious reader of Typical Broad, but when a headline grabs me, I do read them. I can relate to your recent posts over the past 8 or so months. I was having car problems at the same time you were and I shared in your anxiety as you drained your bank account to fix your car. I too struggle with my relationships with my family and friends. I also feel I live with depression, although I’ve never been clinically diagnosed or anything. The storm cloud that looms over my head is very real and can last weeks sometimes.

The reason I am reaching out to you now is because I found something that helps my depression and helps keep my weight in check (which at times is one of the contributing factors of said depression). Oh and it’s free and meets three times a week. It’s the work out group I go to. Every week I meet up with 300 plus other complete strangers to work out. The vibe and atmosphere of the whole thing is positive. You don’t slap five or shake hands, you hug people. It’s so fucking refreshing to have a complete stranger walk up, give you a big hug, look you in the eye and say, “I’m glad you’re here.” It’s positivity that I do not encounter in any other part of my life. The work out itself is very challenging, but at all times there are people rooting you on, for no other reason than because you showed up. There are people of all shapes and sizes present at the work out, so don’t feel like you’re to out of shape to attend this group. It’s for everyone. Most weeks this 40 minutes with complete strangers is the best part of my week, no lie. Tomorrow I’ll be leaving rain or shine. Please come with me tomorrow and check it out. Who knows, it could be the first step toward having a better handle on your feelings. I can pick you up at your home or we could meet somewhere first. Shoot me a text if you’re interested. I hope to see you tomorrow, and keep writing!!!

~

I read your blog yesterday and didn’t really know how to reach out. I know you have a ton of support, but if you ever need me I’m here. I understand. I really do. I don’t talk to people a lot about how I’m feeling, but I go through a lot of the same. I’m so impressed and envious of your ability to reach out and be so open. Just know you have so many people in your life, and none of us will ever leave you high and dry. You’re one of my best friends and I love you like whoa.

~

Please hold on, I know peace will come soon.

~

I’ve struggled all my life with depression, anxiety, body dismorphism and eating disorders, but suicide has never been more than a fleeting thought. However, I had an uncle commit suicide 18 years ago, and 2 family members who have fought suicidal and homicidal thoughts more than once. Unless you’ve swam in those waters, you can’t begin to fathom the pain involved. It’s the only escape in sight. Of course, on the outside, it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but that’s on the outside. My uncle killed himself a week before his youngest daughter had her first child. Another farmer we knew hung himself in the family barn in the midst of a months long drought. It rained at his funeral. Do you remember Elizabeth (name changed)? Her 34 year old son recently shot himself. Impending divorce, left 2 small kids. Elizabeth knew of the marital discord, but not his suicidal ideations, though the wife and his pastor did. Don’t know where I’m going with all this, I guess it’s the “you’re not alone” theme. But please know I’m keeping you close at heart and on my mind.

~

Don’t give up! After 5 years of ineffective meds I finally found someone to listen and and prescribe, and it was worth not to give up (not that I wasn’t tempted). We all love you and are here if you ever need a loving place to land.

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Thanks for sharing this, Lisa.

Even though it wasn’t a relationship as close as brother/sister, I have had to do the “reconciliation e-mail” a few times in recent years to people whom I’ve had fallings-out with (is that the correct way to say it?).

The version of myself 5 or 6 years ago would’ve been pretty haughty about tucking my tail between my legs and extending an olive branch; I know I justified it to myself as “Well, I’m right and they’re wrong, and that’s all there is to it.” But after a while I realized that I’m not as infallible or beyond reproach as I once thought I was; part of growing up and getting older for me meant that I had to start recognizing these times from the past where I’ve spectacularly failed people and acknowledge to myself that I could’ve handled the situation better. Then, telling the other person as much in an e-mail or a letter or however was the next step. I just said how I felt at that moment, without trying to make too many excuses for myself. “I know that I said things to you that were horribly hurtful. It came from a place of hurt and confusion inside me, but that’s no excuse – I was way out of line to say those things and I’m so sorry. I hope you can one day forgive me.” Obviously, that’s a very condensed and anonymized version of how I used it in my situations, but I think you get it.

In my personal experience, it’s worked probably 75% of the time, at least to open up dialogue again and get things back to civil. For that 25% where it didn’t quite go as expected, I at least knew that I did all I could possibly do to make amends, and that it’s in the other person’s hands at that point.

So the point of all that is that with regards to “how” to approach your brother again, just remember that it’s totally true that “time heals all wounds,” but that’s only half of the story – you have to do some of the healing too, both for yourself and your brother as well. Please don’t take this as disrespectful, because I can’t figure a different way to say this – but if you’re looking for a sign, you’ll look forever; there might not ever be one. Sometimes you’ve gotta make your own way.

Good luck, you can do it for sure, and you have the strength to do it too.

~

I have been reading your blog and you should be confident that you are a wonderful person. Identify yourself as a beautiful person, Christian, hard working, sincere, intelligent, and friendly. Those stand out about you to others. Focus on all your positive attributes. Don’t examine everything you do. When I think too hard about things that upset me, it can get my thoughts twisted. Power of positive thinking. Know that I have you in my prayers and you were always a person that kept me strong with your loving way of helping others. Remember your health is first and don’t too much on yourself. Sleep and keep stress to a minimum, because that is key. I love who you are.

~

Thanks for writing the stuff you do. It helps knowing I’m not the only one who struggles and puts up a front to save face with people I don’t even give a crap about. I feel like life would have been so much easier before TV, movies, plays, and Facebook. Those happy people? They’re a lie. I don’t think anyone gets together with their whole family or all of their friends and truly laughs like they do in movies on holidays. I don’t think that level of happiness exists. It’s all fabricated. Hope you’re doing well.

~

This last one is from my Mum. It’s hard to keep her anonymous for obvious reasons when you read this.  I’m sure she wouldn’t care if I shared what she wrote to me, so here it is.~

Lisa:

I just finished reading your latest post on Typical Broad.  I can’t even tell you how incredibly sad this makes me.  I know this relationship thing with Paul has really hurt you.  It hurts me as well.  You two were so close.  I think you should try putting some of this post in a letter and send it to Paul.  I’m sure he misses your relationship as well.

I am sorry I didn’t get to talk to you this week.  I think I have phone phobia.  Don’t know why.  Maybe Dad & I should come up there some night this week or maybe you can come here for the weekend so we can talk about this.

What kind of insurance do you have?  (Family member) may be able to help.  She is a psychologist. She has also suffered from depression herself.

Please don’t give up.  Let me know what we can do to help you.  We could come up some day and clean your house if it would make you feel better.  If we left here at 5am we could be there by 7 before you would leave for work.

Dad hasn’t read this yet.  He is still sleeping but I’m sure he wants to help too.  We love you so much ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

~

Dad came up to meet me for dinner one evening after I posted my blog. We had a long talk that was very encouraging. He urged me to look into a better health insurance option for 2016. He said even if it’s more expensive, it will be worth it in the long run and I wouldn’t have to deal with the run around that my current insurance company has forced me to go through (I found out from a friend in the industry that many places don’t take my current health insurance).

He also told me to take things one step at a time and not to stress myself out. Get plenty of sleep. Don’t worry about getting to the gym for the time being (I lamented to him that I hadn’t been to the gym in quite a while). Focus on your inner self. That’s what is important. Your exterior doesn’t matter.  What’s in your heart is what matters. You’re a beautiful person because you have a beautiful SOUL.

Also, put yourself first for a while. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. Also, just because you’re not getting along with Paul now doesn’t mean it will be that way forever. A lot of siblings have disagreements, but then things are eventually resolved. Don’t worry about it. Focus on getting better first, then focus on making amends.

We’re here for you. We love you.

This is the basic gist of what Dad told me. As we left the restaurant he put his arm around me and reiterated that he and Mum were here to help me with anything. Even if it means going through and comparing insurance plans together for the next year. Whatever I need. He and Mum would be there.

~

If I missed anyone, I sincerely apologize. Some people talked to me in person, on the phone, or via my husband, so I don’t have a record of what they actually said. But I am so grateful for everyone’s support and love.

I feel like the richest woman in town.

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Giving Up Alcohol

“Now for seventeen years I’ve been throwing them back
Seventeen more will bury me
Can somebody please just tie me down
Or somebody give me a goddamn drink”
-Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

“Alcohol can trigger episodes,” the nurse practitioner said. “You need to avoid it.”

As she says it, all I can think of is that half empty 1.5 liter bottle of Pinor Noir sitting on my kitchen counter.

“Okay,” I think. “I’ll finish that first. THEN I’ll give up alcohol.”

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I guess.

But how long do I need to give it up for? I know I should probably give it up forever, but Christ. I haven’t even been to Ireland yet. How am I going to visit Ireland and NOT order a Guinness? How am I going to visit Ireland without making a stop at the Jameson distillery? How am I going to visit Ireland and not get jubilantly faced in honor of my Irish ancestors?

Fuck.

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The last time I tried giving up alcohol I fell into a deep depression, which forced me to seek mental help three years ago.

It’s hard for me to acknowledge, but alcohol is a big part of my life. I often wish a pharmaceutical company would create a depression medication that would make me feel like I do after a few beers or a couple glasses of wine. I feel so much more relaxed and inclined to have fun. The best part is that I love everyone. When I’m drinking, I feel more spiritually connected to every human being. I see people who might typically annoy me in a new light. Just another one of God’s children. Imperfect and beautifully made. Like me.

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I met with the nurse practitioner last Monday. I finished the bottle of wine last Wednesday. Greg and I were watching Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and I was giggling at Sam Rockwell channeling his best George W. Bush impression as Zaphod Beeblebrox, former President of the Galaxy. For a moment I thought, “Man, I miss Dubya. He was awful, but so damn funny.” I nostalgically recalled all of those State of the Union addresses I drank through during the aughts. Take a sip when he mispronounces nuclear. Take a sip when he says terrorism. Take a sip when he mentions homeland security. Take a sip when he says weapons of mass destruction. Finish your drink when one side of the room gives him a standing ovation.

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Later that evening I tried telling Greg a story about something funny I saw online and couldn’t properly explain it.

“Are you drunk?’ he asked.

“I don’t know.” I put my nearly full third glass down. I felt embarrassed. It kind of snuck up on me, like it always does.

I just wanted to finish the wine and not waste the money I spent on it. I just wanted to feel good.

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Alcohol is such a large part of the mostly Irish and Italian American Catholic culture I grew up in and live in. My parents weren’t big drinkers (my Dad gave up drinking years ago) but Mum sometimes had a glass or two of beer in the evenings. My Italian American friends grew up with wine at the supper table and were allowed to drink long before they turned 21. I can’t help but smile ironically when Christian friends tell me they avoid alcohol because of their faith. In the house I grew up in, we always kept a bottle of scotch on hand for one of the priests in our family who would often visit us for Sunday dinner. Mum also knew that some Catholic nuns, like the ones who taught her in school, drank too.

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Nearly everyone drinks. It’s just a part of life in the Boston area. It seems like something is always being celebrated, and there is always a reason to say “Slainte,” clink glasses, and imbibe. Even if it’s for something silly.  My friends and I once got smashed during a get together we deemed “A Very Good Friday.” Instead of avoiding meat and reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifice with reverence, we decided to eat Easter-themed goodies, drink, and celebrate!

Even though it made me forget sometimes, alcohol gave me some of my greatest memories.

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I ended up pouring that third glass of wine down the sink. I winced as I did it, but knew I was already too drunk for a Wednesday.

Last Friday I thought to myself, “Man, I haven’t had a drink in a while! Check me out. Maybe I should have some hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps tonight to celebrate! I mean, it’s Friday, right?”

Then I realized I had only been sober for one full day.

Not drinking means I can’t celebrate like I normally do. I have to watch everyone around me get tipsy and happy while I feel jealous and annoyed with my drunk, sometimes loud friends.

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Do I need AA? I’m not a real alcoholic. Am I? I’m functional. I don’t have a DUI. I have a job.

Avoid alcohol, stressors, and get enough sleep. Not doing these things can trigger an episode. Not doing these things can affect your life in a big way.

If I had my way, I would celebrate giving up drinking by drinking.

This is going to be rough.

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I Miss Anne So Much

“A beautiful face without a name for so long
A beautiful smile to hide the pain
Did you ever know that you’re my hero
And everything I would like to be?”
-Bette Midler, Wind Beneath My Wings


Dec. 27 “92” (9 years old)

Today I went to my best friend’s house, Nikki (Anne and Bill’s daughter). We had dinner and saw the Plymouth Rock. It was fun! I only see her once or twice a year.

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Nikki and I.

Jan. 2 “93”

We took down the tree today. It was hard work. Plus, Bill called and said that Anne was gonna go to the hospital cause she’s very sick. My mom was crying cause they were best friends. And they always will be.

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Mum and Anne.

2/15/94. (10 years old)

Sorry I forgot to tell you . Well you know I told you Anne got very sick? She had cancer. She died six months ago. Me and Nikki were crying like heck. I miss Anne so much. But somehow, it seems like she’s not dead. It seems like it’s all a dream.

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~

One of my last memories of Anne defines who she was as  a person.

I was 9 years old and I always had trouble falling asleep at other kids’ houses during sleepovers. I had a hard enough time falling asleep in my own bedroom. It would get to be 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, and I would become incredibly upset because I still hadn’t gotten any sleep.

I slept over Anne and Bill’s house one night when Anne was going through chemotherapy. Nikki and I were on the pull-out couch in the living room. Nikki always fell asleep with the TV on. I could never fall asleep with the TV on.

Anne got up a few times during that night to throw up in the bathroom. She was sick from her chemotherapy treatments. Each time, I pretended to be asleep. I didn’t want to disturb her.

When it got to be about 4 or 5 in the morning, I started to cry. Nikki was sound asleep and snoring. I couldn’t sleep already, and her snoring was making it more difficult. I was trying so hard to fall asleep, but I think trying made me even more stressed and unable to fall asleep.

Anne must have heard me crying. She got up again, and I tried to stay quiet so she could go to the bathroom and throw up without being disturbed.

However this time she came into the living room. I can’t remember if she said anything to me. I was laying on the pull-out couch face down. All I could remember was that she started rubbing my back in circular motions. She was trying to get me to calm down and help me fall asleep.

I felt horrible. Anne was so sick, and here she was, rubbing my back so I could  calm down and fall asleep. It made me cry a little more. But eventually, I fell asleep.

I will never forget that. Anne always put others before herself, even when she was dying from cancer.

The last time I saw Anne was a few days before she died. She was at Mass General and we took the red line in to Charles MGH station to see her. She was bald. She looked so frail. I was afraid to touch her. She looked so different from the last time I saw her. I remember hugging her before we said goodbye and being afraid to dislodge anything attached to her in the hospital bed. I can’t remember any words exchanged.

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The day Anne died was the first time I saw my Dad cry. I was sitting on the back steps when we received the phone call from Bill. Dad came outside and sat on one of the back steps with me.

“Anne passed away,” he said. He burst into tears. I did too. Part of the reason I cried was seeing my Dad cry.

She was only 46. Skin cancer.

I remember the wake. Anne had a brown wig on her head that matched the color hair she had before cancer took it away.

She was beautiful.

I couldn’t cry at the funeral. I had to be strong for Nikki. I was ten. She was eleven.

I had to be strong for Mum too.

I never lost anyone that close that young after that. The rest of the deaths I encountered weren’t as hard to recover from. It’s still hard for me to cry around others even when people die, because I still feel like I have to be strong for whatever reason.

We didn’t see Nikki and Bill much after Anne died. I’m not sure Nikki ever recovered from Anne’s death.

Years later, we learned that Bill got remarried. Mum was happy to know that. She wanted him to be able to move on.

Many years after that, Mum ran into Bill at the supermarket. We learned that Nikki worked at a local Papa Gino’s in the Plymouth area. She recently lost her boyfriend to a drug overdose.

When Mum told me, I felt so sad for Nikki.

How much loss can this girl endure?

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Me and Nikki.

I Am Born.

“Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.”
-Maria, The Sound of Music

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Sean McLaughlin.
Today is Tuesday,
May 3, 1983.
It is cloudy and humid.
Sean’s mother went to
have a baby. We will save
our milk cartons to plant seeds.

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Sean McLaughlin.
Today is Wednesday
May 4, 1983.
It is cloudy and warm.
We had gum.
We had music.
Sean’s mother had a
new baby girl. Her name
is Lisa Ann.

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Sean.

~

My brother Sean named me. My parents were going to name me Leanne, but Sean, 8 years old at the time, determined that naming me Leanne wouldn’t make sense. Everyone else in the family, except Mum, had four letters in their names: Jack, Sean, and Paul. Mum had four letters times two: Rosemary (also two names with four letters).

The new baby’s name should therefore be Lisa.

And that’s why I’m named Lisa. My middle name is Anne, with an e at the end. My middle name is after my mother’s best friend, Anne Martin.

Lisa Anne McLaughlin.

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Depression: The Giving Up Disease

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8/21/2015.

Greg is concerned. I’ve been more depressed than I have ever been, according to him.

He says I have been slowly giving up everything, and he’s right.

I struggle with depression, The Giving Up Disease.

I’ve given up trying to find a therapist and someone who can prescribe psychiatric medication. Calling places and learning that they either don’t prescribe meds, have an 8 month wait, don’t take new patients, or don’t take my insurance has been incredibly discouraging and has only made me more depressed.

I’ve given up working out. No motivation.

I’ve given up caring about what I eat and have gained weight due to this.

I’ve given up staying in touch with many people.

I’ve given up being outside as much as I used to be outside. I used to try to get outside every day (at least on my lunch break) to walk. Now I don’t.

I’ve given up on doing household chores. I only do the dishes and laundry now because they’re necessary. I despise doing both.

I’ve given up showering daily. I shower every other day now. I have also started to despise showering.

I’ve given up wearing makeup, drying my hair, and trying to look halfway decent.

I’ve given up cooking and learning to cook healthy meals.

I’ve given up on having a relationship with my brother Paul.

I’ve been tempted to give up my relationship with my husband Greg, because I don’t want to drag him down with me.

I’ve been tempted to give up my job.

I’ve been tempted to give up the medication that keeps me somewhat sane because it makes me “fat” and  is “not working anyway.”

I’ve been tempted to give up on friends who frustrate me with their hypocrisy and narcissism, but don’t want to tear the social fabric I’m comfortable in.

I’ve been tempted to give up on God. I’ve been angry with Him and wonder why he cursed me with chronic depression and what the fucking point of it is.

I’ve been tempted to give up writing.

I’ve given up most things I used to like to do.

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I would have given up on my dreams too, but I don’t know if I have dreams anymore. I don’t even know what I like anymore. I remember that dream about becoming an actress, and tell myself I’m too old and beat-up looking to pursue that now. Then that one about becoming a travel writer. How will I ever afford that? Then that book I wanted to write. No one will want to read it.

Depression is The Giving Up Disease. It makes you slowly give up everything until there is nothing left to give up but your life.

Then, sometimes, you give up your life.

I don’t want it to reach that point.

If I’m to be honest, the reason my depression has increased lately is that I am still suffering from a broken heart.

My brother Paul broke my heart back in April. I deserved it. I said terrible things to him, hoping he would change. But instead he told me that I was in no place to judge him and to “have a nice life.”

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I’m 32 and I’ve never had my heart broken before.

That may seem odd, but I’ve always possessed a defense mechanism that caused me to abandon people before they abandoned me.

And maybe that’s what I was trying to do when I sent that awful message to my brother. I sensed for a long time that we were becoming distant. And I told him I couldn’t have a relationship with him unless he changed. Perhaps that was my defense mechanism cropping up.

Because I knew that, eventually, he would abandon me.

I said things that were slowly boiling inside of me for the past eight years. He consistently pissed me off with his actions, but I never said anything because I always want to keep the peace.

The water boiled and overflowed onto the stove when his actions made my mother upset. I hate seeing my mother upset. Mum wouldn’t say anything to him about why she was upset, because she wanted to see her grandchildren.

I said horrible things. I could have approached it differently. I recognize that now.

Sometimes depression makes you view people in the worst light, and it ends up affecting your relationships.  You focus on someone’s bad qualities or past wrongdoings almost obsessively until you start resenting them and wishing they were out of your life. Then you might end your relationship with them or drive them away.

I miss my nephew and niece. I miss my brother.

But I don’t know what to do. I figure any communication I attempt would just piss Paul off. I don’t want to piss him off or cause him any unhappiness. I truly want him to be happy.

I keep asking God what to do and haven’t received an answer. All I’ve received are two separate dreams where I reconciled with Paul. Both times I woke up so relieved and happy until I realized it wasn’t true.

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I recently finished Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was a wonderful and insightful memoir. It begins with Gilbert going through a terrible divorce. After her divorce, she travels to Italy, India and Indonesia to explore the pursuits of pleasure, devotion and balance.

While in India, Gilbert receives “Instructions for Freedom” from a friend at an ashram where she is practicing meditation. Going through the instructions on the roof of the ashram, Gilbert is able to invite her ex-husband, whom she knows she will never see again, into prayer/meditation with her so she can attempt to find closure.

The Instructions for Freedom are as follows:

  1. Life’s metaphors are God’s instructions.
  2. You have just climbed up and above the roof. There is nothing between you and the Infinite. Now, let go.
  3. The day is ending. It’s time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.
  4. Your wish for resolution was a prayer. You being here is God’s response. Let go, and watch the stars come out–on the outside and on the inside.
  5. With all your heart, ask for grace, and let go.
  6. With all your heart, forgive him, FORGIVE YOURSELF, and let him go.
  7. Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering. Then, let go.
  8. Watch the heat of day pass into the cool night. Let go.
  9. When the karma of a relationship is done, only love remains. It’s safe. Let go.
  10. When the past has passed from you at last, let go. Then climb down and begin the rest of your life. With great joy.

I had to stop the book right there because I was crying my eyes out.

It made me think of Paul.

Recently I invited (or tried to invite) Paul into prayer with me so I could tell him I love him and I forgive him. And to ask him to forgive me.

I can’t forgive myself.

I told Greg that if I die, I want Paul to know that I am deeply sorry and that I will always love him.

What I wish I could say to Paul:

I am so sorry I acted hurtful toward you. You deserved better than that. My anger had more to do with me than with you. I haven’t resolved certain things within myself and it has made me an unhappy person who is capable of hurting others. I didn’t mean to drive you away. It was a defense mechanism because I thought you were abandoning me already.

I am working on becoming a better, happier person. And when that happens, I would be honored if you would consider allowing me back into your life.

But for now, I know I have work to do. Maybe that is why God hasn’t really answered me yet on how I should try to reestablish a relationship with you.

I love you. Always.

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~

Greg says I can’t give up. I’m reading Elizabeth Warren’s book A Fighting Chance right now. He says Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t give up, and neither should I.

I don’t want to reach the point where I give up my life.

So I keep repeating to myself:

Don’t give up.
Don’t give up.
Don’t give up.

And when I don’t know how to pray about what’s going on, I don’t have the right words, I just say:

Lord, Lord.

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The Giving Up Disease is powerful.  It’s so powerful that I don’t even like talking about the future, because I’m not sure if I really have a future. That makes it hard to be motivated and to dream.

9/26/2015.

I haven’t given up yet.

This week I called about 30 places to try to get appointments for therapy and medication.

I’ve heard back from about three places who may be able to provide what I need without having a ridiculous wait time.

Of course, I looked up online reviews for these three places and they are horrible. One place recently had a complaint filed with the Better Business Bureau. Wonderful. I’m going there on Monday, because a Nurse Practitioner who can prescribe meds had an opening. There is a 2-3 month wait for a therapy appointment with this place.

Even though I told all 30 places I’ve been having suicidal thoughts when I left voice mails for them (a slightly white lie I’ve been telling to get their attention because it’s become necessary), I’ve only heard back from a third. And only about a third of that third have said they could help me in a timely fashion. Mostly, they recommend that I visit the ER or try a place other than them.

“Have you contacted this place?” Yes, I have. That place and about 30 other places in this area.

“Have you tried going to the ER?” No, I can’t afford it.

“Have you tried going through your PCP?” Yes, I have. He wants me to get in with someone who specializes in psych meds.

“Have you tried this intensive outpatient program?” No, I can’t afford it and I work during the day.

“Have you tried this crisis hotline?” No, I’m beyond that point. They can’t help me schedule an appointment.

You start to feel like it’s your fault for not “trying” hard enough.

I am busting my ass trying to get in with someone who can provide the services I need, and I keep getting to the point where I want to scream at whomever asks if I’ve tried this or that. Like I’m new to this process and haven’t been in and out of therapy for the past 16 years.

I haven’t given up yet. But the odds are stacked against me. I stand with so many other mentally ill people who resort to drugs and drinking because the system is so overloaded and broken.

I understand why they live this way. And why they die this way.

The help they need simply isn’t there when they need it the most. They get discouraged.

And understandably, they give up.

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