Tag Archives: Relationships

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

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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

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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!

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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.

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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!!!

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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.

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Please hold on, I know peace will come soon.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

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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.

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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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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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Day 23: I’m Glad I’m Expressing My Feelings More

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I shared something on here.

I wanted to do this #30DaysProud thing daily, but as I went on I also wanted to share quality, well-thought out writing with my readers.

The past few weeks have been rough. We’ve had terrible weather in Massachusetts and I experience some seasonal depression as it is. The increased isolation from the amount of snow we’ve received has only made it worse.

Here is my I’m fucking sick of snow face:

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Here are the 7 foot snow banks we have in Massachusetts:

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I’ve been trying to get to the gym more to help my mood as well. So that leaves less time for writing.

I’ve also gotten a LITTLE addicted to Minecraft. But that’s another story…

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ANYWAY today it was above 50 degrees in Massachusetts and the snow has started to melt a bit. Yay!

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Today I wanted to share the fact that I am proud I am expressing my feelings more.

Recently I read an article about the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. It really hit me, and I’m trying to apply these lessons to my own life.

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The BIG one I struggle with is having the courage to express my feelings. OH MAN, do I struggle with this. Because I’ve dealt with depression for most of my life, I have had to teach myself to hide my feelings so people won’t think I’m crazy (in short). I’ve also learned to put on this front that I am stronger than I really am because I’ve been hurt in the past by people I cared for. I don’t want anyone to think I’m emotionally vulnerable so they feel they have a license to hurt me or take advantage of me.

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My version of appearing “strong” is bottling up my feelings when I’m around people and letting them BURST when I’m alone or at inappropriate times because I simply can’t take it anymore. I have become so good at this that I can’t even cry at funerals. I also didn’t cry at the airport gate when my boyfriend (now husband) left for Iraq. This makes me feel like a complete jerk, but bottling my feelings has become so ingrained in me and it’s my automatic response to painful things.

I am trying to let go of that because years of therapy have taught me that bottling your feelings is bad for you. You need to express your feelings, ESPECIALLY if they are completely normal responses to painful things like losing a loved one or being rejected by someone you care for. Otherwise you appear strong when you’re really weak, carrying anger, resentment, and jealousy around you all day, everyday.

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Before I became severely depressed in college, I used to write a lot of cards and little notes. It’s hard for me to vocalize feelings, because I’m not the best orator and I feel like I come off as stupid. I’m not as quick-witted as many of my friends, and sometimes I struggle to find the proper words at the top of my head during a conversation. I feel like I’m a lot smarter when I’m just thinking my thoughts. But when I open my mouth, it’s always a bit disappointing and embarrassing.

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Writing has always been my way to convey my true feelings without sounding like an idiot. So often I would write little cards and notes to my friends, family members, boyfriends, teachers, etc.

I’ve begun writing little notes and cards again, mostly to my husband to tell him how I really feel. It has been pretty rewarding and it makes me feel good. Sometimes I’ll write a card before I drive home from work. I know if anything happens to me on the way home, I can die happy knowing that that card in my purse may reach my husband and he’ll know how much I love him.

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Sometimes I would walk around a store and have a random thought about someone I love. I’d think, “Oh, look at this. So-and-so would like this.” But then I wouldn’t get it because I lacked confidence or thought I might be spending money foolishly.

Now, if I have a nice thought about someone, and wish to get them something to show them I’m thinking of them, I buy it and send it. Because I know I won’t regret it.

That’s just one way I’m expressing my true feeling more. I’m also trying to get better at expressing feelings verbally, but it’s tougher for me. My husband has taught me a lot about healthy communication and I feel I practice healthy communication with him. With others, I struggle. But I’m trying to get better.

Do you have trouble expressing your feelings too? Have you found a way to cope?

Leaving Him

This is the final installment of my story about being in an abusive relationship as a teenager.

Here’s Part 1.

And here’s Part 2.

I’m sharing this because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this is an issue that affects so many. If you suspect abuse in your own relationship or that of a loved one, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. And please consider donating to an organization that supports victims and raises awareness. Thank you.

Leaving Him

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1/17/02.

I feel fine. Notice how my penmanship is completely normal right now.

Dick thinks I’m not fine. He thinks that I need to learn respect and what I believe in, etc. I need to find out who I am and what I want even though I’m like, 18 years old.

I’m afraid of him. I know he always apologizes and that he “really doesn’t mean it.” But this feeling I have inside just doesn’t sit right.

If my friends drove me home, I would have been fine. I wouldn’t have cried my eyes out, or gotten stuck in the middle of nowhere being yelled at. I wouldn’t have almost been killed going 110 miles an hour on the highway in a car where the passenger seat seat belt is broken.

No. None of that would have happened.

If you love me, then why do I fear you?

You said you would blame it on me if the car crashed. You said you would tell the police I turned the wheel because I was “drunk” (after three drinks over the course of three hours). You said you would make it look like my fault.

FUCK YOU.

1/18/02

Had a nice, long talk with Dick tonight… phew. It went very well. We covered a lot of topics that we needed to cover and decided to cool off for a little bit… because I really don’t know what I want and I need to figure it out… alone.

I do love Dick. I will always love him. But I’m not sure if we’re perfect for each other. We are so different in so many ways. So this is good. I feel a lot more relaxed right now.

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5/26/02.

It seems like every time I’m with Dick now we argue. I don’t know what keeps us together. I wish we had more in common. I wish it could work out better, but I’m just so afraid of life. Whereas he’s ready and set to go. What makes me so immature? I don’t know.

I want it to be fairy tale-ish. I want my parents to love him and for his parents to love me. I want to have someone who makes me laugh all of the time. I want it to feel new and exciting every day. I don’t want it to be predictable.

I want someone spontaneous and someone who doesn’t mind my spontaneity. I want someone not to tell me to quiet down when I feel angry or upset. I want to have the right to raise my voice. I want to have the right to make a scene, because what do I care what others think?

I want to be free to be different. I want to be and act like the person I am.

I want to have time to be with my friends alone. I don’t want to be afraid of offending Dick by some trivial action I make.

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9/8/02.

Today was a fun day. I just wish Dick and I didn’t argue so much. And I wish he didn’t leave me at Six Flags by myself, waiting for the last bus to Amherst at the end of the night.

But I guess I had more fun by myself. I waited in line for two hours to ride the Superman Ride of Steel. It was well worth the wait.

12/23/02.

Got into a big argument with Dick (once again) this afternoon and it wasn’t cool… apparently I’m a very difficult person to communicate with.

My friends understand me. At least my close friends. We don’t have to speak one word to express how we’re feeling. We just know how the other is feeling. It’s hard to describe.

UMass Laura Tina Lisa

Life feels like such a movie lately… the constant struggle, the high stakes, the music playing in the background of my mind. I don’t know if I like it much, but it sure makes life interesting.

Christmas is almost here. I don’t deserve anything. I’m so awful. Dick is going to get me something nice like he always does, yet all I do is hurt him and bring him misery. I’m such a bastard. Sometimes I just want to punish myself.

7/9/03.

Went to Sebago Lake in Maine the weekend of June 28th. It would have been great if I was with anybody but Dick. I’m sure he felt the same way.

Went to the Cape with Robbie J. and Greg Squared for July 4th. Good times, good times. (Lotsa burgers… mmmmmmmm)

P.S. I met a guy who’s really cool and nice. Ohhhh Jesus.

Me and the ocean

The Aftermath

That weekend at Sebago Lake was the last time I willingly saw Dick. I didn’t journal about it all, but that weekend he hurled literally every insult in the book at me. He was mad that I “got fat” at college (I only weighed 135 lbs. at that point), that I continued to wear clothing he didn’t like, that I didn’t have my life figured out yet, that I was disrespectful, you name it. I felt like complete shit. And I felt like I deserved every hateful word he spewed at me. Because he made me believe I deserved that.

I became so upset that I considered drowning myself in Sebago Lake.

Instead, I cried the entire day and begged Dick to take me home. He refused, but then agreed to do so early the next day. He treated me like I was being such a pain in the ass and disrespectful to our hosts.

When he dropped me off in front of my house, I told him to never contact me again. He continued trying. Luckily, I was two hours away from him when I returned to college in the Fall. He kept trying to call me, and my roommate kept taking the calls, telling him to never call again, and hanging up on him. He also showed up at my brother’s wedding, even though I didn’t invite him to be my date. He acted surprised when I told him he couldn’t come to the reception.

One day that Fall, I was visiting home and went out to a movie with friends. When I returned, my Dad told me Dick had called.

“Why?” I asked.

“He told me he’s engaged.”

“Oh. Why does he think I care?”

Dad shrugged. “He wanted you to call him back.” My Dad is such a nice guy that he likely spoke with Dick for a little while and congratulated him.

After that, he finally left me alone. I was lucky.

10 years later, Dick Facebook messaged me to apologize, because he ran into a mutual friend of ours. It was only then he realized that he had treated me poorly.

I accepted his apology, asserted that yes, he was abusive toward me, and essentially told him to have a nice life.

And I hope he does. I hope he has changed.

The happy ending to the story is that during that July 4th weekend I mentioned above, I began dating Greg, the amazing man who is now my husband.

Looking back, I’m thankful for the experience I had with Dick. If I could go back in time, I would still choose to be in a relationship with him. It taught me that I deserved better. And it led me to being with someone who is kind, caring, and accepts me for the person I am.

I’ll count that as a win.

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Fun With Dick and Jane

This is Part 2 of a series of throwback journals. Read Part 1.

Warning: Some mild sexual content (Don’t read this, Mum).

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4/8/01.

Fuck Dick. Fuck him for being so God damned obedient to scripture. Today he asked me if I “pleasure myself” and I said yes. How stupid can I be? I shouldn’t have even told him.

He started going off about how scripture says that it’s wrong and all. Well I don’t care. I don’t see the big deal. I’m not hurting anybody. Not even God.

SIN, SIN, FUCKING SIN. Everything to Dick is a sin.

He needs to loosen up. We went to a movie tonight and he kept trying to cover my eyes during the nudity. The movie showed only a little flesh. Not even significant parts. I just wanted to yell at him in the middle of the theater, “FUCKING STOP!”

Christ, I’m a big girl. I’ve seen a bunch of nude bodies in movies, paintings, and real life and I’m totally fucking over it. Looking at a body doesn’t even turn me on at all… it’s just a human body. It’s beautiful and all, but I’m not going to get all wet over it or anything. I simply see a human body as art. As a work of art by God.

Who is Dick to tell me what’s right and what’s wrong? I don’t know, but I can’t help but listen to him because I love him. My love makes me weak and therefore I barely argue with him. I just get depressed. Like I am right now.

I know he’s right. I know God’s right. But sometimes I don’t like what God likes. I can’t help it. Some rules were meant to not be abided by. I mean, why can’t God understand this?

4/19/01.

I’m so lonely. Nobody calls and I have practically nobody to call. Perhaps I’m exaggerating, but it seems like nobody likes me anymore. I’m so scared of losing everybody.

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1/1/2002. New Year’s Day.

My New Year’s Eve was depressing. Rebecca, Jenn, and Melissa didn’t invite me out with them because apparently I “don’t drink anymore, so [I] wouldn’t want to come.” I still drink, just not as much as I used to.

I don’t care. I just wanted to spend time with them. But they decided to not invite me out with them anyway. They’re so fake that they can’t even admit they dislike me. They’ll probably pretend everything is okay the next time they see me. Fucking cowards.

Then I got into an argument with Dick over this and he concluded that he was, quote, “Tired of [my] games. Bye.”

I cut myself a few times, took a few Sominex, and went to bed around 9:30. I didn’t care about the New Year. I didn’t care about watching the ball drop on TV. I didn’t care about eating Chinese food and staying up until midnight to ring 2002 in… I had nobody to experience it with anyway.

I hate everyone except my family. They’re the only ones who care. Not even God cares anymore.

me and parents

1/2/02.

I miss Dick. I want to call him, but I don’t know if I should because he’s the one who hung up on me. Therefore, he should call me back.

I have such a big pride issue. I feel like I will be giving in to some weakness I have for him and will therefore allow him to walk all over me. I don’t want that.

But I love him.

I think it is love. I imagine myself spending the rest of my life with him. I’m so scared that if I don’t spend the rest of my life with him then I won’t find anybody else and I’ll be lonely forever.

I don’t know what to do except cry. I don’t want to be alone. I’m so afraid to lose him. Will anybody ever love me like this again? Will I ever love again? What is love?

me2

1/7/02

Top Things That Are Bad About Dick:

  1. He’s pushy.
  2. More than half of my friends don’t like him and think I shouldn’t be with him.
  3. He doesn’t appreciate the things I appreciate.
  4. He criticizes me all the time.
  5. He has incredibly high expectations that I can’t live up to.
  6. He doesn’t know how to do anything domestic, such as laundry, ironing, or dishes.
  7. He can’t tolerate my mood swings.
  8. He thinks I’m trying to offend him when I wear something he doesn’t like.
  9. He has bad taste in movies and music.
  10. He doesn’t understand me.
  11. He is chauvinistic.
  12. His mother buys his clothes for him (he doesn’t know his own sizes).
  13. He drives crazy when he’s mad and won’t slow down when I ask him to.
  14. He gets mad over trivial things.
  15. He complains that I never call him, even though he knows I hate talking on the phone.
  16. He gets jealous easily.
  17. He thinks he should have more priority than my friends.
  18. I can’t act like myself around him.
  19. A lot of his friends are superficial, ignorant assholes.
  20. He gets mad when I don’t invite him out with my friends.
  21. He makes it a point to hang out with my friends without me, even though they’re MY friends.
  22. He gets horny and expects me to “take care of him,” because if I don’t, I don’t love him.
  23. He is trying to convince me to attend school somewhere nearby, even though I totally don’t want to.
  24. No one makes me feel as bad or guilty as he does.
  25. He can’t accept the fact that sometimes I have a bad day.
  26. He thinks I “can’t deal with life.”
  27. He’s arrogant.
  28. He thinks that just because a guy has a nice car and is attractive, he will have no problem getting a girlfriend.
  29. Whenever I tell him about another guy, the first two questions he asks are: “Is he bigger than me?” and “What kind of car does he drive?” Like it matters.
  30. He sees nothing wrong with women who dress like prostitutes, even though he wants me to dress appropriately for church.
  31. He thinks I’m “weird.”

Part 3 will be posted next Thursday, documenting when I made the best decision of my life: leaving Dick.

 

Introducing Dick, The Asshole

It’s October and I’m frankly tired of pink. It’s so overdone and I don’t think wearing pink really honors or helps breast cancer fighters. But that’s just cynical, awful me.

October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The official color for the month is purple. I really would prefer the NFL ditch the pink gloves and make a monumental donation to the issue that so recently shamed them and continues to trouble them.

stop the violence

Domestic violence month is important to me. I’ve known more women affected by domestic and dating violence than breast cancer (but that doesn’t mean one issue is important than the other). I also personally knew a young woman whose life was stolen by an ex-boyfriend with a gun.

I was in an abusive relationship myself at one point. It became mildly physical only a couple of times. I was really lucky. Most of the relationship consisted of emotional and verbal abuse.

And you know what? I verbally and emotionally abused him too, in response to his consistent insults and controlling behavior. Because I thought, at 18 years old, that is what couples do. Couples fight. They don’t agree all the time. That mindset made it really difficult for me to recognize that what I was experiencing was abusive behavior.

Fortunately, I was able to leave the relationship without much consequence and I didn’t end up marrying him.

My favorite organizations that support domestic and dating violence victims are:

The Shannon Lee Meara Foundation – educating high school students about dating and domestic violence
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
New Hampshire Coalition for Domestic and Sexual Violence

Please donate if you can.  Here’s part 1 of my story.

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This is how I met Dick* The Asshole.

*name changed so he can’t sue me.

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Wednesday, 3/7/01 12:34 a.m.

I met someone. I met someone who is really nice and actually smells good, too. (I broke up with my last boyfriend because he had terrible hygiene. True story.) He might have a personality also… but I will have to get to know him a little better before I decide on that one.

His name is Dick. He is an average male height with black hair and mysterious brown eyes. He has a sly smile and a passive walk. He doesn’t stick out. He tries to blend in and not be noticed.

Yesterday we played pool. I thought I was okay at it, simply out of practice, until he taught me how to actually shoot. He kept criticizing my every move. I almost wanted to go somewhere and cry, but I held my own. His advice and constructive criticism were helpful. He said, “It doesn’t matter if you get the ball in, as long as you have a good shot.”

“I feel the same way,” I said. “I usually only play pool just to feel myself hitting the ball.”

“Me too,” he said. “I don’t really care about the game itself.”

He won all three games. But I suppose I’m just a beginner.

Then we went to dinner. We talked about religion and found that we have the same beliefs. We are both Christian. He was so excited that we have the same beliefs. I’m happy too, but even though I believe in God, I’m not that religious. That is, I don’t let religion take over my entire life. Perhaps I’m a hypocrite. I don’t know. But Dick is definitely one of those people where religion is like, his life.

Oh well. Maybe he can lead me closer to God. But yeah… we talked about religion and stuff and he is really, really nice. He paid for dinner and opened doors and all.

I am hopeful. Perhaps this will lead to something good.

Thursday, 3/15/01 7:55 a.m.

I don’t really know where to start. I was talking to Dick last night and we began talking about how some of our friends and family are going to hell because they don’t serve God and that we need to help them change.

This is what I hate most about my religion… changing everybody and realizing that a lot of people I know are going to hell. I can’t stand it. It makes me want to cast away my beliefs, reject everything that’s true and go to hell with them.

I got angry at Dick because he told me I need to lessen my association with my best friends because they are going to lead me into temptation. He said that I needed to tell them that they’re all wrong because they don’t believe in God. I got so angry… I told him I had to go. He wouldn’t let me go. He wouldn’t let me go…

He wanted to know what was wrong with me. I began to cry, saying it was too hard to be a Christian. That I couldn’t do it. That I just want it all to be easy again.

I am going to be hated by most everybody I know… and I don’t want that. I cried out of love for my friends, my family, and Dick. Even though he was making this so difficult and trying to make me speak through my tears, I loved him. He was trying to do something good for me. He was trying to encourage me. He said that he only wanted the best for me and didn’t want to see me fall into sin because I’m such a great person.

I cried and cried, but I loved him. His words encouraged me and made me feel so much better.

He said that no matter what, he and I would always be friends. Even if it doesn’t work out relationship-wise. He said he would always be there for me, day or night. He would be near me in a second if something went wrong.

I cried so much, and I think it was because I was angry, but weak with my love for him. I was totally helpless. I knew he was right.