Tag Archives: Suicide

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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Day 5: I Got Help for Depression When I Needed It

This is Day 5 of my 30 Days Proud Project. In the above video, I share some very personal things that I wouldn’t have dreamed of sharing with you years ago. But after what I’ve experienced, I feel the message is incredibly important.

There continues to be a huge stigma about mental illness in the United States and around the world, and I believe talking about it honestly and openly is important so other people who are struggling understand that they are not alone are are encouraged to get the help they need.

I am re-sharing a blog I wrote about a year ago. In it, I share what life changes helped me get better in addition to undergoing therapy. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come in my recovery by continuing to implement these steps.

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  • Practicing Gratitude Daily. This has made a HUGE difference in my life. I highly recommend One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by the amazing Ann Voskamp. In 2013 I made it a point to count my blessings daily and to be joyous for others’ successes. I didn’t realize how blessed I was until I made time to document life’s large and small blessings and thank God for them.
  • Trusting God. Even when I stopped believing He was present, He was still there. While God didn’t magically appear in front of me Old Testament-style, He showed up through my husband, my friends, my therapists, my family, and more. God put the right people in my life at the right time. He also taught me important lessons when I was ready to receive them.
  • Exercising and Eating Right. This has been so important to my overall happiness. At the beginning of 2013, I had to force myself to go to the gym and work out. Now, my day is not complete without exercise. I’ve also noticed how much eating right contributes to my happiness. Whenever I eat fast food or other unhealthy options now, I notice how depressed and lethargic that food can make me. Energy-inducing food like proteins, fruits, vegetables, and “good” carbs are important to one’s overall well-being.
  • Changing Location and Environment. For various reasons, where I was and what I was doing at this time last year was not making me happy. My daily environment had the tendency to be negative, and it greatly contributed to my unhappiness without my realizing it. While it was already part of our plans to do so, moving and changing jobs this year were the best things my husband and I could have done. We are much happier in our new environment and the future feels bright.
  • Recognizing Triggers and Avoiding Them When Possible. People who struggle with depression and anxiety often have “triggers” that can jump-start negative feelings. I’ve learned to recognize my triggers and avoid them when possible. Sometimes that means doing something really hard, like cutting people out of your life that you recognize as toxic, or keeping those people at arm’s length. I’ve done this. It’s been hard, but worth it.
  • Getting Enough Sleep. I joke with my friends now that 9 p.m. is past my bedtime because I’m “old.” But I’m serious! Not getting enough sleep makes me really moody, and I recognize that. It is so important to get enough sleep. I understand this isn’t an option for everyone, but try to sleep more if you can. It will bring out the best in you.
  • Forgiving Myself and Others. I am not naturally a forgiving person, but I’m trying. I’ve learned forgiveness is the hardest thing a person can do, and sometimes the person you need to forgive the most is yourself. I’ve found forgiveness to be fluid, but that’s probably because I’m not smart enough yet to really get it. One day I forgive everything and love everybody, and the next day I don’t. This is something I continue to work on and attempt to fully understand in God’s time.
  • Living Presently. Living presently means you focus on today. You aren’t depressed about the past or anxious about the future. You recognize that what you did in the past doesn’t matter very much, because you were doing the best you could do with the knowledge you had at that time. This has helped me forgive myself for making stupid mistakes in my past. Each day, I try to do better with the knowledge I have.

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In the Spirit of Robin Williams, I Will Try to Bring More Joy Into the World

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I’ve been feeling angry lately. Some of it has to do with getting over a chronic cold and not being able to abide by my normal routine of working out, cooking food that isn’t crap, and being social.

But a lot of it also has to do with the fact that I’ve been spending too much time on Facebook. I scroll through my phone and sigh at depressing news headlines, read hateful comments with disgust, and sometimes offer my own color commentary. Commentary which typically reads like a mathematical equation of why I think so-and-so is an idiot.

There is so much hatred and divisiveness in our world. And I know I’m part of the problem.

This week, Robin Williams’ death was officially deemed a suicide.

When Robin died in August, it really affected me. I knew about Robin’s history with mental illness and addiction. And I always sympathized with him, because I also struggle with mental illness. Coincidentally, I am on the same depression medication that Robin was taking before he died.

When Robin died, I couldn’t help thinking, “Is there still hope for me? Will I eventually end up in the same boat? Despite all the medication and the various treatments, will it one day just be too much to take?”

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According to reports, it seems that Williams’ suicide could have been due to several factors: a combination of mental illness and a form of dementia that could cause hallucinations. There were no drugs or alcohol in his system. Just normal levels of anti-depressant medication and caffeine.

But that evening in August, I sat in our home office and sobbed uncontrollably, wondering if it was all hopeless. I watched the clip of Robin’s brilliant, Oscar-winning performance as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting and how expertly he cut Matt Damon’s character to the core with his character’s brutal honesty and life experiences. I could see Williams channel both the dark and light side of himself into that unforgettable character.

Then I saw someone share a clip from the movie Hook. It was the scene where one of the lost boys takes Robin’s face in his hands, examines it, pushes it into a smile, and declares, “Oh there you are, Peter!” The person who shared it said, “This scene kind of depicts what people like him suffering from mental illness need. Someone who sees who they really are and will stand on their side… no matter what.”

Oh man. That one really got me.

Tuesday was Veterans Day and my husband watched Black Hawk Down. After watching it, he said, “Man, that was sad. I could really use a happier Veterans Day movie.”

“What about Good Morning Vietnam? That’s kind of happy,” I offered.

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So we put it on. And as Robin belted his famous, “GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM!!!” and hammered through that brilliant first monologue, I became teary-eyed from both laughter and sadness. There he was, being Robin, dishing joke after joke and doing what he did best: making people smile and laugh. I know the movie is a work of fiction loosely based on a real person. But to think of it… his character’s antics boosted morale in what was the worst place on earth.

And that’s what Robin Williams did throughout his career. He boosted our morale through good times and bad. He took his pain and instead of letting it destroy him, he breathed joy and happiness into the world. He encouraged us to not take life so seriously. He inspired us to be kinder to each other.

I think that was part of Robin’s personal regimen for keeping his mental illness at bay. I know I’ve used humor myself to cope with depression and anxiety. Humor helps me forget. And if I can make someone else laugh in the process, that brings me joy. And it makes me feel like I have a purpose.

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But I know I haven’t been that person lately. And due to that, I’ve questioned my purpose.

Glenn Beck also made the news this week, with the revelation that he has suffered and undergone treatment for a neurological disorder.

While I feel sorry for Mr. Beck, I think he is an example of someone who has used his gifts to inspire more hatred and division in this world. I hope that changes. Maybe it will now that he is well. But time can only tell.

Robin suffered as well, but he used his gifts to bring people joy. And that’s not what killed him. I think that’s what kept him alive for 63 years.

This week I decided that I want to be more like Robin was. I want to try to bring people more joy instead of bringing them down. I want to stop arguing with people so much and dismissing them for ridiculous reasons. Instead, I want to make them laugh. I want to encourage them. I want that to be my legacy.

It’s worth it to at least try to leave the world a happier place than it was when you entered it. I’m going to try.

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Alewife Station, 5:30 p.m.

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Danny McCormick looked down at the bloodstained tracks at Alewife Station. The police cleaned up as much as they could. You couldn’t tell anything happened there unless you really looked, unless you remembered where you left her.

Danny remembered. He remembered the awful, deafening screech of the train’s brakes. He remembered the screams. He remembered running down the stairs.

He used what was left on his Charlie Card to walk her to the track. To make sure she was all right. Then he left her there.

He left her there.

The last thing she said was, “I’m gonna make things right.” There was a certainty in her overflowing blue eyes, shining with the reflection of the subway station’s lights.

Andrea was making strides in her recovery. At the 4:00 meeting she received a coin commemorating her 60 days of sobriety.

“It’s been the hahdest thing I ever done, but I’ll do anything to get Sydney back,” she paused, wiping tears away.

Whenever a woman at the meeting didn’t have a ride, Danny walked her to the T to make sure she got there safely. There was safety in numbers at the T station. Even though Danny hated crowds, he knew people were safer in one.

Danny touched Andrea’s shoulder. “Yahalready makin’ things right. I’ll see ya at the Tuesday meetin’. You have my numbah, right?”

She nodded. “Thanks Danny.”

No… that was the last thing she said.

Thanks Danny.

As he stared at the tracks, his eyes welled up with tears. He eyed the red “Danger – Third Rail” sign posted above them. He clenched his teeth.

Was that the last thing she said?

“No problem. Take ceah,” Danny said, turning around to leave the station. He almost forgot that it was rush hour. He knew the station would get busy when the next train came, unloading thousands of commuters getting off from work in Boston. Danny wanted to beat the crowds out of the station.

As he reached the top of the stairs the thunder of the arriving train filled the station. This was a sound Danny was so familiar with. He was also accustomed to the soft screech of the train’s brakes. Loud sounds made him nervous, but the sounds of the T became everyday sounds that fell into the background of his life.

But then the screech grew louder and didn’t stop. Danny immediately clenched his teeth because of the sound. Then he heard the screams.

He turned and ran back down the stairs. He couldn’t see her. He saw mothers covering their children’s eyes. He saw old men pointing down at the rails. Then the wide-eyed college students, speechless, covering their mouths in shock.

“Call 911! There’s a woman under the train!” A young man in a suit dialed frantically on his iPhone.

No.

No.

No.

He left her there.

Thanks Danny.