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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