Monthly Archives: May 2011

Looking for Caledonia Boy for Story – Can You Help??


I don’t have a lot of time to blog right now. But I am searching for something/someone and hoping you may be able to help.

We had a rummage sale this past weekend. A family (5 year old boy, mom, dad and grandfather) came to the sale. We spoke with them for a few minutes about a rare illness the boy has been struggling with. At 17 months he had open heart surgery and proudly showed to me his scar. He now has arthritis and has to be on a liquid diet because solid foods will not digest. I do know that they live in Caledonia and the father is 32 years old. They said this illness is so rare that I believe only 2 people in Wisconsin have it. He is being treated at Children’s. He told me the name of the disease and also mentioned that his son has his own webpage through Children’s. But I cannot remember either of those and never asked for his name.

I have been scouring the internet and cannot find anything sounding like what he described. I do know it was a very long name and the anagram was something like NIMBY or MINBY or something LIKE that…but those showed no results. I do know he is being treated by a rheumotolgist and that it is an autoimmune issue.

If anyone can help me out, I would like to write a story about this little boy and his struggle. If you have any info, please let me know!!

Thanks guys 🙂



Rasmussen Diamonds Says Goodbye to Owners (sorta) – Patch


Below is this past Tuesday’s Knowsy Neighbor. I will be pasting the whole piece below as much was edited out. But please see the version on Patch HERE and leave comments for the Sustacheks.

In the year 1900, Rasmussen Jewelry opened their doors on 910 State Street. And, locally, to this day if you hear the question, “Where did you get the gorgeous ring?” the answer will quite often be, “Rasmussen’s”.

Founded by RP Rasmussen, the store has been a mainstay in Racine for over a century. In 1977, Cal and Marilyn Sustachek acquired the store, located then at 3119 Washington Avenue. They sold it to their son,William Sustachek, and his wife, Kathleen in 1988. 1n 1994, the name of the shop changed to Rasmussen Diamonds, it moved down the road to 6220 Washington Avenue and continues to successfully operate and please customers today.

However, something is changing and a new occasion in Rasmussen Diamonds’ history will be added to the time-line. William (Bill) and Kathleen (Kathy) will be retiring after over 20 years in the business. Their son in law and now President, Joel Hassler, will be taking over the business.

“The time is right and Joel is definitely ready,” Kathy boasts.

This business was a long time dream of Bill’s from his days as a child with an extensive rock collection. Eventually he was introduced to gemology and he was swallowed by a passion which would end up being lifelong. Bill is a “dreamer”, as Kathy puts it, and he simply made his dream come true.

He spent much time gathering accreditation which put him in an elite crowd within the Jewelry industry. After college, Bill graduated from The Gemological Institute of America as a Registered Jeweler and Certified Gemologist. He also became a Certified Gemologist Appraiser – which makes him about 1 in 400 world wide.

Kathy wasn’t quite as certain this dream of Bill’s could manifest. However, she became convinced after raising 5 children and working part time in the store. She developed into a vital role within the business and became a Registered Jeweler with The American Gem Society. Through the years she has enjoyed the connection she is able to share with the customers. At work, she is surrounded by family – both by blood and by heart.

The decision to retire was not an easy one to make. “The business has been our life for so long, it would be very difficult to just walk away without looking back,” Kathy expresses, “So both of us will continue to support Joel in various aspects of this wonderful business.”

Kathy also conveys that they would miss the customers, many of whom have become friends over the years. So they will still come into the store occasionally…but when they want to, not when they have to.

Bill and Kathy hope to make the most of their new found freedom by enjoying time with their large family which includes 9 grandchildren! Kathy is often asked if the reason for retirement is due to their moving from Racine. She quickly replies, “We most surely are not! Our wonderful family is here!!”

Bill is also a musician and will spend more time strummin’ the guitar and they will both indulge in travel while simply loving life.

The memories fill their hearts as they approach a new path. Kathy fondly recalls a customer she once had.

“A man entered the store very happy and with his arms extended he declared that he needed the biggest diamond we had. But it was not the size of the diamond that made this a special moment. It was the fact that he was celebrating his wife being cancer free.”

More than two decades within walls containing such joy and emotion has decorated The Sustacheks’ hearts. Purchasing jewelry is often brought about by a special event in one’s life. Kathy and Bill feel blessed to have been able to be a part of so many happy, exciting and life altering moments.

What is clear, more than anything, is the fact that family is the foundation, purpose and beacon for this couple. Loyal trust in their beloved predecessor, cherished time with those they adore, pride in the ethics they have instilled in their children…this is what matters to Bill and Kathy Sustachek. This is what comforts them through challenging times and graceful changes. This is what carries them into joyful moments and lands them gently after deserved successes. 

“I wear a bracelet which hosts gemstones representing each of my grandchildren. They know that the gemstones are theirs. I wish for the bracelet to be torn apart after I die and jewelry to be made with those very stones for each of them.”

While those stones are no doubt clear and brilliant – what will shine forever is the legacy of love they have shared with their family, friends and customers for so many years.

Best wishes to The Sustacheks and congratulations on your retirement after countless years of remarkable service.

Walker’s Attack On Gay Rights – Patch


This is an excerpt from my latest editorial on Patch. You can read the full story HERE. Would love to hear your comments.

…As long as our own government, political and religious leaders, teachers and other authoritative figures allow, condone or make prejudicial legislation, this ignorant and fear based bigotry will never cease. Gay bullying has become a fatal concern in America. FATAL!!! IN AMERICA!! How can this be?? We toot our horns and tell the world how progressed we are, how enlightened we are, how much better we are. Yet we are plagued with an archaic and dangerous mindset.

It is no longer just the radical members of our communities we need to avoid, oppose or teach; now we have to do the same with our very own leaders. Our beautiful State Capital is now a boarding house for the encouraged harassment of those who need the most protection: the poor, minorities, students, the elderly and the homosexual people of our state have become Governor Walkers personal and political whipping posts…..



Cognitive Distortions. A concept which seems so simple, yet I have never even heard of it or thought about it until a couple months ago. My therapist – who really is great, by the way – has gradually mentioned it over the course of my treatment recently. Yesterday she told me that my distorted thinking is causing her concern. She said I seem to grasp onto this way of thinking like a crutch almost. As though it is something I need. Through sometime in my life I continued to grow physically and intellectually but not emotionally. That led to these distorted thoughts which are leaving me in this rut seemingly unable to crawl out.

I have asked her in the past if she thought I had bi-polar or a personality disorder or even OCD. She doesn’t seem all that into labeling…but the answers were all a certain no. It has always been known I have depression – since about age 12 if not sooner; anxiety – probably as long but didn’t get BAD until my early 20s; PMDD – from also about 12ish…but I just figured it was normal for all women and didn’t have a name for it (besides PMS…which is different) until about 6 years ago. So, these are what I have known myself to “have”. These have been the reasons for my having been on medications here and there throughout my life. These were something which was a part of me – an illness – that was takin’ my ass down sooner or later and one way or another.  So, simple enough…therapy and drugs, right? Seems the thing to do. But for 25 years?

This idea of ‘distorted thinking’ has really been an eye opener. But also, it is making me question what is REALLY wrong with me. Perhaps the depression, the obsessing, the worry…all of it…is caused by this ‘stinkin’ thinkin”. And perhaps without these silly thought problems I would not have this depression or a need for treatment. Maybe it really IS all in my head – an argument I would have fought against mere months ago.

I am going to paste something from an article I recently read by John M. Grohol PsyD.

15 Common Cognitive Distortions

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.


What’s a cognitive distortion and why do so many people have them? Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.

For instance, a person might tell themselves, “I always fail when I try to do something new; I therefore fail at everything I try.” This is an example of “black or white” (or polarized) thinking. The person is only seeing things in absolutes — that if they fail at one thing, they must fail at all things. If they added, “I must be a complete loser and failure” to their thinking, that would also be an example of over generalization — taking a failure at one specific task and generalizing it their very self and identity.

Cognitive distortions are at the core of what many cognitive-behavioral and other kinds of therapists try and help a person learn to change in psychotherapy. By learning to correctly identify this kind of “stinkin’ thinkin’,” a person can then answer the negative thinking back, and refute it. By refuting the negative thinking over and over again, it will slowly diminish overtime and be automatically replaced by more rational, balanced thinking.

Cognitive Distortions

Aaron Beck first proposed the theory behind cognitive distortions and David Burns was responsible for popularizing it with common names and examples for the distortions.

1. Filtering.

We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For instance, a person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.

(there is no doubt in my mind that this is an issue for me. i think anyone who knows me would say it is pretty obvious. someone can read one of my writings and say it is great…but that they would just change this one little thing. Well, I will focus on that one little thing and feel bad about that instead of the writing as a whole.)


2. Polarized Thinking.

Things are either “black-or-white.” We have to be perfect or we’re a failure–there is no middle ground. You place people or situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of most people and situations. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

(oh hell yes. me to a friggin’ tee. black or white. right or wrong. all or nothing. win or lose. its funny that i was going to name my son Grey when there obviously isn’t much room for the shade in my life. as a kid, if I couldn’t play a sport well the very first time, i would give up forever. in high school, i didn’t make the school play – even though i thought i did well at the time – so i never tried again. if i’d ruin my diet by having some cake, i would say fuck it and eat like a cow for the entire weekend.)


3. Over generalization.

We come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, we expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.

(as much as i hate it when others or an entire society does it…i have to admit, i do it as well. with people, situations, events…if one was bad or mean or anxiety provoking – they will always be that way…oh and there is another one…’always’. always, never, every and none. oh my.)


4. Jumping to Conclusions.

Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, we are able to determine how people are feeling toward us. For example, a person may conclude that someone is reacting negatively toward them and don’t actually bother to find out if they are correct. Another example is a person may anticipate that things will turn out badly, and will feel convinced that their prediction is already an established fact.

(oh. my. god. seriously? will i be checking a YES mark to every one of these?? i always called it my intuition – which really is quite keen. but it also sucks because i don’t always know when it is my intuition or the distortion. how will i be able to tell? if someone gives off a bad attitude, i will typically think it must be because they don’t like me.)


5. Catastrophizing.

We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. This is also referred to as “magnifying or minimizing.” We hear about a problem and use what if questions (e.g., “What if tragedy strikes?” “What if it happens to me?”).

For example, a person might exaggerate the importance of insignificant events (such as their mistake, or someone else’s achievement). Or they may inappropriately shrink the magnitude of significant events until they appear tiny (for example, a person’s own desirable qualities or someone else’s imperfections).

(now catasrophizing is something i have been aware of for a number of years now. between the ages of 23 and 30, i had the most debilitating panic attacks. just horrible. towards the end of this time my husband did probably thee nicest thing he has ever done. he stopped at a book store, on his own, without request, very much out of his element lol…he bought me a book that ended up helping me unbelievably. it was called The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne. i believe there was a whole chapter about it and boy could i identify. every headache was an aneurysm, every chest pain was a heart attack.)

6. Personalization.

Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to us. We also compare ourselves to others trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc. A person sees themselves as the cause of some unhealthy external event that the were not responsible for. For example, “We were late to the dinner party and caused the hostess to overcook the meal. If I had only pushed my husband to leave on time, this wouldn’t’t have happened.”

(i think this kinda tags along with the ‘jumping to conclusions’ one in some ways. in others, i am all over this. i compare myself to others constantly. people i know, strangers, people on tv. regardless of the topic, the surroundings, the circumstances – 99% of the time, i don’t even come close to measuring up. this is especially true in the looks department. but also with success, creativity, talent, mothering…)


7. Control Fallacies.

If we feel externally controlled, we see ourselves as helpless a victim of fate. For example, “I can’t help it if the quality of the work is poor, my boss demanded I work overtime on it.” The fallacy of internal control has us assuming responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us. For example, “Why aren’t’t you happy? Is it because of something I did?”

(this is also part of that wanting to please. my dad, when he was in my life as a child, would often tell me to stop saying ‘I’m sorry’ all of the time. i said it annoyingly too much. another often heard phrase from me, ‘are you mad at me?’ if i sensed any tension or noted any negative behavior or emotion i would worry it was something i did wrong.)


8. Fallacy of Fairness.

We feel resentful because we think we know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with us. As our parents tell us, “Life is always fair,” and people who go through life applying a measuring ruler against every situation judging its “fairness” will often feel badly and negative because of it.

(this could likely fall into my obsessive need for justice. why i may always get so angry when i hear about scott walker or witness any kind of bullying. i get angry, frustrated and feel the need to FIX it. and when it is too big of a mess, i will just feel defeated. this is how i feel now about the whole political thing. for a while i thought i could do something…help in some way. now, i just feel defeated.)


9. Blaming.

We hold other people responsible for our pain, or take the other track and blame ourselves for every problem. For example, “Stop making me feel bad about myself!” Nobody can “make” us feel any particular way — only we have control over our own emotions and emotional reactions.

(yes. i do this. doesn’t everyone?? anyway, while i have been known to behave this way…i can also say that i forgive just as easy as i blame. is that good for anything?)


10. Shoulds.

We have a list of ironclad rules about how others and we should behave. People who break the rules make us angry, and we feel guilty when we violate these rules. A person may often believe they are trying to motivate themselves with shoulds and shouldn’t’ts, as if they have to be punished before they can do anything.

For example, “I really should exercise. I shouldn’t be so lazy.” Musts and oughts are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When a person directs should statements toward others, they often feel anger, frustration and resentment.

(i think it is super eerie that that the author took some of my direct quotes…said over and over and over…)


11. Emotional Reasoning.

We believe that what we feel must be true automatically. If we feel stupid and boring, then we must be stupid and boring. You assume that your unhealthy emotions reflect he way things really are — “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”

(again, you mean not EVERYone is this way?)


12. Fallacy of Change.

We expect that other people will change to suit us if we just pressure or cajole them enough. We need to change people because our hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.

(this has been true only a handful of times. there have been some extreme circumstances where i so desperately kept trying to change a person. actually, one person in particular. but i never…say, went into a relationship thinking i could change a guy or something like that.)


13. Global Labeling.

We generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment. These are extreme forms of generalizing, and are also referred to as “labeling” and “mislabeling.” Instead of describing an error in context of a specific situation, a person will attach an unhealthy label to themselves.

For example, they may say, “I’m a loser” in a situation where they failed at a specific task. When someone else’s behavior rubs a person the wrong way, they may attach an unhealthy label to him, such as “He’s a real jerk.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded. For example, instead of saying someone drops her children off at daycare every day, a person who is mislabeling might say that “she abandons her children to strangers.”

(i think this goes without saying…and yet again, i am shocked that no everyone does this.)


14. Always Being Right.

We are continually on trial to prove that our opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and we will go to any length to demonstrate our rightness. For example, “I don’t care how badly arguing with me makes you feel, I’m going to win this argument no matter what because I’m right.” Being right often is more important than the feelings of others around a person who engages in this cognitive distortion, even loved ones.

(fo’ REAL??!! i like that…’continually on trial’. how true. that is exactly how it feels sometimes…says the editorial writer lol…)


15. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy.

We expect our sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if someone is keeping score. We feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come.

(this is tricky for me. i never thought this would be something to which i would say THATS ME…but i remember someone bringing it up to me before. a past therapist. he asked me why i thought something could make me ‘qualified for hell’. he seemed so astonished when i had told him i was worried about going to hell for something. funny thing is…i don’t really believe in HELL. But…what if???)

So, that is what I have to say about that. Pretty amazing really…to me, I mean…why would you care LOL 🙂 My therapist wholeheartedly believes I can combat these thought processes…tells me NOT to expect instant changes or perfection or 100% of anything. But she said if I practice certain behaviors and exercises…I could beat these distortions by at least SOME percentage…and regardless of what amount that is…it is best for me (I almost typed NEED to be) to be happy with and accept what is.
I guess it all comes down to that whole Buddha-istic way of life. Be in the now. Be happy for what is, not what was or what could be. Just be present and the most you can be at any given moment. This is what I have been striving for for a long, long time. I don’t need to be the most enlightened or like my friend Rocky who seems to always been so spiritually steady. I don’t have to be the calmest. I don’t have to be the best anything – mother, wife, body, face, writer, daughter, friend. Truth is – I won’t be. I have to learn how to be okay with that. I have to be okay with not being one of  the young, sexy ones in the room anymore. I have to be okay with the scars, lines, veins and saggy tits. I have to be okay with where I am right now, who I am right now. That is when this depression just may lift unmedicinally, my worries may go to the wayside, my jealousy may be a thing of the past…that is when real happiness may just be possible after all.
Here are of  which are also interesting and give suggestions on combating these distorted thought processes and here is an a passage from one of them I really liked:

Leo Buscaglia once said, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy”, this is important to remember. Take on the daily challenge of recognizing and changing these cognitive distortions. By changing our negative thinking, we may find ourselves worrying less and enjoying life more.


Decisions Decisions…What Would YOU Pick??


For our trip with the kids to the dells for 4 nights this summer. Would love to hear your thoughts. We are bringing our boat and will be going to a water park at least one of the days. Click the links to see pics or descriptions of the rooms.

Name Location Pool/Swim Area On Water Cable Kitchen W/P Passes Cost
Eischan Cottage Lake Delton
Yes No Yes No $25 Mt. Olympus (savings of 60) 550 total
Yes – In and Out No Yes Yes Yes $15 Mt. Olympus (savings of 100) 105 per night
Carousel Downtown Yes – In and Out No Yes No Yes Free Noah’s Arc (savings of 120) 149 per night
Black Hawk
Yes – In and Out No No No No $25 Mt. Olympus (savings of 60) 125 per night
Concord Inn
Yes – In and Out No Yes No No Free Chula Vista 118 per night
Sunset Cove Condo On River Yes – In Yes Yes Yes Yes $25 Mt. Olympus (savings of 60) 650 Total

Maureen Troy and Operation Beautiful Brightens Many


New Knowsy Neighbor on Patch – READ HERE and let us know if you would do something like this!!

This was a fun one. Maureen is a good friend and I LOVE the project!!

Everyone dreads moving, especially when it is half way across the country. But Maureen Troy, 37, decided to take on a new approach and created an adventure out of a daunting task. Maureen participated in a web based project called Operation Beautiful and not only did it brighten her long drive from Nevada, but likely put smiles on the faces of many strangers.

First let me introduce you to Maureen. Growing up the youngest of seven children, her family moved around around a lot for her father’s job. However, they always seemed to land back in the State O’Cheese. During her high school years, she lived in Mount Pleasant and attended St. Catherine’s High School. With her nomadic tenancies, she found herself traveling around the country since becoming an adult. But once again, after a long trip – covering about 3000 miles – she is now home in Wisconsin.

Maureen has always been a sensitive type – aware of her feelings and the feelings of others. It is in her nature to help, comfort and spread cheer. It was of no surprise that Operation Beautiful found its way to Maureen’s consciousness. Operation Beautiful was started by Caitlin Boyle, who shared Maureen’s sensibilities and the idea took off. Eventually featured on Oprah Winfrey and The Today Show, Operation Beautiful became a growing trend.

In 2009, Boyle was struggling with her own body image and self esteem. Because of this she chose one day out of the blue, to place a post it note on a public bathroom mirror simply stating, ‘you are beautiful’. She took a picture of it, blogged about it and within 3 days had a website and a book deal. Clearly, the need for a positive message was powerful as it soon became an international movement.

The mission of Operation Beautiful is to leave kind hearted messages in random public places to help convey a positive outlook – typically, but not exclusively, focusing on body image. Simple short Post-Its stating phrases like:

“Take a diet from negative thoughts; fill yourself with positive ones”

“Smile, you have something special to show the world”

“Own who you are”

Boyle believes that it is all about changing the way you see, not the way you look. So many women are suffering each and every day due to a poor self image. And often that is due to an insecurity in their appearance. Many of us hold ourselves to a standard of this generic term ‘beautiful’ and apply it to what we see on the cover of a magazine. When comparing ourselves to that which does not really exist (photoshop does wonders for the images we typically use as our measuring stick), women can often find themselves feeling inadequate. This can even lead to depression, eating disorders and other life altering issues.

Maureen came across an article about Operation Beautiful and it made an impression. “When I knew I would be making the cross country trip back home, I thought it would be great to participate in Operation Beautiful,” explains Maureen.

From Laughlin to El Paso to Epcot and Biloxi – Maureen left notes in public restrooms all over the country.

“A glad heart is all the beauty you need”

“Being the best you is a beautiful thing”

“Beauty comes in all sizes”

Maureen shared these positive messages with the women of the world hoping to help change the nature of how we view ourselves, each other and the meaning of the word ‘beautiful’.

“I just want to remind people that they are more than the lipstick they are wearing or the extra 15 pounds they carry,” Maureen says hopefully, “For me, I experience the most joy in life from the small gestures and little encounters in my day. The smile from a co-worker in the hallway, someone picking up something you may have dropped, the laughter you share in the elevator with a stranger – or finding a note in the lady’s room telling me that I am beautiful. This is how I experience God. This is how I know we are all connected.”

Please visit Operation Beautiful to learn more and see pictures of hundreds of notes left and found. Maureen was featured on the website on April 22nd.

“The simplicity in it’s beauty is what I think makes Operation Beautiful so special.”

Thanks, Maureen. I now have great plans for our summer road trips and I look forward to teaching my girls the value of confidence, spreading joy to others and determining self worth by that which isn’t visible.

What is Your Problem Anyway??!!


A friend of mine suggested to me that I may have Borderline Personality Disorder. I of course quickly went to the NIMH site to scope out the symptoms. Thankfully (why, not sure…its not like what I DO have is a picnic) it really didn’t fit me well at all. When I looked up GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) as well as dysthymic depression – fits VERY well. Too well, yikes. Let me list below the comparisons…

Borderline Personality Disorder:

intense bouts of anger (once in a while when provoked – like a dog LOL)

depression (well, yea, duh) and anxiety that may last only hours, or at most a day (nope, mine is always underlying or there for long, long periods) 

These may be associated with episodes of impulsive aggression (never impulsive -ever)

self-injury (never) 

drug or alcohol abuse (not for years) 

Distortions in cognition and sense of self can lead to frequent changes in long-term goals, career plans, jobs, friendships, gender identity, and values (none of this fits, my sense of self is quite aware and has never really changed…very stuck in my ways)

Sometimes people with BPD view themselves as fundamentally bad, or unworthy (ehhh…not really. I know very well I am a good person.) 

They may feel unfairly misunderstood or mistreated (yea, I see this) 

bored, empty, and have little idea who they are (bored, yes, empty, yes…but I know all too well who I am) 

frantic efforts to avoid being alone (LOL No way…I LOVE being alone)

highly unstable patterns of social relationships (I have few real relationships but the ones I have are quite stable and long term…always has been that way) 

may suddenly shift from idealization (great admiration and love) to devaluation (intense anger and dislike) (Nope, not at all – I am not shifty in anyway…again, very STUCK in who I am – to a fault really) 

highly sensitive to rejection (yes, very true)

fears of abandonment (sure, well, not so much anymore…but yea some of this. Of course my father left when I was young and then died when I was 23…I think that issue is environmental)

excessive spending, binge eating and risky sex (that actually sounds fun…lol…nope….not me AT ALL) 


go through the day filled with exaggerated worry and tension (yeppers)

anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems (Oh yea!!) 

Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety (these all fit so no further commenting is necessary really)

can’t seem to get rid of their concerns

can’t relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating

have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep 

fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, having to go to the bathroom frequently, feeling out of breath, and hot flashes.

To a friggin’ tee.

Major depressive disorder: also called major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, it recurs throughout a person’s life.

Dysthymic disorder: also called dysthymia, is characterized by depressive symptoms that are long-term (e.g., two years or longer) but less severe than those of major depression. Dysthymia may not disable a person, but it prevents one from functioning normally or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.

 I also fall in between these two forms of depression. I am very functional…but it is reoccurring. I just never feel “right”. Hard time feeling joy in that which I should feel joy. And sometimes I can get straight up DEPRESSED as hell. Never suicidal or anything…a lot of exhaustion and crying. And it can interfere with life, certainly. PMDD is also a diagnosis I have received and those also fit and MAY coincide with the MDD symptoms. I never charted it.

So, no personality disorder here (oh, I have talked to my therapists about these possibilities throughout the years as well…not self diagnosing through a website). I just thought perhaps I was not represently my issues very well and wanted to give a better picture for those out there who maybe feeling similar symptoms.

At A Loss…Mental, Not Weight


Rough day. Blach. Can I just go back to bed??

So, I told you about my issues with the weight and the drugs. Well, it seems I am just at a loss. And not the kind of loss I would like to be at. (yes, I know that was grammatically BAD)

I called my psych doc’s office to ask about getting off the Lamictal. He says (via his receptionist) that Lamictal is weight neutral and not causing me gain or not lose (he also said this same exact thing about the Cymbalta…and we KNOW that wasn’t true). He wants me to stay on it for sure. Why? He hasn’t even seen me since I started it! How would he know whether or not it is helping?? In my opinion, it really isn’t helping that much. And don’t they say to weigh the benefits against the negatives? I believe there are more negatives. The nutritionist/pharmacist I have talked to seems to also think that the meds I am taking are creating problems for me.  I have an appointment to see him the first week of June and I am dreading it.

I have already gone from 100mgs a day to 75mgs a day. Today is day four. As far as withdrawal, I feel fine. But I know that doesn’t mean anything. It didn’t hit me for like 2 weeks once I was off Cymbalta. VERY nervous about those effects as that was really rough.

Charlie thinks I have lost some weight. BUT according to the scale I was using (analog), it said no. Same weight. I did buy a new (digital) scale and it has a much lower number…but I have no comparison. So it is like I just have to start over. My old scale was registering at 158. My new scale says 153.8. Who the fuck knows. I am entering in to week 3 of strict dieting (with a day off per week). I have been averaging about 1200 cals a day (anywhere from 1100-1300 6 days a week). And exercise has been averaging about 60 minutes a day 6 days a week. I also finally received all my new supplements at the right doses…crossing my fingers it will make a difference.

So, IS this medication having weight effects? I just don’t know for sure. I DO know that I lost MUCH faster last year doing the same things and that medication is the only difference. But I also know that I am not so sure it is all that great for a 37 year old mom to be all drugged up if not really necessary. I am trying to go back to before I was on an anti depressant…was I really worse off than I am now?? I tried looking through some old blogs…I tried to see. But the thing is, circumstances were different as well. Cassidy was little – my first child. She was not sleeping through the night and I was EXHAUSTED. It wasn’t long after the abuse accusation. I was much heavier. So how much does THAT play into it?

I also know that I have had plenty of times in my life when I was unmedicated and feeling just fine.  Yea, I was young, independent, free, thin, social, drinking (which may have self medicated, who knows)…so does that fit in to why I felt better during those times??

I posted much of what I have said here about this issue on an internet support site for this shit. I got REAMMMMMED!! They acted as if going off my medicine would have me running down the street naked singing show tunes. Seriously. WHAT THE FUCK??!! Most unsupportive support group ever. I wanted to stick my head in the oven after reading those responses!!

I will not lie. There have been times in my life when I would go on a medication and some part of me felt better. Remeron made me feel (sorry for the TMI) much more sexual – which was good. Except that I gained so much weight no one wanted to sleep with me HAHAHA…I kid..kinda. Seriously, I gained a lot. Wasn’t worth it to me.  Cymbalta felt pretty nice once it kicked in. But that lasted for only a year or so. Wellbutrin was FANTASTIC…for three months. But these are all chemicals…chemicals I just may not need.

Let’s face it, my basic issues are behavioral, no? Negative self image, poor self esteem, control issues, need for acceptance, obsessive thoughts, negative self talk, anger…aren’t these issues fixed with therapy and not medication?? The panic attacks, sure…that was physical to me. They came out of no where and I am certainly my adrenals are fucked up and that is what causes those issues. And that is why I will forever stay on the medicine that has eliminated that problem. But these others…

So at this point I just don’t know what to do. I want to be happy, energetic, calm and productive. I also want to be thinner and attractive. I so fear the withdrawal of any medication and I also fear a depression from going off of it/them. Like I said…at a loss.

How to REALLY Help Someone with Depression or Anxiety


“Just relax.”

“Chill out.”

“Calm down.”

“You’re fine.”

“Cheer up.”

“Don’t worry.”

Really? Oh thank you!! I would have never thought of that on my own. I will now proceed to so easily take your advice and get my happy on. Seriously, brilliant idea.

Okay, let’s be fair. One cannot be expected to know exactly what to say, how to react, in what ways they can help. One cannot be expected to understand a thought process and physical symptoms they have never experienced. They are simply peering in from the outside – either trying to stay hidden and far away or desperately trying to get in and see everything.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I feel that bringing awareness and education will help lift the demonizing stigma these disorders bring. With less stigma there is more room for acceptance, trust and healing. But this is not only to benefit the person struggling, but also those surrounding that person.

Anxiety disorders are said to effect over 18% of the population. Depression – over 19 million people. And clearly, there are many more who love someone with one of these diseases. Fact is, the people affected are not alone in the need for assistance.

A wife who lies in bed crying day in and day out can put a lot of pressure on a husband. A father who finds it terrifying to leave the house can add a sense of embarrassment for his children. A sister who cannot hold down a job and seems to always need a leg up can often put a sibling in a defensive stance. Living with or loving someone who is struggling with anxiety or depression can be draining, frustrating and lead to resentment.

Sometimes there are ways to alleviate a person’s symptoms, duration and severity of their disorder and doing so will create a smoother life for everyone involved.

First of all, it needs to be recognized that anxiety and depression are not controllable. A person cannot simply stop feeling the way they are feeling. They cannot merely stop the physical symptoms like a racing heart, numbing of arms, sweating, breathlessness, crying and extreme exhaustion. They are not doing this on purpose and if they could stop it, they would.

Secondly, they need to know that there is trust and respect. If during an argument their disorder is thrown into their face like an insult out of anger, it will be difficult for them to feel trust the next time they are needing support. Being called psycho or crazy can be extra hurtful to someone with a mental illness, regardless if the words were not really meant or believed by the person saying it.

Third, educating oneself can do a great deal for both people in any given relationship. The more a person gains knowledge of the disorder, its symptoms, treatments and triggers – the more they can help during the worst moments and help prevent during the best. And even the most modest attempt to learn will allow the person struggling to realize someone cares enough to do so. They will then know that they actually DO have someone in their corner.

Another thing that is important is seeking treatment. Many people suffering refuse to find professional help either out of fear, shame or fatigue. Knowing that a caring loved one is encouraging their healing can be a great motivator. Knowing that seeing a “shrink” will not cause a loss of respect might be all they need to get the intervention required to quell the pain.

And lastly, get support! Talking to others dealing with these issues, seeking counsel and sharing feelings can do a lot to make mole hills out of mountains. Bottling up is no good for anyone. Friends and family are working through this disorder with their loved one. They experience the downfalls and the chaos too. Their feelings are just as relevant without a diagnosis as those with one.

Living with anxiety and/or depression can feel like constantly trying to climb out of a deep, muddy hole with an armful of sandbags. Everything seems so much more difficult – even getting out of bed in the morning can be a monumental feat. The simplest tasks can be a dreaded challenge. Nobody wants to feel this way. And they are not doing this TO anyone. It is happening TO them and sadly, others are caught in the crossfire. But eventually the bullets will stop flying, the smoke will clear and blissful, fulfilling lives and relationships could appear just beyond the horizon. Together, it can be reached.

For further information and resources, please visit the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).

I wrote this with the intention of submitting to Patch…that is why it is written differently from my typical blogs (ie. no vulgarities…goddamnit)