Author

Heather Loeb

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It happens from time to time – I start to get anxious about the upcoming week starting around Sunday afternoon. The time change today probably didn’t help. It felt like the day wouldn’t end but then it did abruptly, and I started to get a stomachache about the stuff I need to do this coming week.

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I don’t have a particularly busy or hard week, so I don’t know why my chest is tight and my stomach cramping. I’m excited about election night, I’m getting my hair done, I get to do some event planning at work and I’ve picked up my paint-by-number hobby again. I have a ton of bird paint by numbers that I totally love doing; it’s great for my anxiety.

So like I said, nothing too hard or brutal about my week yet I’m having heart palpitations and my stomach’s haywire.

I know what to do — I’m a seasoned mental health advocate, and I’ve been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder for years, yet when I feel like this, I always seem to forget what to do. I know I can deep breathe. I can get under my weighted blankets, breathe and pray. I can write down my worries. I can meditate. If it’s really bad, I can take my anxiety medication. And as mentioned earlier, I can paint. Or knit.

My problem is that I feel I need to know why I’m anxious. What the exact reason and thought is making me so. So I delve into my brain following the little white rabbit and sometimes it helps, but usually makes it worse. There are times when you simply have to say my brain is a liar, and it’s making me anxious, and there’s not a reason why – not one I can understand, anyway.

So now I’m going to list all the things I’m looking forward to this week. I’m going to go to bed early, so I wake up refreshed. I plan on making my favorite breakfast, and I’ll pick out my outfit for the day as well. I’ll read my column in the paper and hope that it does some good in this world. That’s all I can hope for.

When my brain is lying to me, that’s what I struggle to remember: that I’m (hopefully) making a difference in people’s lives. It’s all worth it if I do.

Thanks for listening.

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The Happiest Place on Earth

by Heather Loeb

My family and I took a trip to Disney World last week. It was our first time, except my husband. He had been a couple times as a kid. I did what I always do before a trip: prep, prep, prep. Then get anxious that I’ll hate it because the kids will make me miserable. There was only a little bit of that though. But let me start at the beginning.

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The day we got there, we dropped our bags off and got on a bus to Magic Kingdom. It was still early, so we had plenty of time to explore. As soon as we entered the park, I had chills. There were bubbles everywhere (because all the kids have bubble makers, lol). And there seemed to be a pink sheen everywhere. We turned a corner and there was the castle. Cinderella’s Castle, I would learn later. It was so beautiful and tears crowded my eyes. I shrieked at the kids to make sure they were seeing it, and they were excited too. A photographer asked if he could take our picture. I felt so happy.

We went to some rides: teacups, Dumbo and Pirates of the Caribbean and had to wait a bit but we hadn’t figured out the Lightning Lanes yet.

Long story short, I loved it. I liked Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios best. Oh, and Disney Springs. Gotta love shopping.

One thing I did realize is that I wasn’t that stressed. The kids did stress me out, but I didn’t have to take any anxiety meds. I chalk that up to walking so much. We did at least 10k steps every day, and I enjoyed that a lot. I was exhausted each night and didn’t have any problems sleeping. So I’m going to incorporate more walking into my daily routine. Granted I won’t be in the happiest place on earth, but can’t I make my own home the happiest place on earth? I don’t know why not.

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I may not wear mouse ears every day, but I can still have a good time. I love frivolity in everyday life, like fun socks, jewelry, clothes, shoes, etc. Life can get so boring and depressing without fun details and items surrounding you. I mean, I did just order a 47-inch llama, because why not?? I was depressed for years and saw only black and white. Oh, how much joy that stole from me.

My point is that anywhere you are can be the “happiest place on Earth.” We don’t need Mickey and Minnie. Be your own cartoon or princess!

Live in a colorful world with bubbles and sing like your children aren’t complaining (why do mine do that??) !

And if you can’t do that now, please know that’s okay. One day you will be able to. Until then, do what you can, hour by hour, minute by minute. I’ll still be here.

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I’m Happy, Y’all

by Heather Loeb

If you happened to read my blog last night, you learned that I was feeling sad. Well, when I awoke this morning, I was feeing pretty good. That’s the thing about negative emotions (at least in my case) — they’re fleeting. My baseline, ever since leaving the psychiatric hospital, is good. Then pretty good, great, happy then amazing. But I don’t stay sad for long, and if I do, that means there’s something wrong, i.e. I need an extra therapy appointment, medicine change, Ketamine treatment, ECT, etc. It’s a simple barometer for me.

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But you know what?? It’s ok to be sad. You can sit with your feelings and explore them. Just don’t move in with them. Sit with them, then let them go. Meditation helps. Don’t feel bad when you you feel a negative emotion. You’re feeling them for a reason, and ignoring them is not the way to go, trust me. Although this is my process, and if you have a better one, I honor and respect that.

My favorite part of yesterday’s blog was the positivity at the end. It was faint, but it was there.

 

Right now I countdown the hours until I can take a nap or go to bed. I do my best during the hours I’m awake, but tears crowd my eyes knowing I might wake up tomorrow feeling the same way, even though I pray so hard it doesn’t, and I envision a happy day.

But you know, even on a sad day like today, it’s still a million times better than when I was in my worst depressive episode. That’s what I need to remember.

And all of a sudden, things are lookin better. And they look like they’re coming up Heather Loeb.

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That makes me smile, something I’ve done all day.

Eventually, it all comes up Heather Ann Loeb. It’s good to be me.

 

 

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I’m Sad, Y’all

by Heather Loeb

I don’t know why. My doctor did figure out that I had a big B12 deficiency and told me it would take a while to get back to normal, and that could affect my mental health. So I guess that’s why, but being sad sucks. And it’s scary if you’re prone to depressive episodes that can make you suicidal. I don’t want to go down that road. Who does?

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It makes me extra sad because I’ve been so happy previously this year. Knowing how happy and productive I can be makes me even sadder. And more sensitive. I actually got upset earlier this week because my NAMI team didn’t nominate me for an award. 1. I have enough awards. 2. That’s not what I do any of this for 3. I swear just one week ago I was featured in a magazine article, what more could I want?

But my intrusive thoughts — thoughts that I am not in control of — told me I was useless and that nobody valued me. And I let myself believe it because that’s one of my innermost fears. I’ve been an advocate for mental health since 2018, never expecting anything. Never believing that anything would come from it, so it’s unbelievable that something has, and I’ve grateful for all of it. I swear. It’s just this funk that I’m in.

Next week we’re supposed to go to Disney World. I’ll slip on my Minnie ears and don my Disney shirt that matches my daughter’s. I’m sure I’ll have fun, even.

Right now I countdown the hours until I can take a nap or go to bed. I do my best during the hours I’m awake, but tears crowd my eyes knowing I might wake up tomorrow feeling the same way, even though I pray so hard it doesn’t, and I envision a happy day.

But you know, even on a sad day like today, it’s still a million times better than when I was in my worst depressive episode. That’s what I need to remember. And all of a sudden, things are lookin better.

As always, it’s coming up Heather Loeb.

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Growth.

by Heather Loeb

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a fundraiser for Beto O’Rourke. I listened to him speak (very eloquently, I might add), and I even raised my hand during the Q&A and asked him two questions about mental health. Then I asked him if we could talk privately later. It didn’t seem weird to me then, but later as we were leaving, David commented, “I’m proud of you for asking questions. There was a time where you wouldn’t have done that.” There was a time, where I wouldn’t have left David’s side at the fundraiser, but I made the rounds, chatting people up with David no where in sight. Hell, there was a time when I would’ve begged to stay home, lost that battle, and just been miserable the whole time.

I sat there and thought about this all the way home. What was different? I definitely had social anxiety back then…where did it go? It does take me a minute to warm up to new people, but not like before. Did all those ECTs rattle my social anxiety out of me? Or maybe it’s the Adderall? Although it’s no miracle drug.

Maybe it’s because I have something to say. I have lots to say. And I’m proud of myself for all that I do. I’m passionate about it. I love talking about mental health, my columns, blogs and work with NAMI GCC. It sets my soul on fire. But at the same time…wasn’t I interesting before I started my blog and everything else fell into place? I hate to admit this, because I truly don’t believe this way, but was I embarrassed that I was a stay at home mom? That can’t be it, because that’s literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done (when the kids were smaller). It was soooo hard, and I admire any mom who does it. Obviously, I couldn’t do it, I ended up in a mental hospital.

As I’m writing this, I think I know what happened — freedom. The phoenix rose inside of me. There’s a prose poem that I feel in my core:

“Some nights the wolf inside me shrinks to nothing, she bares her teeth and runs away. The dragon in my chest rejects me, she’s so tired of being slain. There are nights when the lioness cowers, says she can’t fight it another day…”

“What about the phoenix?”

“She sits with me in the darkness. She whispers ‘we’ll rise. Just you wait.'”

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I feel I have risen. That my soul is pouring out of me (in a good way). That I’m free. I no longer fit in any kind of box anyone has ever tried to put me in, and that feels amazing. So amazing. I’m freer than I’ve ever been. That’s where my social anxiety went — it was erased by self-confidence and not giving a crap what others think. Although I still get hurt when certain friends/family hurt my feelings, so I guess I still care what some people think. Hey, I’m not perfect.

All that said, I’m proud of myself. I’m proud that I asked a candidate for Texas Governor questions. I’m proud that I bare myself in my Caller-Times columns and in my blog. I’m super proud that that I do speaking engagements even though it scares the utter sh*t out of me. And I’ll keep doing all this, not because it benefits me, but because it helps others. That’s all I ever wanted to do when I wrote that first blog in 2018.

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The Snooze Button

by Heather Loeb

Ever since the pandemic started, my son began rising at 5 a.m., which meant I was rising at 5 a.m. He has since stopped doing that for the most part, but not I. Now I get up between 4 and 5 a.m., and I love it. I enjoy the silence, sipping my first Diet Coke of the morning in peace and making my breakfast before anybody gets up. I don’t like to be rushed at all.

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And I don’t usually have a problem getting up; I normally get up before the alarm, bounce out of the bed and go. But the past couple of weeks it has been awful. I sleep through the alarm, I snooze until the last minute then I wake up and rush around and bark orders at the kids when really we’re not late, we’re just not on my meandering schedule. And I feel like each limb is 20 pounds. I don’t put on a cute outfit, I just reach for leggings and a sloppy top, which I told myself I wouldn’t do anymore.

I don’t know what gives. During the day I take one to two small naps, and my usual Adderall does little to help. I can’t even make it to 8 or 9 p.m. I know I probably need to call my doctor to get my thyroid or B12 checked — those have been culprits in the past — but I say I’m going to do it and don’t.

Sigh, I don’t even have the energy to finish this blog.

Sorry, friends. I hope y’all are well.

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Pump My Brakes

by Heather Loeb

NAMI had an event last night, and I’ll admit, I was riled up. I don’t think in a bad way; I just get excited, talk fast and get a little high strung. I think I’m probably always high strung, but I’m ok with that.

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I didn’t feel stressed at all — I was speaking at the event, and I wasn’t in charge of anything except our stuffed llama and his accessories (that’s another story for another time). Well, I had misplaced his accessories and started asking my cohorts if they had seen the llama’s accoutrements. One of my buddies helped me look, and after finding them, he said he could teach me some strategies to decrease my anxiety.

I didn’t even feel anxious, but perhaps I was. I told my cohort that I did have ways to help me calm down and that I appreciated the offer. He told me to visualize my mind as a garden. That you can’t help what grows there, such as weeds, but you can pull the weeds out and keep you garden looking good. He said it a lot more eloquently.

I loved that.

And he’s not the first one to suggest I’m too anxious.

So maybe what I think is baseline for me is really a bit much for others. Granted I had taken my Adderall late in the day yesterday, but still. The point is maybe I should pump my brakes and keep a tighter hold on anxiety. Or loosen my grip?

I’ve never had a “green thumb” but it sounds like my garden could use some weeding.

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Recently I posted on Facebook about this, but I think it merits a blog. I came across some papers from the Menninger Clinic as I was cleaning my sunroom the other day, and they threw me for a loop. The papers were test results I had taken shortly after I arrived at the hospital. We had to take a lot of tests. They tested my quality of life, which was at 25 percent, physical disability caused by my depression/anxiety at 48 percent and cognitive function at 33 percent. My memory was at 3 percent, which was the most shocking. I guess being on all that medication and abusing my anxiety meds really screwed me up. My memory just got worse after the ECTs if you can believe it.

I felt so many emotions as I cradled these papers. I was heartbroken that I let myself get that bad but elated that I’ve come so far. I’m certain my quality of life has improved, somewhere in the 90s, I’d say and my disability is near non-existent. I still get migraines and sometimes I have bad days, but overall I get out of bed every morning and get on that grind. It’s amazing what I can do now.

  • Run my Unruly Neurons blog
  • Write a column for the Caller-Times
  • Make #MentalHealthMonday videos for State Rep. Todd Hunter
  • Work as the Communications Manager at NAMI Greater Corpus Christi
  • Sit on the board at JCC
  • Be a member of State Rep. Todd Hunter’s Suicide Prevention Task Force
  • Join NAMI Texas’ State Advocacy Networking Team
  • Regular contributor to the national NAMI blog
  • Do public speaking

Plus, I have two kids, lol. That takes up quite a bit of my time. And my husband.

It may seem like I’m bragging, but I’m just amazed. I look at this list and know that I couldn’t do that four years ago. But I’m doing it now, and I’m so proud of myself. Yes, that’s it. I’m just so proud of myself. I’ve done it — I’m in recovery. I’ve made it to the other side, with help from my support system, of course.

All these good things keep happening to me, and it’s unbelievable to me sometimes. I can’t help but think when is the other shoe going to drop. And maybe it won’t. Maybe I deserve these good things. That’s hard to admit. All I know is that I’m grateful, so grateful.

I get to do what I love and love what I do — help others. I didn’t have a lot of help when I was first diagnosed, and I don’t want anyone to feel alone on their mental health journey.

I’m always here. And I mean that.

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The outfit I wore but not the day of the photoshoot. My hair looked a lot better, lol

Some pretty cool things happened to me last week, but I can’t talk about the coolest one. I guess I can, I just can’t tell you what it was for. Anyway, I did a photo shoot for something coming up, and it was so awesome. I wore my hot pink blazer and a pink shirt with blue birds all over it and my hair looked fantastic for once. The photographer was so nice, and I warmed up to her immediately. Come back in October and find out what I’m talking about. Actually, come back every day, but definitely in October, lol.

My husband got some good news — he’s been running for the Board of Regents for Del Mar College and we found out Friday that he has no opponent, that’s amazing news. Because of that, we’re going to take the kids to Disney in October or November before the election. I’ve never been and now we’ll have a little more money not being used for the campaign.

Even though there is good news flying around, I have been struggling a bit. This weekend I couldn’t stop sleeping. I did remember that I’ve missed one or two B12 shots, so I need to take care of that Monday. But I’ve just felt off and zapped of energy. Today I’m feeling better, but I do have a case of the Sunday blues. We just came home from the movies, and that did help a bit — it was hilarious…I think it was called the League of Super Pets. The kids loved it. But hopefully after my shot of B12 tomorrow and a ketamine treat later this week, I’ll be feeling lots better because next week I have a lot of NAMI stuff going on, and I need to be 100 percent. Or somewhat close to that.

That about does it for me.

I hope y’all have a great week coming up. And as always, stay in the light

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I’m a slob. A big one. I try to fight it, I really do, but I always slip back into my slovenly ways. I don’t want to be a slob; it actually stresses me out to have a messy house and clutter everywhere, but I just can’t muster the strength to do better. And I’m not even in a full-blown depressive episode.

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It’s not that I’m lazy — there’s a little of that, too — it’s that I only have so much energy, and I’d rather not allot that energy to cleaning my home (at this time). Maybe soon I’ll have enough time and energy to clean. It’s what I talked about when I blogged about the Spoon Theory. I have only so many spoons each day, and I have to save them to function. For the most part I save them for getting up in the morning, taking care of the kids, hygiene, making/cooking meals for the kids, my mental health advocacy and relationship with my husband, family and friends. That takes up a lot, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Everything takes a lot when you have depression. And anxiety. And a personality disorder. And, hell, an eating disorder.

It’s a full-time job being mentally ill.

But the thing is…I can’t stand it when the house is messy, which is 99% of the time. I even have a housekeeper who comes four days a week, but as soon as she leaves, my family *exists* and clutter starts forming in every corner. My housekeeper can only do so much. As it is now, she can only tidy up the clutter on the countertops and work around it. Don’t get me wrong — she still cleans the house, but she can’t fix the mess we’ve accumulated. That’s our job, and we suck at it super bad. It makes me anxious and stressed.

And guilty. Even my car is cluttered. If you open the doors, sometimes trash or random items fly out. So embarrassing.

As it turns out, it’s not unusual for people with depression to be messy. An article in PsychCentral.com says when you’re depressed, it’s hard to take care of yourself and get things done. I totally agree, but here’s the thing: I’m not experiencing a depressive episode right now. Or maybe I am. A small one. I’m still capable of a lot and have some energy. But some things are hard. I guess I am experiencing some hallmarks of depression:

  • decreased energy
  • fatigue
  • lack of interest
  • feeling overwhelmed

BUT before I finished this blog, I totally cleaned out my closet and arranged my clothes by type and color coded everything according to the rainbow. It took a long time and a lot of effort. It made me feel better and want to work on other rooms in the house, but it’s so daunting.

Even though it can be stressful to have clutter everywhere, Verywellmind.com says this: “…There is research that supports the idea that messiness also has an upside. Kathleen Vohs, Ph.D., and her fellow researchers did a series of experiments on the psychology of messiness. They found that while working in an orderly room encouraged behaviors such as generosity and healthy eating, working in a messy environment actually led to greater creativity.” And that Albert Einstein was known for a messy desk.

Maybe I’m a creative genius. There are times when the mess doesn’t bug me. I just can’t figure out which part of me doesn’t mind the mess or hates it.

The Verywellmind.com article ended with this, “If you function fine in a messy room, then don’t let trends pressure you into pursuing a more organized or minimalistic lifestyle. However, if the messiness is something that causes you stress or if you suspect it might be a symptom of an underlying psychological problem, consider steps you can take to address the issue.”

Maybe I have a depressed personality and a non-depressed personality. I guess I need to find a way to merge the two.

Although if I were less messy, my father would complain a lot less, lol.

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