Heather Loeb


Valentine’s Day 2023

by Heather Loeb

Yesterday one of my columns ran about loving yourself and being your own Valentine. Sometimes I tend to give good advice but not always follow it myself, but this time I really mean it — I love and appreciate myself. Do I treat myself badly at times? Sure. I’m very bad at self-talk right now, but I catch it and tell myself something nice. But I’ve learned to appreciate myself, and my body, for who I am, who I was and who I hope to be.


Here’s a little snippet from the column, “Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. Until my marriage (10 years ago), I wasn’t a fan — of love, any possible paramours and especially of myself. 

What a shame. I feel like I’ve missed out on something huge. My chest tightens, and regret fuels tears. I didn’t care for myself back then. I believed what poisonous lies others were saying about me and didn’t notice how they replaced the words of my inner monologue with theirs. My body dysmorphia formed and, shortly after, my eating disorder. It’s more complicated than that, but I didn’t see a connection. ” 

It’s so true. I believed others who called me fat. From that I understood I was worthless, ugly and stupid because that’s what society tells you, right? I was first called fat in the 5th grade then on and off until my senior year in high school. I was held captive by the scale and even now I still get caught in its trap.

But. A powerful but. Now I know I’m not fat. I wasn’t fat then (fat isn’t something you are, it’s something you have). I wasn’t ugly, stupid, lazy or anything close. I was me, listening to the wrong people, not celebrating myself as I should have. And I really should have because I am amazing. I took me about 38 years and a six-week hospital stay to figure it out, but that’s okay, because I did. Now I’m living the best years of my life.

And now, during this month of self-love, I appreciate myself, all of me. How far I’ve come, the accomplishments I never thought possible and the lofty goals I’ve set because of that.

Just a few years ago I couldn’t get out of bed or shower because of my major depression and anxiety. I was a bare minimum mom and wife. I counted down until I could go back to sleep, and when I was awake, I was in so much misery. Thank God I’m not in that place anymore.

Gratitude is a huge part of my journey, even when it comes to loving and accepting myself.

I want to thank y’all, too. For reading my columns, blogs, dropping me a note, showing up to NAMI events or just sending good vibes my way. I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. You are a big, wonderful part of my recovery, and I love that.

And I love me.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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So if y’all have been reading, you know I’m going through a tough time, but things have been better the past week and I don’t know why. I was bingeing a lot last week, and I do mean a lot, but I’ve seemed to kick the habit for the time being.

It was weird. I haven’t binged like that in a loooong time. I was eating sugar powdered donuts, candy, more candy, popcorn, beef jerky, more candy, donuts and more. I gained about 7 pounds, but now I’ve got it back down to 4. Nothing really made me happy except the Smart Food popcorn. I don’t know why. I’m still have a 100-calorie bag a day because they are freaking delicious.


But after a few days I thought to myself, “okay girl, you’ve had your fun, now it’s time to do the work.” That’s the first time I’ve said/done that. Weird. Growth. So I started wearing real clothes again – no more leggings and big shirts or sweatshirts. The numbers on the scale don’t mean anything unless you get back into your real clothes and feel the gain.

So I put on some jeans and a shirt. They are tighter, not completely uncomfortable, but I can’t tell the difference in where I was before. This is a good coping skill for me, because I don’t like to be uncomfortably, emotionally or physically. I still look fly though. It’s just a reminder that there are consequences when I eat unhealthy foods and don’t take care of myself. I don’t don’t like knowing I did that or the guilt that follows.

Bingeing isn’t the big problem, though. It’s a symptom. Of depression, of stress. And while I feel good now, I wasn’t feeling good when I started doing it so it makes me feel like it was due to losing my friend or just the general stress in my life. Probably losing my friend. But there’s nothing I can do about it right now. Except accept it and go about my business, and that’s my plan.

Speaking of business, things are good. I have a lot to focus on right now, and it has been so fun. So much to look forward to. I’m working on staying in the present and practice gratitude, as well.

I’m doing all that I can. I know I just said that.

Sometimes if you repeat something enough times, it becomes the truth.

Things are good. I’m great. Life is good. I’m so grateful.

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Gains and Losses

by Heather Loeb

I’ve been trying to keep busy so I don’t stop and realize just how depressed I am over losing my best friend. I haven’t contacted her in over a week. I’ve let her know that I’m here, and that’s all I can really do. So I’ve tried to just not think about it but then it manifests in other ways: hello, binge eating disorder. It’s not that I’ve binged on a meal here and there, I overeat or binge EVERY meal, and when I got on the scale tonight (don’t ever get on the scale at night), I weighed 10 pounds more than usual. Ten pounds!


I’ve worked really hard to get to a healthy weight, and now it’s slipping away because I can’t get my shit together. I’ve talked to my therapist and she has given me healthy coping skill to do, but I always fall back on the unhealthy ones.

I realize it’s time to change.

All the snacks in the world won’t bring my friend back.

All the snacks in the world won’t bring my friend back.

Tears threaten to fall as I write that twice.

I know what to do: I need to throw out all the junk food. I need to be mindful when I eat. I need to listen to my body and its hunger cues. I don’t need to freak out over 10 pounds. I might be a little more uncomfortable, but it’s temporary. This is all temporary.

Until it’s not.

Sitting with my feelings, being in the moment and dealing with the pain is so hard. I’ve never been one to actually do it, but the only way out is through, right? It has been four weeks, and I’m still here. Just a bit heavier, in so many ways.

I’m resilient, thanks to my mental health conditions and journey, so I know I’ll make it through. It just sucks now. I want my security blankets: bingeing, shopping, using too much anxiety meds, sleeping too much. But I know that if they haven’t worked in the past, AND THEY HAVEN’T, they’re not going to work now.

Binge eating does not soothe me the way I want. It actually stresses me out and only soothes me for a few seconds. The aftermath is painful, and I feel very guilty once I see the bottom of the popcorn bag or candy wrapper.

I’m throwing away my snacks today. It’s the beginning of a new week. Good things are happening at work, I’m very excited. I have a lot to look forward to and a lot to let go of. That can be very freeing.

I’m ready.

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House of Pain

by Heather Loeb

On my Mental Illness Resume you’d find a couple of hospitalizations, one involuntary, one six-weeks long; many episodes of suicide ideation (with one plan to die); substance use disorder (moderate); the saddest, saltiest tears ever cried; and heart-wrenching pain that make me think my heart will break into a million pieces. Maybe it did.


I’ve been mentally ill for a long time. But I’ve been in recovery for four years, meaning that whenever I flail, I fall back onto my wellness plan which details healthy ways I can take care of myself to get to a better place. I can still feel pain, but it’s now second nature to practice self-care and be resilient.

My heart is still able to hurt. But then my brain will tell me, “Heather, it won’t hurt like this long. In an hour it’ll be better. Tomorrow it won’t be so bad.” And I believe it, because when I was so depressed in the psychiatric hospital, and I was in so much pain, it did get better. I did get stronger. It wasn’t so bad.

This is my lived experience: I know the pain won’t last forever. This is how it is because of all my hard work toward recovery.

But what about pain you don’t expect? One day my best friend, with no warning, stopped talking to me. There was no fight. She just stopped texting/calling me. For the past 12 years, we have texted 50 times a day, minimum. I asked if she was ok. Was she mad? Is anything wrong? I asked our mutual friend if she had heard from her? Yes, she’s fine.

Okay, so why not me?

My heart started to break. I cried, scaring myself with my guttural wails. Then after a day or two, my brain said, “You’ll be fine. It’ll get better, easier, tomorrow.”

My tears did dry. But I obsessed over the reasons why she wouldn’t respond. I kept sending texts hoping she was okay.

After a week and a half, I texted her that I was miserable without her, and I was so sorry if it was something I had done. That I needed her, and I hope she would text me back.


Each day it does get easier. I no longer save memes on my phone to send her. I don’t obsessively check the phone, waiting to hear her text tone. Intellectually, I know that I’ve been ghosted, and there’s nothing I can do to change it.   

Thank God I’ve been through what I have, so I’m strong enough to get through this. It might not seem like much to get through, but it is. She’s been a sister to me.

I could be balled up in the corner sobbing, unable to get anything done. But lived experience — I’ve been in more pain before. Or at least the same amount.

It’ll be better tomorrow. And the next day. And hour after that.

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I’ve been in pain. I’ve wanted to die. Even now in recovery, painful things still happen. My heart breaks, but I know I’ll survive it because I’ve done it again and again. It baffles me how resilient I am and how the pain fades but is automatically replaced with wisdom and hope. I almost don’t get to mourn, second nature kicks in. I’ll be okay. Tomorrow will be better. Mainly because they’re all watching and expecting it.

Heather Loeb

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I won’t lie. For the past few weeks, I’ve had the hardest time brushing my teeth and wearing my retainers at night. I know it’s gross. And truthfully, I don’t even feel that depressed. I can take showers every other day, so why is brushing my teeth so hard?


I hate not brushing my teeth! I hate the feel of my mouth, I cringe when I see my gums so red (and some bleed). I’m afraid people can tell and are staring at my gross mouth. Yet, that doesn’t always lead my to pick up my electric toothbrush and get at ’em.

But anytime I feel a little wave of depression wash over me, my personal hygiene slips. It’s always my teeth that suffer first. It sucks because I’ve had two rounds of braces and have worked hard on ridding my toofers and gums of periodontal disease. But here I am, going backwards when a little conflict or sadness comes my way.

It can be explained by science. I read in an Allure article that those with executive dysfunction see a variety of cognitive and behavioral disorders and difficulties. Depression is a mental health condition that has executive dysfunction as a symptom.

The licensed clinical psychologist based in New York and Connecticut in the article, Holly Schiff, says with that symptom there are lower levels of neurotransmitters (think serotonin and dopamine) which impact motivation levels and make it difficult to get out of bed. One can have low energy to make decisions, solve problems, weigh options or take action. (Read full article here).

Basically depression isn’t glamorous. But we knew that, right?

It’s hard to take care of yourself with you have no energy, extreme fatigue, apathy and so much more. But there are ways to hack personal hygiene.

I’m going to link to this article with different ways to take care of yourself with depression in bear on you.

Take care, and stay in the light. If that’s too much, just think of the light.

We’ll be okay, friends.

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We All Perform

by Heather Loeb

TW: suicide, suicidal ideation

DJ Stephen (tWitch) Boss died by suicide by last week, and I read a quote about him by writer and pastor John Pavlovitz that has been stuck in my brain since.


“Those of us who live with chronic depression are never surprised when someone leaves prematurely. We know there is often zero correlation between a person’s outward appearance and their internal condition. We all perform.”

Damn. Nothing is truer than that statement. That’s why it’s so exhausting to have depression. It’s bad enough to experience fatigue, extreme sadness, apathy, energy loss and more — but a lot of us put on a show for others and that’s what’s so tiring. I know I do, and I know I’m not the only one. Sometimes I have to take an extra Adderall to get through a social event so I can “perform.” But then I break down. It’s too much. And it becomes too much for some people, unbearable. I don’t blame them. I’ve experienced suicidal ideation and actually had a plan. I don’t know know why tWitch decided to end his life, but I understand it. It gets so heavy at times.

It scares other people, so sometimes we put on a happy face. We don’t want to be a burden, always the one with a frown or tears, and sadly, our friends will go along with our performance, choosing to ignore the warning signs or our fake smiles. I understand that, too.

Sometimes it feels okay to pretend you’re fine because it’s hard for people without mental health conditions to understand. However, I would NEVER tell another peer to pretend or put on a performance for other people. It’s a slippery slope and leads to isolation and depression. So, please don’t do this. Always reach out to a friend or family member. If that’s not an option, call or text 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. It’s free and staffed 24/7. Or email me at You are NEVER alone.

I get that it’s easier to hide behind a mask, but it’s only hurting ourselves. If our loved ones can’t handle a bad mood or depressive episode or two, that’s their problem. It’s too much work to feel okay when we don’t. It just adds fuel to the fire. I’m not going to do it anymore. I’m going to be honest and ditch the mask.

I hope you do, too. But if you don’t, I understand.

Take care of yourself, friends.





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Heather’s Anxiety Files

by Heather Loeb

The past two weeks have been hard. I’ve been anxious and depressed, which always throws me off because I haven’t felt that way in a long, long time. It’s not a full-blown depressive episode, but it’s enough to affect my daily life.

hanukkahquote_6-630x630But it’s my anxiety that’s bothering me more. I’m used to that; my anxiety never goes away. Now I’m operating at a heightened level, which overwhelms me quickly, forcing me to take breaks or shut down.

It happened Thursday.

It wasn’t a single event that led to my breakdown, but somehow I became unglued. I was sobbing everyday. I felt like if I did one more thing outside of my regular routine, I would fall over from exhaustion and die. The problem was that I had a big presentation the next day. I felt horribly guilty, but I explained to my cohort (and good friend) what was going on, and of course, she understood. I instantly felt some relief, but I knew that wasn’t the answer to my problem. But I was aware that I had moved into a Severe State of anxiety, meaning I was experiencing intense symptoms of anxiety (feelings of loss of control, chest pain, sobbing uncontrollably, unable to perform some tasks, etc.)

This is in sharp contrast to the High Functioning anxiety that I feel almost daily. I’m able to work and socialize, but I still have some symptoms of anxiety, such as overanalyzing and rumination.

The middle ground between these two states is the Moderate zone, which I also visit frequently. I’m able to to fulfill some work and social obligations, but I’m still overwhelmed easily. I (try to) limit how many tasks end up on my plate, make sure I’m taking breaks and try to prevent slipping into the Severe state. It doesn’t always happen, obviously.

Right now I’m trying to take it day by day, hour by hour. I miss my usual energy and good mood. I’m hoping going to my parents’ house for Christmas will give me a boost.

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, which is always fun. Plus I get a present, so who can be depressed about that, lol?

I hope my next blog will be happier.

I’m sure it will.


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I have not blogged in a long time. This pass week is understandable because my husband was gone for two days and my beloved housekeeper was on vacation the whole week. I may sound pathetic to some, but omg it was tough. Although I did better than I thought I would. I cleaned all four litter boxes daily, I did the laundry (almost daily), I picked up and we went to see Santa Claus. I didn’t cook dinner but that’s minor, I feel.

loebfamilyholiday202242of52-7675532I was looking forward to my husband to come home, and I was happy when he came home, but something didn’t feel right. I don’t know if I just was burned out from being alone with the kids, but I felt so tired and depressed. My energy that I had saved for the kids was nowhere in sight. I was just down. I got a break over the weekend when my kids went to their grandma’s but I couldn’t even take a shower. I had to lay down in the tub and wash my hair like that.

I’ve felt better today; I actually took a real shower, but something’s still nagging at me. The Sunday Night Scaries are in overdrive because it’s going to be a very busy week. Hell, the rest of the month is. When I think that way, I just want to shut down, but of course I know I can’t and won’t.

In the morning my alarm will go off at 5 a.m. and my day will begin like it always does. They’ll be a Christmas party this week here and there — that’ll be fun — hopefully I’ll get back to feeling like me. Faking it is too much work. For now I’m focusing on self-care and positive affirmations.

I will not go down without fighting

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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.


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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