Judge Not, Recovery is Hard

by Heather Loeb

I was talking to a friend recently and we were talking about Thanksgiving and if we would see our families. She was in the mental health field and had an uncle who was mentally ill. My friend vented because that family member never seemed to take his pills or go to therapy. 


“You take your pills and go to therapy. You’re in recovery,” she said . “How hard could it be?” 

I let my friend vent then reminded her that it wasn’t easy for me. I detailed my struggles before I went to a psych hospital, then after: the ECT treatments, the medication changes, the therapy, road to recovery. Plus, her uncle and I have two different diagnoses. 

She blinked tears away and said you’re right, which doesn’t happen often. 

“I forgot,” she said. “I’m used to the you in recovery. and it seems easy now. I know better.”

She continued on about how her uncle hasn’t really come to terms with his mental illness and that he comes from a different generation where talking or having mental illness was taboo. 

That makes sense. Therapy probably scares him to death. And he probably doesn’t grasp the concept of recovery in terms of mental illness, I didn’t at first. 

It’s easy to get frustrated at someone with a mental illness, but you have to remember: they have a mental illness, and everyone’s different. They might not have the ability or capacity to understand their illness or recovery. You should never compare them to someone else, especially to someone who doesn’t have an illness. 

Also, the holidays can stress everyone out. It also can trigger those with a mental health condition so please be patient and know that it can be triggering and bring out certain symptoms. 

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Will It Ever End?

by Heather Loeb

Recently I’ve lost a bit of weight. I’ve never been this thin, except as a child. And while I’m enjoying it and getting to wear smaller clothes and being more comfortable in my body, I still don’t feel thin enough. 


I still weigh myself when nobody’s looking. I still try to eat less so I can lose. 

And so I wonder — will it ever end?

I’m in the 150s. I look good. I feel good-ish but what happens when I get in the 140s? 

I’ll be 40 in February — do I just grow out of this? Probably not because I know friends in their 50s and 60s who still do this. 

I mean it’s gotten better. (Has is though?) I still don’t weigh myself in front of the kids, and when we’re eating in front of the kids, I eat healthy things. But they also see me eat candy all the time, and I’m sure they’ve picked up on my disorderly eating even though they’ve never seen me binge. Ugh, I’m such a mess. 

I’ve been stressed so much lately so I’ve been craving junk food, candy and comfort food big time. So it’s making me see-saw to the high 150s to the low. Then I stress away and eat light then get stressed again and eat like crap. I’ve had some stressful events at work, but it all worked out in a very awesome way. But more stuff is coming up and now it’s the holidays so I’m assuming I’ll be stressed out until January. Or until I’m dead, so I have to figure out some stress relief that actually works and works long term. 


I mean hello, I talk about self care all the time. I gotta walk the walk. 

I just wish it didn’t have such a hold on me. Why do I care so much if I “gain” two pounds one morning to the next. I know it’s probably not even a real gain, and you’re not supposed to weigh yourself everyday. I know, I know, I know. But I don’t. So then I lift up my shirt and analyze how much my stomach is sticking out. How well my jeans are fitting. If one metric fails me, there’s always another. And another. 

This is torture. 

Will it ever end? 

Will I ever let it?

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Hair on My Head, Part II

by Heather Loeb

Not too long ago I blogged about whether I should stop my preventive migraine medication because I thought it was making me lose hair and changing the texture. I was hesitant to do so because it also helped me control my appetite, but I stopped anyway because I was so obsessed with my hair.

I didn’t think what it would do to my migraines, and now I’ve had a migraine for a week straight. Man, I’m stupid. So last Friday I started back on the Topamax again. Sigh. I honestly didn’t give much thought to my migraines because I’m on another preventive medication, but clearly I need both. I forgot how badly it sucks to have a migraine every.single.day.

I’ve had to leave work functions early. I couldn’t do anything fun on the weekend. I threw up multiple times. I basically lied around the whole week waiting for relief. And I’d get a few hours then the pain would bounce right back. It’ll take me a while to titrate up to my normal dose, so I guess I gotta be patient. My specialty, lol.

I can’t believe I used to suffer from chronic migraine, where I’d have 16 or more migraines in ONE MONTH. No wonder I had depression. No telling which came first. A true chicken or the egg situation. You just can’t live a live with that much chronic pain. Sucks.

Maybe the meds aren’t the reason for my hair changes. I mean, I’ll be 40 in six months. Maybe it’s hormones. It’ll be fine. It’s just hair. I’d rather have little to no migraines. I’ve lived far too good a life to go backward. I’ve seen the light.

I feel terrible for those who have chronic pain; my heart goes out to you.

And now I don’t have to worry about my weight fluctuating, which is also a huge struggle for me (because of my eating disorder). The only downside to that is the Topamax makes all carbonated drinks taste like crap, so I don’t enjoy my beloved Diet Cokes like usual, but that’s a bad habit I could stand to lose.

All I see is what I stand to gain.

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The Plunge

by Heather Loeb

For the past two-plus years, I have been the communications director for NAMI Greater Corpus Christi, and I have loved every minute. This organization has helped in my recovery so much that I now associate the two. You won’t find a more loving, judgement-free group of people in the world. We refer to our tight-knit group as the NAM FAM. We’re even presenting at a NAMI conference about how our NAM FAM works and helps us give others support and education.


When I was first approached about the communications position, I was a bit wary, but it wasn’t a paid position so I didn’t feel suffocated by the job. For some reason I didn’t feel like I was beholden to something if I weren’t paid. My therapist tells me that’s wrong, though. I’ve never held a job down for more than two years, maybe three, because something was always at play — severe migraines or my depression, anxiety, eating disorder, etc. I missed work. I felt guilty and unworthy.

But at NAMI is different. I don’t mind doing the work. I show up when I can, and I always try to do my best. At one point, I thought I might take the affiliate over in about five years or so should the opportunity present itself. I guess I imagined I would have all my stuff together then, but let’s face it — I might never have it together. But the idea of “5-year Heather” meant that I would be more responsible, consistent, mature, hard working and so on.

But as it turns out, five years has now turned into now.

My close friend, the affiliate leader and program director is stepping down because her husband got a new job, and they’re relocating. I’m heartbroken of course that I will no longer have my fearless leader and good friend, but I’m really happy for them because it seems like a good move.

Naturally, because I had mentioned taking over in the future, it made me the top candidate for the job.

But I’m not “5-year Heather yet!” I thought. I have chronic illnesses and two young children, all of which take up my time. A lot. And surely they’ve noticed that I’m not a Certified Adult yet.

Taking the position (I have to be voted in by the Leadership Team first) would mean that I HAVE to be more responsible. NAMI GCC’s volunteers will be looking to me to make sound decisions about the organization and represent it well in the public. I will have to show up, which is something I’ve never been good at, honestly. I’ll have to be a Certified Adult (does anyone know the process on this?).

As I ponder these new responsibilities, I’m reminded that this was something I asked for. Something I wanted to do.

When I was going through the worst depressive episode in my life, I felt alone. Nobody talked about the cruel and debilitating realities. My friends and family didn’t know what they knew then — they couldn’t have helped me even if I did tell them what I was facing. I spent each day hoping I wouldn’t succumb to the persistent voice in my head telling me to kill myself. I hated life, and I hated who I had become. That was before I received help at a psych hospital.

My husband always says that if you have the ability to help others then it becomes your obligation to do so. That’s what I want to do. I want to let others know that they are not alone, that recovery is possible, that the dark doesn’t last. I want NAMI GCC to be the top mental health organization that other agencies and community members think of.

I want to help in anyway I can. And I see now that desire is stronger than being inconsistent or immature.

I will be so humbled and grateful to the Leadership Team should they appoint me affiliate leader. I hope it is my calling, and that our small, but mighty, organization thrives. It assures me that our team of volunteers is the best of the best, and I want to reflect that.

Am I scared? Yes, but I know what it’s like to be brave even when the odds were stacked against me. I’ll tell myself what I tell my kids: You can hard things.

Sometimes the most difficult thing is to just jump in.

So it looks like I’m taking the plunge.

Update: Saturday, Aug. 26: The Leadership Team voted me in as affiliate leader, effective Sept 15.

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My little girl and I haven’t been vibing as of late. A lot of fussing and yelling has taken the place of usually polite and loving conversation. She has always alleged that I love her brother more, but I can assure y’all I don’t, but I make I still make a concerted effort to schedule mom and daughter time, pick up little things for her, etc.


Just a few weeks ago, my husband and I opened a checking account for both kids to get them to do their chores and keep us from spending millions of dollars in Robux. So now they have a list of chores. They do them begrudgingly, although I’ve found myself correcting Isla and fussing more about her not doing chores. And she called me on it. It’s not that I want to do Eli’s chores for him, I don’t, but as a first grader, I don’t think he’s capable of doing the same chores. Reasonable, right? But then I started mulling that I’m always harder on Isla. Not on purpose; I thought it was because she was older, I expect more, but now I’m thinking it’s because she’s a girl, and mothers are naturally harder on girls. Some mothers. I didn’t actually experience this with my own mother, but there were things she let my brother get away with that I couldn’t and vice versa. Seemed fair. But my mother was never, ever harder on me. If anything, it was the opposite. But my mother is perfection, and it’s difficult to duplicate. I have limitations.

So I decided to Google it because I was lacking personal experience. And yes, there were lots of articles on mothers being harder of their daughters. And even a study!

One article stated, ““Parents treating their children differently is common in families, especially those with children from both genders. For example, mothers tend to have higher expectations from and be more critical of their daughters over their sons, according to a Netmums survey.

It went on to say that often mothers formed a stronger bond with their sons, and mothers were more likely to describe their girls as serious whereas they’d describe boys as “cheeky” and “loving.” The report warned that girls grow up with more self-critical issues, and suffer as a result.

Reading that was like a blow to the stomach. I in no way want her to suffer from me being too critical. I don’t want her to suffer from anything I do! That has been established in several of my columns. But just the other day, I asked her to help me with something when the “men of the house” quickly disappeared. She balked, and in frustration, I said that women just do more. They’re stronger, and they’re expected to do more at times and that it just wasn’t fair. I didn’t think too much about my comment until I saw the Barbie movie with my daughter and husband. I started crying the minute I heard this line: “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far they have come.”

Many have different interpretations of that, but I understand it that moms work so hard and are always moving forward, but eventually, moms have to let go of their daughter’s (or son’s) hand and let them live. Let them grow, and grow, and grow and grow. I also thought about how difficult it was for a woman to live in this patriarchal society.

I don’t think I treat her the way I do because I like my son more. Or that I don’t love her — that’s ridiculous. But maybe I’m trying to shape her, no doubt like my mom helped shape me, into a stronger person. A stronger woman. I want her to look at me and see a strong woman who battled severe depression and anxiety and an eating disorder, etc. I want her to have grit, to learn how to never give up. I want her to travel, to love herself, to be independent (as I am dependent on my husband).

I want her to be better than me.

But while I have good intentions, I should approach our feuds differently. She’s a wild, fierce being, and I know that sucks now because I’m raising her, but she has strength that I never did. She needs to learn how to be a good human, sure. But I could teach her how to be a good person and empowered woman in other ways. Looking back, that’s how I learned. Not with constant complaining and yelling. I need to provide a space for her to figure out who she is and wants to be.

Sounds like I could learn to be a stronger woman myself. And it’s lucky that she’s here to teach and shape me, too.

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What a Pain in My…Back

by Heather Loeb

So, about a month ago I was jump roping with my daughter. I bought the jump ropes to encourage us to have fun exercising. I talked about this previously, but bear with me. On the second day we were jumping, I was about 10 jumps in when I felt a sharp pain in my back. My daughter quickly went to get an ice pack, and I was horizontal for the rest of the day. Fast forwards a few weeks and an MRI, and it turns out I tore a disk in between my L4 and L5. My doctor gave me pain pills, which are long gone by now, and I started physical therapy last week, but I haven’t gotten any relief. None.


Actually, after Monday’s PT session, my back hurt worse than it ever has with this injury. It’s hurting right now as I type this in the carpool lane waiting for my children.

I’m used to pain. Mental anguish and pain from migraines. I’m definitely no stranger, but this is a different pain. It doesn’t always go away, and I fear that I will have back problems for the rest of my life. But maybe if I stick to the PT, I’ll get better. It’s only been a few sessions.

The chronic pain has altered my mental state. I get depressed and angry more easily. It really pisses me off when I’m limited to an activity because of my back. Then comes the overwhelming sadness. I tell myself that it just takes time to heal, but it’s so hard to remember when there’s searing pain in multiple places in my back. I totally get why so many people with chronic illness have depression and vice versa.

Lately the only relief I get is lying down on my right side. I even had to switch places in the bed with my husband to ensure I stay on that side (mainly because my son prevents me from lying like that on the other side). But I can’t just lie down all day.

I probably sound like a spoiled brat, but my pain is real and constant and cumbersome. I just hope it doesn’t throw me into a true depressive episode. And I pray that I find more relief. I guess there’s always injections, but I wanted to avoid that as much as possible. Really, I need to strengthen my core…well, strengthen everything….to feel better, and that will take time.

I’ll pray for patience because right now I just ain’t got it.

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Mad and Sad

by Heather Loeb

Today was my first day back after my two-week long vacation. I thought I would be excited to get into the swing of things, but as I’m sitting here at the end of the day, I’m spent. I’m mad, and I’m sad. At what, I don’t really know.


Maybe it’s because I didn’t get the alone time I wanted and so badly craved during my vacation. Eli stayed home from camp was in a terrible mood. There was a lot of yelling and crying on his end in my direction, which stressed me out. But it seems bigger than that. I just don’t want to do anything, even though I have tons to do. I’d say I don’t care, but that’s not the case. I do, just not at this second.

I think I’m mad because I’m losing my hair and gaining weight. I’m mad because I hurt my back jump roping! I’m mad because I haven’t had any alone time. I’m mad because my best friend ghosted me (even though it has been almost nine months). And I’m just so sad that things aren’t going my way. I know, that sounds pathetic. I’m used to everything coming up Heather Loeb.

I just want to crawl into a hole and sleep for weeks. This is starting to sound like the beginnings of a depressive episode the more I type. Ugh, that makes me feel even worse.

I don’t mean to throw myself a pity party, but at the same time, it’s okay that I sit with these feelings and explore them. I guess that’s what I’ll do — turn to self-care and sit with my feelings. I know it’ll pass; it always does.

But until then I can continue to say expletives in my head, have a scowl on my face and eat junk food to make myself feel better. I just gotta make sure I don’t take up permanent residence here, because where I (usually) live is rainbows, kittens, llamas, love, fuzzy socks, Diet Coke and binge watching Suits like it’s the first time. A happy place.

Just thinking about it makes me feel lighter. Maybe I won’t be here long at all.

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Last week I ordered jump ropes so my daughter and I could have fun exercising. I didn’t want to use the word “exercise,” we were just going to have fun.


The day they got here I realized a few of things: I needed a heavy-duty sports bra, my pelvic floor isn’t as strong as it used to be and finally, I’m old.

I made necessary adjustments, and we did had fun, but it wasn’t as easy as I had pictured it. I thought we would play for at least an hour, but just doing eight to 10 jumps at a time was winding us. We decided we would take a break and start again the next day.

I put on my good tennis shoes the next day and was ready. I worked up to 11 jumps in a row (I kept messing up) and was determined to beat it when I heard a big “POP,” and I folded over in pain. It was my back. Pain started in the middle of my back and spasms shot up the left side. I asked my daughter to get me an ice pack, and I immediately went to lie down.

The kids were being picked up by my mother-in-law later, so I was able to rest for the remainder the day. I could get up and walk a bit, but it was still hurting badly a few hours when my husband came home. When I told him what happened, he did not seem thrilled. I think I ruined his weekend plans, but he didn’t say anything to me.

It kind of reminded me of when I would have migraines all the time, like 16 per month. I was always disappointing someone, whether it was a coworker, boss, friend, boyfriend, etc. And when it wasn’t a migraine, it was depression. It has made me hypersensitive to others’ reactions when I’m sick or unavailable. Maybe David didn’t even have a reaction, I could’ve been extra sensitive.

But it reminded me that it’s okay for me to rest. No matter what — if I hurt my back, if I were feeling depressed, had a migraine, stubbed my toe, sneezed too hard, whatever. I don’t have to work for my rest, and I’ve never had to. Have people made comments about how much I rest or get sick or injured? Yes, but they are not dealing with what I’m dealing with. Nobody knows what it’s like to be me, but me. And it’s okay for me to rest.

And it’s okay for you to rest, too.

None of us has to earn it.

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I’ve been losing a lot of hair recently, and while I don’t know exactly what is causing the loss, I have a guess — a medication I take for migraine prevention. It’s a rare side effect, but I’m in a support group for those taking said medication, and there are a lot of women who have lost hair. But apparently it’s reversible once you’re off the pill.

My beautiful curly hair

I first noticed it when I put my hair up in a ponytail. There was hardly any hair to put up; it was so much thinner than my usual thick curls, and I started to panic. For a while, I had been complaining to my best friend that my hair hadn’t been curling like it used to, but I blamed that on one of my conditions being discontinued. I thought I just needed to find something comparable, and it was just taking a while.

At night I would scroll through pictures where my hair was voluminous and curly, just months ago. The medication was the only change, and the problem with stopping the medication was not only would I see an increase in migraines but also not be protected by another side effect — appetite suppression and weight loss. I have a terrible eating disorder, and while the pill doesn’t always stand up to that, it helps greatly, and I feel like I need to be on it.

I feel so stupid and vain. Sometimes I say it’s just hair, right? But it’s not. I’ve always felt like my hair is a big part of me, a big curly, beautiful mess. But I’ve also worked hard to get to a weight I’m comfortable with, one where I’m not constantly calling myself fat.

And I just don’t want to go there again. I’ve always been so miserable at higher weights, and I know that’s the opposite of what I preach on my blog and in my columns (body positivity, etc.). I always see the beauty in others but never myself.

Honestly, I think it would be better if I just stayed on my migraine medication because if I start gaining weight that could trigger my eating disorder and a depressive episode and I’m not willing to go through that right now. It might seem like I’m being dramatic, but the last time I went through a bad depressive episode, I was constantly suicidal and ended up in two hospitals, away from my family. My kids were young then; they’re not now. The stakes are higher, and I have more responsibility. I’m not ready to fight my brain again, which told me repeatedly to kill myself.

I feel much less confident about my thinning hair, but I suppose I can learn to deal with that. It’s not the same as going through a depressive episode. I just hate that those are my choices. And maybe they’re not. I see my PCP on Tuesday, and I’ll bring all of this up. Maybe there are more options that I’m not seeing or know about.

But I’m seeing now it’s more than the hair on my head or the weight on the scale.

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The Fundraiser

by Heather Loeb

Last weekend was the NAMI Celebrity Jeopardy Fundraiser that we had been working on for about six months. I spent countless hours at night, on the weekend and of course during the day trying to ensure its success. Not just me, there were four of us working tirelessly on this thing — it was the organization’s first-ever fundraiser. And you know what? It was successful! There were a few hiccups, but for the most part, it was amazing. The Jeopardy game went so well, even with a slight delay with the microphones. Everyone was laughing so hard; my whole face hurt from cracking up.


It was fun. I’m ready to do it again. I actually miss not working on it, which is strange because I vented and complained to my husband (and therapist) a lot, but now it seems like there’s a gap in my life. Weird, right? It just took up so much of my time, and we got to do so many fun things. I love to be creative.

I guess a need a new project to distract me until it’s time to start planning for the next fundraiser again, which by the way, will be on April 27, 2024, lol. That’s the most planning we’ve done so far.

One of my favorite parts of the fundraiser was hearing the speakers. I loved listening to J.D. and Marty talk about how NAMI enhanced their life, like it has mine. When it was my turn to speak, I became very nervous, so much so that I left entire lines out of my speech even though it was on paper right in front of me. I talked about how when I left the psychiatric hospital, my family and friends were a great support system but that none of them had a mental health condition so I still felt a little alone. Enter NAMI, where each of the leadership team either has a mental illness or a family member does.

“They have aided in my recovery in ways I didn’t think possible, allowing me to be myself but encouraging me to accept change and growth. I thought I was a new person when I left the psychiatric hospital and l was! I’m a new person now and there have been a dozen different versions of me in between. I’m so happy now it almost feels unfair. Almost.

But it’s not just me. It’s awesome to see our team help others, whether it be through our support groups, programs, classes or just showing up.   

The coolest thing to me is that we do it all for free. We’re fueled by passion and heart. You can’t find that just anywhere. Helping others is all I ever wanted to do when I started my blog so others wouldn’t feel alone, and nobody is ever alone when NAMI GCC is involved.”

Sure, I had fun planning the event, but it was also important for me to share how I felt about this amazing organization. For me to give back to my beloved NAM Fam.

And give back to others.

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