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 heatherannloeb@gmail.com. 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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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.


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.


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.


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.

Heather Loeb

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?


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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