Category Archives: Friends

Add This to the 2020 Dumpster Fire

On Friday, September 11, in the bullshit, hellfire year of 2020, I peed on a stick and it showed a positive result.

Sorry, I should clarify– I peed on a PREGNANCY TEST stick and it showed a positive result for PREGNANCY. (Just in case you thought I peed on a popsicle stick or a yard stick and that the stick, as a result, felt optimistic. As far as I’m aware, my pee does not have that power.)

One might view this as good news, and generally it is (obviously), but any excitement I felt about the positive result was quickly overridden by doubt and worry because 1) the line was VERY faint and 2) it took four days after my missed period to even show up on a test (My mother, quite the Fertile Myrtle* yet from the Jurassic Era of pregnancy, did not find this latter point suspicious in the least, but we all know that modern pregnancy tests can now detect pregnancy SUPER early, often BEFORE a missed period, and almost certainly on the DAY of the missed period. And by “we all know that,” I mean that’s what happened with my last pregnancy and therefore based on that one situation once, it is filed in my brain under “Facts We All Know.”)

So naturally, I immediately googled “faint line on a pregnancy test 4 days after missed period and I’m freaking out.” I got about 78923392893 explanations, and 78923392892 of them were some version of “Every woman is different. You’re fine, Karen.”

But naturally, I zeroed in on the one article that mentioned ectopic pregnancy as a possible reason for this late, faint-line scenario, and my anxiety disorder immediately perked up and declared “YES. I’LL TAKE ECTOPIC PREGNANCY FOR 500, ALEX!”


For those of you who don’t know what an ectopic pregnancy is and who enjoy getting your medical information from this blog (not advised), it is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo attaches outside the uterus (don’t worry, I cut and pasted that from wikipedia a verified medical source so that you know it’s accurate). The uterus (again for those of you who skipped 5th grade health class because your parents are religious, or for those of you who are Mike Pence), is the only place in the body that can provide a “hospitable environment” for an embryo. If the embryo attaches outside the uterus, it cannot thrive and grow, and therefore has no chance of being a viable pregnancy.


Reading all this on The Google offset a series of back and forth with my OBGYN. I requested an earlier ultrasound, because the soonest appointment offered to me was 10/14, which would put me at 9 weeks 2 days pregnant. That seemed an absurdly long time to wait, especially considering that my “advanced maternal age” (cue flirty hair toss)

and previous C-section automatically put me in the category of “high risk.” The doctor agreed to do bloodwork to ensure my hormones were rising as they should, but wouldn’t budge on the ultrasound date.

Then I found blood in my underwear.

Finding blood in your underwear is never a sign that today is going to be a good day. Even when it’s the “good” blood (aka your period), it’s a huge fucking bummer. So when you find the “bad” blood, you can pretty much throw out your chances of mental sanity for the foreseeable future. (What you can also do is take pictures of it and send to your BFF, thus solidifying what you already knew was an in-the-trenches-together-for-life friendship. Thank you again to that friend, and I’m sorry if you still can’t eat.)

I called my doctor and she insisted that it was still too early for an ultrasound (at this point I was 5 weeks 3 days), but that we’d see what my blood results had to say. My results came back the next day and showed that the hormones were increasing as they should. And you know what’s great about your hormones increasing properly during early pregnancy? ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING IF IT’S AN ECTOPIC PREGNANCY. Because technically, you are pregnant (just in the wrong place), so your body continues to supply you with the hormones as it would for a properly-placed pregnancy. It doesn’t yet know the difference. So a blood test early on will reveal absolutely zero helpful information in terms of discovering an ectopic pregnancy.

You know what WILL reveal an ectopic pregnancy that early?

A MOTHERFUCKING ULTRASOUND.

After more pleading (because I was not satisfied with the bloodwork results alone), my doctor agreed to move up my ultrasound to 10/6 (when I would be 8 weeks 1 day). I still found this unacceptable. She continued to argue that it was too early for an ultrasound (FALSE– perhaps too early to detect a heartbeat, NOT too early to detect an ectopic pregnancy), and it wasn’t until I burst into tears with the secretary that she magically found a way to squeeze me in on 9/30, which would put me at 7 weeks 2 days. I still found this absurdly late for a first ultrasound given my age, the suspicious faint line, and the blood, but not wanting to harass them any further and come off as a complete crazy person (big mistake- I should have owned my title as I always have), I accepted that date.

On Monday, 9/28, two days before my scheduled ultrasound, I woke up to more blood.

And about an hour later, I began experiencing cramps on my right side, which quickly devolved into EXCRUCIATING pain. I could not move from the fetal position. Not that the fetal position was even helping. No matter how I contorted my body, the pain was sharp, intense, and relentless. It literally took my breath away, in the absolute least romantic interpretation of that phrase.

Eric called the doctor’s office. My OB was not in that day (OF COURSE), but the secretary told us to go to the emergency room. We drove straight to the nearest hospital in Norwalk.

Due to COVID, Eric was not allowed to stay with me. So I would now like to add “Scared and alone in the ER” to my “Things I Blame on Trump” list.

They took an ultrasound. Fun fact: the ultrasound technicians are not allowed to reveal to you what they are seeing. I don’t know if they take some kind of acting class in order to hone the skills required to stay completely fucking stone-faced while staring at a pregnant woman’s empty uterus, but I gotta say, the Oscar goes to technician Cindy in Ultrasound Room B.

Bitch didn’t bat an eye while gazing into what I would later learn was the hollow, unoccupied abyss of my uterus. She didn’t show the slightest hint of emotion when I asked her, through a cascade of tears, if she could hear a heartbeat. “I’m not allowed to discuss what I see,” replied Cyborg Cindy.

About 30 minutes after the ultrasound was completed, the ER doctor reported his findings. “There are no signs of pregnancy in your uterus. The ultrasound shows significant bleeding in your right ovary, and we believe we see an ectopic pregnancy in your right fallopian tube. The bleeding and pain is likely the result of the tube rupturing, but we will need your OB to come in to confirm.”

He was perfectly nice and sympathetic when he relayed this news, but it didn’t stop me from wanting to light his face on fire.

They called my OB’s office, only to be told the on-call OB was in the middle of performing a C-section. She would get back to us in an hour. I stared at the wall and choke-sobbed, creating a list of reasons (I love lists) why this was happening to me. In true depressive form, they were all my fault.

In a not-at-all-shocking turn of events, the on-call OB at my practice finally called back to say that their doctors are not licensed to practice at Norwalk Hospital, only at Greenwich, and therefore could not come to consult. I would need to be seen by the attending OB at Norwalk.

I jotted down this hour of wasted time in excruciating pain as the final point on my “Ways This Practice Has Ass Raped Me” list (looooove lists), and vowed to never return.

The one bright spot in the story is that the attending OB then stepped in, and she was a lovely angel sent from the heavens. She had the (wee) stature, coloring, and gentle, soothing manner of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I immediately felt safe in her Jewish motherly presence (she probably wasn’t Jewish, but definitely had that “vibe,” which is a positive trait in exactly one kind of situation, and this was it). Ruth Dr. M was calm and comforting, but also knew her shit and wasn’t going to beat around the bush.

She immediately confirmed an ectopic pregnancy.

Obviously. Of all the “this-pregnancy-situation-aint-lookin-good” scenarios, Of COURSE this was an ectopic pregnancy. Because in no other body than mine would the egg and sperm go through all the trouble to meet and merge, only to then be TOO FUCKING LAZY TO MAKE THE 5 INCH** TRIP DOWN TO THEIR UTERUS HOME.

Sperm and egg were like “Hey, you wanna do this thing? Cool. So let’s just park it, crack open a can of hard seltzer (this embryo was VERY white) and netflix n’ chill here in the fallopian tube instead of, you know, doing all the stuff that requires energy.” Basically the story of my and Eric’s courtship. 

And I’m obviously in favor of the whole “meet-and-immediately-settle-down” approach but in this scenario, putting in one more tiny modicum of effort turned out to be necessary for the success of the relationship. They were lazy and they blew it.

So I had immediate emergency surgery.

The embryo had been growing in my right fallopian tube, and because it had grown to a size that exceeded the diameter of the tube, the tube had ruptured. In case you’re wondering what it feels like when an organ ruptures inside your body, stop wondering. You don’t want to know.

They put me under general anesthesia. They preformed the surgery laparoscopically, and removed my ruptured fallopian tube. The internal bleeding and inflammation was so bad at that point, the doctor told me I was extremely lucky that I came in when I did. I took that to mean I very possibly could have died, but I didn’t ask her to clarify. Even I, the masochist, didn’t want to know.

When I awoke from surgery, which took about 2 hours, I was delighted to see Ruth Bader Ginsburg– the ACTUAL Ruth Bader Ginsburg– stroking my hand and telling me I did a great job. She was super proud of me. I thanked her, then asked, “Did you come back from the dead, Ruth? I can call you Ruth, right? That’s ok? Or are you a ghost? You know what, it doesn’t matter. I’m just so glad you’re here.” At which point Ruth lovingly assured me that I was on lots and lots of drugs, and that I should stop saying words.

I stayed quiet after that, but only after asking her to please sign my water bottle.

Idk she must not have heard me.

I am now home recovering, and have been getting plenty of rest and lots of love. My mother-in-law arrived the day of surgery and took care of Nora for the following 3 days. My parents then took over on Wednesday night. They arrived with a full bottle of Grey Goose, 5 bottles of wine, and their own coffee machine. None of it was for us. Those are apparently the supplies they require in order to make it through a 48 hour stay in our home.

My respect for them runs deep.

How am I feeling? I appreciate you asking (you didn’t). I’m pretty much all over the fucking place (hence the choice to start writing. It helps.) Here’s a sample of some of the things going through my mind. Don’t worry, it’s just a pu pu platter. I won’t torture you with the full menu, as I haven’t even worked through that myself.

  1. I’m angry with my OB for not giving me an earlier ultrasound, and angry with myself for not pushing harder. I recognize she could not have prevented the ectopic pregnancy, but she could have discovered it sooner and treated it with medication, thereby saving me from this hell parade of an experience and the loss of my tube. While I know you only need one tube to get pregnant, it’s sure as shit easier with two. Plus no one likes to lose an organ if they don’t have to. Not to sound like my terrible-2 toddler, but that was MY tube, godammit. MINE! I grew it myself!
  2. I’m sad. While I never fully committed to the idea of this baby due to the anxious circumstances surrounding it from the beginning, and therefore can’t really say I feel a true sense of mourning (as I know many women do feel after a miscarriage, no matter what stage of pregnancy, and that feeling of loss and grief is always completely valid), I had still let myself get excited. I was thrilled about the idea of Nora getting a sibling– that she’d have someone to talk to, even though there is no one she’d rather talk to than herself. She’s so ready to be a big sister, and I want that for her. Badly.
  3. I’m anxious. About the future, and what this means for the family we were hoping to grow. The fact that this happened to me once means there is an increased risk of it happening again. I’ll be 39 soon. I’m down a tube. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the odds are bad– but they’re certainly decreasing.
  4. I’m annoyed. On a purely logistical level, this was a perfectly timed pregnancy for a myriad of reasons. That feels silly to even put in writing, but it’s part of the feelings shitnado, so there you have it. I’m pissed that it didn’t work out, that my meticulously planned timing has blown up in my face, and I’m overwhelmed by the idea of starting from scratch.
  5. I’m hopeful. Somehow, I’m able to wade through this shitswamp and take solace in the fact that whatever is meant to be is going to be. I often hate when people say that, but I do truly believe it in this circumstance. In many ways, I feel strong. And I agree with Ruth– I’m proud of myself for getting through this (this part, at least. I know I’m not done). I feel a new, even deeper appreciation for the one amazing, beautiful, dynamic, hilarious child I DO have. I feel once again validated in my amazing choice of partner (not that it ever needs validation– I just enjoy being right), because as always he has stepped up in every way possible. And I have not-new-but-always-growing gratitude for my incredible friends and family, who have always been there for me, this moment being no exception.

But none of this is linear. I’m deeply humbled one moment and back to angry and sad the next. Then back again. The only constant is the steadfast eating of feelings. I would like to thank “snacks” for sponsoring this miscarriage.

My body still hurts. I am still expelling remnants of a pregnancy that once carried endless possibilities, and is now just a visual reminder of hopes dashed. I know I’ll get through it, but I’m still in it.

And it’s pretty dark in here.

So thanks to those of you who have provided some light.

Especially you, Ruth.

———————————————————————————————————————

*”She got pregnant if I even looked at her funny!” – My Dad. 🤢

**Measurement entirely fabricated. 🤷‍♀️

We Love You Very Both

While there was a decent amount of ad-libbing and additional content in the live event, this is the general script of our wedding ceremony, led by our dear friends and fabulous officiants Gabi and Andrew. 

Opening Remarks (Andrew)

Welcome to the Main Event. Gabi and I are thrilled and honored to be presiding over tonight’s ceremony. How fitting that we’re gathered here, from near and far, to celebrate Emily and Eric, in the state for lovers. The famous slogan, Virginia is for Lovers, at its core, represents a love of life and a passion for travel.

We’re here to celebrate love and passion, to celebrate commitment, to celebrate friendship, and to celebrate family. Most importantly, this is a celebration of Emily and Eric, as individuals and together as one.

Emily, Eric. Look around. Everyone is here for you and your love for each other. Please take it all in.

Just before arriving to the chupah, the Jewish wedding canopy that symbolizes the home that you will build together, we, along with Emily and Eric, and witnesses Danielle and Eric, gathered to sign the Ketubah.

This important contract is your promise to trust and respect each other; to be open and honest; and to be loving and forgiving in a relationship of equality. It’s your commitment to comfort and support each other through life’s sorrow and joys, to honor your families and traditions, and help fill our world with peace and love.

About Emily (Gabi)

Emily is the funniest person that Eric has ever met. Her humor is matched only by her intelligence, beauty, and courage. She runs marathons and runs her own small business, yet always makes time for the important things in life: Family, friends, and Facebook.

As I look around this room, I see smiles from all parts of Emily’s journey here today. Em grew up on the mean streets of Potomac, Maryland, with countless summers spent at Camp Robindel (although Steve could probably count them). At Penn, Em expanded her horizons — making friends from Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, and even one Houstonian (diversity). She became a scholar of Sociology, which led to a career in education, molding young minds as Miss Emily. It’s with an impressive balance of levity and gravity — and emoji — that she shares her thoughts and feelings with the readers of Emily’s Posts. But it is her dedication to family — the Sibling Dinners, her love of the Boog, the way she adores Big Steve and Charla — it’s those strong family values that make Emily who she is today and who she will become tomorrow.

When we asked those closest to Emily to describe her, we heard things like, “Em is a bundle of hilarity, awkwardness, sarcasm, and kindness rolled into one…. She is generous… She is compassionate… she doesn’t judge. She supports everyone’s journeys, no matter where they may lead…” And — our most popular answer — “she makes Eric the happiest we’ve ever seen him.”

About Eric (Andrew)

Eric is a lighting rod of excitement. When we were writing this, I asked Gabi, “Do think excitement is the word that best describes him?,” and without hesitation, she said, “Yep. He’s like a golden retriever that always wants to lick his owner’s face.”

But Eric is more. He’s personable, charming, and outgoing. He can talk intelligently about pretty much everything, and these are the exact reasons that make him Emily’s match.

And what he lacks in hair, he makes up in resilience, optimism, and perseverance – often in the pursuit of fun. (He once even tore his ACL just so I could use the handicap bathroom at a music festival.)

Cuddly but muscular, Eric has great values, great friends, and great moves on the dance floor – just wait – and Emily, like no one else on earth, you bring out his best.

About Couple (Gabi)

I know there are a few lawyers here tonight. Oh, excuse me, I’m sorry — I know there are a few DOZEN lawyers here tonight. So I feel it important to cite a little known statute – Federal Guideline 38.33 – otherwise known as Lerman’s Law, the rule that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong… for only Emily. It’s pretty much Murphy’s Law, but with greater anxiety and a lower tolerance for lactose. Sure, during our college years, we may have broken a few rules here and there, but the one Emily just could not escape was Lerman’s Law. For example, she takes an awkward step — most would maybe twist an ankle. Emily’s avian bones put her in a cast for months. Then there’s her travel record. Is there a suitcase lost or a flight canceled? You can bet it’s Emily’s. And in a city of 9 million people and 25,000 restaurants, Emily and Eric’s fourth date takes place at a table directly next to a high school acquaintance who blabs on about Emily’s dating blog… that she hasn’t told Eric about yet.

Yes, Emily started this relationship with a big ol’ secret. But Eric was not so innocent either. You see, Eric shares the same name with the lead character of Emily’s favorite TV show, Coach Eric Taylor of Friday Night Lights. When Eric learned how much this thrilled Emily, he rrrrreally leaned into the joke, an early commonality to bring the two closer together. The only problem? He was a liar. He had never seen a single episode. So for the next two months, Eric secretly watched all five seasons to make good on this white lie.

Secrets and lies. The foundation of any strong relationship.

Both of these stories happened in their earliest weeks together, yet each signals the most important truths for Eric and Emily.

First, their love is honest. Their love is free from judgment or shame. Each accepts and embraces the other’s whole being with eyes wide open. Clear eyes.

Second, their love is limitless, boundless, endless. They are overflowing with joy, laughter, friendship, partnership, music, and dance. In good times and in bad, their hearts are full.

It’s with great pride — and legal authority — that today we mark the official end to Lerman’s Law as Emily and Eric officially become The Taylors. The start of a new episode for these two – this one filled with good luck, in good health, with love and laughter. Because together — with clear eyes and full hearts — Eric and Emily simply can’t lose.

Acknowledgements (Andrew)
Before proceeding, we would like to make a few acknowledgements:

Thank you to everyone here today, loving family and loyal friends.

We would also like to honor Grandma Bibby, whose presence is certainly felt but isn’t able to join us here.
Additionally, we would like to honor the memory of:
Grandpa George
Grandma Betty
Grandpa Seymour
Nanny City, and
Grandpa Rusty,
whose spirit resides among us today. May their memories be an inspiration to us and always remain in our hearts.

Wine (Andrew)

Wine is the Jewish people’s symbol for joy and celebration; a symbol of the richness of life and the sweetness of love.

This Kiddush cup, passed down from Emily’s family, symbolizes you, Eric and Emily, coming together to share one life. Remember to fill it with forgiveness, understanding, appreciation, and wine. Lots of wine.

“Baruch atta adoni, ello heynu meleth ha olum, ba ray pre hagufan.”

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the Fruit of the Vine.

Now please both take a sip. As you share this wine together, may you share happiness and fulfillment from the cup of life.

It is my tradition, and Gabi now yours, too, to also have a sip of wine to thank God for giving us the opportunity to perform this mitzvah.

Shehecheyanu (Gabi)

In my family, on momentous occasions, we say another prayer – the Shehecheyanu – to give thanks for all the blessings in life that have brought us here today.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam,
shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, oh Lord our God, King of the Universe,
for giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this very special day.

Amen.

Vows & Rings (Gabi)

Your rings are powerful symbols and constant reminders that your love for each other is never-ending and ever-lasting.

(Andrew) Eric, Please place the ring on Emily’s finger and repeat after me:

Emily, I give you this ring

As a reminder that I will love, honor, and cherish you

In all times, in all places, and in all ways, forever.

(Gabi) Emily, Please place the ring on Eric’s finger and repeat after me:

Eric, I give you this ring

As a reminder that I will love, honor, and cherish you

In all times, in all places, and in all ways, forever.

Breaking the Glass

(Andrew) It’s tradition at the end of a Jewish wedding that a glass is broken. It serves as a reminder that just as pieces of a broken glass can never be put back together, marriage changes the lives of individuals forever.

Throughout this ceremony, you’ve vowed in our presence, to be loyal and loving towards each other. Therefore, it is my pleasure to pronounce you husband and wife. Eric, take care of that glass, and you may now kiss the bride.

(Gabi) Throughout this ceremony, Eric and Emily, you’ve vowed in our presence, to be loyal and loving towards each other. We love you both and it’s our great pleasure to officially pronounce you husband and wife.

**Not in the script but best line of the ceremony from Andrew, and now unofficial hashtag of our wedding: “We love you very both”**

 

#cleareyesfullheartstwojews

A friend of ours, Shaun, is designing a wedding trinket for us and using our wedding hashtag, #cleareyesfullheartstwojews on the design (If you don’t watch Friday Night Lights, and don’t know we are The Taylors, then there is nothing I can do to help you understand or appreciate this hashtag. I’m sorry.)

Shaun also runs his own business. While designing our trinket, he was simultaneously emailing a potential new client. In this email, he meant to cut and paste a standard questionnaire that goes out to all potential new clients.

Instead, he accidentally cut and pasted our hashtag, and hit send before realizing.

Literally wrote:

Hi Allison,
#cleareyesfullheartstwojews
Thanks!

-Shaun

The client signed.

img_1292-1

I Will Never Stop Wishing

IMG_2372.JPG

Four years ago, Ari Johnson, an incredible human being and dear friend, took his own life. On this anniversary of his death, here’s a little known story that I’ve never shared publicly, but think about all the time, particularly on this day.

It’s no secret that I struggle with my mental health. There were certainly incidents throughout my childhood that indicated an issue, but my first semester as a freshman at Penn is when things really started to spiral out of control. I was on my own for the first time, and the anxiety was skyrocketing. I cried all the time and felt completely and utterly alone. My sister Steph was a junior at Penn at the time, but she was spending that first semester abroad in Australia. I certainly had some friends on campus who I had known before college, so I wasn’t actually alone– but my god did I feel that way. Because that’s what depression does.

Ari was a very close friend of Steph’s, and a senior at the time. I had met him dozens of times when I was a high schooler visiting my sister at Penn, and he was the best. Just a super chill, friendly, funny, laid back guy. The first week of my freshman year, his fraternity, TEP, had a party, and he told me to come by and bring all my friends. I gathered the acquaintances I knew and headed over to the “TEP Deck.” It was a crowded mob scene, as first-week-of-college parties tend to be. Ari saw me and told everyone to move the hell out of the way and let his friend Emily, and all her friends, come in. It was absurd but fantastic– and at age 18, yeah, it made me feel super fucking cool.

Ari totally took me under his wing that first semester while Steph was away. He could see that I was kind of struggling, and wanted to be the surrogate older sibling in the absence of my sister. This was certainly not his job, but he made it so. Because that’s just who he was.

I started confiding in Ari more and more as the weeks went on, because he was one of the few people on campus I felt I could relate to. While he never explicitly said it, I sensed a darkness in him. An underlying, inner battle. There’s a certain kinship that exists among people with mental health issues– we can sense it in others, even when they haven’t sensed it yet in themselves. Something about the conversations Ari and I had led me to believe that deep down, he was struggling, too.

But I never asked. I didn’t feel it was my place, and I sensed he probably didn’t want to discuss it.

Words cannot express how much I regret that.

About a month into freshman year, my anxiety and depression began to take the form of bulimia. I was living each day grasping at strings, and bingeing and purging was the only method I had for feeling in-control (the ultimate irony, because nothing says “out of control” more than eating a meal for 5 and then shoving your finger down your throat). By the second month of college, I was making myself throw up 3-4 times a day.

One day I just grew weary. Shortly after a purge, staring at my bloodshot eyes in the mirror, I got so damn tired of carrying this secret. It was at that moment that Ari sent me an instant message (remember those?!) asking me what’s up. I responded, “I think I might be bulimic.”

I told him everything. He responded with immediate, genuine concern, and told me I needed to get help at the student health center. At the very least, he said, I needed to tell my family. That’s when I panicked and tried to backtrack. I didn’t want my family to know. I didn’t want to disappoint or worry anyone. I just wanted to tell Ari so that I could get it off my chest– but really, I was fine. 

I was 100% not fine. But I tried to downplay what was happening. I told Ari it wasn’t that big a deal, I was just having a bad day, this was all under control. I begged him not to tell my sister. By the end of the conversation, I was sure I had convinced him that a little bulimia was not really a genuine health concern, and that I’d be fine.

But Ari was no idiot. And he had too much heart to sit back and do nothing. He did exactly what he should have done– he told my sister. And then, immediately after telling her, he told me that he had told her. And that was the first step in my realizing that this was a real problem, and that I needed help.

Knowing that I now had no choice but to take action, I immediately confided in another friend of mine, and she took me to the student health center. It was the first time in my life that I had ever been evaluated for the state of my mental health. Needless to say, I did not pass. I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. The doctor was amazed I had made it this far without doing something truly drastic, seeing as though I was waking up every day hating myself and feeling so utterly alone. I was put on medication and set up with a doctor for talk therapy. I have been in treatment ever since, and can’t even fathom where I’d be today if I hadn’t taken those beginning steps to acknowledge and understand what was happening to me.

In that sense, I truly feel I owe Ari my life. I wish I could have told him that while he was still alive. I wish I could have told him that in recognizing my pain, taking it seriously, and putting me on the path to getting the help I needed, he did more to save my life than he will ever know.

And I will never stop wishing that I had done the same for him.

——————————

If you know someone struggling, say something. Don’t be afraid to have the conversation. There are no wrong words– if you think someone is suicidal, ask them. Urge them to get help. Remind them that you care.

If you’re looking for a way to help someone today, there are two links to fabulous causes below. The first is for Active Minds, a mental health organization that is extremely dear to my heart, and whose ultimate goal is to change the conversation about mental health, creating a world where no one has to feel alone in his or her struggle.

The second is a link to the Ari Johnson Memorial Scholarship– started by my family, this scholarship will keep  Ari’s memory and impact alive, and will be awarded to a student at Penn who shows dedication to overcoming adversity and disadvantage, including but not limited to the area of mental health challenges and advocacy.  

Active Minds Giving

Ari Johnson Memorial Scholarship

Hope

*Disclaimer: This post is not meant to represent the experience or feelings of anyone but myself. I recognize that crawling out of depression and Trump being president are not universally analogous, nor is the comparison relevant to most people out there, especially the people most potentially threatened by his presidency. This is simply a personal, self-indulgent journaling of how I am processing my emotions and looking to stay positive and make sense of things in a time that is overwhelmingly challenging to do so. But mostly, it’s just an ode to a dear friend.

———————————-

Today I received this email from a dear friend…

hope.jpg

Nine years ago, this same friend came to visit me in my darkest hour. I was living with my parents in Maryland, in the midst of an extremely serious depressive episode. I had left my job and my life in Philadelphia. I was literally sleeping in my parents’ bed, between them, too afraid to be alone with my thoughts. Despair was eating my insides. I couldn’t function, couldn’t eat, could barely breathe. Dressing myself was a challenge. I had lost any semblance of the life I had known and loved, and I saw absolutely no path to getting it back.

And then this friend came in from NY to visit. He dragged me into DC and forced me on a tour of our nation’s capital. And as we sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he promised me hope.

I didn’t believe him. I couldn’t see how that was possible. I couldn’t see past the very moment I was trapped in. I couldn’t imagine how I’d ever be able to function again, how I’d ever be able to take a breath that didn’t feel shallow. I couldn’t imagine ever holding a job. I couldn’t imagine being able to connect with anyone, on any level, ever again. If I couldn’t even imagine these simplest of human tasks, the idea of ever living a fulfilling, productive life seemed completely out of my reach. I wanted to die.

But this friend insisted on hope. He insisted that progress doesn’t happen in a straight line– but that eventually, we always move forward. He promised me I’d not only get my life back, but this painful experience would, in time, lead to an even better, more connected life than the one I had before.

I protested. He protested back. Eventually, too bone-tired and sad to argue, I nodded. My heart wanted to believe him but my mind told me he was full of shit.

Shortly after his visit, life began to change. It wasn’t instant and it wasn’t easy. It took work. It took a LOT of support from those around me. It took a damn village. It took faith. It took forcing myself into action. It took constantly reminding myself that no matter the setback, everything was going to be ok.

Today I not only function, I thrive. Today I not only breathe, I breathe deeply. Today I not only work, I have my own business. Today I not only connect, I get to marry and share my life with the most incredible man I’ve ever known.

My friend was right. My life is better today than the life I was living before my darkest hour. Not only because I survived the despair, but because I learned from it. It opened my eyes. It gave me perspective. It made me more empathetic. It deepened my connections with others. It inspired me to give back. It forced me to speak out. It sprung me into action, and inspired me to work on myself and stand up for others every chance I get. It made me realize that I have to cherish, appreciate, and look for the good if I want to ensure that darkness will never win in the end.

So thank you, friend. I needed this reminder of hope today. And not because there aren’t other messages of hope out there. There certainly are, thank god.

But you are a source I can trust.