Dear Amanda Lauren

Dear Amanda Lauren,

It still disgusts me that you were so cruel in your @xojanedotcom piece about someone you once considered your friend. Not just to her, but to her family, to her true friends, to people with schizoaffective disorder, to the mental health community in general, and to the people who have friends or family with mental health issues. To claim that you were doing it to boost awareness is frightening. You didn’t boost awareness of anyone or anything except yourself or your hunger for fame.

You clearly crave drama. Your other pieces seem to indicate this, as did, let’s not mince words, cyberstalking your former friend. You didn’t need to see what was being said about you. You chose to either because something in you felt more alive with this young woman as your adversary or you felt like her hate justified some level of hatred you have for yourself. The Internet allows people to give into self-destructive urges like that. You should work on that because it will not only be potentially harmful to your career, but it will push away people who make up your support system.

You should apologize to everyone harmed by your words, especially the family of your friend. I hope they didn’t read your piece, but if they did, then I can only imagine how that impacted them. Did you even think about them? Did you bother to ask permission to memorialize their loved one as a lost cause? Or were you too busy concentrating on the fame and drama this kind of story might get you?

Whatever your reason, it was the wrong thing to do. You should be ashamed not of sharing your name but of hurting people so viciously. You shouldn’t try advocating on behalf of people who have chronic illnesses who you see as being undeserving of life because they’re sick. Your words were not wanted and your advocacy is unneeded.

Apologize. Learn from your mistakes and don’t do this again. The attention you got was not worth it.

from Destigmatize Me http://ift.tt/20kIAvg
via IFTTT

How We Remember 

I don’t know why I needed to know her name, but it didn’t find long to discover it. A few details and suddenly this woman who had been dehumanized by someone who was once her friend had her name and history restored to her. She was whole again. I know a fake name was likely meant to “protect” the privacy of her family, but it just seemed like a way to further diminish her. 

“Leah” deserved more respect than Amanda Lauren gave her.

She was more than her disease and she deserves to be remembered for more than her mental illness. She was a person. She was also a daughter, sister, friend, writer, actress, yoga instructor, and graduate of Tisch at NYU. She was loved.

This is how we should remember her. 

In the obituary, her family asked that donations be made to the Stella Adler Studio of Acting at NYU-Tisch. If you want to do so and can afford to do so, then I think that would be an awesome way to remember this young woman. 

Defined Parameters

“You know how I don’t like to describe people or the things they do as evil? What she wrote was truly evil.”

That was how I described Amanda Lauren’s essay describing an ex-friend’s life with schizoaffective disorder and that friend’s death to my mother. I had already ranted to my father and complained on social media. I couldn’t tell my mom that this total stranger was happy her mentally ill friend was dead. I knew that if I told her that that I would break down. Each time I’ve thought about what was written, I’ve had to stop myself from crying or screaming or begging to be taken to the hospital because my mind starts going down the all too familiar path of my-friends-and-family-would-probably-be-happy-if-I-died-too. It was probably a path that “Leah” was familiar with as well.

There was always something about her that wasn’t quite right.

Lauren’s essay is narcissistic drivel at best. Her friend wasn’t living up to a standard that she expected of her, so she wrote her off. She could justify this lack of understanding by saying her friend failed her. 

“Leah” didn’t clean her house, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” didn’t have steady relationships, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” was a cam girl, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” had delusions, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” pursued her crush and failed in a job Lauren secured for her, so she was undeserving of respect. “Leah” had body image issues, so she was undeserving of respect. 

It didn’t stop at her friend’s failures. The friend’s parents also failed her. Because “Leah”‘s parents didn’t magically cure their daughter of an incurable disease, they failed their daughter and failed Lauren because now she had to deal with their daughter’s erratic behavior. Every struggle “Leah” went through was actually harder on Lauren because the world is apparently all about her.1

Lauren’s lack of compassion was horrid, but her choice to use a platform like xoJane during Mental Health Awareness Month to publish a tale highlighting her ignorance was almost worse. This is a month when mental health patients, caregivers, advocates, and healthcare providers try to educate others. It’s a month to become more considerate of the day-to-day struggles for mentally ill people. Lauren and xoJane could have explained what schizoaffective disorder is, how it impacts people who have the issue, and why they behave the way that they do. They could have explored the actual suffering of “Leah” and not focused on the self-involvement of Lauren. 

I can’t understand how a parent would let their child go on like this. Clearly, she was suffering and severely ill. If her disease were physical, would they have let her deteriorate to that point?

Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic illness. It is sometimes considered a spectrum disorder because it involves overlapping symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder. It is not as well understood as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression because it isn’t studied as often and is less common; it is seen in 0.3% of the population compared to 1.1%, 2.6%, and 6.7% for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, respectively. It isn’t well recognized by doctors or therapists; a lot of patients with it are diagnosed with a mood disorder or with schizophrenia first. It impacts men and women at the same rate, but, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, men typically develop it earlier than women. It can be treated, in most cases, by self-management, medication, and therapy, but people who have it are at risk for substance use disorders, suicide, attention deficit disorder, and anxiety disorders. Schizoaffective disorder is caused by genetics, brain chemistry, brain structure, stress, and drug use.

There are two types of schizoaffective disorder: bipolar and depressive. If the person has mixed or manic episodes, they have the bipolar type; otherwise, it’s the depressive. Unlike other situations, it’s actually better to have the bipolar type. Having it is less likely to result in suicide than having the depressive type. It is considered by some mental health professionals to be more severe than mood disorders, but less severe than schizophrenia. 

Because it is classified alongside schizophrenia as a psychotic disorder, it is more difficult to find providers willing to treat it. And treatments may be harmful to patients. Or they may not work. 

In my case, I have had many therapists “pass me off” to colleagues. I have tried multiple antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. I’ve had many that didn’t work. Most have caused weight gain, including two that caused gains of fifty pounds or more. I’ve had seizures as a result of one medication. I’ve had a variety of less severe reactions to others. I even developed a temporary medicine-induced case of hyperthyroidism. Eventually I was switched to a high dose of an antidepressant, somewhat regular therapy, and self-management. 

I will always have this disorder. My parents can’t make it go away. Medicine can’t either. 

But I can cut people like Amanda Lauren out of my life. She thought “Leah” was toxic because of her issues, but, from my perspective, it was Lauren who was toxic. Yes, there were negative behaviors exhibited by “Leah”, but she was only behaving that way because of her illness. What was Lauren’s excuse? Why was she so petty, so judgmental? And why did she feel the need to cast herself in the role of victim? Why does she feel no shame in her words? 

I don’t understand how one person can be so selfish, petty, and cruel. As those are personality traits that can be traced back to parenting, I wonder why her parents let her attitude deteriorate to this point. Shouldn’t they have done something before their child became this remorseless beacon of hate?

Photo credit: Cameron Bathory via Visualhunt.com / CC BY
Updated: May 21, 2016 at 7:42 pm: Changed link to essay to one from archive.is as the Google cache link has updated to the “apology” by Jane Pratt


  1. Donald Trump could replace Melania with her. They’d be perfect for one another. 

I Can’t Live, If Living Is Without Sweat

I got another call from the nurse of the family medicine doctor today about the lack of sweat. She (the doctor) is still of the opinion that the rheumatologist is the best option. When I told the nurse what happened, she suggested that I just wait until the next appointment so I could tell the doctor. When I told her that my next appointment would be in around four months, she was a little less comfortable with the idea of me waiting. When I asked if she thought the family doctor might have an idea for a referral to a different specialty, she said that they wanted it going through the rheumatologist. So I decided to wait. 

My mom, on the other hand, decided that the weather that occurs in the southeastern United States during the summer was too dangerous to risk that long of a wait;12 she called the office to talk to the nurse.3

Guess. What. Happened. 

The nurse said I’d talked to the doctor on Wednesday.4 She said the doctor recommended I go to a walk-in for a potentially life-threatening condition.5 She said that nothing I see the rheumatologist for could cause a lack of sweat & that they don’t treat anything that causes that.6 

My mother wasn’t having that, so this nurse said that she would talk to the rheumatologist, if he was still at the office,7 to see what he thought. Within an hour, she got a call back. 

 He still didn’t think anything he treats me8 for, but that he will reevaluate me in two weeks. He doubts there’s anything wrong that he treats me for, but he will check to see if there’s anything new wrong with me. Not to worry, when he checks, absolutely nothing will be wrong. There’s no possible way for me to actually be sick because I just have “loose” joints and need to get more sleep. This isn’t me being a defeatist or cynical. It isn’t me wanting to trash some well-meaning doctor who actually gives a fuck about what’s going on, but who I’m maligning for no good reason. This is me realizing that my rheumatologist has a tendency to be lazy asshole when it comes to actually treating me. This isn’t just my interpretation of his behavior. Anyone who has accompanied me to the appointment and met the man has the same assessment of him. He is dismissive. He is abrupt. He is out the door before I’m able to open my mouth and get words out.9

So I’m not anticipating any change in my condition any time soon. 

Photo via Visualhunt


  1. From the Mayo Clinic: Anhidrosis is the inability to sweat normally. When you don’t sweat (perspire), your body can’t cool itself, which can lead to overheating and sometimes to heatstroke — a potentially fatal condition. 

  2. From the U.S. National Library of Medicine & the NIH: An abnormal lack of sweat in response to heat may be harmful, because sweating allows heat to be released from the body. The medical term for absent sweating is anhidrosis. 

  3. You can’t be surprised by her lack of boundaries. 

  4. Nope. 

  5. He may have told the nurse this. He did not tell me this. If he had, I’d be even more distressed by a doctor wanting me to go to a walk-in for something so serious. 

  6. I’ve come to the conclusion that my rheumatologist doesn’t bother to actually treat anything. 

  7. His hours are like four hours a day, two days a week. 

  8. Treats means a yearly appointment that he spends three to five minutes in max, ignores what I say, tells me to lose weight, ignores anything I say about dryness or subluxated joints, says soft braces and plenty of sleep will fix issues that end up requiring surgery, and prescribes another twelve months of Flexeril, even if I tell him that it’s not even working. This has been going on for years now. 

  9. Anxiety makes actually speaking about what’s wrong very difficult. If I can get a doctor or anyone else to give me a minute to adjust, I can actually talk to them to some degree. I can even stand up for myself sometimes. 

A Professional Athlete in the Making

As you may have figured out, members of my family tend to be a little bit challenged in basic coordination. Put simply, if falling on our asses or into the asses of other people1 was an Olympic sport, we would win it every four years. Hell, we could win the summer and winter versions of it, so it’d be like a medal-palooza every two years. Other clumsy families would be so freaking2 jealous.3 

Wait. What was this post supposed to be about? Oh, yeah. 

On Friday evening, Nana fell at the nursing home. They called us at seven o’clock on Saturday morning.4 There were assurances that she seemed to be doing fine. All that they thought was wrong was some bruising, which is another Olympic sport my family could dominate in.5 Nana was still able to get up and move around. 

They weren’t worried.

We weren’t worried. 

But Nana’s BFF was worried. Mary didn’t think her leg seemed okay, so she called my mom on Tuesday evening. Before my mom could call and let the center know that Nana’s friend was worried, the nursing home called to tell us that they were doing a Doppler study on her leg because (she started complaining about it hurting worse so) they thought there was a blood clot in it.6 But there wasn’t a single blood clot in her leg. Don’t start cheering about that because I’m being really literal. Nana had two blood clots in her femoral vein.7 Now, Nana is going on Xarelto, so obviously…

Nana is going to be the next major pro-athlete in the commercials. 

I’ve already shown just how much my family could kick ass if everyday things were Olympic events, so the pharmaceutical companies have got to call us, right? Right.8

I’m not sure if telling my doctor that I have yet another relative with blood clots would be a good idea. She may want to confiscate my norethindrone. That would be awful for everyone.9 And it would be a bloody mess. Literally.10 But I guess it’s a case of better red than dead.11 Though I guess it could end in my death via anemia or exsanguination.12 Yeah, so…bleh. 

But Nana’s totally okay, except for she’s on total bed rest until the clots dissolve.13


  1. Another story for another day. 

  2. Did I just do a faux obscenity? God, I hate those. I should’ve just said fucking

  3. Humble bragging is losers. 

  4. No words. 

  5. Be jealous. 

  6. Hey, look at yet another thing we excel at. 

  7. Go big or go home, amirite? 

  8. Given how wackadoodle some bloggers have been lately, I feel the need to point out that I don’t believe this crazy shit. Nana does have a clot. My family does have a history of those, easy bruising, and falling. 

  9. Don’t make me take my earrings out. 

  10. TMI, sorry. 

  11. Without the pro-Soviet or pro-Badgers implications. 

  12. Say that word ten times fast. 

  13. And I’m okay except my nightly Flexeril is making me a little weirder than usual. 

Can’t Sweat Any of the Stuff

I’m not sure how much I’ve talked about this on here, but here goes. I have trouble regulating my body temperature. I don’t sweat enough to cool down. I don’t exactly know why. It’s probably due to one connective tissue issue or another. 

Not sweating can be dangerous, especially when exercising,12 so when I saw the family practice doctor today, I told her. She said I should talk to my rheumatologist or his nurse. I called the rheumatologist’s office & the nurse told me that she’d never heard of anhidrosis/hypohidrosis34 and that I should call: (a.) my endocrinologist,56 (b.) family doctor,7 or (c.) go to a walk-in clinic.8  I asked was she sure that Sjögren’s/UCTD couldn’t possibly cause a person to not sweat. She assured me that lack of sweat has absolutely nothing to do with either condition.9 And I’m sorry, but who goes to a walk-in clinic for an issue that even a speciality clinic is saying they’re unfamiliar with? Why would you even recommend that?10 If you’re going to recommend calling a doctor, why not recommend a dermatologist or a neurologist. I no longer have either of those, but at least skin and the nervous system have something to do with a lack of perspiration. 

I called the family practice clinic back and asked them to leave a message for my doctor. They said she’d call back. She didn’t. I guess maybe it’s been queued for sometime later, but I am not going to hold my breath on it. 

I am frustrated that some offices don’t take real problems seriously.11 And I am even more frustrated that I cannot change to doctors/offices who/that do care because of insurance.12

Photo credit: Kullez via VisualHunt.com / CC BY


  1. On the 18th, when it was 80°F outside, I went for a 45 minute walk & a 18 minute walk. I came back when the left side of my head felt like it was being destroyed by some very angry person with a hammer. I was nauseated, had some gross intestinal issues, my muscles were cramping, my skin was bright red, and I had one or two drops of sweat on my face. The rest of me was dry. It took 3 days to recover. 

  2. I tried a short walk this week in cooler weather with similar outcomes, but recovered in hours. 

  3. the actual terms for the issue 

  4. I used lay terms while describing the issue. 

  5. I don’t have an endocrinologist. 

  6. Sweat glands are part of the exocrine system anyway, not the endocrine system. 

  7. The one that said to call her. 

  8. Yeah, really. 

  9. That’s why NIH has 14 pages of journal articles on Sjögren’s and anhidrosis. Because there is absolutely no link at all. Ever. And why it’s actually something that has been known to impact patients with Sjögren’s, Ehlers-Danlos, UCTD, MCTD, Fibromyalgia, Dysautonomia, etc., which are all treated by…rheumatologists! 

  10. And when it’s a condition that can be fatal? No, you don’t ship someone to a doc-in-the-box when you can’t be assed to understand potential symptoms of diseases you treat every day. 

  11. And, in case someone wants to launch into some rant about how they think I’m making this up, go talk to a wall. It will give you all the attention you deserve. 

  12. The American medical system is super fucked up. 

Dearest Marie

Once upon a time, we were friends. We would email each other, talk on Twitter, comment on each other’s blogs, etc. It was nice. You and I were both diagnosed as Bipolar and it was nice to have someone around my age to talk to about that. You weren’t my only friend with that issue, but for a while there you were one of the closest. When you got your lap-band surgery done, I remember worrying because you couldn’t keep down food, but you didn’t want to tell your doctor because you were finally losing weight. I worried you would have nutritional deficiencies before I realized I had them. 

And you told me you worried about my health issues as well. 
 a year ago I told one person she had harassed thisThat’s why you felt the need when you were diagnosed with “Chronic Lyme Disease” to suggest I might have it as well.1 You told me that it fit my symptoms. You told me I might be able to go off my meds, lose weight, and live a life off without chronic pain if I’d just go to a Lyme specialist.2 And for a split second, I considered it.3 But then I researched it, something that you should have known I would do. When I told you that I didn’t think an infection was causing my hereditary condition,4 you huffed off like a toddler for a while before you came roaring back into my life. 

Our friendship never recovered from that, did it?

Or maybe our friendship was nonexistent from the beginning. That’s what I started thinking tonight as your tirade came in. Well, I did after I described your past behaviors, including that close friendship with a certain blogger that used to write fat-shaming posts pretty regularly, and some people started pointing out that friends don’t really act like you’ve acted. I tried to defend you. You’re bipolar and off your meds…you are just on a Lyme disease kick…you’re just having a bad day or week or month or year. 

But that doesn’t explain it. 

Because the reality is that you’ve always had a shady edge to your behavior. 

Like how you harassed one mutual friend over her past drug issues and how that compared to your Lyme disease. Or the time you harassed another person I know and you know of over her exercising routine and her teeth. Or maybe the time you went after another mutual friend calling her a bad parent for having an autistic child and eating gluten. Or maybe how you treated total strangers should have clued me in. You trolled groups for disabled people on Twitter to promote your “everything is Lyme” mindset. You said people who didn’t buy marijuana5 off the street, not from reputable/regulated dealers, for their epileptic children were bad parents. You would even buy marijuana, in a state where it’s illegal, to make homemade CBD oil & you’d brag about it on social media. You didn’t care who you hurt, whether it was a friend, a family member, a stranger, or yourself. 

 So your nonsensical transphobic tirade fits with the rest of your utter disregard and lack of even basic compassion for other people. And I am so happy my eyes are open to your cruelty. I’m glad that I am no longer having to hope that one day you’ll go back on your medicine and into therapy and be all better. Clearly, this is what the real you is like.

I don’t know why you think the transgender community wants to strip you of your rights any more than I know why you fixated on Lyme. I don’t understand why you think I’m brainwashed when you’re the person actually buying into speculation and denying facts. I don’t know why you think that it’s okay to compare the LGBTQ community to Nazis or why you think there’s a vast conspiracy to brainwash children into being trans.

Do you think that I’m going to molest children because of my past? Would you not trust me to be around children if I didn’t identify as 100% heterosexual? I mean before you determined that I was brainwashed by my trans friends.

Was I a threat then?

Am I one now?

Have you always thought of me as a dangerous person?

Did you really think I was threatening you?

These are things I wanted to ask you.

I don’t usually give people who pick fights with me multiple chances to walk away. I don’t warn them like I did you. You’ve seen me argue and you know this.

You have to at least know I would never beat you up. I’ve slapped one person in my whole life and I still feel bad about that. I mean, come on, this is me. I rant online, but I’m practically a pacifist. 

Identifying as transgender is not a result of child molestation. Being a  non-heterosexual is not the result of child molestation. This is a bullshit belief that even total homophobes and transphobes don’t express that much anymore. And being gay or trans doesn’t mean someone will molest children.

Don’t believe what fear- and hate-mongers want you to believe.

Don’t put your faith in people who won’t be honest with you.

Did you even bother to look for a legitimate source on any of those articles? Ooh. Tabloids. So trust-worthy, especially ones with links to UKIP, BNP, & Tories. But I guess that fits with your fear-mongering and with your love of Trump.6 I always knew you were a Republican, but I never realized how much hatred you carry in your heart.7

You want me to be educated on this issue, but you’re forgetting that I actually am educated. Remember early in our friendship when I was being booted from my college major with one semester left? Or that what that major was in? I know a Social Work degree and a GRE score high enough to get my Master’s is not as impressive as being able to make your own CBD oil, but it’s close, right?

I shouldn’t mock you over a lack of education. Plenty of non-bigoted intelligent people don’t go to college. Some don’t even finish high school. Your ignorance has nothing to do with your level of educational attainment or lack thereof. It really all boils down to a lack of something a little closer to the heart. 

I don’t know why I’m even bothering. 

I guess it’s to give myself closure. 

So, I’ll slam the metaphorical door on this oddity we once called friendship. I’ll bid you adieu. I hope one day you find a way to truly enjoy the world and have a good life. I just want you to know that you’re not welcome back in mine. 


  1. Or that’s how I rationalized it. 

  2. Magic beans. 

  3. Magic beans aren’t real. 

  4. Science! 

  5. Quite frankly, your belief that everything is some sinister plot if you would just take your damn medication. You might feel even better if you would stop smoking marijuana. Bipolar disorder and pot do not always mix well. Even activists for decriminalization and legalization understand that some people with some conditions cannot use it. 

  6. Even amongst Trumplodytes, your hatred is off the chart. And he’s courting actual neo-Nazis. 

  7. There are a lot of good-hearted, well-meaning Republicans out there. They get lumped in with the trash way too often, even by me.