Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Runner DOWN and 4 Words NOT To Say to Someone Going Through a Hard Time

I won't bore you with all the nitty gritty details of this injury. Oh, hell, maybe I will. Because if you are injured you know misery loves company.

So, after three doctor visits and one PT visit, I know I have a severe tear of my hamstring, maybe up to 50%. I was astounded at the bruising, I've never seen anything like that on my body before. Finally, as of yesterday and ten days out from the dreaded fall, I am moving around a bit better and not in so much pain.

Very nice pattern and color scheme. If this were a painting I would call it, "Rocky Mountain Contusion"

I have to tell you - I had prided myself on remaining injuring free for so long with smart training and listening to my body. Then to have this sudden injury that felt very "stupid" and unnecessary was a tough pill to swallow. It took me ten days, lots of wine and Netflix pity parties and many naps to finally surrender to what is going on and to accept I won't run for awhile. One of my favorite races, the Bolder Boulder 10k, is Monday, so of course I'll miss that (but I will get a very expensive t-shirt!). Also, my 50k is out of the question. After many months of training, that's tough, but it is what it is (a phrase I'm not so fond of - sounds dumb - of course it is what it is. What the fuck else would it be??)

I've had a lot of time to think over the past week and a half about why running is so important to me and why it is so hard to fill that void. Why does no other hobby do the trick? Who am I without running?

The thing is - many places of my life feel a bit in flux right now. I am tiring of my job and wondering what my "second act" will be as I get older. My kids need me much less and at this time next year, Ken and I will be empty-nesters. Although in good health, my parents are getting older and are both almost 80.

In all of the uncertainties and stressors of every day life, running is my crutch. It represents strength, perseverance, consistency, predictability, joy, accomplishment. It's my rock and I am lost without it. I don't think knitting, prostituting or playing ping pong would have the same effect.

So, what now?

Well, PT yesterday made me feel like I was doing something. I had dry needling and learned how to tape my leg with the sport's medicine form of duct tape (leuko tape). I can do some very light stretching, strengthening. It's not a lot, but it's something.

My goal now is to be healthy enough to run (slowly) the Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay in mid-July. That gives me about 8 weeks. Our team signed up months ago and if I can do it, I will do it.

In all of the supportive comments I've gotten, one in particular sticks out as not so supportive. I know there are good intentions behind this, but I hate the phrase, "It could be worse!"

Of course it could always be worse. I could have torn both hamstrings while getting robbed and struck by lightening. It can always also be better.  "It could be worse" dismissive and minimizing. Why not just stay, "Sorry, that sucks" and move on?

Believe me I realize that my injury is very minor in the scope of things, but it is MY injury and it alters MY life and I'm allowed to have a response to that. No, I'm not going to sit around crying about it for the next few months, but just because it could be worse - does that mean I can't respond with anger, sadness and frustration?

Well, there you go. That's my update/vent. On the bright side, Heidi and I have had amazing experiences at the hospital (hospice) this week and last. The healing effect that dogs have on people is phenomenal. She is such a gift.

How do you fill the running void when you're injured?

Best/worst comments you've gotten when you're going through a hard time?

Do you volunteer anywhere? If so, where?


Monday, May 14, 2018

F*ck! I Fell and Tore My Hamstring. Now What?

I guess I'm ready to tell you this. But it pains me!

I am so pissed off and in the throes of a pity party. Just last week I was telling you how swimmingly training was going. My body was adapting to every thing I was throwing at it. Nothing hurt. I basically felt great and excited for my June 2nd 50k.

On Friday I had a 3 mile run on the schedule as a shake out before a huge weekend of running big  miles in the mountains. I was literally a 1/4 mile from my home, cruising along on a gorgeous spring day listening to Highway to Hell (appropriate I guess) and minding my own business. Then, IT happened. I don't even know what IT is exactly, but next thing I knew I was falling and falling hard. I tried to catch myself with my left leg to stop me, all the while ripping my hamstring then skidding to a halt on the road as I took on some nasty road rash on my palms, elbow and right leg.

It hurt so bad.

I got myself to the side of the road, gasping for air, not know what the hell I had just done to my body. A nice lady in a minivan (I don't know why it matters it was a minivan. she was probably a mom) stopped to ask if I needed help. Truth is, I really did, but I was so shaken up that I just needed a minute to be alone so I waved her off. For the longest time I sat there, afraid to even try to walk. I had my phone with me, so I could have called someone, but thought I could make it the short ways home on my own two feet. MARTYR.

Walking was a disaster of hobbling, crying and wincing in pain. I don't know what I was more upset about - the pain or the thought of what I had done and what that would mean.

I thought if I got home an quickly iced my leg, took an NSAID and rested I'd be fine. No go. The pain was awful and I knew I needed a doctor. So, Ken came home and took me in. An hour and an ultra sound later, it was confirmed there was a tear in my hamstring. Not the worst possible tear, but a tear nonetheless. I was sent home to lay on the couch iwth ice and compression for the weekend. The doctor told me the injury would "declare itself" (<dramatic doctor speak) within 48 hours, meaning we really wouldn't know what we were dealing with until Monday.

A very small sample of the damage

This made for a long weekend of FOMO, reading (I've been devouring a great book called Born Survivors, not uplifting but really good), watching The Crown, Lifetime and the movie Girls Trip, eating, drinking wine and sleeping. Oh and Cheetos.

Today I woke up worse with a swollen thigh and a big bruise on the inside of my leg where the tear is. Another ultrasound confirmed that the tear was a bit worse than originally thought. I'm still in a fair amount of pain with walking and sitting. Humbling to say the least.

The doc gave me an option of PRP (platelet rich plasma injection) but it's not covered by insurance and is $550. Yeah, no. I'm not some elite athlete. I just need to recover like a commoner. Doc said they cannot do a steroid injection on an acute injury or it can cause further damage and compromise the muscle.

So, my race is less than three weeks away. It's likely I won't be participating, but I will if I can. Hamstrings can be stubborn to repair and heal. Once I can walk and do stairs without pain, I can get on the bike. In  the meantime...UGH!!

I've been here before. But, my past running injuries were all overuse and I could feel them coming on. I haven't been injured in years!! This was like running into a brick wall with no notice or mental preparation.

I know there are worse things in life and I'm working on getting perspective. Right now I'm just sad and mad and humbled. But, I do know life goes on.

I don't know why I think it would be better somehow if I had fallen over a root or trip on a rock going down a mountain. Somehow the stupidity of biting it right by my house on a smooth road makes me feel even worse. It could have been easily avoided.

While I say I don't know what happened, that's not entirely true. Right before running on Friday I had watched a video that did a gait analysis of Shalane Flannigan's stride/form. Believe me I was not trying to run like Shalane. I know better than that. But I was trying to incorporate one tip, which was to look further ahead while running to keep good posture. I think I took that to an extreme and it threw me off especially since I was doing this on a downhill.

Lesson learned.

Here's what injuries give us (can you tell I'm looking for a silver lining?) - they help us to slow down. They make us evaluate what we are beyond runners. They give us the perspective to know there will always be another race.

And, they piss us off and make us bitchy, but oh well.

Last injury you had or currently have?

Number one tip for making it through? For me I do what I CAN do. Once I can bike/swim I'll do that. I also try to take advantage of the extra time I have when not running to be productive and gain insight. And I drink wine and talk to friends who can commiserate.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

50k Training: What I'm Wearing, Eating and Running

I'm sitting here eating cheese and yawning. What are you doing?

I haven't talked about my training much for this 50k (32 miles) on June 2, but just because I didn't brag out it, doesn't mean it didn't happen (double negative - sorry - I can do what I want on my blog). Actually, I have talked about it, just not on the blog. But on Instagram it's been a crazy party, so follow me HERE.

Suffice it to say that since February I've literally been running over mountains, through valleys and across streams. I've gotten really good at power hiking, squatting behind trees and breathing very loudly. "Fuck" has become a regular part of my vocabulary, especially when I look at an upcoming climb and wonder how I will muster up the energy to get to the top of it. Somehow I always do. I've found a tribe who pushes me without even knowing it (this basically means that they don't slow down, they are tough as nails and I want to be like them so I keep moving forward).

To give you a taste, here's the profile of Sunday's 12 mile run:
That climb up to mile 8 is one we call "Oh, for fuck's sake"

12 doesn't seem so far, but when you add in 3,500 feet of climbing, it's a lung and ass buster. This course is part of the 50k I'm doing, so it was good practice. We started at about 8,000 feet and wound are way through snow and across a stream no less than 15 times. All of this to say, trail running and road running have very little in common except for the running part. Everything else is different (the terrain, the muscles used, the strategy involved on the technical parts, etc).

How I'm fueling:  My stomach has been holding up really well as long as I drop the kids off at the pool before my run (aka pinch off a loaf aka drop a deuce). During the run, I've been inhaling whole wheat tortillas with smashed avocado and sea salt, Bobo Bars, GUs and Honey Stinger Chews. I've been getting really hungry on the run and since sometimes I'm out there for 5+ hours I've had to be careful about packing enough.

Image result for bobo barsGU Energy Gel - Single Serving - Salted Watermelon (20mg caffeine)Image result for honey stinger chews

Supplements I'm taking: Not much. I sometimes take Sport Legs before a run and usually a few Salt Stick tabs before and during depending on how hot it is. I don't tend to drink an electrolyte drink while I run (just water) so I supplement with those. I've also been taking an amino acid (ARO3x Amino) after runs for recovery.

Image result for salt stickImage result for aro3x amino plusSportlegs Capsules One Color, One Size

Miles I'm running: Typically it's been 45-55 miles per week. There's always a speed work out at some point and back to back long runs on the weekend. Last weekend was a 22 mile run on Saturday and a 12 mile run on Sunday. All of my long runs incorporate lots of climbing (2,200 feet to 6,000 feet) and are at elevation (anywhere from 6,000 feet to 9,000 feet). The race starts at 8,100 feet with the highest point being 9,500 feet with a total of 7,250 in elevation gain, so I want to be prepared.

Gear I'm using:

Hydration PackOrange Mud Endurance Pack VL
Trail ShoesSalomon Speed Cross 4
Road Shoes: Nike Women RN Free
Sunglasses: Oakley and Goodr
Socks: Balega (I love the Blister Resist socks)
WatchEpson Runsense sf 810 (I was using a TomTom Spark, but the battery life is too short. The Epson can go for up to 13 hours/GPS without being charged).
Shorts/shirts: Whatever is clean
Image result for goodrSalomon Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe - Women's-Blue/Blue/Green-Medium-10.5 USBalega Women's Enduro No Show - 7455, Large / Mid Grey/Sherbet Pink

Plan I'm using: I'm using the 50k plan from Krissy Moehl's Running Your First Ultra. I highly recommend this book. It has training plans for 50k to 100 milers and incorporates lots of wisdom about workouts, fueling, injuries and recovery.

My goals for the race: Based on what those in my age group (50-59) did last year, I'm expecting to finish in 7 1/2 to 8 hours. The climbing in this race is no joke and it will be hot. The winner in my age group did it in 7:50 last year, with the first woman coming in at 5:50.

So there you have it. If you care. I've said it before and I'll say it again - one of the best things about running is there is always a new adventure around the corner. It never, ever gets boring. If I'm lacking challenge and excitement in other areas of my life, I know I can find it with running.

What's your go-to fueling during a run? 

Which do you prefer - trails or roads? Depends on where it is. I love Colorado trails but also like a nice country road

Favorite piece of running gear? 


Monday, April 30, 2018

4 Epic and Hilarious Fails I've Had While Running

Just because I've never (Yet! There is always time for that in the future! Yay!) DNF'd (Did Not Finish could also be Did Not Fart) in a race, does not mean I haven't had plenty of embarrassingly annoying stumbles throughout my last few years of running. I came to the sport as a very green newbie in 2009, and that gave me plenty of time to have some major wardrobe, bodily and other fails. I guess if you do anything long enough you're bound to encounter odd situations. Or, maybe it's just me. Whatever the case, below are a few of my fabulous fumbles. Go ahead and laugh AT me. I don't care.

1. Did not lock porta potty door - In preparation for the Boston Marathon in 2011, I bought the cutest little turquoise Athleta skirt. I wanted to look and feel like a queen that day! Fast forward to the start line. The minute I started running I realized I had worn underwear. I NEVER wear underwear when I run. Consequently the skirt (which I had never worn before - punch me in the face) was messing with my underwear in that the waistband kept causing the underwear to slide down to my mid-crack. It was so annoying.

Boston Marathon - mile 6ish - underwear is creeping down

I HATE running when there is anything bothering me - a pebble in my shoe, an ear bud that keeps falling out - because I just get fixated on that. I decided the only thing to do was to hop into a porta potty, remove the skirt and throw out the underwear. It was probably about mile 12 when I found a potty without a line. I hopped in there Shalane Flanagan-style, pulled off my skirt completely, took off the underwear and tossed it in the deep dark potty hole. Just then, with me standing there naked from the waist down, the door opens and some guy starts to walk in. I screamed, he slammed the door. What he must have thought!!! Moral of the story - always remember to the lock the door. And leave the underwear at home.

2. Got onto a treadmill when it was ON - Trust me, once you have done this ONE time, you will never do it again. This was early in my running "career" (<hahahahaha, like it would ever be a career). I was at a small gym that I has just joined and about to start my workout. Unbeknownst to me, someone had left the treadmill on. Asshole. Yes, the perfect idea for an episode of Punk'd if I were a celebrity. So, little me is pumping myself up for my run. I gingerly step on the treadmill. I cannot recall what speed it was on, but let's just say it wasn't a "I'm going out for a Sunday stroll" type of speed. I was immediately catapulted off of the treadmill and onto the floor of the gym. It hurt like an m'effer. The world stopped and time stood still as the entire population of the gym fixated on my body flailing on the floor. But, you know how it is when you fall in front of people. You act like it's no big deal and give the impression of "haha, maybe I meant to do that." Fortunately my ego was far more bruised than my body. Just some gym-floor-burns on my knees.

3. Did not wear socks - I have absolutely no excuse for this one. It was my second half Ironman distance race. I had done several triathlons prior. For some reason, I decided I didn't want to take the extra half second to put on socks during my transition from the 56 mile bike ride to the 13.1 mile run. Once I started running, I quickly knew this was going to be  a disaster. My feet were on fire, blisters forming by the second. I knew I would not finish the race unless I had socks. I had to problem solve - and FAST! At the next aid station there was a teenage boy, Tom, handing out water. I begged him to let me have his gross, sweaty, black athletic socks. He hesitated. I then ordered him to give me socks as if I were his mother (and I was definitely old enough to be his mother). Okay, I wasn't mean about it, but I tearfully and firmly asked him. AND HE GAVE THEM TO ME! I told him I loved him. I quickly put on those suckers and promptly finished the race. And threw away the socks at the end. I love you Tom.

Scratch 'n sniff if you want. PS: my thumb looks double jointed.

4. Pinned GUs all over my body - I ran my first marathon on January 18, 2009 (Rock 'n Roll Phoenix). It was my first long distance race. I had no clue what to wear, had no GPS watch and had no idea that there were fancy things to hold one's GUs, etc. I wore shorts without pockets so I figured the most practical thing to do was to safety-pin a half dozen gels to my running singlet. I have no idea in hell how I came up with this idea as it's not something you see anyone doing. I thought I was clever. Not so much. On top of the fact that I looked like a dork with six GUs pinned all over my shirt, I did not do a great job of pinning them so they all swayed and moved and were generally annoying. Another fantastic thing was that trying to run and unpin the pins was harder than running the marathon itself.

Wow, those shorts 

These are just the tip of the iceberg in term of my many blunders over the years. I've got more (mostly involving poop). But we'll save those for a rainy day. You're welcome.

What was one of your newbie mistakes or best running fails?

Ever fall off a treadmill?

Do you wear underwear when you run?


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Stop Being a Pussy! The Art of Suffering and Why It's Good For Runners

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of discomfort lately. Somewhere along the line, most of us got it into our heads that it is wrong to be uncomfortable.

I see it in kids these days - how being tired or sick or stressed or hungry or full or constipated or bloated sends them into a tailspin of bitchiness, complaining and victim-hood. Whatever happened to grittiness and sucking it up? What ever happened to experiencing forms of suffering and not falling apart into a puddle of despair and it's-the-end-of-the-worldness? I mean I walked naked 45 miles to school everyday as a child and never once complained.

Then I take a hard look at myself and I do the same thing as those damn kids. I don't like to be uncomfortable. This being the case, why the hell have I chosen to be a runner? As we know, running is highly torturous at times what with all of the sweating, cramping, heavy breathing, fatigue and shitting of one's pants. No, not every run is like this - some are amazingly uneventful and smooth, but as a general rule - to run is to suffer to some extent.

Watching Desi push through horrendous conditions to win Boston on Monday (after she thought of dropping out at mile 6!), really hit home. She accepted the conditions and never looked back, literally. How can I get some of that grit? Truth is, while most of us will never ever run as fast as Desi, we possess the drive and determination if we just tap into it. Or, I'm gonna keep telling myself that.

Image result for des linden
You can just SEE the determination on her face. The will to get it done despite fatigue, cold, wind and pain.
Or, how about Katherine Beiers, an 85 year old who ran Monday's Boston Marathon in 7:50? She never gave up despite the horrendous conditions. Just as much grit as Desi. Story HERE.

Boston Marathon

I used to be better at embracing the suck. I could power through without stopping to walk or get myself together. In fact, during the first marathon I ran in 2009, I did not walk even one step. I've changed a lot from then. Maybe it's age, maybe I am more apathetic. But, I think it's a mentality that I've adopted - it's as if when I get really uncomfortable (I'm talking tired or achy - not injury stuff) a warning sign goes off that something is wrong. It's not, in fact, wrong. It's just discomfort.

Before I did my first Ironman a few years ago, my PT gave me the BEST advice. He said that there would be many times during the race that I'd be suffering or when something would go wrong (like a flat tire, throwing up, whatever). He told me, "Do not assume it will get worse. Just keep moving forward."

I pushed through a choppy ocean swim, a penalty on the bike and illness during the run.
For 12 hours and 50 minutes I found my GRIT

I love that bit of advice. Because in life, not just in running, there are many times when something happens and we panic, assuming the worst. Your child gets a cold and you assume it will turn into the flu. You feel a niggle in your foot while running and assume you're injured. You start a half marathon and are already tired at mile 1 and assume you'll never make it to the finish.

Indeed while the worst case scenario is sometimes true, usually it's not. Often what we worry about never comes to fruition (it's the shit that we don't worry about that catches us off guard and slaps us in the face - like how a tree fell on my house yesterday. I hadn't worried a moment about that and it happened anyway!).

When we get uncomfortable while running, we shouldn't panic. Aches, pains, fatigue, bad moods come and go, much like those wonderful euphoric experiences we have while running come and go. Really, the trick is to accept the discomfort and stop dwelling on it. Chances are it will improve and not get worse. I know this because my PT told me and he was right. I think it's important to remember that the discomfort is temporary and each step forward is one closer to the finish. Research has even shown that pain is often purely in your head and not an accurate signal of physical distress (injuries aside). Keeping this in mind will enable you to push through the discomfort so you can run faster and longer (

Bottom line: Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it's a small price to pay for living a dream - Peter McWilliams


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Chasing the Fast Girl - My Interview with Suzy Favor Hamilton

Back in 2015, like lots of you, I picked up the book Fast Girl by Suzy Favor Hamilton. I didn't know about Suzy's running history much except that she was an Olympian, but I was intrigued by the scandal she puts forth in the book about her "secret" life as a high end Las Vegas Escort.


It's a book you can't put down, purely for the fact that here's a three time Olympian middle distance runner who has a five year old child with her husband Mark (by then they had been married for 13  years) and becomes a high class hooker (you can say "escort" but we all know what that really means). Her clientele were rich, famous and powerful men.

All the while, her husband knew what she was doing and felt powerless to stop her, although he remained in the marriage. Suzy's Vegas persona was Kelly Lundy, a beautiful and seductive woman who was hyper-sexualized, fueled by drugs and alcohol. Yet, she remained "Suzy" to her thousands of fans and sponsors (Clairol, Reebok and Pert Shampoo to name a few) and continued to make appearances at the Rock 'n Roll Marathons and other running events/venues. It's like a troubled Lifetime movie, only better.

Image result for suzy favor hamilton

Finally, the Smoking Gun outed her big time. Kelly Lundy "died" and Suzy returned home in a deep depression and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a condition that her brother struggled with that eventually led him to kill himself in 1999. Suzy had been diagnosed previously with depression and was on the medication Zoloft. She contends that the drug made her even more manic and for years she went improperly diagnosed leading to her spiral into the edgy and dangerous life in Vegas.

Fast Girl is a memoir that Suzy wrote detailing (and I mean DETAILING) all that went on during that year (2011) as she took a dive head first into a life of madness and mania.

Memoirs are my favorite genre to read (almost as much as I love made for TV movies), and Fast Girl caught my attention. When I finished reading it, however, I didn't come away liking Suzy all that much and my initial response was that she was incredibly selfish for what she had done to her family. Even with the bipolar diagnosis, I believed she still was aware of what she was doing and made the choices she did even so. I was baffled by what appeared to be outright narcissism.

Later this month, Suzy will be speaking at the Northern Colorado Functional Health and Wellness Summit, something she does at events all over the Untied States these days. Her mission is to bring awareness to the fact that so many people are mentally ill, but are too ashamed to talk about it and to ask for help. She is trying to lessen and perhaps even remove that stigma.

Image result for suzy favor hamilton

I had a chance to question Suzy at length yesterday.  As I interviewed her by phone, she sat on a beach in California, listening to someone playing the trumpet nearby. She commented on how the "land of fruit and nuts," the beach and the sunshine have healed her soul. She's also gotten wildly into yoga and has continued to heal and meet others who "get" her. After talking to Suzy, my presumptions and thoughts shifted a bit. Yours might too.

When your book came out in 2015 it soared to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. What do you think made it so popular so quickly?

My story was so unique. After the story broke on 20/20 (see episode HERE), people were so interested.

What kind of criticism did you get for the choices you made? 

I had people calling me a whore and a slut constantly. I also had someone tell me that I should just kill myself like my brother did. But, I also have had hundreds of people reach out to me who could relate. You'd be amazed how many people could relate. People are living with so much shame. There is such a stigma around people using sex, drugs and alcohol. to manage the chaos in the their lives.

Why did Mark stay with you? It seems most men would have left...

Mark is a great man. We've had our ups and downs. We had one REALLY bad year out of 20 years and we won't give up our marriage because of that one bad year. I know he is my soul mate. Mark wasn't focused on the fact I had sex with so many men. Instead he learned about the illness (bipolar) and how to bet deal with it. He didn't want to desert me and he is really the hero of this story. We are real and not the Brady Bunch. This journey changed us.

How's your marriage now?

Again we have ups and downs. Mark knows he has to be patient when the bipolar acts up. He backs away and knows I need to take time for myself and be left alone. 

How did our daughter, Kylie, now 12, react when she learned the details? Does she get a hard time from her peers?

She knows everything about what happened in Vegas. We talk really openly about sex and other things. I want her to feel she can come to me. Her peers haven't really given her a hard time. But she tells me that if anyone ever said anything to her, she would tell them, "My mom is a great person and I love her so much. End of story."

In a recent blog post you talk about breaking up with shame. How did you leave shame behind and forgive yourself?

After Vegas, I just thought to myself, "You suck. You are a disgrace to the human form." I've been so fortunate to have the love of people in my life. Mark and Kylie were never ashamed of me. Mark was the one to hold me up and to be proud. You need to distance yourself from people who tell you that you are a disgrace. I had to do that with some people in my family. Now I'm among people who don't judge me. You need to confront the shame to move forward.

Is there anything you miss about the lifestyle you had while you were an escort?

Initially I missed that rush. I didn't miss the sex, the risky behaviors or being an escort. I liked having control over powerful people and that they would surrender to me. For my entire life I had been coached and had done what others said. I liked being the one in control. The more powerful someone was, the more it seemed they wanted to surrender. But now I get that kind of zen high from yoga. I recently had a moment of euphoria while running that felt like what it felt like in Vegas.

I've heard rumors Fast Girl will become a movie. Any truth to this? 

Yes. Just recently I've had over 20 producers approach me. I just want to make sure I am at the healthiest point possible before moving forward with the movie. My main priority is that whoever plays Mark portrays him as he deserves to be portrayed. As for me, whoever plays me just really needs to get to know me first.

What kind of therapy/help led to your diagnosis and to your "recovery". Are you stable now?

After Vegas, I went into therapy. It took awhile to find a good match with a therapist, but I did. I got some great advice. The therapist helped me understand that some people would never get it and that they were not capable because they never learned the skills. I had to forgive them. I was ill and the disease drew me to drugs, alcohol and sex. My therapist also told me, "I'm not going to tell you what to do" She never said you can't do certain things with your life. I had always been told what to do, so this message helped. She let me know that drugs and alcohol weren't good for the bipolar and I wanted to be healthy. I had to learn to make health choices for myself. I learned to recognize and eliminate my triggers and replace with with healthy coping skills like yoga and running. I also take the medication Lamictal now, and that works well for me.

What would your message be to someone struggling with mental illness right now who has no hope and nowhere to turn?

I would tell them to take a deep breath. I would let them know that I've been there. I want them to know that they are loved and there is hope. They have me that "gets" them if no one else does and I answer all of my emails. They need to find someone to support them. They need to reach out for help. If I can climb this ladder, they can too.

I'm curious, if you've read the book, what are your thoughts and impressions?