Tag Archives: unique

Unique, Volume 4

By Stacey Lehrer

EDITOR’S NOTE: Get caught up here on Unique’s story.

When she was having a hard time and trying to hold it together, Unique would often say, “Give me 5 reasons that you love me.” The first time she asked me, it caught me off guard. I wasn’t used to having conversations like that. I wasn’t used to talking about my emotions in general, and I’d certainly never told her that I loved her. I’d spent years by that point listening to her talk about how she was feeling, and trying to counter the negative thoughts. I resisted at first, and saw how upset it made her. Her life experiences and her depression had told her that she wasn’t worth loving. She needed to hear that she was, and she was trusting that I could tell her that. So I did…that night, and countless other times over the years that followed. And I learned something from each of the qualities I admired in her.

Continue reading Unique, Volume 4

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Unique, Volume 3

By Stacey Lehrer

EDITOR’S NOTE: Get caught up here on Unique’s story.

They eventually won the appeal, allowing Unique to continue staying in the SCL placement. By that point I’d watched Unique’s worst fear of totally losing control play out. She couldn’t have any kind of conversation that made sense, and often didn’t seem to know who I was. When I visited that summer she was convinced that she had just been in an awful car accident, and that she had all kinds of broken bones and wounds. She sobbed that she didn’t want me to see her like that. Not long after that, she stopped talking completely, for a period of several months. I still called her every day, and had one-sided conversations, to the sound of her breathing, or sometimes crying. In the middle of that, she moved to a new city, to a new house, with new staff who didn’t know her as anybody other than this silent person. The staff were confused about why I would be calling her.  One guy, who barely spoke English, took a full year to understand that I was her friend. Other staff caught on faster and got used to my calls. One guy talked to me so often that he started answering the phone in a falsetto when I called to try to trick me.

Continue reading Unique, Volume 3

Unique, Volume 2

By Stacey Lehrer

EDITOR’S NOTE: Get caught up here on Unique’s story.

The summer I visited Unique in a rural Appalachian town was the first time I went to see her on my own. There were some indications that the agency wasn’t the best or safest, but Unique said that things were okay. Later that summer I started having trouble getting in touch with her – every time I called, the staff would tell me she wasn’t there. I eventually found out that she was in the hospital, her first psych hospitalization in years. It was the beginning of a very different phase of her life. The next few years were a constant cycle of hospitalizations. She was chronically suicidal, desperate to find a way to end the pain she was feeling. I got really good at tracking her down, and at getting the staff in various psych units to let me talk to her even though I never had the magic “code number” at the start of each new stay. She was in one rural psych unit often enough that the staff recognized my voice and didn’t even ask for the code number anymore. She started saying things that didn’t quite make sense, talking about the agency administrators bugging her phone and stealing her belongings and stalking her. The agency was shut down not long after, so it’s not too far-fetched that there was some sketchiness happening and her brain was trying to find a way to make sense of it.

Continue reading Unique, Volume 2

There is not a Right Way to Exist

I think the great thing about my business relationship (and friendship, for that matter) with CEO Sarah Fader of Stigma Fighters (the mental health non-profit I direct the board of), who also directs social media of OCH (thank you, Sarah, I could not survive without you) is that we disagree, a lot. It’s healthy for a company of this caliber, I think, to be run by two individuals that have independent perspectives fueled by their own experiences with mental illness (providing that they are both functional enough to run a company, which we both are). There is a mutual respect from each side for each distinct opinion because our friendship has promoted the understanding that we both know what the fuck we are talking about most of the time, and that allows us to honestly say, “hey, that makes sense,” instead of the typical disrespectful corporate standpoint of, “hey, fuck you, I’m right and you’re wrong” because there is no right or wrong way when you’re not making any fucking money.

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