On the Death of a Man Who Didn’t Know He Inspired Me

This morning I woke to the news, shared all over Facebook, that a man named Nathan had been battling depression for years, and now he is gone.

I grew up watching this tall, powerful looking man, then just a boy but never seeming so, performing on various stages around my hometown. I had the bug so bad. I wanted to be amazing like the people in Varsity Singers, our town’s show choir. Whenever I was cast in a local show, the leads were my heroes. I was a total fangirl to those near me with talent. Just by being close to them, I felt more empowered to follow my dreams.

I imagined myself singing duets with the guys, me in a short sequined dress, belting my heart out, while fog rolled in around us. It was the only glamorous thing to hold on to in that little town in Indiana, and I clung to that like my life depended on it.

It did depend on it. My early hormones threw my yet undiagnosed depression into a whirlwind. My home life was rocky, to say the least. I swung between mania and deep pits of despair, often surviving on adrenaline alone.

I wanted to kill myself so many times. I fantasized about it. I wrote suicide notes in my journal. I got so close on more than one occasion, I terrified myself. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. There was no support system that I knew of, no one that I thought would understand. I didn’t know how to put into words pain that was so crushing I just wanted it to end.

I had my dreams, though. I had my younger siblings watching me, too. They needed me. So I needed my dreams. I had to believe there was a shiny, beautiful future waiting for me if only I could survive and make it out.

Nathan was one of those performers that lifted me out of the pit and into a place of hope. When he lifted his voice to sing, you felt it in your very core. His voice was full of beauty and power. You couldn’t help but watch him onstage, somehow magically moving his large frame so gracefully around with the other dancers.

He was older than me by a few years. I was too starstruck to ever speak to him, though we had many friends in common. I thought maybe, years later, we would both be on Broadway, and I would walk up to him and sort of casually say, “Oh, remember me? I used to be such a fan of yours!” But of course now we would both be big stars, so he would laugh and be flattered.

That would be extra amazing because his laugh was so amazing. Authentic and true and loud and lovely. His smile was so shiny and joyful. He seemed so happy to me.

And now he’s gone. He’s gone.

I wanted to share this today because I’ve had mental health issues on my mind in a big way lately. Earlier this week, a young family friend was stabbed while she and my cousin were providing volunteer health services to the homeless. She was rushed to the hospital and made it through, thankfully, but the man who stabbed her explained all. He is schizophrenic, and off his meds, and the voices in his head told him to kill one of the girls.

He could have killed her. Or my cousin. Because of a very real mental health issue. Just like that, all of our lives could change. Just like everyone’s life is changed that knew and loved Nathan. Just like so many, many more.

Recently, a woman shared a video about how “depression is all in your head.” I’m not sharing it here because it’s disgusting and I don’t want to give it more clicks. She shares a lot of controversial videos, but this one was particularly reckless. Her advice for beating depression ranged from somewhat true (“Just work out!”) to completely ridiculous (“Compliment people more!”) She has clearly never battled actual depression, so speaking about it as if she has some type of authority on the matter is beyond irresponsible.

Being sad is not being depressed. Your depression can’t be compared to the depression of others. What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. I hate meds for myself, but some people truly need them.

If we don’t truly shift and start working together in this country (and all over the world) for real, true, effective mental health support, we are going to experience more heartbreak and more loss, not to mention a huge amount of suffering that could be eased or prevented. We are all human beings, just doing our best on this planet. Let’s love each other. Let’s listen to each other. Let’s be there and fight for each other.

We have to stop dismissing the need for better and better mental health care. Today, I’m recommitting myself to supporting legislation, organizations, and information that can create real change. I’m doubling down on my mission to get rid of mental health stigmas that create shame and make people afraid to ask for help.

Nathan never knew how much he helped me on my darkest days. He had no idea. Probably very few of those people in my hometown did. Still, all these years later, he’s inspiring me to do better and be my best self, to use my voice in a powerful way.

Even if I’ll never have the power in my voice that he had in his.


Modeling Post-Eating Disorder

Ever since I shed the oppressive weight of my eating disorder, I’ve assumed my modeling career to be over. Not just because it’s impossible to stay at or under 110 lbs on my frame in any healthy way, but also because, naturally, I’ve been getting older at the same time.

Modeling was never the end game- I always wanted to be an actress forever, a model for now. It was a way to make money without waiting tables. I liked getting photos in beautiful clothes and being spotted by friends in magazines, and I liked having my hair and makeup done and getting into character in front of a camera, but, if I’m honest, really the whole experience was hell.

I was always, always, always hungry. No matter what, I starved before every shoot. Sometimes, when I was busy, I was eating 300-500 calories a day for weeks. I will never forget that first bite of food in the car or on the train coming home from a job- usually a pop tart or something equally bad for me. It was the only food I ever felt I deserved. I worked, I starved, I posed, I was sweaty and shaky- this food was earned. Continue reading


Day Designer Review: Favorite Planner Yet

New Year = New Planner.

Basically, that’s the most exciting thing about the new year to me. As December slowly melts away, I’m closer and closer to a fresh, clean planner full of dreams and promise. It’s like getting brand new school supplies, but for grownups.

Judging by the countless hours it took me to choose my new planner online, I am not the only person who feels this way. There were so many options! So many blogs dedicated to reviews! So many videos! Bright ones, serious ones, artsy ones, structured ones, planners for every taste and every need.

So how is it possible that it took me, a (self-labeled) planner expert, so long to choose the right one? I’ll tell you why- I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for. Last year I used the Spark Planner (now known as the Volt Planner) and I really thought it was perfect for me. Weekly and monthly goal pages, writing prompts, 30 day challenges- all this stuff I think I want to do, but, it turns out, I don’t. The planner is definitely right for some people, as evidenced by many great reviews, but for my scattered, ever shifting life, it became one more thing to do, instead of something to contain the doing. Continue reading


Goodbye Eating Disorder, Hello, Loving My Body!

Want to know something crazy?
I had this eating disorder, right? And I woke up every day hating my body. Barely over 100 pounds? Hated it. Hovering around 112 where I still had boobs and my butt? Hated it. Didn’t matter.
I would wake up every day with one of two thoughts. 1. “I can’t believe I ate so much yesterday! Today, I’m going to finally start being disciplined.” Or, 2. “I lost weight! This is the ONE part of my day where my stomach will feel like this, so flat! I HAVE to keep this up, don’t mess it up, Sabrina! Don’t get fatter again!”
Every day, hating this body that was pretty crazy amazing, in hindsight.
Now, I’m far into recovery, so I’ve gained weight to a healthy point (thank goodness), and then some. I’m still finding my healthy, best feeling place for my body as I practice new ways of living, but it’s safe to say I’ve gained the kind of weight I used to have nightmares about. I don’t weigh myself to know exactly, but it’s quite a bit.
And I’ve turned the corner. All this extra ME here, and I FINALLY, just recently, started waking up every day LOVING my body. I run my hands over my curves. I touch my little belly. I see my face in the mirror and I think I look beautiful, no makeup at all. It’s absolutely amazing!
Loving your body has nothing to do with its size or shape. I wish SO much I hadn’t suffered through my entire life up to now not knowing this. Because WHO CARES what you weigh? It’s your BODY! It takes you from point A to point B, it allows you to do everything! It’s your heart and your brain in there! It’s YOU! We spend so much energy trying to make as little of us exist as possible- body and spirit.
I’m HERE. I have substance. And I’m finally loving ALL of it!
Working out to be healthy? Yes! Of course! Eating clean foods to nourish the body you love? Perfect! Sure!
But, today, put your hands on your body, and really thank it. Love it. Oh, my god. What an absolutely exhilarating rush. Way bigger than all those rushes I got from standing on the scale and seeing the number go down .02 lbs. for the 8th day in a row.
Those highs were always followed by crippling anxiety about “going back.”
This feels like it’s here to stay, somehow…. ❤
Love, love, love, love, LOVE yourself. Please.

Thoughts After the Election- A Three Step Process

Susan B Anthony.jpg

Part One- Exhaustion.

I was so ready.
Ready to stop fighting those who want LGBT rights taken away or prevented.
Ready to stop fighting for reproductive rights for myself, for all women, for my daughters.
Ready to stop fighting misogyny, racism, xenophobia.
Ready to just take a breath and feel we have finally turned a corner.
But our nation isn’t ready, so we keep going. We keep fighting for our brothers and sisters who need us to fight with them.
We stand strong, even when we are ready to crumble from the exhaustion of that fight.
At least we know, we fight the GOOD fight. We stand on the right side of history. We are here for a reason.
My social feeds, my city, and my life are full of people ready to keep fighting for right. This is how I have hope in my heart today.
Surround yourself with warriors of hope, love, equality, and acceptance. Lift each other up, so we can keep standing, keep marching. Progress can’t be stopped for long, and love always wins.
Continue reading