Tag: Tough Stuff

Guest Post: Beautiful Wreck: Sex, Lies, & Suicide

Today, we start off our Tough Stuff Month Guest Posts with a really powerful post. Written by Mental Illness Health Activist and writer, Stephanie Schroeder – this post offers a glimpse into her advocacy and includes an excerpt from her memoir. The book, Beautiful Wreck: Sex, Lies & Suicide delves into incredibly intense, personal topics – many of which exist curtained by silence. Through her book and her advocacy, Stephanie brings these issues to light, demystifying them through her honesty. As she shares on her site, Stephanie is no stranger to the difficulties that many patients face as they experience symptoms, diagnosis, and the never-easy journey toward self-care and empowerment.

By opening up her life to the community – and now, us – Stephanie raises awareness in such a real way. I’m honored she’s sharing her work with us. I hope that her story and the bravery it took to live it, process it, write it, and share it – will inspire you as much as it has inspired us. Enjoy the chapter excerpt – it’s captivating! Thanks for sharing, Stephanie. –Amanda


On “Beautiful Wreck: Sex, Lies & Suicide”

by Stephanie Schroeder


Photo by Maeghan Donohue


Beautiful Wreck: Sex, Lies & Suicide is ultimately a tale of triumph: over intimate partner violence, suicidal depression, bad relationships, worse decisions, uncontrollable mania, and a generally unhealthy life. The book is a memoir about my struggle with bipolar disorder — at first undiagnosed, and then trying to make sense of life after my diagnosis, make peace within myself and piece my life back together after it became seriously unhinged. The book spans only about 15 years of my life. From approximately age 28 to 42, I was “not me” and, in the beginning, I didn’t know why. It all became much clearer the day I was diagnosed with Bipolar I. However, my life only became more complicated by that diagnosis.


The following passage, early in Beautiful Wreck, details events from 1997. It’s a span of time I’d rather forget because it began my serial suicide attempting that ended only in 2005. This part of my book will give you a flavor of my extremely severe depression and how trapped I was in a dysfunctional, violent relationship, the first of many, because of my mental illness.


I’m obviously alive to have published the book, but it was a long road from being abused by my partner and deciding to commit suicide to where I am today: healthy, happy, writing and publishing.

Find out more on my website: and check out my mental health blog, too: And, you can purchase my book on Amazon.




Excerpt from Beautiful Wreck

(click here to read entire chapter):


As Lauren and I grew further apart, I started sleeping on the couch, leaving the radio on all night (breaking another of her rules). By then I had changed careers, moving to a corporate communications job on Madison Avenue with an even higher salary and an even more impressive title. Although I had no knowledge of PR when I was hired, the president told me I’d have plenty of time to find my sea legs. I dived in, working journalists just the way PR flacks had worked me when I was a reporter and editor.


I was a functioning depressive. A master at masking my illness, I managed to get to work and perform well during the day. But, when I got home I was in such pain, both mentally and physically, that all I wanted to do was lie down and blot out all other people as well as my own thoughts. Even taking the time I needed to deal with my own depression seemed impossibly hard.


Depressive illness robs its sufferers of enormous amounts of time and energy. As a disease it’s both active and parasitic, draining both mind and body. Depression is psychically painful, with thoughts of death and dying, and often leads to sufferers contemplating suicide just to end their pain…

[Continue reading chapter →]

Notes on October: Tough Stuff Month

When it comes to enjoyable topics – we’ve run the gamut this month. With Inspiration Month – we have really tried to highlight what makes Health Activists tick – all leading up to the announcement of our 2012 WEGO Health Activist Awards. Now that those are launched and will continue going strong until the deadline of December, 31st — we can look at other, more intense topics.


Health Activism, like life, isn’t all sunshine and celebration. Being a patient, caregiver, healthcare professional – or person – isn’t easy. We don’t have to list all of the challenges, struggles, and painful experiences that make life hard. You know what they are. And we hope that we can delve into these topics this month.


If we’ve learned anything from Health Activists – it is that it is through darkness, hardship, pain, and hurt – strength and the power of the human spirit is most radiant. Without the “tough stuff,” the sweet, amazing, wonderful stuff wouldn’t be quite as triumphant. Without the stories of overcoming challenges and perserving – we wouldn’t have this “hope” that so many of us need to keep going. For the most part, Health Activists are absolutely fearless – and, even when they aren’t, they are honest. They call out that fear and address it in whatever way they can. This process helps us all feel less alone and less isolated in fear – and brings us a little closer to feeling better.


So, on to October. We’ve named our Editorial theme: Tough Stuff Month – because there is really no better way to categorize all of the topics we are looking at. In true facilitator-of-conversation-fashion, I’m planning on letting you dictate where we go this month. What are the toughest topics, to you and your community members?


With the help of the WEGO Health team, we’ve collected topics that we think Tough Stuff Month will encompass – but you always surprise us. And since we’re here for you – we want you to take this month where you want to go with it. What topics are the most challenging you’ve face in your community, your healthcare journey, and in your life?


Because we love encouraging the writers in all of you (and giving you ideas to help you out), we’ve created a collection of topics to write about. All of which are “tough.” Most of them are really serious, painful, and intense. But maybe that’s why you should write about them. We’ve labeled this collection of blog topics a “Catharsis Carnival” and hope it will serve as a way to gather your thoughts and release them. That why, for the first time, we’re really encouraging anonymity.


We hope you’ll check out all the topics – and consider writing about some of them. We’d like to share excerpts from your submissions throughout October – bringing your strength to others and bringing light to these topics that so often go un-discussed. It is only through talking about these things can we feel less alone – and start to heal.


If you’ve like to write about a topic at length – and have it featured here as a Guest Post – we’d love to have you. Leave a comment here or send an email to with your idea. If you’ve already written about a “tough” topic – and would like to repost it here, we’d also love to be able to share that as well.


We’ll also be kicking off “Tough Stuff Month” with a Health Activist Tweetchat (#HAchat) on Tuesday, October 2nd at 3pm ET: we hope you’ll come brainstorm tough stuff with us and share some moments that really moved you in your journey.


Looking forward to opening up about these tough topics with you. We know that this month will be, in its own visceral way, just as inspirational as “Inspiration Month” – because any time we talk about what’s real, we get to the heart of why we’re all here.




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