Monday, July 29, 2013

Life back on Lexipro and The Sneiderman trial

I've been on Lexapro for more than a week now and I'm feeling a bit better. I wanted to thank everyone for their feedback and for even pulling me aside in person to tell me that I was not alone. I will continue to update you on my progress.

The Sneiderman pretrial was Friday (jury selection is this week) and there was some good news at least for those of us supporting Andrea. As I expected all along, the murder charges were dropped. I'm just hoping now that she can be vindicated after the perjury charges are challenged. I've been getting calls from Dr. Drew and Nancy Grace and it was not about being at my 40th birthday although that would be entertaining to say the least. The calls are getting a bit overwhelming still I refuse to talk until this trial is over. I know that though Rusty always wanted me to get media exposure, he would not have wanted me to get it this way.

Rusty & Andrea

There is a part of me that is very angry when I read the hateful tweets about my friend Andrea. I hate seeing some of the "stars" of this case that are taking advantage of the spotlight while others suffer unfathomable losses.

This trial has put my Andrea and I through the ringer. Our reputations have been compromised but as I've told my daughter, sometimes doing the right thing is not necessarily the popular thing. The hateful e-mails, the endless media calls and the constant badgering of a close friend have been tough to deal with. Getting calls from people I know and respect who question my reasons for supporting Andrea has also been difficult. Still, I know that I'm doing the right thing by standing up for someone who I know is innocent.

Over the next few weeks, this case will be decided and hopefully that will be the last of it. I hope that not only Andrea is vindicated but that her friends and family can experience some type of vindication as well. Of course, nothing compares to what Andrea has been through.

I wanted to take this moment to thank those in the media that have been very fair and that has nothing to do with siding with Andrea. I just meant that they did not slant this case as a Lifetime movie.

In other news, Ethan is not sleeping very well as he recovers from tonsil surgery. We've been up every night for the last week dealing with his throat pain. I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I continue to lose weight and am trying to now build some of it back through working out and gaining muscle. I've increased my weight-lifting gradually but I hope to see a big difference in the coming weeks.

Andrea's 40th birthday was Thursday. She is now an official cougar at least for another 5 weeks when I turn the big 4-0. We made the entire week a celebration for her though I think she doesn't exactly love being the center of attention. Celebrations like this call for it though in my opinion.

Happy Birthday to a fine looking lady!

The kids start school in a few weeks. It's hard to believe that my daughter will be a 2nd grader soon (though she acts like she's 30) and my son will be going to the same school. We move into our new house in the next few weeks. It's exciting but nerve-wracking.

This July has been one of the craziest months ever between the trial, my wife turning 40, taking our vacation, Ethan's tonsil surgery, closing on our house, running the Peachtree, dealing with clinical depression, working on Wish for Wendy and speaking at a few events.

I am ready for August though it won't be boring. We are moving, dealing with the trial and school starting. I'm also doing the final film shoot for our music video "I Need a Nebulizer."

I spoke of media exposure earlier. I guess my sister is going to be getting some herself. She is one of the new stars on Bravo's "The New Atlanta." Check Emily Lipman out this fall. Good luck Em! We love you! My Andrea and I do have a guest starring role at some point but that's all I can really tell you. Here's her link

Em and me a few years back

I hope that everyone is well.

Take care,


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Andy Lipman - raw and honest

July 15, 2013
1:03 AM

Good morning...I mean good EARLY morning. It used to be that you'd never find me up after 10:00PM though I'd like it known I was born at 10:58 PM so I have a history of doing my best work at night. The last few nights I've had difficulty going to sleep before 1:00 AM thanks to the fact that I stopped my antidepressants. The long and short of it was my insurance company said I should have another 90 day supply but I told them I didn't receive it. They would not send me one as I suppose they think I'm a junkie. Yeah, I get off on taking Lexapro 20mg. Look, if it was gummy bears, I could understand why you think I might overdose. By the way, I haven't had a gummy bear in over a month. I have gone from 187 pounds 6 weeks ago to 173. But this entry is not about my new nutritional routine. It's far more important than that.

Most of my blogs detail how strong I have been as far as dealing with cystic fibrosis, depression and anxiety. This blog will do no such thing. This isn't about comeback stories. It's about life and the issues we sometimes have to face. Not every moment is a Roy Hobbs HR or a Clubber Lang knockdown. There are some moments that cause us to suffer but over time make us stronger people. I hope the story I'm about to tell you will some day do the same for me...and maybe even the same for you.

I wanted to talk about my issues with stopping Lexapro. I talked to my psychiatrist after the insurance company turned down my prescription request. We agreed that I could cut my last few pills in half so I could slowly taper off to 10MG for a week and finally stop taking antidepressants prior to July 4th. I knew that this was risky as most patients take 3 or 4 months to taper off and it's still difficult. I was trying to do it in a week.

That morning, I ran my 6.2 miles for the 17th consecutive year at the Peachtree Road Race. This was the first time I ran without my uncle who injured himself. I thought it was kind of cool that there was a 100% chance of rain in the morning yet in the hour plus that I competed, not a single raindrop touched me. I smiled when I thought maybe Wendy was behind it. That was where the good feelings ended.

After the race, I felt out of it but I blamed the exhaustion on running a hilly 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) in the Atlanta humidity. We left for vacation a few days later and the "out of sorts" feelings had not gone away. I felt off balance like I had vertigo...and that feeling has not subsided. If I look backwards really quickly, I feel like I'm going to fall. The culprit became obvious to me.

While on vacation, I read that stopping Lexapro so quickly could do this to me. Sadly, I was out of options unless I wanted a 2-month supply of pills that would cost about $180 since my insurance company would not pay for it (and that still angers me). Honestly, I thought I'd beaten both depression and anxiety and I was overly confident that I could stop these drugs anytime and be fine. Heck, I'd gone more than 37 years without them already. Still, I'd forgotten that many of those years I'd dealt with both anxiety and depression unbeknownst to me at the time. The vertigo persists and now I'm dealing with extreme anxiety. As an example, the other night I woke up in a cold sweat after about a 30 minute sleep. I began hearing negative voices in my head and felt like I was suffocating. It felt as if I was stuffed in a small fish bowl and having someone press against the top so I could not escape. It was hard to breathe...and that's coming from someone with CF who is quite used to having trouble breathing. I was pacing back and forth in my hallway trying not to wake my wife or kids while at the same time trying to shield myself from the angry voices. I felt like I was the little boy in "The Shining" who is riding his tricycle down the hall when he runs into the scary kids. It was frightening.

Finally, tonight or should I say last night since it's officially morning, I called my psychiatrist and left a message. I did get a hold of my psychologist who believes I'll probably need to go back on Lexapro. In some ways, I'm happy. In other ways, I'm not. I feel like I lost by giving in. Even the gummy bears could not beat me. But George, my psychologist, said it best, "It's not your fault. You have a chemical imbalance and a drug like Lexapro helps you." I guess what he's saying is that I'm not giving in. I'm just realizing that I'm not 100% without a little help from some drugs. I have CF. You would have thought I'd known that drugs help by now.

Let me say that I have not been this honest in a long time on this blog. I've never been dishonest but I haven't opened up in a long time like this. Part of me feels like I'm going crazy. Another part of me knows that I have to take care of myself and there are no limits.

It's now 1:23 AM and I'm wondering if I should delete this blog and write something stupid like the Top 10 reasons I know I'm not a fashion mogel. My number 1 was going to be I still have shirts from Structure which closed down more than a decade ago. They might try to sue me for putting on another piece of their merchandise.

Still I think this blog is a lot more important than an occasional Top 10 list or a discussion on my fashion issues. This blog is to tell people it's okay to be honest. It's okay to admit weakness. It's okay to be yourself even if that is considered "strange" to the majority of the world. There are a lot of things that set me apart from others. I don't drink anymore and that can be strange to those around me who are not aware. I take more drugs than someone implicated in the BALCO case. Of course, mine won't get me in trouble. Sometimes I feel like CVS or Walgreens will call me one day to endorse me. Heck, when they have an outage, they may call me to see if I can help out a customer.

I'm an addict. It's something I joke about when it comes to gummy bears and M&M's but it's not always a laughing matter. Over the last few days, I can tell I have problems. Andrea can tell too. I'm a lot shorter with the kids. I can't focus on anything. I'm very condescending with my wife. This isn't me. This is the chemical imbalance which sadly is a part of me.

I have a lot going on so going off Lexapro could not have come at a worse time. There's still the Sneiderman trial which I'm a potential witness towards the end of this month. My son is having his tonsils out. We are closing on a new house. My best friend is coming to town for his daughter's baby naming...and all of this is just in the next week and half. All of this and my glucose results were not great and my anxiety is at an all-time high. I'm not eating. I'm not sleeping. The other problem is that talking is not helping either. Talking about my anxiety makes me...well, anxious!

In certain ways, I'm like many of you. I want to be liked. I don't want to feel different. I try to treat people the right way. In other ways, I can't conform to normalcy. I do hours of treatments per day. I take 30 to 40 pills from morning to night. I go to a doctor once every 6 to 12 weeks to see if I need to stay in a hospital and concern myself with my life expectancy. I wasn't supposed to reach my teens and here I am just 51 days till I hit the big 4-0! In the real world, 40 is considered a mid-life crisis. In the CF world, our midlife crisis was supposed to occur in high school (at least for a guy like me who was born in the seventies).

I've been writing for 30 minutes now...trying not to concern myself with anxiety and depression. The problem is that I get depressed when the topic of depression arises and I get anxious thinking about how messed up my anxiety is. This blog couldn't be more raw nor could it be more honest than it is at this moment. Still I think I should have done that top 10 list. I have some real fashion issues. I had my 7 and 4 year old children walk me around Banana Republic the other day giving me fashion tips...and I listened and made some decent purchases at the outlets.

The last few weeks I've been following TWITTER mainly to read about my Braves but also requesting nebulizer pictures for my upcoming video "I Need A Nebulizer." While the response to the video has been awesome, it has also reminded me why I can never get close to CFers (the clever name we give to CF patients). In the last week, 5 people (a few who asked to take part in my video) died from CF. The average age of those who passed was around 22. Now, I find myself devastated over the loss of people I'd never met, who were killed by the very disease I battle every day...a disease that also killed my sister decades ago.

People tell me I'm so tough and brave. Sure, there are times when I am but there are other times that you don't see how frightened I am. There are times when I cry at the thought of dying before my daughter gets married, being in a hospital room during my son's graduation and being unable to take my wife to dinner because I'm hooked to an IV pole. This is the other side of me. While these thoughts are "normal" for someone with CF or any sort of terminal illness, dealing with anxiety and depression right now makes me think of these awful possibilities far too often.

This picture from more than 5 years ago reminds me of how depressed I could get.

Andrea and I spoke about all the good things coming up. We have a new house on the horizion. We are both turning 40. The Braves are in first place at the All-Star break. Ok, I added that one. The thing is that anxiety and depession have very little to do with what is currently going on. They are these dark feelings that come on like a school of jellyfish invading the perfectly blue ocean. They are unforseen and they are tough to fight off. I could be winning the Nobel Peace Prize and anxiey and depression could make me feel like I was sealed in a square box without a hole to breathe through and without any hope of getting out.

I'm going to tell you that I've been writing for nearly an hour now and refuse to double-check my spelling or grammar (Okay, this is supposed to honest. I went back and edited this. Who am I? Jerry MaGuire?). I am Andy Lipman and this is my purest form. I'll probably read this in the morning and think "What did I do? People are going to think I'm crazy. They are going to make fun of me." In some cases, that will be true. But I'm not writing this for those people. I'm writing this for the people who need to hear about someone real. I'm writing this for those of you who have your own demons and are afraid to talk about them because you're embarrassed and you think you're alone. You're not. I'm not.

Be proud of who you are. Be strong enough to admit your weaknesses. Seek help when staying quiet may be the more popular option.

In summary, let me tell you about myself. My name is Andy Lipman. I'm 39 years and 10 months old. I love my wife to death. My children are the best gift anyone could have ever given me. My parents have been great examples of how to be a good person. My sister Emily, my aunts, uncles and cousins are all very important people in my life and honor me each day with their pursuit of finding a cure for this devastating disease we call cystic fibrosis. I'm an addict. I suffer from anxiety and depression issues just to name a few. My friends and family may want to add the fact that my sense of humor could be another issue. I'm a terrible communicator who will probably ask you what's going on in your life so I don't have to talk about my own. I'm an introvert who is also a motivational speaker. I'm a workout fiend who has trouble saying no to gummy bears. I'm a purchasing director who still pays full price in most retail stores. Finally, I have a terminal lung disease which is probably the 2nd toughest disease I face every day behind the combination of anxiety and depression.

Tomorrow (or should I say today) I will speak to my psychiatrist and see what the next step needs to be. Thank you for allowing me the last two hours to avoid thinking about my anxiety and depression and helping me to feel like things will get better. I will probably continue to hear voices and persevere by ignoring them over the next few hours and probably the next few days. I will still feel as if I'm stuck in a small fish bowl but I'll continue to peek my head out to breathe. And finally I'll continue to keep this blog raw and honest which was my initial intent.

After all, I'm Andy Lipman and I still have a Structure shirt hanging in my closet. You can't get more honest than that.

Good night and good morning,


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was put on a lower dose of Lexapro Tuesday morning (half the strength of my old drug) and am already seeing a major difference. Hopefully my family will too.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Peachtree and a crazy July!

It's been an interesting month to say the least and it should get more interesting.

First off, I have been sticking to the diet and have lost about 10 pounds and weigh around 177 pounds since giving up gummies and M&M's. I have also been eating Healthy Choice meals for lunch. I knew that I needed to be less weight to improve my nutrition but I also knew I needed to lose weight by July 4th for...

Last year's race

That's right. Tomorrow is the Peachtree. This will be my 17th which means I will go over 100 miles in overall mileage (6.2 x 17). I'm at 99.2 right now. This is a sad year for me. My Uncle Bobby got hurt and will not be running for the first time in 35 years. He has passed the ceremonial flag to me per his text. Also, the forecast calls for a miserable downpour so a lot of people aren't running tomorrow and I doubt there will be many fans on the route. I understand their decision. I'm going to try though. Obviously if there's thunder and lightning, I will re-think my decision. The Peachtree is more than running 6.2 miles to me though. I understand the rain is a major obstacle...but so is cystic fibrosis and it has been an obstacle for 4 decades now. I don't like obstacles. I like overcoming them. I'll let you know what happens. Maybe I'll catch a break and every meteorologist locally and nationally will be wrong. I'll pray tonight. I also have in the back of mind everything that happened at the Boston Marathon. I know security will be tight this year. It's going to be a crazy day.

Today also officially begins the first day of NO MORE antidepressants. After 3+ years, I am done. I don't know how it will affect my mood over the next few days but if the gummies and M&M's can't deter me, I don't think these stopping these meds will either. Personally I think I'll miss the gummies and M&M's more.

We finished filming the video this past weekend. The kids got a kick out of watching their dad do about 100 takes including several bloopers. I'm hoping the video will be available on YouTube at the end of the month and I also hope it goes viral and explains to people what cystic fibrosis is and why it's so important to raise money for the cause.

In more important news, Andrea has a big birthday coming up this month. I'm looking forward to celebrating in style.

Ethan is having his tonsils out so I'm a little worried but this kid is amazingly brave. I know he'll do fine.

We also look forward to some beach time soon and we're closing on our new house.

In addition, the Andrea Sneiderman trial is later this month. As of today, I'm still on the witness list as is my Andrea. I know that will be a stressful time.

I also found out my 40th birthday will be the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Maybe in the middle of services I'll scream out, who is going out after this? Rabbi?

Everyone, have a wonderful and safe 4th! If you're running the Peachtree, you won't need to grab water...just keep an empty cup with you.