Tag Archives: support

I Know The Holidays Can Be Tough (or Trying To Give Support To My Friends)

When I was younger, I was diagnosed with depression. At the time I thought that the diagnosis was correct even though no medication was helping me. Now looking back, I’m pretty sure it was a misdiagnosis and my depression was more of a side effect of my eating disorder, panic/anxiety disorder, and mild OCD. But even with it being a misdiagnosis, I understand how helpless things can feel at times. But fortunately for me, I can get myself out of that mindset before things get too bad.

But that’s not the case for several of my friends. I have many friends who have depression and other mental issues that lead to depression. I’ve had friends attempt suicide and have been the person that someone calls in the middle of the night to hear a voice of reason when things seem impossible. I’m more than happy to be that person for my friends because I don’t want to see someone harming themselves because they don’t think anyone cares or can’t get a hold of someone. I sleep with my phone on and next to my bed so I can be available for calls in the middle of my night. I’m fine sacrificing sleep if it helps someone else not do something that cannot be reversed.

Like many other mental health issues, I think depression and suicide are getting more attention in the media and that it is becoming less stigmatized. If you haven’t seen last week’s episode of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (spoiler alert), the episode is themed about this. I think that this episode was so powerful and that they will continue to be as sensitive about the subject in the coming episodes. But just because something is being discussed publicly more often doesn’t necessarily make it easier for those dealing with it.

I know that depression can hit at any time of the year, but I also know that for some of my friends it can be worse during the holidays. If you are used to being with your family and can’t do that it can be tough. If you are surrounded by happy people and you feel like an outsider, it can be tough. Anything can be a trigger and it doesn’t have to be for a reason or make sense. But when depression hits and you feel like there is no escape it doesn’t matter what else is happening in the world. You just feel like you need out and that isn’t always the right thing to do.

I’m posting this now because I’ve recently had a few friends try to kill themselves. I’m glad that all of them were unsuccessful in their attempts so they are still around and are able to get help. But it’s still hard to think that someone I love that much felt like they were unloved. And no matter how much I try to support them, I know that depression is a personal battle and they have to work on it on their own. But not everyone has the same support that my friends have and I want to make sure that everyone knows where they can get help.

One of the best ways to get help if you feel like there is no other choice is to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

There is someone you can talk to 24/7 and help is free and confidential. They can guide you to resources to get help and will listen to you without judgement. And if you are a friend or family member of someone who is suicidal, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help you too. There are resources so that you can help someone else. I have used those before to help my friends. And I’ve also used their guides on how to report suicidal posts on social media so you can help someone who you may not know in person. Sometimes people joke about suicide and it’s tough to tell if they are being truthful or not. I’ve reported people who weren’t being serious on social media, but I’d rather be more cautious than to think someone is joking when they really are reaching out for help.

Hopefully if you are feeling helpless or know someone who is that you know that help is possible. I know that it doesn’t always seem that way, but it’s true. And when you talk to someone who has overcome depression they will tell you that there is hope and help when you need it. And once they are on the other side they are so grateful that they didn’t do something that they couldn’t come back from.

I know that for my friends battling this that many of them have a long way to go. But I love them so much and want to support them in any way I can. And I’m in it for the long haul with them. They are with me with battling my eating disorder and know how wonderful it feels to have someone supporting me on my best days and worst days and isn’t wondering how much longer it will take me to get over things. So by doing the same thing for someone else (even if it is about a different mental health issue), I’m just trying to pay forward the support I’ve been so lucky to get.


LA Marathon (or Cheering On My Friends)

I’ve been cheering on the runners at the LA Marathon for the past few years. It’s a really great event to go out and watch and since so many streets are closed that day the traffic isn’t too horrible (LA drivers stay home when there are too many closures). For the couple of years, I’ve known people who were running in the marathon and that made me want to go out and watch the runners even more. And this year was no exception with almost a dozen friends doing the marathon, many for their first marathons ever!

Even though I’ve cheered on the runners in the past, I’ve never really done much beyond driving over to the course and standing out there to cheer and clap. But this year, I felt like I should do more and wanted to make some fun signs for my friends. I had a couple of ideas of things I wanted to do, went to get some large paper and cut out letters from Staples, and got creative.

The rum and cute one signs are ones I’ve seen at other events or online, but the other two were ones that I came up with. I had let my friends know what signs I had made so they could look for me while they were running and I tried to get out to the course on the earlier side. I also had some friends who wanted to join me for cheering on the runners this year. Normally I’m by myself, but it was nice to know that I would have other people hanging out with me while I waited for my friends to be running by us.

This year (or at least I learned about this only this year), there was runner tracking on the LA Marathon website. So I entered the race numbers for all of my friends and was seeing when they would be close to where we were standing just past mile 19. One friend was so fast that they ended up going past mile 19 before I got out there (they were so fast they qualified for the Boston Marathon!), but there were still plenty of people to be on the lookout for.

The first person I saw going by me was someone I know from Orangetheory. I forgot he was running and wasn’t tracking him, so I’m glad he saw me and got my attention so I could cheer him on. Next was my friend Jonathan who is the business manager for Orangetheory. He ran the marathon last year with Jordan from The Balanced Blonde, but he was running by himself this year. And he was looking pretty calm and happy while he sped by us!

The next people to come by were more Orangetheory friends. Jordan and Terry are usually in Monday workouts with me (Terry and I currently battle over which of us gets treadmill 11 because we both love that one) and they have been training hard together for a while. I know that they were super prepared to run a marathon, but it still made me so happy to see them happy as they came by us. I know how tough a 5K can be on me, I can’t imagine how tough a marathon would be! But Terry saw us with the signs and ran over to us with a smile and a high five for each of us!

Next, there were a couple of the women I know through the Tone It Up Facebook group running. Most of them were people who I haven’t met before in real life, so they had to be on the lookout for me with my sign. But I was following the tracking app carefully and tried to pay extra attention to when I knew they would be close to running by me.

But there was one Tone It Up friend running who I do know. Elva is someone who I met a while ago through the group and we had been at a few of the same events before (she was with me at one of my 5Ks). But she is also my neighbor and lives only a few blocks from my house! She and I have met up for a running hangout (she ran, I did run/walk intervals) and we keep saying that we need to do that more often. It’s tough with our schedules being very different, but I know we will make it happen.

She is such an amazing runner and has done so many races in the past, but this was the first time I would have a chance to cheer her on. I had her in the tracking list from the website, but she was also texting me updates so I would know when she was close. And right on time, she was coming over to me so I could give her a huge hug! I wasn’t expecting her to stop, but I’m glad she did so I could say a quick hi and we could get a fun photo together!

After Elva went by, I didn’t have any more friends I was looking for. But one person who was hanging out with me cheering on runners had a few more friends out on the course so we were all on the lookout for them! There were a few people who we think either quit the race or never started because their tracking on the site was either saying they couldn’t be found or that they couldn’t be tracked. And by 1pm, the sweeper car was getting close to where we were so we knew the runners were almost done. So it was time for us all to head back to our cars to continue on with our day.

I’ve cheered on the marathon runners several times now, but this was the most fun I’ve had doing it! I had so many people I was supporting at the race and that was just so inspiring. And I think having a group made things even better. We were all having so much fun talking about the crazy costumes we were seeing and laughing at the reactions the runners had at our Trump sign (several runners stopped to come over and take a photo of the sign). Hopefully at the next marathon, I can think of some clever signs again and will have more great friends out there to support the runners with me!

Being A Spectator (or Watching And Not Wanting To Do The Marathon)

This weekend was the LA marathon, and again, I watched a lot of it from my house (it didn’t help that we were having a crazy heat wave).

I’ve previously talked about how in the past I thought that maybe one day I would do a marathon but how I no longer have that desire. I always thought that a marathon was the ultimate thing to do to prove that I’m in better shape than I was before. But I don’t feel like that is the truth anymore.

I was up right after the start of the marathon and watched it live on the news for a good portion of the beginning. I even got to watch the winner cross the finish line.


The marathon starts at Dodgers Stadium and then ends up at the ocean. But part of the course was only about a 10 minute drive from my house. And since I knew a few people running the marathon, I decided to head out and watch the runners for a little while.

I was handing out between mile 19 and 20, so a lot of the racers were starting to look a little tired (plus the heat wasn’t helping).


I think that almost everyone I knew running the race passed where I was before I got there. But I still was cheering on for random people running by. There were runners who were barefoot, wearing crazy costumes, dribbling a basketball the entire time, and blind racers tethered to a guide.

After watching the racers for a while, I saw a somewhat familiar face run past where I was standing. It was Rachel from “The Biggest Loser”. I knew that she had gained some weight back after the finale (she looked much better after not being so incredibly skinny), and she looked pretty great running down Santa Monica Blvd.

I also saw one of my favorite authors running the race. I knew she was running because she posted about it on her Instagram, but it was still pretty exciting to see her! I cheered for her, but she was super focused and didn’t hear me (I told her on twitter that I cheered and she thought that that was pretty cool).

While it was inspiring for me to watch the runners, it made me realize that I have no desire to ever do a marathon anymore. I’m happy with doing a couple of 5Ks each year (it looks like I might only be doing 2 or 3 this year). And maybe one day I’ll do a 10K. But I see no reason to do a longer race than that.

I’ve talked about this before about how in the past I looked at 5Ks as a primary source of exercise. Now that I have a regular workout routine, I look at the races as bonuses and not necessary to try to get in shape.

I feel such a sense of relief that I don’t feel the pressure to ever do a marathon. I’m more than happy to go out and support people I know doing a marathon (I’ll probably try to get a group together for next year’s LA marathon and have a bunch of people cheering). It’s a huge accomplishment and everyone who did race should be insanely proud of themselves.

But it’s nice to know that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on something by not doing a marathon.

Orange Goes Pink (or The Week In Workouts)

This past week was another killer week of workouts for me. It didn’t help that on Friday my hip decided to pop out as I was getting out of my car and didn’t want to pop back until after the workout was done. But I did my best given the circumstances.

The Monday challenge was a 2 minute row. And it was as simple as it sounds. Row as far as you can in 2 minutes. The top 5 distances for women and for men would be posted.

I was surprised when I did the Monday challenge. Only myself and one other girl decided to do it after my class. I’m not sure why nobody else wanted to.

But that was fine. She and I rowed next to each other and encouraged each other on (she had a goal to beat the distance her mom was able to do).

I did ok. I went farther than I thought I could, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be in the top 5 (there were more than 5 people who had done the challenge in the morning classes with farther distances than mine).

But what I thought was the coolest part of my week in workouts was the support that was going on because of October being breast cancer awareness month.

I think most of you reading this know what breast cancer means to me and my family. I am happy to report that I did get the results of my mammogram back and everything is fine. The only thing that makes me nervous is that the type of breast cancer that my mom had is not really detectable on a mammogram. So even though my doctor is advising me to do annual mammograms now, my mom suggested that I see about doing mammograms and MRIs on alternating years (my mom’s cancer was found on an MRI).

Anyway, back to how OrangeTheory is support breast cancer awareness. This past Saturday there was an event at the gym (sadly I couldn’t make it). For every calorie burned during class for the entire day, they were going to donate a penny to breast cancer causes. So for example, I typically burn about 500 calories in class. They would donate $5 for that. Between the calories burned over the day and some other donations that came in, they were able to give a nice donation to the charity.

They have also decided to make the orange zone on the heart rate monitors pink for the month.


So instead of striving to be in the orange zone for 12-20 minutes in class, you want to be in the pink zone.

Not only is it a nice way to show support, I think it’s pretty fun too.

Beyond that, my workouts have been pretty normal. I’m getting used to the schedule and have been able to maintain my M/W/F workouts. I’m getting a little nervous about Thanksgiving and how I will keep up my workouts then, but I’ve got plenty of time to figure that out.

But I keep thinking to myself that the fact that I’m trying to plan my workouts for something that is a month away is a major step for me. I have never been this dedicated to working out without a goal date (the only other time I was this dedicated was when I was losing as much weight as possible before my hip surgery). While the food plans are still tough on me, now that working out is seeming to be normal and expected, I’m getting better and better.

I’m excited for my next 5K (which is less than 4 weeks away). I’m curious how much progress I will have made now that I’m doing treadmill training 3 times a week.

Happy Birthday Dad! (or Just Like Mom, I Promise Not To Reveal Your Age)

Today is my dad’s birthday! So, Dad, if you are reading this on the 16th, Happy Birthday!

My dad has been an awesome support this past year for me, my brother, and my mom. He’s the one spending every day making sure that my mom is ok (and she’s still kicking butt on chemo and only has 2 treatments left). My dad is also the one who has to deal with my phone calls when I’m worried about my mom. So many of the things that my mom tells me about I don’t understand (I’m the only one in the family who hasn’t worked in the medical field). So instead of consulting Google, I consult my dad a lot. And he’s pretty willing to put up with me through all of this.

Every time my dad comes to visit me, he helps me do projects around the house (isn’t that what dads are for?). The last time my dad was here, he brought me something that he made for my house.


The bark planter is something that my dad is known for making. I have one outside my house, but this one he made especially for inside. He also made the wine bottle and bark candle holders. While my dad was here, he helped me pick out some silk flowers to put inside the planter. It’s still on my dining room table and everyone compliments me on it when they see it.

My dad has also pushed me this past year. He, along with my Aunt Cindy, got me to go into an ocean for the first time in over a decade. I have such a horrible fear of oceans (or more specifically, a fear of being attacked by creature that live in the ocean). But with my dad’s encouragement, not only did I make it into the ocean, I lasted over an hour out there. The only reason I went back to the beach when I did was because my dad got tired (and it’s a good thing we got out then because even wearing SPF 50 did not protect my back from getting a horrible sunburn).


He’s also pushed me with my 5Ks. Even when I’m stressed out about doing them, he reminds me that it’s not important how fast or slow I am, as long as I complete the race.

And I have to say that my dad is one of the best challengers I have in Words With Friends (my username is thejenlevin if anyone wants to challenge me). He pretty much beats me in every game. And when I win, he’ll say I’m cheating. If I take too long to play my turn, sometimes he’ll send me a message in the game saying “suck it up and play”. And when I place my tiles on a space that he wanted, he’ll joke that he had reserved that space a few turns ago and ask me politely to move my tiles.


So those are some awesome things about my dad that I wanted you all to know. Of course, there’s a ton more awesome things about him, but I’ll have to save those for future birthday blog posts about my dad.

Happy Birthday Dad! I hope that you have a great day today (maybe including a bike ride). And in case you read this before I call you to wish you a happy birthday, I’ll give you one hint about your birthday present: it has to do with the Disneyland trip that you, Mom, and I are doing in the spring.

The Sorority Nobody Wants To Belong To (or Getting Support From Strangers)

I wanted to share another story from the weSPARK 5K this past Sunday.

After the 5K was over, I spent some time at the expo by the finish line. I was having some serious shin splints (I think it was due to the crazy hill) and I wanted to stretch for a bit before I sat in my car to drive home.

I decided to watch the medals being given out to the winners of the 5K and 10K and the top 3 finishers in each age group. They didn’t announce the times for the winners, but I know that they finished extremely quickly.

As I was watching, the woman who got 2nd place in her age group approached me and asked me if I would take a photo of her and her friend. Of course I said yes. The friend of the 2nd place winner (sadly, I never got either of their names) had never done a 5K before this race, so they were both celebrating.

I congratulated them both and then noticed the hats that they both were wearing which said that they were breast cancer survivors. I mentioned to them that my mom is going through treatment for breast cancer, and it was like instantaneously we were friends.

They both asked me what type of cancer and what stage it is. They wanted to know what treatments she’s had already and what treatments she has coming up. And they wanted to know how she was doing. I shared her information with them and they both shared their stories with me.

While I’ve noticed that since I’ve shared my mom’s story with others that people have been sharing their stories with me. There are friends that I never knew had family members with breast cancer who have told me how well their family members have been doing. I know this might sound horrible, but it’s almost like now I’m a member of a secret club or sorority. As soon as someone who has gone through this learns what my family is going through, they take me under their wing.

It’s kind of nice because this is a big unknown for my family and I appreciate getting advice and hearing stories of how well people are doing after cancer.

I know that sometimes it seems like everything is about breast cancer and not about other cancers (and I’ve read plenty of stories about pink items not going to support breast cancer charities). But I appreciate that so many people are willing to share their stories with me and giving me and my family support.

And to the ladies that I spoke to on Sunday, I’m sorry that I didn’t get your names and properly introduce myself. But thank you for sharing your stories with me and for wishing my mom the best.

Cancer Questions (or Hopefully This Will Help Someone Else)

Ever since I posted on here about my mom having breast cancer, I’ve gotten a ton of support. This is so appreciated because my family is going through uncharted waters here. Nobody in our family has had breast cancer before and even though most of my family is in the medical field, there is still a lot of unknown for us.

I’ve also gotten questions from people who want to know more information about what is going on. Some of the things are private, but I want to share a bunch of stuff on here. When my mom was diagnosed, I did a lot of searching online for support and what to expect. I had to be careful where I looked because there is a lot of crazy scary information and I don’t need to become obsessed with what’s out there.

So here are a couple of questions that people have asked me and that I hope will help anyone else going through what my family is going through.

What is my mom’s treatment plan?

My mom had her mastectomy during the summer and is pretty much healed from that. She believes (and I agree with her) that the surgery probably got all of the cancer out of her body. But as a precaution, she is now having chemo. My dad goes with her and since our family dog is a therapy dog, he can go too (I don’t think he has gone yet). She will have a few months of chemo and then finish with some radiation to get rid of any cancer that may be left. I’m so optimistic that this treatment will result in her being 100% cancer free in the end.

Has my mom lost her hair?

As I am typing this, she has not lost her hair. With the type of chemo drugs that she’s getting, she will probably lose it. But she already has an amazing wig and will be wearing that. She actually wore it to my brother’s wedding and I think it looks amazing (she thinks it even looks better than her real hair).


Am I going to get tested for BRCA (the breast cancer gene)?

This was one of the first things I asked my mom once I stopped crying when she told me she had cancer. I wanted to know if I needed to be tested. As of right now, I’m not being tested. It doesn’t really work like that. First my mom and I are going to take an online class about what it means if you get tested and test positive for the mutation. Then my mom has to meet with a geneticist. After that, my mom gets tested. If she tests positive for the mutation, then she will share that with me and I can decided if I want to get tested (I think that if it comes to this, I will). With my family background being Ashkenazi Jew, I already have a 1 in 4 chance of having this mutation. But if my mom tests negative for the mutation, the chances of me having it are extremely slim so I would not get tested.

Is there anything that people can do to help my family?

This is one of the most common questions people have asked me, and it is one of the most wonderful things that people could ask. As of right now, no, there is nothing that my family needs. My mom is doing amazing and my dad is there to help with anything she needs. If anyone would like to do anything, I ask that you donate to weSPARK. They support people with cancer and their families, and donations help to keep all their programs free of charge. I’m trying to raise $100 before the 5K in November and would love any help you would be willing to give to help me reach that goal.

I hope the answers I’ve given help you understand more of what my mom is going through and see that despite a cancer diagnosis, my mom is kicking as much butt as usual. And if you have a parent with breast cancer and want to chat, feel free to reach out to me. I’m more than happy to connect with people who are in the same boat.

Mentoring Circle (or Women Who Support Each Other)

Yesterday I had my first meeting with my Women in Film mentoring circle. This circle consists of two mentors (my mentors are a tv producer and film agent) and 8 mentees.

We met at UTA which is one of the big agencies in town. It was a pretty intimidating building.


Makes me so grateful that my agents are in a location that is very welcoming and makes me feel like part of the team.

Our group had a lunch in one of the conference rooms, and for this first meeting, we just did introductions. Most of the women in my group are actors, but most of those actors also do something else (like how I produced the documentary). We do also have a writer and director in the group and I’m excited to get to learn from them.

One of the greatest things about this group is how nice and supportive everyone is. I try to be supportive with all my fellow actors out there. When a woman who is my direct competition (I joke that she is my evil twin) needed to know where the audition we both had was going to be, I gave her the info without hesitation. I know some people wouldn’t do that because it increases their chances to book the role, but I know that if I’m meant to book it, I’ll book it.

I’m so used to having to watch out for these ultra-competitve actors (and many of them are rude and try to knock you off your game in the waiting room). It was truly a breath of fresh air knowing that I wouldn’t have to encounter that in this room.

We will be meeting again in about 2 months (the program is designed to have 6 meetings in a year). I’m hoping to connect with some of my fellow mentees on Facebook or twitter because I’d love to be around supportive people more than every other month.

I think in any industry that is competitive, it is such an asset to find people who just want to make sure that everyone gets ahead and nobody gets left behind. I’m so lucky that I was put into a group like this where that is happening.