mental illness

Re(Pro) #50: Lisa McLaughlin

Lisa McLaughlin

So excited to share part 2 of our WorkitHealth women in entrepreneurship duo, Ms. Lisa McLaughlin! You met Robin McIntosh in part 1; now meet her business parter and friend, Lisa. These women have set out to change the world of digital recovery - and their blog features some of the biggest recovery movers and shakers (Olivia Pennelle, Lara Frazier, and yours truly). Thank you for all you do, Lisa!



Name: Lisa McLaughlin

Age: 38

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 4/10/2002

Creative niche:
Entrepreneurship and writing. I am a co-founder at Workit Health and spend most of my time designing the future of recovery through Telehealth with my amazing business partner Robin McIntosh (we met in the room in Oakland in 2009) and out incredible team. At Workit I do a lot of public speaking and recovery advocacy work. I mentor other women entrepreneurs in my spare time. I write daily but don't publish as much as I should.

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:
Cocaine, but really I didn't discriminate. I was a nineties raver so mostly ecstacy, opium, meth, hallucinogens, alcohol, marijuana, and an unfortunate quantity of whip its.

Recovery story in a nutshell:

I started drinking and using drugs when I was 15 and spiraled fairly rapidly. I'm Irish-Italian so the genetic setup was there. My addiction was largely driven by social anxiety that emerged in adolescence as I moved away from a deeply religious upbringing in the Baptist Church to a wider social network of kids from all over the world at a large public high school.

Being numbed out and less anxious was a total win for me in the beginning. I had a rough run from 15 to 22, most of which was spent blacked out in warehouses in Detroit dressed in jnco jeans taking whatever I could acquire with whichever low quality skateboarder boyfriend I had at the time. By 22 I had been hospitalized for alcohol poisoning (turned blue, resuscitated), gone temporarily blind for six hours in a k-hole, had multiple run-ins with the law, and experienced a lot of exposure to violence and trauma.

My bottom occurred when I was high during a mental health crisis my brother had (he has schizophrenia). I wasn't able to be fully there for him during a terrifying turning point in his life when he really needed me to admit him to the hospital. I realized the extent of my spiritual bankruptcy when it seemed like a good idea to leave him and "go back to the club."

I got sober through court-mandated AA, a decade of therapy, and a lot of love from women in recovery. Its been an odyssey. Here's 16 Ways my Recovery has Changed at Year 16:

Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools: 

1. Meditation / Breathwork
2. Cardio
3. The Workit App
4. Daily Social Outreach
5. Writing


Connect with Lisa.

Facebook: @Lisa.Mclaughlin | @WorkitHealth
Twitter: @Lmclaug | @WorkitHealth
Instagram: @Lmclaug | @WorkitHealth

Re(Pro) #47: Paula Hoss

Paula Hoss

I love Paula. She's amazing, inspirational, gorgeous, and just beacon of light. I've been using her skincare line, CLN&DRTY and ZOMG it's like my own personal spa. Share in the comments what your favorite item of hers is from her line. If you haven't tried it yet, go on an Easter Egg hunt in the post because there are a couple of links to shop with a 15% off coupon.
 So like I said, I love Paula. You will too. Read on.


Name: Paula Hoss

Age: 34

Location: Massachusetts

Recovery date (turning point for substance use disorder or mental illness): 1/21/2008

My own bathroom countertop.

My own bathroom countertop.

Creative niche: Skincare Entrepreneur
[Shop CLN&DRTY for 15% off with coupon code SOBER15).

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:
Alcohol & benzos

Your story in a nutshell:

I began suffering from symptoms of bipolar disorder when I was 15 years old and around the same time started to self medicate. I got sober for the first time at 18 and was able to stay sober for 3 years. I was active in the hardcore music scene, so I saw my sobriety more as straight edge rather than recovery.

At 20 I found myself in a highly abusive relationship, 400 miles away from home and isolated from my friends and family. The relationship ended with assault, kidnapping and terroristic threat charges against him, and I was left with severe PTSD and my bipolar disorder was acting out in full force.

Soon after, I picked up drinking again. I remember taking the first drink after those 3 years of sobriety and just feeling the whole world lift off of my shoulders. I felt like all of my fear, my anxiety, all of the trauma was being lifted away.

I was 21 and quickly spiraled into regular blackout drinking and substance abuse within the year. I again isolated myself from friends and family and moved to a city where I could live alone and drink and use without anyone's intervention.

At age 24, I hit rock bottom. [Editor's note: Me too!] There wasn't an arrest or an overdose, but rather a 6 month period where I would wake up every single morning, swearing that this was the last time and then would pick up by the evening.

I woke up on January 21, 2008 and felt more empty than I had ever felt in my life. I felt worthless, numb and depressed beyond belief. I crumbled on the floor and started sobbing and praying. I knew that I would either have to get sober or I would be dead within weeks.

I'm proud to say that I've been sober since that day, for over 10 years. In the early years, I was incredibly active in AA. I did the 12 steps, had a sponsor and sponsored other women. I got active in a young person's community and those people truly saved my life.

Further into my sobriety, I became a wife and a mother. I shifted my understanding of a Higher Power to a relationship with Jesus Christ. I began attending a non-denominational church and since my problem was no longer active drinking, but rather the shame and pain that went along with my lifestyle, I started connecting with and mentoring women of all backgrounds.

Part of my platform as a business owner is telling my story of surviving mental illness and substance abuse. I'm passionate about showing women that no matter where they are, no matter how far down they've gone, they can redeem themselves. That every single awful thing that they've done (because if you're reading this, I know you have that list in your head: the terrible moments that you pass off as party stories but you know in your heart that you are so ashamed of) can totally be wiped clean.

Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1) The Big Book of AA
2) The Bible
3) Someone who is further along in sobriety than you
4) Someone is younger in sobriety than you
5) God

Click above to shop Paula's CLN&DRTY store and get 15% off your order!

Click above to shop Paula's CLN&DRTY store and get 15% off your order!


Connect with Paula.

Instagram: @CLNandDRTY
Etsy: @CLNandDRTY

Re(Pro) #39: Amy Dresner

Amy Dresner RePro

It's this beauty's 5 year anniversary today so can we get a FUCK YEAH!? Long ago and far away (sometime last spring), Amy gave me her own "eff yes" when I asked her to be one of the next Re(Pro)s. We were going to time my clicking "publish" around her own book launch date in September 2017 for My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean. But, life happened. I got catfished (and had to report the whole debacle to the FBI - I'll be writing about it soon, now that the dust has settled). And so my life was upside down and then I admittedly forgot to post Amy's profile, especially since I hadn't had a chance to read her magnificent memoir. I'm still working on it (honesty! progress, not perfection!) but I couldn't let her 5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY go down in history without this little gift.
So this is from me to you, Amy.  Happy 5 years*!


Name: Amy Dresner

Age: 47

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): *1/02/2013

Creative niche: 
Writing. I've been a contributing editor to addiction/recovery mag since 2012 and I just had my first book published by Hachette, an addiction memoir called "My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean".

If applicable, drug of choice: 
Crystal meth and IV cocaine although I was an equal opportunity abuser: pot, booze, mushrooms, Ativan, Oxycontin. At the end I really enjoyed Four Loko cuz I’m classy like that.


Recovery story in a nutshell: 
I was a late bloomer and a chronic relapser. I didn’t drink till I was 19. Smoked pot at 21. I tried meth at 24 and it immediately opened up some terrifying voracious vortex in me. Thus began the cycle of rehabs, psych wards, suicide attempts. Twenty years in and out of the rooms. I’d have periods of sobriety and then just eat sand again. It was awful. I tried to stay away from booze because it made me violent and naked which I enjoyed but others…not so much. Things culminated when I was arrested high as a kite on Oxy for felony domestic violence and went to jail. I lost everything: my marriage, my sanity, my financial security. After a few more relapses and yet another suicide attempt and stay in treatment, I ended up spending two and half years in a women’s sober living, doing 240 hours of court-ordered community labor. That’s what it took for me to finally take full responsibility for my life and the consequences of my addiction. I did a major attitude overhaul thanks to the steps, my newfound poverty and my humbling penal labor and finally grew up in my 40’s. Been sober ever since.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1. Writing (what a surprise!)
2. Humor
3. Running my idiotic ideas by my sponsor
4. Service (in and out of the rooms)
5. Sleep (When I feel totally nuts, I unplug and take a nap.)

Connect with Amy.

My Fair Junkie

Re(Pro) #13: Vero Higareda

Re(Pro) template vero.png

If you look closely at the clouds, you might see a familiar face, wearing the #OCD spark bracelet.  

If you look closely at the clouds, you might see a familiar face, wearing the #OCD spark bracelet.  

Super excited to bring you our latest RePro by none other than Ms. Vero Higareda of Spark Bracelets.  This young lady (editor's note: wow, I feel old) is changing hearts and minds and challenging us all to #sparkaconversation about mental health through her beautifully designed bracelets.  10% of every sale goes to her Spark Fund--read more about that drop of golden philanthropy here.  Thank you, Vero, for showing us that mental illness is not a life sentence--in many ways, it's a gift.  


Name: Vero Higareda

Age: 22

Location: U.S./Mexico, here and there    

 Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 6/9/20111

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.): 
I design bracelets that represent different mental health issues in order to raise awareness and Spark conversations about mental illness. I also like to paint (although, being honest with you, I am very bad at it.)

Drug of choice (or not of choice...): 

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:
It's actually a looong story but I'll try to do it in a nutshell! When I was fifteen I realized that there was "something" wrong going on in my head. This 'something', this very painful, agonizing 'something' led me to try and attempt suicide. Fortunately, I survived and it has allowed me to be here to share my story. I didn't know what this something was until after tons of reading and research and help from my mom. This something is OCD, and in between I've dealt with depression as well. OCD manifests itself in many ways not restricted to cleaning and meticulous organizing. One of those manifestations is having obsessive, self-harming, thoughts, which lead to mental torment and physical compulsions. In my case, the stress caused by these obsessions and compulsions wore me down even physically. It really is something beyond your control and it can become a living hell. I tried around 6 therapists before I found a good match. I found someone who truly cared about my mental wellness and who understood that Citalopram and Rivotril were not going to help me unless I also helped myself. After 7 years of being in therapy I still have OCD but I am now able to live a fulfilling life – despite it. Now this is not to say that it has been easy. I dare to say that recovery from addiction or mental illness is never easy. But it can be done. It takes time, it takes effort, it's a process. I am glad I didn't give up, I hope that if you're reading this you don't give up either. In the words of The Sobriety Collective "sobriety and recovery are everywhere." <

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

 cannot tell you how reading saved my life so many times. At times when I felt that there was noo hope for me, I would find online forums and spaces (just like this one!) and would read other people's stories. It would give me sooo much encouragement because I thought, hey! there is someone out there, right now, who feels just like me. I am not alone. And if they have been able to recover and live well, then so can I! I also started reading a lot of textbooks that talked about OCD, mental illness, addiction, etcetera. I feel that reading and learning more about these subjects helps you give it meaning, and understand that there are things beyond your control but then there are also things which you can do to help yourself. It's also a good distraction, and you learn while you’re at it!

 I think this is one of the hardest things to do but once you start getting the hang of it a lil bit, it only gets easier from there. It's hard to love oneself, we are always criticizing ourselves, what we do, what we think, we compare ourselves to others... but once we start shutting off these voices, things start to change internally. When we hear inside our heads "you're ugly" or "you're dumb" and we respond NO, I AM NOT. I think this is where we start self-love. We need to constantly remind ourselves that we are beautiful, that we are loved, that we are meaningful. And if we learn to love ourselves, things start getting brighter and better.

To be completely honest, I have NEVER been a fan of exercising. But somehow running clears my mind off. Although, when I get my relapses of OCD, there is never really a time where I have a clear mind, running helps me distract myself even if it's just for seconds. It's also good for your physical health, so there we go, right!?

Ahhhhh, if there has been something that has helped me it has been therapy. There is a looot of stigma involving therapy; if you tell someone that you are seeing a psychiatrist you immediately get this, are you crazy? look. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH GOING TO THERAPY. Honestly, I think everyone should do it. I know therapy can be expensive, there have been moments in my life where I haven't been able to afford it. If you can't afford it then please talk to someone you love and that you know that will actually listen to you, and not judge you. Talking always helps.

Keeping a journal has helped me keep track of my thoughts and my emotions. How they have changed, how much progress (or lack of) there has been. It increases your self-awareness and it is nice to have your thoughts laid out, and in a journal you can express how you feel without fear of being judged. You’re also able to track your personal patterns of behavior that help you achieve goals and respond effectively to challenges.


Connect with Vero & Spark Bracelets.
Facebook: /SparkAConversation
Instagram: @bracelets_spark
Twitter: @verohigaredaaa