Monday, July 30, 2012

The Gift Of GUTS: Kristen Johnston

Image: David Khinda

She has made us ALL LAUGH with her acting chops, her insanely hilarious physical comedy line delivery and now has used her own words and GUTS to give an honest glimpse into her private life of success and substance abuse. Turns out Kristen Johnston is not only an Emmy award winning actress and a statuesque stunner but she is also a wonderful author and an addict in recovery.  Her New York Times best selling book "GUTS, the endless follies and tiny triumphs of a giant disaster" candidly and comically chronicles her road to fame, addiction and recovery. What I appreciated about the book was not only it's clever title GUTS which has a double meaning in both a figurative and literal sense but Kristen shines a light on the fact that we are ALL in this together and addicted to something. Also every word was penned by Kristen herself. It is a memoir about HER life in HER own words which in a literary sea saturated with celeb bio's and books is extremely unique and RARE.  No ghost writer here and I have it on good authority that she is one of the only celebs to pen her own memoir for which she immediately has my respect. She and I share the belief that only brutal honestly, accountability and sheer GUTS is the only way to heal and evolve. Let's be honest WE are ALL on the path to recovery on some level.

Book Cover & Me in bed w GUTS

I had the sincere pleasure of having a candid conversation with Kristen recently. She had me laughing, crying and then laughing some more. I can relate to her in several ways and strangely felt like I was talking to an old friend.


LG: What has been the most challenging/difficult part of the writing process?

KJO: "Interestingly enough it was the introduction. Which I literally wrote and re-wrote hundreds of times up until the last minute. I knew that it had to set the stage tonally for the book. First and foremost I know there are a lot of celebrity addiction memoirs so I was like, god I can't be another one of those. I also know that because I have been out of the public eye for so long, who knows what they thought of me at the time. They have not seen me for a long time, they probably think all celebrities are fed grapes and have a manni/peddi every morning. The bottom line is I'm just a hard working actress. I don't have a posse and I don't have handlers. My goal with the introduction was to introduce me as who I am, without saying HI I'm Kristen (Laughs). I wanted to get everybody on the same playing field regarding addition. I really wanted people to understand  that I'm not just talking to them as some actress in Hollywood. Some spoiled bitch who is so bored she has to take drugs. I'm talking to them as their sister, their cousin, their mailman, as their boss, everybody who has addiction. We are all the same." 

LG: Are you surprised with the amount of feedback you have received?

KJO: "90% of the response has been really great. The coolest part about GUTS for me is the feedback that is on the GUTS website, go to the Q&A section and see what I'm talking about. A lot of the feedback is from people who have a loved one who is an addict and that they have never understood addiction until they read my book. I'm surprised with the level of interaction and how much I care and I really do. I have to remember as an addict that I don't have all the answers.  It is ok that when someone reaches out to me in desperate straights it is ok to say I don't know how to help you"

 Image: David Khinda

LG: How has writing the book helped YOU?

KJO: "It has changed everything for me. It has certainly changed my whole view on life, on people, on sobriety. My understanding of sobriety was that you are either with AA or against AA. Now I have this great understanding about it does not have to be like counting the days of sobriety and the pressure it puts on you that if you have a relapse you have to start over. Can you imagine having four years of sobriety and then you  fuck up and go out and drink, or you cut, or you eat .. whatever your thing is, and have to start over - DAY 1. It is deflating and it is debilitating and I think it keeps people sick. I have also been very vocal about the second A - anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous was developed in the 30's when it was socially unacceptable to be honest. My point is; look if you want to keep it quiet, keep it quiet dude, non of my business but as I say at the end of the book - talk about it. Tell your boss you are struggling, it needs to become like "I have cancer" and it still isn't."

We talked a lot about honesty and gave her my two cents on how society does not encourage people to live by the truth but instead to shroud themselves with lies. She wholeheartedly agreed and went on to say "Everybody is a liar. We are taught that it is better to lie. People don't want to hear about it (truth/addiction), they would rather we keep quiet and stay in church basements and have our little cold Styrofoam coffee cup and walk down the block without eye contact .. FUCK THAT, I'm not going to do that anymore.  Why should I be ashamed of seeking help?" 

Image: David Khinda

She read me a story and letter to me from a 22 year old addict who's counsellor gave him GUTS to read in rehab after all other methods of treatments are unsuccessful. It changed his life and perspective and gave him hope that he could get well and that he was worth something.  He said "Thank you Miss Johnston, you don't know me but you may have just saved my life". It literally left me in tears and was so moving.

LG: What do you tell someone who asks how to approach or help their loved one who is an addict?

KJO: I wrote an article for TheFixx.com called "I ain't No Miss Sobriety" which will totally answer your question. 

She is working a project called SLAM (Sobriety, Learning and Motivation) to bring a "Sober School" to NYC and is 5 years into the process. There are currently over 30 sober high schools in the US (4 of which are in Boston) but nothing like it in New York. A lot of road blocks and hurdles ahead but Kristen and her team are on the road to getting this school opened. The statistics were unbelievable.  Kristen shared "ONE in every THREE teenagers meet the medical criteria for addiction". According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration 1 out of every 70 teens are admitted to rehab but when put back into a regular school post-treatment 80% will relapse in the first 90 days.  Kristen feels like this stat is realistically more like 90% or higher. She wants to provide a place that New York teens can get educated in an environment that promotes a lifestyle of recovery and success. You can help!  Go to SLAM's website to make a donation.

Kristen as Holly in the Exes

The world fell in love with Kristen years ago for her role as Sally on "3rd Rock From The Sun", on various world theatrical stages, for her numerous television and film roles (remember her Sex & The City Character Lexi?) and more recently for her Hilarious character Holly on the hilarious TV Land show "The Exes". I have personally fell in love with who she REALLY is thanks to her GUTS. She is flawed and fabulous, brash and beautiful, honest and hilarious. I'm excited to see/watch/read what she has in store for the world next. I don't know about you but I would like a front row seat.  Thank you Kristen for giving the world the gift of GUTS. Take a bow baby! BRAVO!

Connect with Kristen: 
Kristen take's a bow in her FAB Valentino mini dress on the set of The Exes


Time to hoist those freak flags and SPILL YOUR GUTS 

Tell Kristen and I a story from your life that took GUTS to face, overcome, or acknowledge. The best stories are the RAW HONEST ones and we want to hear yours! Comment below.



KJo on the set of Jimmy Fallon. 
The Fabulous Flip off w her REWIND ring.

34 comments:

  1. Kristen-I admire a gal with guts! I faced a big challenge working at a child abuse intervention program, where I was 2nd in command to an exec, director that was unethical to the point of having me fire people under false pretences, forging signatures to obtain more funding, and embezzling money from a non profit agency that was supposed to help at risk children. Everyone knew, no one would stand up to her. After I left due to medical reasons, I continued to hear of her wrong doing and I couldn't stand by knowing what was happening there. I decided I was the one to put a stop to it. The gutsy part? My husband, our only source of income was still employed there, and I was putting his job in jeopardy. I couldn't let that fear stop me from doing the right thing. I decided to contact the board of directors, emplored former co-workers to be honest. To make a long story a little shorter, after compiling evidence, I was granted a meeting with the board, and the unknowing wrong doer who had intimidated and emotionally abused me for over a decade present. My heart has never pounded so hard as I walked into that room with my head held high to read my prepared statement to these people who put all their faith in her. Exposing her many crimes in front of her was the most empowering thing I've ever done. My favorite part was singing "another one bites the dust" complete with foot stomp. That was her signature signal that a hardworking employee that she had it out for was about to be given the axe. While I take no pleasure in others pain, the fact that she couldn't look at me, and her head sunk as I sang, was an amazing moment for me. It showed I no longer feared her, and that despite possible personal repercussions for my family it was the right thing to do for the program that I'd worked so hard for. She was fired that day, my husband was given her job, and I received a gold whistle charm from my mom, who was so proud of her whistleblowing daughter. After that time in the room facing her and telling the truth, I knew I could handle anything life threw my way, no matter how uncomfortable. Here's to women with guts that take no bullshit!

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    1. LOVE IT! Too few women speak up. Rock on, lady. KJo

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  2. Oh guts, just recently I faced a situation that required GUTS and lots of them. My mother has almost died six times this year. On January 8, she entered the hospital with a "blood clot" in her leg and was put into medically induced comma for what was to be 48 hours. Forty-five days later she awoke after surviving acute septic shock, not usually a good outcome with that diagnosis. She was sent to a rehabilitation hospital for thirty days where my family and I proceeded to see her not receive the care that was expected, we weren't expecting too much. Within 48 hours of her thirtieth day in the rehabilitation center, she attained a 106 degree temperature and went right back into septic shock, almost dying for the second time before our eyes. Back to the ICU she went for another two months, she survived but it was discovered that while she was at the rehabilitation hospital she attained a fungal infection on one of her heart valves which would require open heart surgery. We were told it would take a miracle for her to survive surgery but it would take a miracle for her to survive period. We opted for no surgery, seeing as this was "Mom", we wanted to give her a chance. She progressed in the ICU and was transferred to a Pulmonary floor. By the way, she is at this time still currently on a ventilator with a tracheotomy. She blew everyone away, got off the ventilator and was able to sit up for the first time in six months, it's June by now. Again, we were told she wasn't a candidate for open heart surgery and might now walk again. Well, it is now July 31st and my mother walked 170 feet without fainting or her heart stopping in the past two weeks. She is making amazing progress and the doctors said she is a living miracle.

    I say this took guts because while I was not the one going through this, I was affected. I managed to pull the best grades I've ever gotten, was given a graduate assistantship and was accepted into graduate school for communications. It tooks guts to not become a victim in this situation and it took guts to even tell this story!

    Hilary
    theyoungandthenaive@gmail.com

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    1. Wow. GUTSY broad, your mom is. What a harrowing nightmare, and I know only too well the loneliness and total powerlessness of being a patient.
      I love this story, but I'm wondering if you could add a bit about your GUTS...I understand it was a nightmare for your family, but was there a moment where you had to be stronger than you ever imagined?
      Or how did you change b/c of this?
      Last, clearly you adore your mom: why?

      Or, leave as is. It's still perfection, I just wanted more deets.
      OH! And I recommend you take ur email addy down. Don't worry, if u win, Lisa will track u down.

      Thank you for sharing such a personal story, and I hope ur mom continues to get better & better. She's my kinda lady.
      As are you

      Kristen

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  3. Last year when I got diagnosed with bipolar I was on the edge of losing my job and all that I had worked for because my mind, heart, and soul were spinning out of control, so I decided to seek counsel with the middle school counselor at the school I was serving while participating in AmeriCorps program called, City Year, I feel like that took GUTS because there was literally no one I could talk to about my issues, and when all else failed, this counselor stepped in. I feel like that experience took the most out of me, but also helped me gain a new perspective on my life as it stands now!

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    1. I'm confused...you mean it took guts to admit to the Army you had BP? Can you clarify, hon? Love, KJo

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    1. Oh no! I wanted to read it...Kristen

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  5. (Initially, I had to delete this in order to edit and resubmit it)

    I come from a large family. I'm the youngest of five with 14 aunts and uncles, 14 cousins on my paternal side and 12 on my maternal. We all grew up together, always someone around to keep me company. My maternal great-grandmother was still young and active, as were my maternal grandparents.

    After nearly 20 years of emotional abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and threats on my life if I told, I took out a restraining order on the family perpetrator - at age 22. With no one at my side, the court advocate failing to show up, I had to decide whether to continue. I had never spoken out about the abuse, that was still occuring, but became increasingly concerned about my then young nieces and nephews.

    At the hearing for the restraining order, I spoke the words publicly for the first time, the first time my family heard my experience aloud; "I was sexually abused by *insert name* and feared for my life".

    Despite evidence and a pending criminal case, the judge rescinded my 10-day order. The perpetrator was free to continue to harm me.

    From that day on, *no one* in my large, extended or immediate family spoke to me. I was shunned.

    I was alone and literally homeless. After living in my car, during one of the worst NE winters, I managed to find a job, an apartment and years later, obtain a college degree.

    It's been 23 years since that day in court. For safety concerns I legally changed my name, my phone number is still unpublished, my public records sealed and I vote anonymously in all local/state/national elections to avoid being found.

    Why? My life was threatened after speaking out in an effort to protect other children.

    It hasn't been easy. While I struggled with anorexia since early childhood, this experience threw me deeper into my addiction in an effort to cope. I then spent 10 years in and out of the hospital. I'm healthy now which is a miracle in and of itself. But I still miss my family. My beloved nieces and nephews, all under age five at the time, are grown with children of their own (thanks to social networking I found this out recently). It breaks my heart I never got to know them.

    The DA eventually decided my case wasn't a case to be won and dropped the charges.

    I used my voice, despite the life-long death threats. I spoke out. I tried to protect other children. I hope I made a difference somewhere, in someone's life but I'll never know.

    I think of my family daily, the void never having disappeared. My heart aches. But I would do it again. I have no regrets.

    It takes GUTS for all of us to face our challenges, our despair, and continue living in this crazy, effed-up but beautiful world.

    Find your voice. Find your GUTS. Be well.

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    1. I truly can't believe you survived. I am honored to know you, and hope someday we meet.

      Love
      KJo

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    2. Thank you, KJo. Maybe one day my book will be published and I'll be able to inspire others as you've inspired us. I, too, hope our paths will one day cross :o)

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    3. "I hope I made a difference somewhere, in someone's life" You have certainly made one in mine! WOW! BEYOND GUTS! I wish there was more people like you in the world. Thank you for sharing your story xox Lisa

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  6. I`ll make it quick. I struggled with alcoholism since I was 15. I was sober for 13 years then relapsed for 7. Tried and tried to defeat the demons, but they were always stronger. Then one morning, after hearing my son say that "Mom isn`t herself" I dropped to my knees and asked for help. That was April 2nd of this year. I know it`s not cured, but I pray every day for strength and so far so good. I know I never have to feel such despair again...it`s all a choice..and I chose daily to stay away from the very thing that had such a grip,on me. One day at a time I heal.

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  7. Love it, can't wait to see what you do next! Come check out my blog, maybe we can follow each other!
    Material Fixations

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  8. Coming up from the Rabbit Hole !!!
    Finally, a voice of intelligent truth amid the fucking mess that is addiction recovery these days. Addiction runs thru our streets, our veins …. worming it's way into our bravery & fierceness. Your honesty Kristen, feels like coming home. I have been immersed in the colors of addiction all my life : booze, food, shopping, working, sex, perfectionism, control … THEN . . let's add a touch of the crazy, or why not a large scoop of nothing more than Wild Kaleidoscope Human . . ShaZzaM !! Elements of addiction, and it's all it's wacky fucked-up friends & relations take root in our life … making us NOT our best self. I was NOT my best self …. until I could hold myself soul-culpable & live like it matters. My need to belong, to be loved, to be all bright & shiny …. needed to be trumped by only the intent to BE love … to be Authentic.
    Thank You Kristen for Boldly Showing Up …. for stepping into the Wonder-Muck that is Life - and showing us All a thing ,,, or two or seven … Guts & Glory Baby !!!!

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    1. Soozie...

      You, my friend, are without a doubt, a WRITER. You use words to paint a feeling, like an artist. I hope you write more...especially amazing complimentary shit about yours truly!

      Love,
      KJo

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  9. The truth is that I have grandchildren who are experimenting with drugs...It was breaking my heart because I WANT to help and didn't know where to start.

    On my way to buy the book "GUTS" and am SO grateful for this article and every article in Evolution Revolution!

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  10. So proud of all of you. You're all Generous,Gorgeous, Gutsy broads. I guess no men have 'GUTS'....
    KJo

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  11. Hi Kristen :)

    Well, I may be only 16, but technically still a man, and I feel like, although my stories have no way near as amazing as the ones that she amazing women have shared, I do believe I have "guts". My life is strenuous, but I survive and have a strong will to keep going. I'm an advanced placement student, I attend one of the most prostigious programs in my state which I was selected from a group of 200 applicants. I take high school courses to get a diploma along with taking rigorous college courses taught by professors with college students on the college campus, which is where my school is located. I live that life of a hard working student throughout August-May and it's tough for me. However, the most tiring and stressing part is that my mom, who's going through divorce from my dad right now, and I have to take care of my 84 year-old grandmother. She is diagnosed with dementia, she's legally blind, and is hard to handle. I have to take care of her all my life, she's been with us for about 11 years now, but she didn't get this bad until 2007. She's slowly been decreasing in health and lately it's been hard on me. She gets very ill easily, she's forgetful and doesn't remember where she is. She raised ten children so she remembers those times and wonders where her kids are. It's hard on me, I don't get to live the life of a regular teenager, I already work double time in school and that's stressing, but at home is also tiring. I have a lot of work every night, sometimes three or four hours with of homework, but I'm constantly up and down because my grandma has to have care and calls for me almost every other minute. I know that it's the right thing for me to, she needs me, and I'm glad I'm there but it stresses me out a lot and I don't feel someone that's 16 years old needs that kind of stress in their life. I wish some of her other family would help out with her, my mom tries so hard, but her 8 living brothers and sisters hardly do anything. A phone call once a week and they think that's enough. I struggle alot to take care of her. I lose my temper sometimes and I don't mean to, but I do. I don't understand why she doesn't understand. Honestly, it's as simple as that. I wish she would realize that some days I'd like to be a normal teenager, but she believes I need to wrapped at her fingertips 24/7 waiting on her hand and foot. I start back to school on the 20th and I'm looking forward to it actually. I needed the break because school is a lot of work to, but school is the best excuse for me to get time away from my house. This has been great for me to vent out my problems, I'm sorry for anyone that actually had to read this, but a lot of my emotions have to stay bottled up and it weighs on my heart. I don't know if that's what you call "guts" KJo, but I feel it's about the best thign I could share with you. I am proud of what I do for my grandma, I know I will appreciate it later in life. Thanks for this opportunity to speak out! :) I love you, appreciate all of your work, I believe you're such a terrific actress, would love to read your book.

    Best wishes to you-
    Dallas

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    1. ARGH I just wrote the longest reply, Dallas! It didn't "take". I'll re-write in a bit.

      KJo

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  12. I was introduced to cocaine at about 15, I hung out with people that were 4-5 years older than me because I was quite a tag-along with my cousins. Well it didn't take me long to become a full blown coke-head, I loved this shit, I was invincible, beautiful, wanted. Keep in mind that this was the 80's and you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting someone with and 8 ball in their pocket, and everyone was ready to party, so paying for it was a very rare event.
    One night I was treated to a dealers night out, my best friend was engaged to the biggest dealer in town and he was taking us out. Limo, champagne and all the cocaine you could want, everyone in the limo got a 12x12 square of mirror with their initials in coke to start the night off right. So after about 12 hours of drinking, drugging and dancing on top of half the bars in NYC we all went back to some guys house in Brooklyn, where the party was supposed to continue.
    I laid down on a couch in the basement of this strangers house, my body was spent, I mean completely exhusted, but my mind was racing not to mention my heart. I mean I could feel it beating in my eyeballs and I thought it was going to burst from my chest, grab a straw and do a line on its own!
    After some sleep in my own bed, and an agonizing time trying to recall the events of the previous time period (because at that point night & day did not exsist)I did what everyone thought was the cowardly thing, and ran away.
    What they didn't know was that I ran to upstate NY and isolated myself from the situation. I found NA and went to a meeting everyday, until I had no desire to touch that shit again.
    That was more that 20 years ago, and I only relapsed once.
    I still struggle with the underlying issues that led me to addiction in the first place, but I'm a work in progress and I never expect to be perfect. I don't nessesarily believe that NA has all the answers, and I don't agree with everything they teach, but they were my saving grace in the beginning. Now I have taken over, I will be my own saving grace, with the help of my family and friends I know I will be the best me I can be.

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  13. About 4 months ago a friend I've known since high school wrote me a letter out of the blue to tell me how she had this big secret problem with addiction and how she finally got clean and everything. What she didn't know is I had the same problem and her letter made me realise how bad it was and that I needed to get clean too or I would die. I think I threw most of my GUTS up during that process. We got talking over the internet and compared stories, and then one day she said we should meet up. I only did that once before and it turned out really really badly, but I jumped on a plane anyway. I'm so glad I did because now she's one of my best friends. The part that took GUTS was not admitting I was an addict, not the horrors of withdrawl and not meeting someone from the internet who for all I knew was a complete psycho now. The part that terrified me was what if I am not a better person once I'm clean? That's the part that took real GUTS, removing something that had been such an integral part of me for so long that I didn't even know if there would be anything left over. Meeting an internet friend in real life can be daunting, but it's nothing compared to meeting yourself for the first time. I'm still not sure if I like the new me yet, but at least I have GUTS now thanks to her - metaphorically and physically.

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  15. Ok so here is my GUTSy story.
    You guys may know that not just alcohol and drugs are addictive. Sugar, Salt, MSG, aspartame, and many other food 'ingredients' are as well. Actually, they in addition of meat and meat products are the #1 cause of death in the US. (do some research).
    I am pretty tall, and was most of my life pretty skinny, during the last 15 years I gained over 80lbs !!! to almost 260lbs. I worked out (another addiction) til I almost dropped to lose maybe 30 or 40lbs. When I stopped I gained it right back. until last year I said enough is enough. I got myself a Juicer and started a 60 day juice fast with only juice and water.
    when you juice you are still eating, but cutting out most of the fiber.
    What is left are so called micro nutrients, anyway. I got rid of all the food in cans and boxes and only bought fresh veggies and fruit.
    My friends and family called me nuts and said I'd be anorexic... or maybe I am ill? It is pretty tough all by itself. Like I said food is very addictive these days and if you cut down you go through withdraws just like any other addict. It takes 90 days for your body to get rid of addiction, I once read... I stopped coffee, too. Just had wine every weekend, but I limited that to only when it's dark... addicts gotta be functioning over the course of the day. I could down a bottle a night or maybe even two bottles of red wine, for all the healthy benefits, of course. That went on until I came along Kristen Johnston's book, Called 'Guts' and boy did I have a rude awakening. I was on the best way to become an addict. Of course I wasn't one ,yet. because I would have to admit to it... So I stopped drinking all together.
    I became a mostly (raw) vegan and started to spread the word about a healthier lifestyle and all the benefits of it. And I can tell you , it is a tough battle. People don't really want to know what they eat, and don't understand how much we are addicted to what we eat.
    It really takes a ton of Guts. And here I am , spilling my Guts. Not literally,thank god. I wouldn't wish that anyone to happen. Especially in a 'ospital in england , where everyone thinks you're just being annoying with your cries in pain. (You Guys get to read all about it in GUTS)
    take care
    ~michael

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  16. My whole life, I have been a slave to mental disorders. The first, which I rarely speak of, was hoarding. It was basically shamed out of me, rather than treated. Next, was OCD, which obviously went along with the first. General anxiety has been prevalent as far as I can remember, but wasn't formally diagnosed until I was eighteen. This year, at 21, I added two more to my list: depression, and the scariest beast of all, borderline personality disorder. All of these I used to justify my self-destructive behaviors, whether it was hoarding strange and ultimately useless items in a sea of clutter, mixing pills and alcohol just to see what would happen, or cutting so deeply that I could barely even lay down on my legs, let alone move them. Pouring chemicals into open wounds seemed fun, too, and that became a major rush for me, and the whole time I thought, "I can't help it."

    Of course, I also wasn't actively seeking treatment, either. I wanted to die. I couldn't even imagine making it through the weekend sometimes, let alone the summer, or, god forbid, the rest of my life.

    When I read GUTS, I gained a lot of perspective. It wasn't as much that I was "scared straight" by the terrifying medical ordeals described, but more that it was really the first time I fully was able to grasp that I am not alone. Maybe the diagnoses and behaviors were different, but the feelings of, "yeah, this is what I need to feel okay," that was the same. I had never met anyone who struggled like I did, so to read a book that was actually human and relatable, well that basically blew my mind. I was exhausted both mentally and physically, and my body was in a constant state of pain (though, admittedly, no where near the kind of pain that one endures when one's guts blow up). I was just done.

    And yet, I wasn't. I knew I had to get better. I knew I had no choice. It was get better or die, and I just couldn't let that last option happen. But to get better, I had to admit I had a problem. I had to ask for help.

    That was the worst thing I ever had to do in my life. To look my mom in the eye and see her the terror in her expression, knowing it was mirrored in my own was the most shameful, heartbreaking, and downright brave thing I've ever done. I sucked aside the embarrassment and guilt I felt and agreed to go in for treatment. I agreed to be honest. I agreed to try, and I agreed to live.

    I'm not fixed. A book can't fix me; no one can but myself. I've been trying, and what I can say is that reading this book and encouraging messages have given me strength and inspiration to do just that. I've met other people, too, who understand. Some online, some in person. I can barely describe the feeling of relief I felt when I first spoke up in group therapy and asked, "has anyone ever felt like this?" to see 5 heads nodding back at me. I'm not better, and I don't know if I will ever be "better". As I've read in a hundred articles and interviews, addictions and mental disorders don't ever disappear completely. It's a constant, lifelong struggle, and I'm only 13 weeks, 6 days in. But I have a shot at actually living, not just surviving. Speaking out in any place, in any way, has required so much more strength than I ever could have imagined. Silence kills the soul, and once the soul is gone, it's only a matter of time before the body perishes after. I couldn't be silent. I couldn't let myself perish.

    Well I'm not sure if that's what you were looking for with this, and I know I've shared my story before. I don't really need a signed book, honestly. Really, I just wanted people to know why GUTS means so much to me, and how a book changed my life. It gave me the knowledge that I don't have to always live like I was, and I don't have to know everything or fix everyone. I am truly thankful for Kristen, for her incredible book and immense bravery and strength to share her own story with us.

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    1. oh god. hah I haven't used my google account in forever and forgot this was my display name. how embarrassing!

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    2. Truly exquisite.
      Love
      KJo

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  17. I thought I posted last night, but I guess it never took.

    one of my gutsy stories is packing up my life at the age of 30. Leaving the non supportive boyfriend and job of six years and moving to NYC to pursue my love of theater. Everyone told me I was crazy and too old. I said screw You! to everything that was against me and walked into Times Square with my tiny suitcase.

    I found an apt share on 79th and West End for $400. Anyone who knows NYC knows how crazy great that is - this was in 2000. Lets say I lived in the same hood as Al Franken, Nora Ephron and Anderson Cooper for a measly $400 a month.

    I worked professionally in theater for a couple of years. Worked with some big names, worked on some award winning shows and got it out of my system. I now work the corporate life and I am quite pleased because I got a very big WHAT IF out of System.

    My wish for everyone every day is to never live with a WHAT IF. Have guts and go get it.

    And guess what? when you have GUTS -- life *is* on your side. I learned that life turns out better than I ever even imagined whenever I have GUTS. It literally always leaves me falling to my knees in sheer awe.

    And that's why I have bad knees.........

    :-)~


    @The_Steffer

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  18. I originally posted this on Twitter but advised to post it on here too so here goes:

    Hmmm...I think I got #GUTS after @Valablack was 1 of my sounding boards after I was going a tough time. She listened to me, and told me to go for my dream. Because of her, some other supportive friends and family, I went back to school to complete a post-graduate program that was just being introduced, and well yeah.. I did it and graduated with honours. Along the way, I realized going for a dream of going back to school took not only #GUTS but inspiration to do more in life. So yes, going for your dream takes #GUTS, and I'm thankful I did. :) Wow. I rambled LOL

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  19. Dear everyone..

    KJo here.

    I am sitting here with goosebumps on my arms & tears in my eyes. Thank you all for your incredible stories. Whether it be surviving incest, getting healthy, reaching out to a friend to say you need help, sacrificing your teen years to take care of your sick grandma, moving to NYC to pursue your dreams...they are each heroic & inspirational. I'm dazzled & deeply honored that you all opened your hearts. I know it's not easy!
    Therefore...

    THE WINNER IS.....

    Oh, come on! ALL OF YOU!!!
    How on earth could I ever pick just one?

    I'm not quite sure how this works, but Lisa & I will find a way to get your info privately (BE SURE TO INCLUDE THE NAME YOU WANT ME TO SIGN BOOK TO!)

    And I'll send you a copy of GUTS asap.

    Much much love to you all.

    You made my week! And thank you Lisa, for the brilliant article & GREAT idea!!!)

    Love
    KJO

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    Replies
    1. Gutsy, beautiful, talented AND generous! Thanks Kristen! So looking forward to reading the book! I told Lisa the other day that I thought this was her best blog to date. Your story was inspirational, and going back and recalling my gutsy tale refueled me-reminding me of the power that I, and we all possess to make a change, make a difference, and be strong women. Nice work Lisa, Kristen, and all you brave, strong women! Xo, Sydney

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  20. Thanks Kristen for YOUR GUTS that have obviously inspired us ALL!! CONGRATS TO EVERYONE!! You are all BEYOND brave and Gutsy. I'm glad we could all share in this experience together and I hope the stories will serve to inspire others to dig deep and make the changes they need to make in life to be authentically happy and healthy!!

    Please e-mail your info - Name you want the book signed to AND your mailing address to lisa@evolution-vintage.com

    Much love and respect to each of you!

    LisaG
    XOOXXO

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  21. Thank you Lisa and Kristin. You're awesome :o)

    I checked everyday to see if there was a new story. I *loved* reading them and took something away from each one - and wanted to say thank you to each writer.

    This was an interesting exercise. Truth be told, it felt gutsier to write my story here than living the story itself. Breaking that silence (shame?) isn't easy, is it? I imagine others also had to set aside their fears to tell their story. But what freedom, eh? That's the real prize :o)

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  22. I have obtained half of the addresses & names of the winners ... if you have left a GUTSY story please and have not already done so PLEASE send your name & mailing address to me lisa@evolution-vintage.com Thanks XO

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