Episode 10 — Depression and Suicidality

This month we’re going to talk about some heavy stuff that a lot of us experience, especially during the holiday season: we’re going to talk with musician Amy McNally about ways she copes with depression and suicidal ideation, both with formal medical and psychological treatment and in ways she deals with it apart from that. Click through for links to resources on dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. Musical excerpts copyright Amy McNally, used with permission.

Cover image for the album Hazardous Fiddle, by Amy McNally & Friends

Hello and welcome to episode 10 of the podcast Tips and Tricks on How to be Sick.

I’m Eirenne and I will be your host as we talk about navigating the world as people with chronic illnesses, both physical and mental, disabilities, and the ways in which the world isn’t necessarily designed for us.

This month we’re going to talk about some heavy stuff that a lot of us experience, especially during the holiday season: depression and suicidal thoughts. We’re going to talk with musician Amy McNally about ways she copes with depression and suicidal ideation, both with formal medical and psychological treatment and in ways she deals with it apart from that. If you need to skip this episode for now, you should absolutely do what you need to in order to take care of yourself. This podcast will still be here later, when and if you feel up to listening to it.

After the interview, I will have some numbers, links, and resources for coping with depression and suicidal thoughts, and direct links to them included in the transcript, so stick around for that, as well as information about the different music you’re hearing this month. And now, let’s get to the interview.

[Eirenne]
So today we’re talking with Amy McNally. Amy is a professional musician, based in Wisconsin, and you may have noticed that there was a bit of different music when we started today? That would be her lovely fiddle playing. Amy’s going to come on here and talk with us about depression and suicidal ideation. So once again, this is some heavy topics and I understand if you need to skip this one, but it’ll be here if you want to come back and listen later. Amy, welcome to the podcast.

[Amy McNally]
Hey there!

[Eirenne]
I’m so glad that you wanted to come on and talk. So can you give us a little bit of background; about yourself, and your experiences with depression, and all of the, you know, fun stuff that goes along with that?

[Amy McNally]
Yeah! So, I’m neuroatypical. I’m depressed, anxious, and suicide runs in my family. I knew I was growing up different, ‘cause I had a single parent and I knew my mom was different, and an abusive alcoholic, and when I got to college, I wasn’t home and I couldn’t put my stress into schoolwork like I used to because schoolwork was stressing me out, and I was in the wrong major and that was the first time I really experienced suicidal ideation. That was when I was 19, I’m 36 now, and if I appear like I have my shit together, it is because I’ve had years and years of practice and therapy and carefully-balanced medications and a painstakingly constructed and maintained support network. I’ve been playing the violin since I was three and it’s been, you know, at times an unhealthy obsession or at times my saving grace, and it is a song that plays through my life, and I’m really grateful for that.

[Eirenne]
Well, I can tell you that your playing has been a light in my life on more than one occasion, and I have turned to your music when I have been in great need of comfort on a number of occasions.

[Amy McNally]
That means so much to me.

[Eirenne]
It is absolutely the truth. You feature heavily in my ‘let’s calm down and go to sleep playlist’ also. Like, I have specific favorites that go on that list and get woven in and, like, it starts the list and it ends the list, actually.

[Amy McNally]
Oh, that’s so awesome. You know, my sister once told me that when her first kid was born, that my album was like baby Kryptonite; it would always get Ariana to sleep.

[Eirenne]
Aww, how sweet! And I am sure that is some amazing associations for little baby.

[Amy McNally]
Oh, I hope so.

[Eirenne]
I mean, it’s definitely better than what mine was. My thing was a vacuum cleaner, so…

[Amy McNally]
That’s kind of cool though, I mean.

[Eirenne]
When Mom couldn’t get me to sleep, she would either turn on recordings of my father doing sports casting or a vacuum cleaner

[Amy McNally]
At least she had some go-to’s.

[Eirenne]
She did. I was colicky, so for the first several months of my life, I screamed non-stop.

[Amy McNally]
Wow.

[Eirenne]
So can you talk a little bit about the ways that you have have treated your depression, medications or otherwise, throughout your life?

[Amy McNally]
Sure! So, one thing I do is definitely take my meds. Since I was 19, I’ve been on Wellbutrin — or maybe 20? I started seeing a college counselor when I was 19 and we had some conversations. I was one of those people who thought, well, I should be able to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. You know, I should just shake it off, and and she said something that many people have said, which is, “you know, should diabetics just make their own insulin? You know, because maybe there just isn’t enough serotonin in your head, you know, and is that your fault?” And I had to stop myself from going, well, yes, of course, it must be. It was an argument that worked on me, and I started Wellbutrin, and it helped.

[Amy McNally]
But I’d been on it a long time, and one day, three or four years ago, I had a conversation with my psychiatrist on a day when I was the last appointment. Which meant that we had, like, all the time that we wanted and so she had the luxury of saying, “Hey, you know, let’s stop for second. Sometimes you talk about your low days, and you mentioned that and you’ve said that today, but you haven’t ever really talked about what they’re like.” So I told her. I talked about my suicidal ideation and how that affected me every day. It used to be that my suicidal ideation was like, you know, the running words at the bottom of a news screen? Like on CNN or Fox or something? That’s telling sometimes a different or sometimes related story, like a news ticker. It was it was kind of like that. I would go along in my life and the news ticker would be at the bottom, and it would kind of pop up if I saw a sharp knife, or if I was driving over a bridge, or if I looked at a bottle of pills. I would kind of get an intrusive thought in that news ticker or a flash; a sort of mental picture of what I might do if I let myself use that dangerous object or situation. And it would be more easily affecting – it would affect me more if I was having a difficult time.

[Amy McNally]
My psychiatrist was surprised; she said I wonder if this is what it’s been like in your family, because suicidality runs in my family. She said “you never can really know what normal is like for someone else, and I didn’t know we never really talked about it in this much depth before, but I think — I honestly think — that normal could be better for you. And I’d really like you to try Abilify” (which is aripiprazole). And at first I took– I ramped up too high and I was kind of sleepy all the time, which is a common thing. But the news ticker? Went away. Those intrusive thoughts went away. I still get sad and think about killing myself sometimes when I’m having a hard time, but that always being present stopped and I didn’t know that was possible. And now I’ve re-jiggered my dosages on everything over the last four years, and added some supplements, and that’s really helped. I’m also on vitamin D and calcium citrate and levomefolate, if anybody wants to know, and I take Ativan for panic attacks and stuff like that. So that’s one way that helps.

[Amy McNally]
And then one of the ways that I cope with depression is practice. I was talking about having a hard time recently on Facebook. It’s been a long month. This is — we’re recording this in November — and I think, no matter what side you’re on in the political divide, no matter what country you are in even, you have heard probably about the long American elections, your country is probably struggling with the pandemic. It’s been a long month. And I said, when one hears one’s own struggle enough in one’s head, it kind of loops and gets louder. And eventually one feels certain, after hearing these negative thoughts again and again, that nobody else could possibly be going through this rough time. Because everybody else seems smarter, and saner, and better, and more well-adjusted, and more productive, and calmer, and happier, and more organized, and better looking, and more successful. When you compare yourself to how everyone else seems at that moment, when you’ve heard those negative messages again and again, louder and louder, and you feel like you couldn’t possibly reach out, I have finally learned that that is the exact time I have to reach out. Right then, when I feel like a worm compared to everyone else, that’s when I have to extend a hand. That’s when I have to pick up the phone. That is when I have to ping someone on a chat. That is that is the time, and the only way to get there was to try again and again.

[Amy McNally]
And one one of the ways that I have reached out when I felt, you know, kind of like a worm compared to everyone else, is reaching out to a crisis hotline. Because it’s not the same as, like, you know, feeling like you’re gonna bring down one of your friends.

[Eirenne]
Yeah.

[Amy McNally]
The crisis hotline people are there for that, you know, they they signed up to hear about your bad mental health and they’ve heard it all day, and bless them for that. But I had a friend tell me, it was somebody else who struggles with suicide, saying kind of casually, ‘oh, I called the suicide hotline last night,’ and I was kind of horrified, because we weren’t at a point where we were communicating that honestly about our suicidal ideation, and I was also honored, that my friend had told me this. But it started this little thought in my head, like maybe — maybe I could tell someone. And so, bit by bit, I have gotten better and better at reaching out to people who are closer and closer.

[Amy McNally]
Another thing I do is I focus on the small things. In the end, it seems like it’s not the big things that fail me. I know this isn’t true of everyone; for a lot of suicidal people, you know, the big things are the big problems. They’re big things that make life feel unsustainable. I want to address that I am fortunate; I have many privileges in my life. For many people, suicide is attached to situational things. It just happens to be that, for me, it’s kind of a lifelong, runs-in-my-family thing. And when I look at the big things, all that I have in my life, how fortunate I am, it often makes me feel guilty that I’m not doing better. So I look at the little things, or I look at the big things broken down.

[Amy McNally]
So instead of thinking “I have so many loved ones” and that leading to the fear of letting them down, I think person by person, and I think of the things my loved ones would do if they just knew I was struggling. And even if I don’t have the strength to reach out to them, I know Benet would give me a big hug, Seanan would empathize, Mary would make sure I’d eaten and had something to drink, Mike would clean the snow off my car, Doiel would drive me on errands, Brooke would go with me to the pharmacy. And I can think of each person, each step, and that helps me break it down. That helps me do each step, because if those people would do those things for me, then I can do those things for them, when I can’t do it for myself. It’s a touch of mental gymnastics but it works. So much of it is mental gymnastics.

[Eirenne]
You have to be able to hack your own brain sometimes. And so much of dealing with so many kinds of disabilities involves looking at them in a different way than whatever way we’ve been taught. You know, either explicitly or just implicitly through societal norms. So you have referenced your psychiatrist a couple of times; is that just for medication management, or do you also see them for therapy, or do you see someone else for therapy?

[Amy McNally]
For about a decade I saw a psychiatrist and she was the one that I talked to for talk therapy, as well. Because I was sort of under the impression that if I talked to someone who wasn’t, kind of, you know, I don’t know, in the trenches or had a doctorate, that they would hear the word suicide and bam, I would get put under a 72 hour psych observation. You know, because in some ways it has been a little bit that way, but years ago, I think, a little bit more. When suicide was a bit more of a taboo. I admit that was a that was a viewpoint that I kind of learned from my mom. And then we switched insurance and I didn’t have that amazing psychiatrist anymore. And that was that was fine; I had a new psychiatrist who didn’t have a lot of time to do anything but med adjustments. And then, this last February, I had a really low month. I was just not coping well. And I was really struggling and I said to my psychiatrist. Maybe it’s time. Is there anyone you can refer me to who does talk therapy who has explicit experience with suicidal people? And she recommended someone, and so now I have a psychiatrist and a therapist, and that’s really been helpful. And I know that’s really lucky and a lot of people can’t find or access mental health, but if it’s something you can access and you are struggling, gosh, it’s nice to have a team.

[Eirenne]
Having people in your corner that can help you out. and that both are invested in you but not in a personal fashion. People will– I’ve seen this meme on the internet a few times, the “you don’t need therapy if you’ve got good friends,” and I’m like no. No no no, your friends are not your therapist. That is a bad meme! Because your friends are probably not professionally trained to deal with this. And your friends are your friends, they have their own biases in regards to you. They’re not going to be able to give you — even if they are professionally trained — they probably can’t give you the same kind of support that your professional treatment team can.

[Amy McNally]
Yeah, and also, I mean this in the most “I love my friends” way, but sometimes you get in the habit of just telling your friends you’re fine. And that’s not useful if you’re really depressed. I’m not saying you can’t also lie to your therapist, you can, and many people start out lying to their therapists going, “well, I’m all right, it’s just sometimes I feel sad you know.” And then they’ll have to sort of slowly ease into the part where they actually tell the truth about how they feel, or or they’ll have to, you know, fill out a depression assessment or something, you know to kind of get them into talking about it. But someone you where you have that honesty? Where you’re not feeling like you lose something by saying what’s really happening in your head? Oh, it’s priceless.

[Eirenne]
Yeah, we get really used to telling our friends we’re fine, because we don’t want to hurt our friends. And you– I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, I have a lot of I don’t want to necessarily talk about the complete bald truth about How Things Are with my friends all the time, because they’re gonna give me That Look. They’re going to give me that Sad and I-don’t-know-how-to-help-you Look. And I’m like, I don’t want to break them all the time.

[Amy McNally]
Yeah! There’s a Kimchi Cuddles comic where– that the talks about, or shows, someone saying ‘oh I’m going on this emotional roller coaster’ and a loved one going, ‘well, I’ll go on the emotional roller coaster with you,’ and then, you know, barfing all over each other. And it being not actually necessarily great experience. But that’s often what we interpret friendship to be. That we will go on the emotional roller coaster with you. And so I’ll be sad with you. I’ll be angry with you. And in some ways that’s that’s some beautiful solidarity, but on the other hand sometimes it can be useful to just check in with someone and say, I’m going on this emotional roller coaster. Can you just stand here and be yourself? And I will check in with you when I’m done. Like, it’s an interesting distinction, because some were sort of trained or at least I feel like we’re sort of socialized to think that that’s to mean that’s distant, but having having things that a little bit of remove, a little bit of space to process, a little bit of a boundary to help can be really amazing.

[Eirenne]
I’m going on this emotional roller coaster; please be standing there to, like, help me get to a stable seat when I get off of it, and maybe hand me some crackers and water so that I can, you know, calm back down. There are ways to take to help be there, to help take care that don’t involve putting yourself through the ringer with the other person if it’s not necessary. And there are definitely times when it is —

[Amy McNally]
Sure, yeah.

[Eirenne]
–but it’s not always. And we kind of, to sort of take this back to the not telling our friends were fine, the idea that if we don’t, if we tell them that we’re not fine, it can sort of feel like I’m grabbing them and dragging them onto the emotional roller coaster with me without them saying ‘I want to do this’ and that can make it a lot harder to open up, about this or, you know, having a bad pain day — this is a sort of broadly applicable metaphor here. That, you know, if you’re honest about how your mind and body are doing on any particular day, that it can feel like you’re forcing your friend or your loved one into experiencing these things with you. I mean, they’re not; they’re not in your body. They’re not in your head. But it can still feel like that. Even if, logically, I know that’s not what’s happening, there’s still the ‘I feel like I’m making them go through something they didn’t volunteer for or necessarily consent to going through.’

[Amy McNally]
Yeah. And over time I’ve also developed some friendships where, you know, I’ve slowly kind of extended my hand or picked up the phone, and found that some of my loved ones are kind of, I mean this is the nicest way, durable like that. Who, you know, can stand strong not go on the roller coaster with me, and I can hang up feeling better and knowing that I did not drag them down. And that’s not saying that, you know, everybody should be able to do that, or that those friends are better. It’s just… it’s also good practice to to sort of try reaching out to loved ones, because I think that’s part of the team, you know? If you can get kind of a mental health team, you know, there’s — and get that sort of circle of people. I think you need folks who will stand strong and not go on the roller coaster and sometimes you need folks who will go on the roller coaster.

[Eirenne]
They’re different skill sets.

[Amy McNally]
Yeah!

[Eirenne]
Everybody’s gonna have a different skill set. You know, I sort of think of it like, you know, a role-playing game adventuring team.

[Amy McNally]
Yes, yes!

[Eirenne]
You know, your tanks that, you know, can just sort of stand there and take the hits and it doesn’t really do them any long-term damage. And you’ve got your, you know, sneaky rogue types that you know, will skulk about in the shadows with you. And you’ve got your, you know, your healer types that will help patch up your wounds, so to speak, after you’ve you’ve finished fighting your battle.

[Amy McNally]
Yeah, yeah, I tend to agree.

[Eirenne]
People talk about being chronic illness warriors or depression warriors. I’m like, you’ve got your Warriors and your Barbarians and your Clerics and your Wizards. You’ve got all of them.

[Amy McNally]
Even the occasional Bard!

[Eirenne]
So, to sort of get into the the suicidal ideation part of things, you had had talked about this being a thing that runs in your family.

[Amy McNally]
Yeah. My mother’s father, my maternal grandfather, shot himself when Mom was in college. My maternal uncle went in a similar fashion, my mother passed that way 10 years ago, and my sister attempted. And it just seems to be something that runs in our family, and I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I think of it as the family curse. One thing about having that run in your family is you’ve got a warning.

[Eirenne]
That’s true.

[Amy McNally]
And seeing it happen around you, while tragic, means that you know — you’re really kind of inspired to maintain that support network to feel like you’ve really got a reason, a justification, for having that that therapy, because it could be a matter of life and death.

[Eirenne]
I hadn’t considered that idea, but yeah, the fact that it is something that, you’re sort of able to look down the pike and and see possibly coming your way. I think probably can remove some of the, I don’t know if guilt is the right word, but the feeling of ‘you’re just being self-indulgent’ or whatever, about, you know, spending time talking about yourself —

[Amy McNally]
Right, right!

[Eirenne]
–or whatever the popular, like, insulting view of going to therapy is. If it’s the, ‘oh, yeah, I can see this coming. This is definitely not just an Indulgence. This is definitely a thing I should be doing to make sure that this train that I see coming towards me, that I’ve got a way to avoid that.’

[Amy McNally]
Yeah, it really helps me take it seriously. And, you know, I’ve heard with some people’s insurance sometimes, they’ll be encouraged to “complete” or “graduate from” therapy, and it gives me sort of a reason to fight against that sort of thing. To say no, this is with me my whole life, this is serious and I should take it seriously. and so should you. And with mental stuff, with emotional stuff, that doesn’t feel like, you know, something you always sort of have the wherewithal to say. But I hadn’t really thought too much about how important that is for managing my mental state and, you know what? I would recommend anybody who has not just suicidal ideation, but depression and anxiety, to remember that it could be that important.

[Eirenne]
Too many decisions about medical things, in the US especially, are based on what the private insurance company thinks is fiscally efficient. You have X number of therapy sessions per year allotted to you, and if you need more than that, well, we’re not paying for it. It’s — or you’ll have — my favorite version of this is the you have X number of therapy sessions and that is the total for psychotherapy and physical therapy and occupational therapy, and here’s helping you don’t need more than one of these.

[Amy McNally]
No! Yeah, that’s terrible!

[Eirenne]
Mm-hmm. I, uh, I’m really not a fan of the financial decision making process, you know, the financially-based decision making process on what medical treatments we are allowed to have or are encouraged to have.

[Amy McNally]
Hard agree.

[Eirenne]
The idea that if we had more money, we’d have all the treatments that we could need. And if we don’t have the money, well you get what the insurance company executive decision makers have decided is best for you. Podcast listeners cannot see the fact that I am gritting my teeth and and making a claw gesture with my hand because argh.

[Amy McNally]
But, yeah. We have these conversations about these issues and, you know, in our country we often sort of let it go unspoken that you’re going to have huge, huge hurdles get care that you need, and it’s gonna be based on what’s in your pocket, as opposed to what your need is.

[Eirenne]
I’m at least encouraged by the fact that we’ve been seeing more community-based services that are at least sliding scale, which helps, because mental health care is so difficult to access in so many places. Teletherapy is another thing that I’m glad to see increasing. I mean, especially during a pandemic, but the idea that you can access care providers even if they don’t exist locally to you, you know–

[Amy McNally]
So wonderful.

[Eirenne]
–maybe you live in a rural area that doesn’t have a provider or there’s, you know, one provider within 50 miles and that person doesn’t take your insurance, or whatever. The ability to access care in alternative ways is you know happening more frequently and I find that encouraging.

[Amy McNally]
Because of the pandemic, so much of my care has gone to telehealth and it means that I miss and forget so fewer — so many fewer appointments — so many fewer? You know what I mean; less. And it means that if I’m traveling, not that I have a great ability to travel right now, but if I’m somewhere else, all I have to do is open up my iPad and, you know, there’s my therapist, I just need a quiet room. So great. I hope that we keep these options.

[Eirenne]
We’ve been asking for accommodations in the disability community for years and years, and now it’s obvious that we can have them, you know. The the able-bodied majority suddenly needed some accommodations and we figured out how to do it. And so now they can’t tell us anymore that ‘oh, we can’t possibly, there’s no way we can do that.’ Yes you can; you have.

[Amy McNally]
Yes you can; we all saw it.

[Eirenne]
Yes, now just leave the things in place that you put there. And then people who need access to care will have access to care, when they can’t leave the house because of a physical disability, or they need access to a provider that isn’t, you know, nearby enough or you’re too depressed to get out of your bed. Well, now you can see your provider from your bed. So you don’t have to get up and go anywhere.

[Amy McNally]
So so important. I don’t have to tell you

[Eirenne]
Ok, so, you’ve been dealing with this for 16, 17 years or so now. If you could go back in time and give yourself some tips, or if someone else back when you were, you know, 19, could have given you some ideas of how to to handle everything, what would the top three things be that you think would have made it easier? In your journey dealing with this, three things that you wish you could have known or known to look for. And they can be big things or small things.

[Amy McNally]
Yeah. I mean, the first one that I think of is something that I don’t know would have ever taken hold. It’s something that I feel like I just kind of had to learn the hard way anyway, but it’s still the first thing that I think of, and that is that people will really love you, you, for who you are. Like, on your bad days. And that’s something that it seems like maybe I could only learn by having people not run away. And not run away. And not run away. But I wish there was a way that I could hammer it into younger me’s head. But that’s I mean, that’s the first one.

[Amy McNally]
But you know, one that might have helped what would be knowing that you can sometimes make your own rules? I think there’s a thing that went around on Tumblr. Somebody was talking about how it was really hard for them to eat breakfast every day, partly because they didn’t like breakfast foods, and it took that person’s therapist telling them that they can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast if they want, for them to actually realize that, just because that’s what some restaurants serve at that time of day, that doesn’t mean that that’s what you have to eat. You can have chicken fried rice for breakfast. You’re a grown up; you’re the boss of you. You can look– I remember us, you know, speaking earlier about looking at things at different way, looking at societal norms a different way, and if I had known when I was younger that I could find a way to play the violin full-time? And that could be my life? I don’t know what I would have done. But what a wonderful thing! That’s not possible people; don’t really do that. And I know that that sounds silly, but when you tell people that you play the fiddle for a living, there’s a specific look they get. And that look, I have grown to recognize it immediately, and that looks says, I don’t know whether you’re stupid, crazy, or independently wealthy, and maybe you’re all three! I’ve grown to recognize that look, I don’t blame people for that look, because that was kind of what I thought. And if I had known that I could sometimes make my own rules and actually play the fiddle as my main job? Wow. That might have helped.

[Amy McNally]
I guess the third thing is probably distraction. I think I knew this at the time, but I’ve gotten much more practiced at it, and distraction will always be key to having these kinds of issues. I will have to let myself rest. I will have to let myself be distracted. I’ll have to find ways to distract myself reliably. Because there are things that can help, but at the end of the day I don’t know that there’s ever gonna be time where suicidality is completely out of my mind. I think that might be something that I struggle with for my entire life, regardless of the meds I’m on, or the people I’m with, or my mental health team. I think to some extent I’m gonna struggle with that my whole life, and one of the absolute best things is to go, oh look, a shiny object. And it’s so simple. But it’s really… I think it’s always gonna be important. So people who love you for real, making your own rules, and distraction are probably like my top three tips.

[Eirenne]
Distraction is a useful thing for so many, many reasons. Not having to focus on a particular thing, or being able to, you know, focus on a frivolous thing for a little while, can can give you space to breathe, space to rest, space for your meds to work, you know. Sometimes, you know, sometimes you just need to distract your brain or your body long enough for the chemicals that will help you to, like, let them kick in. Maybe you took a pain med. Maybe you took an Ativan. You just need to give it some time to kick in; play a silly game on your phone or something, you know, give yourself some distraction time.

[Amy McNally]
There is an app that I recently picked up and I think it’s put out, like, by the Department of Defense. I think it might be aimed at veterans, but anyone can download it and anyone can use it, and it’s called Virtual Hope Box [Google][Apple]. And it draws together a lot of strategies that I’ve learned over the years in a way that I don’t find intrusive. And one of the little boxes that you can click on is ‘distract me.’ It has, like, Sudoku, and word finds with cheerful words, and one of the boxes is, I think, ‘remind me.’ And if you tap on that box, you can upload pictures, recordings, and videos of loved ones or of things that make you smile. And one of the things that you can do also on the the ‘distract me’ box is it will make photo jigsaws of the pictures that you’ve uploaded. And it’s so brilliant, because you have this distracting problem, but when you’re done — and it’s not terribly difficult, the the photo jigsaws — but when you’re done you get this this picture of this person or thing that you love and this sense of accomplishment. It’s very, like, simple but it’s it’s brilliant because, you know, it’s just a way to get some distraction and some some happy brain chemicals and some good reminders of staying. I recommend it. There are a few really good apps.

[Eirenne]
I will include a link to that in the the transcript for this episode. Amy this has been an amazing conversation. It has been a heavy conversation in spots, but this has been a good conversation, and I am so grateful that you came on to talk with us today.

[Amy McNally]
I really appreciate it and just thank you so much for having me, and and folks who are listening who struggle with mental health, I just want you to know: you’re not alone.

[Eirenne]
Why don’t you give us some ways we can find you online and tell us what you’re gonna be doing coming up.

[Amy McNally]
Oh, yeah. So, if you’re interested in hearing my first album, it’s called Hazardous Fiddle and it’s available at https://AmyMcNally.bandcamp.com Every month I try to write a — to compose a completely original fiddle tune for my Patreon, and I am at https://www.patreon.com/InfamousFiddler and I sometimes put up videos, I sometimes put up collaborations, I sometimes put up improvisations and it’s a it’s a real fun space and I think I have some 54 song posts now? So, if you join for a dollar, you can get 54 songs. They’re of varying quality. and recently I’ve upgraded my microphones and stuff, but I hope you like it if you check it out. And thank you — thank you for for checking it out, if you do.

[Eirenne]
I am on Amy’s Patreon and I love the music. I have– I download them all and they go right into my my library and, like, I have them all collected under Amy’s Patreon Songs, and they they get some pretty heavy rotation.

[Amy McNally]
You can’t see my face, podcast listeners, but I am beaming because this this is always great to hear. One thing about struggling with mental health and putting art out into the world is that sometimes you get to find that it helps other people and that’s just the best.

[Eirenne]
I frequently cite Amy as my favorite blue-haired fiddler. I have occasionally had people ask how many blue-haired fiddlers do you have?

[Amy McNally]
There are a couple out there.

[Eirenne]
I know of at least two. Thank you so much, Amy.

[Amy McNally]
My pleasure.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or you just need to talk to someone, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 800-273-TALK, that is 800-273-8255. If you go the National Suicide Prevention website, you can also chat via text with a crisis counselor at https://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat

A huge thanks to Amy for coming on to talk to us today. As always, if you check the website for this podcast, you’ll find a full transcript of this conversation, including links to all the things we talked about today. The song you heard at the top of this episode was one of Amy’s compositions for her Patreon, called “Grief.” And in a moment you’ll hear some of her piece “Emily’s Lullabye” from her album Hazardous Fiddle.

Please, continue to join me here every month(ish) for a different topic and set of tips and tricks. You can find us on the web at http://www.sicktipsandtricks.com, on Twitter @HowToBeSickTips, and on both Facebook and Patreon at SickTipsAndTricks. As always, a full transcript of this and every episode is available on our website.

If this podcast is something you are interested in and want to see more of, please like and subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app, visit our website for more ways to support us, and be sure to share us with your friends!

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