A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $136,000 Income

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Today: a supervising producer working in television/media who makes $110,000 per year ($136,000 when combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on blood orange San Pellegrino.
Occupation: Producer (Supervising)
Industry: Television/Media
Age: 38
Location: Los Angeles, CA
My Salary: $110,000 last year
My Husband's Salary: $26,000
My Paycheck (Weekly): $1,800-ish
My Husband's Paycheck (2x/month): $1,221
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,200
Loans: $0 (No student loans. I had a full scholarship, and my husband did the community-college-transfer-to-four-year-college route and paid for anything left over himself. Also, we both purchased our cars used, for cash.)
Health Insurance: $589.69 (Paid for out of pocket. Neither of us have jobs that provide benefits. We have no dental or optical insurance.)
LADWP (water and power): $180-$450/two months
Gas: $14.05
Cell Phone: $52 (The family plan for five people in my family is in my name, but it breaks down to $52/mo for our two phones and everyone else pays me.)
Cable: $36.99
Internet: $49.99
Netflix: $7.99 (I pay for this so my mom and grandma can use it)
HBO: $9.99
Gym: $9.99
LA Times Digital Subscription: $2
New York Times: $0 (Free through husband's job)
Adobe Creative Cloud: $9.99
Car Insurance: $105
Renter's Insurance: $11.05
Credit Card Payment: $2,000-$3,000 when I'm working (we owe about $7,000 on a credit card right now)

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up at 7:30 because it's my husband's birthday, and I need to frost his cake (not a euphemism). I've obviously planned this well and am not last-minuting it at all, but whatever, he seems psyched to eat some frosting with his breakfast, and I have him blow out his candles before he leaves for work. I do a light workout before getting ready for work. It must be a special occasion because I even put on makeup! I haven't worked for the last three weeks, so I got out of the habit of a regular schedule and am ready to get back into one.
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8:45 a.m. — I get on the road for work. It takes me roughly an hour to get to work, so I give myself room to get there by 10. Today is my first day on a new job, and I'm very excited because this year has been slow work-wise, but also this is a company I've worked at before and it's a great place. I'm starting on a Thursday, but such is the life of a freelancer. The only downside of this place is the commute. (I should clarify something right off the bat — I am booked either on a day rate or a weekly rate. Even if I book a job that's 12 months long, I will usually negotiate a weekly rate for it. I have been booked on this job for six weeks.)
9:50 a.m. — I arrive a little early, and no one on my team is here yet. When someone else gets here, they give me a temporary badge. Dang it! I have my badge from last year and found it yesterday and everything, but forgot it at home. I am given the rundown of what I will be doing today and tomorrow and apparently there will be a conference call, too. My boss isn't even on this coast, and they haven't found a desk for me yet, so I am working at a communal table. By 11, I get a desk (by a window, things are looking up) and finish up all my paperwork so that I can get paid and park here and everything. I take a protein bar from the kitchen (all food and drinks are free), but end up eating a piece of cheese and some fruit and forget about it.
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1:05 p.m. — I do a whole walk around, which entails using the restroom and going to the kitchen to fill up my water and get the wrap I brought for lunch out of the fridge. I need to have a pitch ready by end of day (luckily that means LA time on this job because NY time would be less than two hours from now, no thank you), but I am missing some of the assets I need to make it. I hate being the new kid because now I have to track those down and explain to people who I am over and over. Blerghh. Also, I have to write things and be “creative” and that's always awkward when you don't know the people who will read your stuff yet. How creative you get to be is so subjective and so is everyone's humor etc… and so I will spend the next week figuring that out before we start filming. On the bright side, I take a Yerba Mate and some Hawaiian chips from the kitchen.
5 p.m. —It's the time of day that I put home into my GPS and see how long it will take to get there even though I'm not done with work yet. Right now it's an hour and a half — gross. I've been having a lot of issues focusing in the last year, and my insurance has been completely unhelpful when I've tried to get help for it. I'm incredibly frustrated with the whole thing, but there is not much I can do about it, unfortunately.
8:39 p.m. — I am FINALLY leaving work. My eyes hurt and so does my brain. On the plus side GPS says just 39 minutes to get home now.
9:20 p.m. — I get home and the husband has picked up dry cleaning ($37.50) and made dinner — happy birthday to him, indeed. We have knockwurst on pretzel rolls with spicy mustard and pickles. Macaroni salad on the side. For dessert, birthday cake! Goodnight, world. Hopefully tomorrow will be a shorter day. $37.50
Daily Total: $37.50

Day Two

7:59 a.m. — I wake up exactly one minute before my alarm goes off. I am going to wash my hair this morning, which is a real event since I do it only about once or twice a week, so I give myself extra time. I put on makeup again (wow, two days in a row, a personal record this year). I pack some gym clothes in my work bag, grab some coffee, my old work badge, and I'm off!
9 a.m. — I download some new podcasts for my commute like The Dropout and Doughboys. It's a beautiful day, and my GPS takes me a whole new way I've never driven in LA before. I see a bunch of people starting their hikes and think that was me last Friday when I didn't have a job. I am very glad to be earning money again, though. As much as I try to fight it, I am totally a part of the capitalist system and realized a few years ago that I get a ton of my self-worth through working.
11 a.m. — I get an email that my one of my favorite bands, tacocat, is playing here in June and tickets have gone on sale. I text the husband and ask if I should get tickets. He says yes, and I buy two. I am so annoyed because you can't buy them at the box office, but the fee for buying online is $9.62 which is especially nuts when you're buying tickets that are $15. The band sees none of that and doesn't even see the whole ticket price (I am in a band and so are a lot of my friends and this is a source of so many frustrations for both show goers and artists), but I buy them because I want to support the artists and see a band I love. Between the two of us we spend money on live music at least once a month. $39.62
1:05 p.m. — My coworker says there's free lunch today, and one of my most favorite things is free stuff, so I go to the kitchen to check it out. It's a make your own burrito bar… but it's somehow terrible. How could such a great idea go so wrong?! There are two kinds of beans, plain rice, steamed (STEAMED!) vegetables, and some raw spinach. I can't find salsa, cheese, guac…I decide to go outside and get a sushi burrito even though it means spending money. $13.69
2:19 p.m. — Holy crap, there is nothing to do and my boss is on a plane, so while this is a nice change from yesterday it's also weird. Since I'm freelance, I am also always hustling and trying to line up future work, so I send some résumés out. I email a guy who messaged me about a job last month. He says it's still on hold. That's annoying, but on hold is better than not happening at all.
3:12 p.m. — I see that a man I don't know has emailed me about a job. The rate is very low, and he straight up tells me I'm overqualified but asks if I want to talk anyway. I say yes because it never hurts to meet new people in this biz, and the job does sound fun at least. We chat briefly, and it turns out I can't do it (even if I was willing to lower myself for the rate) because it starts immediately.
5:08 p.m. — GPS says 1:15 to get home, so I tell my husband to meet me at the gym in an hour and fifteen minutes.
7:30 p.m. — We work out, and I feel kind of dizzy so I don't do too much. I finish up on the elliptical and wait for him while thinking about dinner. I look at my Postmates app and see that we didn't order any food for delivery in a month. That's pretty good, I think. When I tell my husband he says “still a few days of the month left!” like I've presented him with a challenge. Sigh. He asks if we can have dinner at a little burger place by our house, and since it's his birthday weekend, I say sure. I get a turkey burger and these great tot-things that have cheese and jalapeños in them, while he gets a vegan burger with avocado and mango salsa and fries. $40
9 p.m. — We get home and I see that the wrist guards I've ordered have arrived. I recently found out that I have carpal tunnel in my wrists and my doctor wants me to try sleeping in these to see if it helps my pain during the day. I open them up and get them on to test out tonight. I could have bought them from my doctor's office, but they were $27 per hand while I found them online for just $14.95 for both hands.
Daily Total: $93.31

Day Three

7:59 a.m. — I wake up exactly at 7:59. The husband was supposed to have a debate tournament today, but it has been canceled so he has an unexpectedly free day. I get up and deal with a bill I got from the LA Times saying that my bill is going up to $16/month despite getting an email this week saying it's saying at $2. So annoying. They fix it pretty quickly at least, and it stays at $2. I feel like I spend hours every week dealing with bills and crap like this, and I hate it.
9 a.m. — I get an email that Big Bud Press, a great independent clothing store in LA, is having a clearance sale on their jumpsuits starting today at noon. One of my husband's most prized clothing possessions is a Big Bud Press jumpsuit, so I plan to go right when they open to try and get him one in a new color for a birthday present. I hope it's not a madhouse. We've been trying to shop more ethically and sustainably in the last few years, which is incredibly hard when it comes to clothing (among other things).
10 a.m. — The husband (ugh, typing this is killing me, I never call him this) is trying to get a second job (he's a teacher), and an animal rescue asks him to do a volunteer shift today. He's a super big time animal lover so that makes sense for him and another friend works there already. He buys a coffee next-door to the rescue for $3.50+$1 tip. $4.50
11 a.m. — I try on the five pairs of pants that I ordered online and hallelujah, one fits! And actually looks good! One out of five ain't bad when it comes to me and pants so I'll take it. I pack the rest up to return and also pack up the small gift I gave my husband that didn't fit right. I will return both today and get that sweet, sweet money back.
11:45 a.m. — I park by Big Bud and see that like 20 people are already in line to get jumpsuits. There is still money on this meter, but I add a quarter to be on the safe side. I was one minute late to a meter last year and got a $68 ticket, and ever since I've been super diligent about adding an extra quarter safety net. $0.25
12:30 p.m. — OOOOOOOOOH Baby! That sale was NUTS, but I did it. I actually managed to get two of his priority colors in his size into my hot little hands, but in the end I went with the more bold choice. The ladies working there helped make the choice, and I think he's going to be very excited when he sees it. I pay $80 for it and with tax it comes to $87.60. $87.60
1 p.m. — I drop off my returns at the post office, and the husband calls to say he's done at the animal rescue, so we meet up and go to the mall together. I pick up some workout pants that I had ordered to Uniqlo weeks ago. I'm starving, so my husband puts in our name for a table at Cheesecake Factory while I make the returns ($44 back for his birthday return, so it's like the jumpsuit was 50% off 50% off, I tell myself). I try to put on blinders when I walk through the mall, so that I don't accidentally see something cute and buy it. It works. I exit unscathed.
2 p.m. — Cheesecake Factory is my most favorite chain restaurant and has a weird place in my heart. When I walk in, I'm like that Oprah Weight Watchers commercial going, "I love BREADDDDD!" All I can think about is eating that bread. Why is their bread so good? I order a lunch salad to balance the loaf of bread I'm eating. Husband orders Nashville chicken nuggets, huevos rancheros (yeah, weird choice at Cheesecake Factory, I agree), and a Coke Zero. We haven't eaten here in a long time but it's just as good as I remember. $44.13
3:30 p.m. — We get home, and I talk to a bunch of friends while the husband goes and gets his oil changed. He uses a coupon for some money off. $38.18
5 p.m. — We open up the windows because it's a beautiful day and listen to records in our underwear while the breeze blows through. What a lovely afternoon. I'm so glad that debate tournament got canceled… and also that we have that leftover birthday cake. I give him his birthday present and he loves it.
8:30 p.m. — We decide to stay in and I make a spring pasta with mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, and English peas finished with a little fresh lemon juice, olive oil, butter, and cracked black pepper (and a little pasta water). Top it off with some freshly grated parmesan and you won't regret it. He checks the mail and there's a package from our friend with pictures her kids drew for us. How sweet. One is particularly freaky and great.
10 p.m. — The husband knows I'm doing this money diary, so he tells me that he paid a $2 late fee at the library yesterday and got gas. ($33.00) Last night, I woke up in pain from those wrist guards and took them off, but I did notice a difference today so I put them on again before bed. $35
Daily Total: $209.66

Day Four

9 a.m. — Sometimes I volunteer at an abortion clinic on Sundays, and today is one of those times. The husband left at the crack of dawn to go surfing with his friend, so sleeping until 9 feels downright luxurious. I eat a piece of toast with peanut butter, grab my water bottle, and get on the road because this place is over 30 minutes away. The doctors providing abortions near our house don't get protestors, so I have to go where there is more need.
10 a.m. — The shift starts. This clinic has a strict non-engagement policy, so we're not to talk to the protestors at all. We just escort patients into the building and also use our bodies to protect them from anything that may be thrown or yelled or spat at them. It's VERY HARD to not engage, especially because I have a confrontational personality. There is a man who brings his small sons here to yell slurs at the women walking into the building, and I try hard not to think about what those boys will be like as adults.
1 p.m. — Shift is over, and I decide that since it's spring now, and we're cleaning our house and doing the yearly dry cleaning, I should spruce myself up a bit too, so I'm getting a pedicure. There is a place down the street that I find, and I walk right in. $16 + $5 tip = $21 $21
2 p.m. — I notice that there is a bakery that I love right here, so I get some pastries to bring to a barbecue that we're going to this afternoon (and probably to eat throughout the week) and a chicken croquette to eat right now because I'm fading. I fill up my water bottle at the soda fountain and immediately start to feel more human. For some reason I can never seem to stay hydrated on the weekends. $11
3:15 p.m. — I stop by the house to pick up the husband who is freshly napped and showered. He has also bagged up some Sheishito peppers, grill accoutrements, and smoked salt to take to our friends' house for the barbecue. We stop at a grocery store on the way to pick up some sweet corn, blood orange San Pellegrino, and potato salad. My favorite summertime booze beverage is a blood orange San Pellegrino on ice with some of the sparkling Trader Joe's simpler wines from a can poured in to taste. It's not the most sophisticated cocktail, but boy does it hit the spot. Husband grabs some soda because he says he needs caffeine. $14.08
4 p.m. — We arrive at our friends' house and their kids seem happy to see us. The grill is fired up and the next three hours become a blur of delicious grilled meats, vegetables, some amazing dip that another friend made, sparkling wine juice, and a birthday cake that our host made (today is her birthday) that looks like fruity pebbles on the inside. What a fantastic low-key birthday celebration for all of them with the March birthdays.
9:30 p.m. — We watch the new episode Veep and hit the hay much earlier than usual. I think being out in the sun so much today drained us, so bed feels extra good tonight.
Daily Total: $46.08

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I wake up earlier than usual to try working out before work. I've never been really into it but I'm making an effort. Today, my husband has started his spring break but he gets up and goes with me, which is a nice surprise.
8:40 a.m. — I'm in the shower getting ready when the husband reaches in with a slice of watermelon on a fork. When I get past the initial yelp-out-in-fear surprise I try it and wow, what a nice treat — some cold watermelon in a hot shower. A++ highly recommend. Is this why people like shower beers? I get it now. Would watermelon again.
9:10 a.m. — Grab some leftover vegetable pasta and leave for work. I decide against coffee today because I don't want to set off my anxiety (caffeine really effects it I have realized). I went many years without having caffeine very often and only started drinking coffee in 2015, so it took me longer than it should have to realize that it can set off my panic attacks.
10 a.m. — I grab a Kind bar from the kitchen and fill up my water cup. I talk to the team about the shoots and start making documents of to-do lists and also crew that needs to be booked. This weekend, we're going NYC. I lived in New York for 18 years before moving to California and we still have a lot of friends there. My husband asked to go for his birthday, so I text a friend who lives there to see if we can stay with her and her husband, and it's a go. WOOOOO! I'm so excited to see them! Now to figure out what to pack and my work stuff and also, all of the food we have to eat while there. I'll be working in New York next week so this all works out perfectly, and it's why I didn't book a return flight — work will do that for me.
11:15 a.m. — I go to fill up my water and turn in some paperwork when I see that the month's Costco delivery for the office has arrived, which is the best office kitchen day! I grab a clementine, a banana, and some strawberries before all the fresh fruit is ransacked. After I eat the clementine I still feel like I've eaten nothing today and realize that I'm also PMSing and may just be a black hole. As if on cue, my boss walks by and says there is some leftover banana pudding from a shoot and to grab a bowl.
1:45 p.m. — Eating my lunch at my desk before I have a 2:00 meeting. We are in the process of adopting kids, which is why we have a little credit card debt now, because we had to decorate these non-existent kids' room. We have to be patient and trust the process, which is hard when you're not the most patient person and you have trust issues. Anyway, the final touch is curtains for the room, and we finally found some we liked at Urban Outfitters. I try not to shop there for a myriad of reasons (one being stealing art from friends of mine in addition to other artists), but we can't find these anywhere else and now they're on sale so I decide to just friggin' buy them already. If these curtains are ugly in person and I return them after all this that will be funny. $75
2:15 p.m. — In a meeting, my boss asks if I'm available to work for another 4-5 weeks and I say yes, as of now, and hope that they lock me in soon because I would love to keep working here.
6:15 p.m. — I look around and see that everyone has left but me. How did that happen? I get the heck out and traffic is once again surprisingly light, getting me home in just 47 minutes.
7:05 p.m. — Spring break is great for teachers and all, but I feel like the true winner during is me when I get home to a house that's been cleaned top to bottom, all the laundry done, the bathroom scrubbed, the rugs all drying on our patio, and a lovely dinner being plated. Wowwwwwwwww. The downside is that my husband doesn't get paid this week, but I'm here for the upsides. He has prepared roasted salmon, rice and a zucchini, onion, sweet pepper concoction. He's so proud of the work he did today, and I feel completely content right now. It's too bad I don't make more money because he'd be an excellent stay-at-home dad or house husband. I'd be so terrible at it.
8:30 p.m. — I try to watch the shows I make when I can, and one of them is on tonight. I watch it while pointing out everything that I did for it that was cut out in post. Watching TV with me can be very annoying. Watching with the husband is helpful because I get a true fan reaction from him, for better or worse.
11:30 p.m. — He finishes his never-ending birthday cake, so I guess that means the celebration is over until next year. We watch some Seinfeld, and I fall asleep forgetting to put on my wrist braces.
Daily Total: $75

Day Six

7:15 a.m. — I wake up early today because I have a big call with the client at 9, and my team wants to talk at 8 to prepare for it, so I'll take the first call from the car. I grab an iced coffee from the fridge that the husband has waiting for me. I get in the car and the GPS is all “just kidding, I sit on a throne of LIES!” and changes from 45 minutes to 1:15, and I start to panic. I hate missing the beginnings of things, and I don't want anyone to think I wasn't on time despite the fact that I could have taken this call from home.
8:30 a.m. — I park at exactly 9 and dial in from the parking garage, but the New York team puts us on hold and so I make it with time to spare — what a relief!
10:20 a.m. — I am still on this call and I haven't had anything to eat and I need to pee.
10:50 a.m. — I finally eat a Kind bar, and it's definitely not filling the void. While on the call, friends in NYC text about the cheese and wine we're having Friday, and now all I can think about is cheese.
1:30 p.m. — This day is super busy, but I find time to heat up my pasta leftovers and eat at my desk while I keep working.
2:30 p.m. — The husband texts me to say that he has picked up all of our things from the tailor, but he had to pay in cash so he got cash at the grocery store where he also bought a salad (we never have cash). We haven't gotten things tailored in a while so the pile was pretty big. This lady came highly recommended, and she seems both great and like she could charge more, but maybe I still have New York prices in my brain. ($42 + 7.27) $49.27
3 p.m. — There is a bunch of leftovers from a meeting in the kitchen. I take a little salad and curried couscous and it really hits the spot.
4:55 p.m. — I think about leaving a little early since I started the day earlier than usual. Check the GPS, and it says 1:38 to get home. HARD NOPE. I decide to keep working in the office. In the meantime, I text the husband the steps of how to roast jalapeños so he can get that process started for the grilled cheese we're having for dinner.
6:20 p.m. — I check the GPS now, and it's 55 minutes. Much better. I stop to get a half tank of gas. $21
7:30 p.m. — We make grilled cheeses with some eggy challah bread, cream cheese, roasted jalapeños, and cheddar cheese with some tomato soup. Yum! They taste a little like a jalapeño popper and definitely help quench the cheese craving I've had all day. Husband went to Target today and bought mouthwash, tortilla chips, and something else I'm blanking on, but he tells me the total. $12.57
8:45 p.m. — We decide to try on clothes for the wedding we're going to this weekend before we pack. It's a good thing we do because I try on my most beloved dress, that was just dry cleaned FOR THE FIRST TIME, and it's ruined. They did something to it so it's 2 inches shorter but the lining is the same length so it's just hanging out. The arms are super tight. It's a mess, and I am so pissed. The husband is going to have to go back, and confronting people isn't so much his thing, so I walk him through how to stand firm and be reasonable (not mean). This is a rare item of clothing I have that was made by hand and cost a fair bit of money so, of course, this is the one that gets ruined while my 10-year-old sweater is totally fine. This sets off my anxiety because I hate wasting money so much. I eat a weed gummy that I have for times like these hoping that it does the trick.
9:30 p.m. — I stress eat the leftover dip from the barbecue and start to calm down. Around 11:30, I brush my teeth and go to bed, suddenly super exhausted (thank you, weed gummy). I remember the wrist guards tonight.
Daily Total: $82.84

Day Seven

7:15 a.m. — The husband was asked to come back to the animal rescue, so that's a good sign. He's going in early today and his alarm wakes me up and I can't go back to sleep. I blow my own mind by going to the gym again in the morning. Who am I?? I come home and take out our suitcases so that we can pack for New York tonight. I travel a lot, and I'm pretty fast and good at stretching the power of a carry-on.
8:45 a.m. — I turn on the shower and a huge bug flies out of the drain. ACKKKKKKK RIP ME. It's one of those crane mosquitos, which I've only seen in California when it's a rainy time. Unfortunately this one is being drowned in my shower, so I try to put it out of its misery by washing it down the drain. It's difficult to relax in the shower now because I keep thinking it's going to fly out of the drain and exact revenge on me.
10:05 a.m. — At work, definitely not wanting to eat a protein bar and most definitely wanting an egg McMuffin more than anything I've ever wanted in my life (after listening to the Doughboys podcast about McDonald's breakfast). I make a bowl of cereal and take a Yerba mate from the kitchen and I suppose I'll survive. I passed on taking a coffee from home because I felt all jazzed, but now I'm suddenly exhausted and regretting passing.
12 p.m. — The husband is trying to become a teacher in California, and it's very difficult. He's halfway done with his credential, which we pay tuition for, while working every day for very little money. To get to this point he has taken several tests, all of which cost money, and he has to take another one soon, so we're talking about when he'll sign up for it and how much it costs (this one is only $40, hallelujah). He may not be able to work next school year in order to finish and that's super stressful and stupid and I hate thinking about it. When do the easy years come? I'm ready for those.
2:12 p.m. — I eat my leftover pasta for lunch. I decide to grab a Diet Coke as well because I'm so sleepy, and it's still early. I look at my phone and see that I have four political texts (in addition to the countless daily emails) in the last hour. I'm so tired of this election cycle already.
3:26 p.m. — Someone asked me for a résumé, and we both realized that I know the people running the show, so I wouldn't even have to interview, it would just be an offer. I need to book something for May whether it's staying here or finding something else to jump on to, and it's looking like that will be a done deal soon.
5:30 p.m. — Work went insane, and I somehow have a million things to do before I can leave. I get some dark chocolate almonds from the kitchen in hopes that they will give me some more energy (let me dream). The husband calls to tell me that the dry cleaner was very apologetic and can fix the dress. I know nothing about the world of dry cleaning, so I hope that he's right because that would be awesome. He drops it off, and we cross our fingers.
7:48 p.m. — I FINALLY LEAVE WORK. Hallelujah. I am late, which I know is super annoying, but the husband has ordered for me and our friends had trouble finding parking, so I walk in right behind them. Turns out it's trivia night, and we decide to play… and surprise ourselves by coming in second! What a nice ego boost (full disclosure, there were only five teams playing). I eat fish tacos, and we share some nachos. Husband has tacos and elote. ($54.50 tip included for dinner, no drinks) $54.50
10:30 p.m. — We go home and pack and make sure we're all set because tomorrow I'm going to work, coming home, and then we have plans with our friends before we head to the airport and fly to NYC on a redeye. I'm tired just thinking about it.
11:30 p.m. — Husband informs me that he paid $40 +$10 for tip for a haircut that looks very nice, as well as $18 for lunch and an iced coffee today. We go to bed, and I remember to wear the wrist guards. While we're laying in bed he tells me was offered the job at the animal rescue, and we agree that he should take it. $68
Daily Total: $122.50
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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