Is there a penalty for a woman who breaks through the glass ceiling and, then, from her position of power, admits that she struggled with mental illness in her past?
Yesterday New York City’s Speaker of the City Council and the Democratic candidate for mayor Christine Quinn revealed in the New York Times that she had suffered from bulimia and alcoholism for a good portion of her life. Quinn explained how her mom suffered through breast cancer throughout Quinn’s childhood and after her mom died, binge eating and purging gave her a brief feeling of relief. It was also in college that Quinn binge drank to the point of developing alcoholism. She checked into a rehab center at age 26 and got control of her eating disorder and her problematic drinking; it wasn’t until three years ago that Quinn, who is also the first mayoral candidate to be openly gay, went entirely dry.
Christine Quinn’s admission echoed another powerful woman’s recent decision to go public about a private struggle: “Morning Joe” cohost Mika Brzezinski revealed in MORE magazine that she has suffered from exercise bulimia for many years, meaning that she binges on food and then over-exercises to burn off the calories.
Brzezinski and Quinn aren’t the only two well-known women to admit to mental illness: Carrie Fisher and Catherine Zeta-Jones have both been public about their struggles with bipolar disorder, Lena Dunham talks about her OCD, and plenty of other celebs have been open about their mental health struggles, too. But I suppose that Christine Quinn and Mika Brzezinski fascinate me in particular because they both work in fairly male-dominated fields — the mainstream media and politics — that aren’t known for being warm and fuzzy. Keep reading »
On a recent red eye from New York to Los Angeles, model Melissa Stetten sat next to actor Brian Presley and live-tweeted their conversation to approximately 30,000 followers. What ensued was little less than the public humiliation of a husband and father for, among other heinous crimes, allegedly flirting with her and having too much to drink.
While we’ve all sat next to that annoying seatmate on a flight who keeps talking when we just want to be left alone, I do not believe that Brian Presley’s behavior warranted such a public flogging. He sounds like a perfectly harmless guy who chatted up a pretty girl.
Stetten, on the other hand, sounds like an arrogant, insensitive twit. She publicly shamed a man for talking to her and mocked a recovering alcoholic during a possible relapse. Keep reading »
I’m not an addict, and I’m not an alcoholic. But as offensive as this may sound, I sometimes I wish I were, if only so I could have a language and a community to help me deal with what often seem like out of control urges—a structure surrounding me to help me cope with, well, life. But there are no 12-step meetings for people who simply have trouble getting up every day, who feel hollow and weak and unworthy, but who don’t gloss over those feelings with a single, predictable vice. Over the course of my life, I’ve certainly used alcohol, sex, shopping and food to help quell those feelings, and they’ve each worked, in limited doses, but eventually their effects wore off.
The thing is, though, my rock bottom moments don’t revolve around alcohol, though I’ve consumed my share, or drugs (I’ve attempted to smoke pot twice, and basically failed each time); sometimes it’s food, sometimes it’s sex, sometimes it’s shopping, but I fundamentally believe that the core part of me that hates myself in those moments when I’m eating an entire box of cereal, screwing someone I’m not that into, or buying a pair of shoes I don’t need and can’t afford, is the same impulse that drove, say, my father or grandfather to drink (both are recovering alcoholics). Keep reading »
As Amy Winehouse‘s album Back to Black climbs back onto the charts and whispers begin about a treasure trove of unreleased songs, Winehouse’s family has a hunch about what we might find in her toxicology report—that she died from alcohol withdrawal. They believe that laying off the alcohol cold turkey may be what caused Winehouse’s sudden death last weekend at age 27. A source close to the family explains, “[Amy's father Mitch] said doctors had told Amy to gradually reduce her intake of alcohol and to avoid bingeing at all costs. Amy told him she couldn’t do that. It was all or nothing and she gave up completely. Mitch said the shock of giving up, after everything she had been through over a bad few years, was just too much for her to take. Abstinence gave her body such a fright, they thought it was eventually the cause of her death.”
So what exactly is alcohol withdrawal? And can it kill someone? Keep reading »