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 »
If you’ve ever been depressed or if you’re currently depressed or are wondering if you’re possibly depressed, walk — no run! — to the blog Hyperbole & A Half, where blogger Allie deftly, and sometimes hilariously, chronicles what it’s like to live with depression. In a new entry, posted today, Allie explains how depression can at first make you feel powerful in its detachment, and then slowly make it difficult to even approximate human emotions.
I could no longer rely on genuine emotion to generate facial expressions, and when you have to spend every social interaction consciously manipulating your face into shapes that are only approximately the right ones, alienating people is inevitable. Keep reading »
Almie Rose knows a thing or two about a thing or two. In this installment, Almie dissects the finer points of how to deal when you’re depressed. Or, maybe, how not to deal. In any case, it’s always a good idea to make videos with your pets.
Greetings from zombie-land.
That’s where I’m currently residing as I go through antidepressant withdrawal. It’s a horribly dizzying place, filled with bouts of insomnia, nausea and an episode of neverending flu. It’s not a place I recommend visiting, and yet, I’ve found myself here because I decided to get off of Paxil, the anti-anxiety drug I’ve been on–off and on–for the last 10 years. And let me tell you, withdrawal is a bitch. Keep reading »
This story begins in a basement waiting room in Brooklyn. My boyfriend and I stare at our phones on a dirty looking love seat across from the reception desk. There’s no service, and cellphone games give me headaches, so I pick up an issue of Parenting magazine, even though I am not a parent and — thank god — this isn’t that kind of doctor’s visit. I’m not thirsty, but I drink a lot of water from the water cooler to occupy myself. It takes almost an hour before my name is called. The nurse is friendly, but she mumbles and I keep having to ask her to repeat herself. I am relieved when she asks me how much I weigh rather than making me step on the scale, but the anxiety rises again when she measures my blood pressure. The machine squeezes my arm and then releases it in slow puffs — panic, panic, panic.
Actually, this story begins on Christmas night. And the night before. And the night after. And all of the nights that I went to bed too early. This story begins with me apologizing. This story begins with my mother’s worried face. It begins with an unquenchable, inexplicable desire for sleep, which actually begins nine years ago when I was in 12th grade and became addicted to going to bed. Because that’s what this is really about. That’s the reason I am waiting in a cold doctor’s office, picking nervously at my nail polish, listening to the paper crinkle each time I move, and wanting very badly to pee.
I’m tired. I’m tired all the time. Keep reading »
Yet another reason diet soda may not be as good a choice as you assumed: A new study links it to an increased risk of depression, LiveScience reports. More than 263,900 US adults answered questions about their beverage consumption between 1995 and 1996, and about 10 years later, they were asked if they had been diagnosed with depression since the year 2000. Those who regularly consumed four or more cans per day of any type of soda were 30 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with depression, but those who chose diet soda saw a 31% increased risk compared to just 22% for regular-soda-drinkers. Read more…
The irony about people who cope with depression is that some of us are actually quite happy people. We are not, contrary to stereotype, slogging through life with the weight of one thousand sorrows dragging behind us. I may feel things intensely, sure. But I’m not someone whose blue-colored glasses see everyone screwed up and the world a terrible place.
That is, until the holidays come around. Keep reading »
Dieting is probably my foremost hobby. It might even take precedence over my two other main interests, which are 1) lying on the sofa complaining of feeling faint like a Victorian anemic and 2) staring at myself in the mirror. Of course, dieting for me just means eating healthily, because my idea of eating whatever I want includes sandwiches composed of whole baguettes with an entire pig’s worth of prosciutto, several slices of pepperoni pizza, and entire pints of ice cream in one sitting. The world in which I can eat as I please is a world in which raw kale does not exist. (Baked kale chips can stay.)
So it only makes sense that, however unpleasant it may be, I force myself to eat in a reasonable, controlled manner, which means cutting out some of my favorite foods altogether. Once I get them in front of me, I cannot resist, and then I’m eating all of it, because food is my drug. Which leads me to this: much like the gravitational pull of your favorite flavors can put you induce a drug-like euphoria, being forced (by a self-imposed or otherwise mandatory diet) to stop eating high-fat and high-sugar foods can cause withdrawal symptoms and depression. It’s science! Keep reading »
I am not a beach person. The way seagulls swoop over your head like rats with wings terrifies me. I hate that feeling of sand caked in every crevice.
But when my friend Thomas invited my husband and I to a nude federal beach in New Jersey, rumored to be filled with spectacularly hung men and tanned, pierced women, I decided it was something worth trying.
“I think we should go,” I told my husband.
Maybe it was because I needed a change. Spring had been of those staying-in-bed-smoking-cigarettes instead of going out seasons. I found myself fighting a constant drowsiness and listening to Jewel. Some days it took an effort to look both ways before crossing the street. Keep reading »
I used to be the sort of person who was always looking for the next big thing. In high school, I wanted to be in college. In college, I wanted to have a job. Every job I had, I wanted to be more successful.
I didn’t learn about stillness, about just being, until I had to. And I don’t think it’s coincidental that the more I just be and the more gratitude I have for my life, the happier I am.
My bouts of depression have always had a chicken-and-the-egg quality to them. Was I on a downward spiral of depression throughout my mid-20s? Or was it from my stressful and demanding job and how hard I was on myself about not being the most amazing person ever? Did I feel depressed because I studied abroad in Eastern Europe away from my family and my friends? Or was I depressed already and that trip just exacerbated it?
I don’t think there are necessarily answers other than “both.” Just the way my mom is inclined to bruise easily if she knocks her leg on a coffee table, I’m inclined to get depressed easily. I wouldn’t have chosen to be this way if I had the choice. But since this is what the lottery stuck me with, I’ve learned how to cope with it. Keep reading »