“I struggled with chronic depression. I was in bad shape. I knew I had to get back in school and back in some kind of structured environment and… continue. [...] I did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me. Which is what therapy does: it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral, your own bulls**t. It helps. And honestly? Antidepressants help! If you can change your brain chemistry enough to think: ‘I want to get up in the morning; I don’t want to sleep until four in the afternoon. I want to get up and go do my s**t and go to work and…’ Reset the auto-meter, kick-start the engine!”
— Jon Hamm, whose mother died when he was 10, discusses with The Guardian how school, therapy and antidepressants helped him cope with the death of his father when he was 20. I know it happened a long time ago, but I’d still be happy to lend a shoulder to cry on anytime Mr. Hamm might need one. Call me. [via The Guardian] Keep reading »
When I was growing up I had a friend who was as aloof as she was glamorous. She had a way of holding the cutest and most charming boys in her thrall and all the girls wanted her to like them. Whenever she had problems with her romances, her schoolwork, her friends or her family, she was very mysterious about it. Her glass facade never shattered in public and very seldom would she even admit to having problems at all. Some days, random Tuesdays or Thursdays, she wouldn’t be in school, even though she hadn’t looked sick the day before. She would call them her “mental health days.”
She seemed very melodramatic to me, as if this were all just part of her act. But it was also exciting. My mother is a lot like Betty Draper and she would say to me when I was growing up that if I was not bleeding, I was fine. That kind of mothering doesn’t exactly teach someone self-care: if I didn’t want to go to school, I would lock myself in my bedroom and shriek at my mother through the door that I wanted to be left alone. A “mental health day,” on the other hand, sounded so grown-up, like she was taking a “personal day” at the office and we weren’t just a couple of 10th graders. I could imagine my friend calm and collected, attending to her own needs like a cat licking his paws. Maybe it was melodramatic, but it still sounded nice. Keep reading »
Going away to college is scary — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When I left my little, rural town in upstate New York and came to the big city for college at NYU, I was terrified. All of the sudden I had to live on my own with people I barely knew, cook for myself, and (gasp!) learn how to do laundry. An A+ student my whole life, I had to learn to live with B’s and professors who graded like they had a personal vendetta against me. The whole experience of being a first semester freshman at college sucked. It didn’t help that, before classes began, someone in my grade jumped out of the window of a neighboring dorm and killed himself. Within a week, I decided I wanted to change schools. But my parents convinced me to stick it out a bit longer and, eventually, I began to like my new life and surroundings.
Anyone who tells you the transition to college is easy is a straight-up liar. And while I’m not saying I can ease all the pain and stress of adjusting, I can share a few things I learned from my experience that may help you out. Keep reading »
New research has dispelled the assumption that men don’t bond with an unborn child as much as women do and, therefore, don’t feel as depressed after a miscarriage. According to a study conducted in Hong Kong, men feel the same emotional pain as women, but are able to heal faster. Researchers followed 83 couples for one year after a miscarriage and found that 40 percent of the men suffered significant psychological distress immediately after the loss of their unborn child, but after a year, only five percent felt the same distress. Fifty-two percent of women, on the other hand, suffered significant psychological distress immediately after the miscarriage, and eight percent reported distress after a year. Men who had helped plan the pregnancy were more likely to experience high levels of depression after the miscarriage. So researchers conclude that the psychological impact of miscarriages is “less intense and enduring” for men, but since both sexes are distressed after the loss of pregnancy, help for the couple should be offered soon after the pregnancy loss. Are these findings surprising to you? Do you think a study of 83 couples is enough research to accurately come to these conclusions? [Reuters] Keep reading »
I try to divorce Michael at least once a month. I blame this on my PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or what I like to call “PMS on crack”), though I’ve also been diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety and, once, a psychopharmacologist told me I had obvious bipolar tendencies. Either way, I’m not the easiest person to live with (as if you didn’t already feel bad enough for my husband, due to my sexual issues). Sometimes, I fling my wedding band across the room, or lock myself into the bathroom, or scream myself raw. And once, I dumped a freshly-baked pan of cookies on top of his freshly-cleaned clothes and stomped up and down on them. Keep reading »
We tend to think of the concept of “pain” as something physical—something that involves blood, bruises or casts. But people with mental illnesses struggle with this entirely other debilitating concept of pain, one that literally saps the life out of them. I have struggled with depression, or unipolar depression. The National Institute of Health says major depression is when a person has five or more symptoms for at least two weeks. Symptoms include: fatigue or lack of energy; feelings of hopelessness or helplessness; feelings of worthlessness, self-hate or guilt; inactivity or withdrawal from activities that used to be pleasurable; trouble sleeping or sleeping too much; loss of appetite or dramatic gain in appetite; agitation; difficulty concentrating; and thoughts of death or suicide.
For me, depression has manifested itself in all these ways. Sometimes I can sleep for 12 hours straight and still want to spend the rest of the day in bed. Other times, I can’t sleep and seem to be living on my own anxiety-fueled adrenaline. The only common thread is feeling like a human being with all the joyful parts of humanity leeched out of her. Keep reading »
Years ago, I used to have this mantra: “The things you worry about usually don’t happen.” It was true. The fears never, ever materialized: I was never fired from a job; a roommate never kicked me out of my apartment; no one ever climbed up my fire escape in the middle of the night and broke in. Instead, of course, an entirely different set of bad things happened to me, stuff that I hadn’t anticipated or prepared for. And you know what? Everything turned out OK. More than OK, really: I love my job; I met my partner for life; I earn enough money to live on; and everyone I care about is healthy. I’m so OK it’s boring — and all the time I spent worrying about the now ex-bosses and ex-roommates seems, well, wasted. Keep reading »