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Women and depression Articles

As she lay dying: Depression and my mother’s sad memories

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Shortly before my mother went into hospice we sat alone together in her bedroom and she said: “If you want to ask me anything you should ask me now.”shutterstock_141509170

I was stunned.

My mother had rarely spoken about her childhood. She grew up on a farm in northern Wisconsin. They did not have hot water and she and her three sisters and two brothers took baths one-by-one in a tub in water that had been warmed on a stove. You wanted to be the first in line to get the cleanest, warmest water, she used to tell me. They didn’t have much money. They worked hard. They churned their own butter.

I could not recall her ever speaking about her father – my grandfather, who died when I was very young. About all I knew was that he drank a lot. So I asked. She rattled off stories – none of them happy or funny. He took all six kids to school in the morning and then started drinking. She had seen him drunk, sitting on a curb. She was so embarrassed that if she needed to go past his watering hole she would take a different route to avoid seeing him.

He took the money she had saved to buy herself a car. When she announced she was going to college – the only one of the four girls in the family who did – he kicked her out. Women didn’t need a college education, she recalled him saying. She went on to get a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree.


Botox: The new antidepressant?

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Halle-freakin’-lujah!

We have a couple more studies that suggest that paralyzing key facial muscles with Botox can reduce the symptoms of depression.

In a recent 24-week randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study, done by Michelle Magid, MD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas, 30 participants with depressive symptoms were randomized and give injections of Botox or a placebo between the eyebrows (which happens to be exactly where I need it.)shutterstock_124462930

The men were injected with 39 units of botulinum and the women were injected with 29 units. At week 12, the placebo group crossed over to treatment, and the treatment group crossed over to placebo.Participants were evaluated at weeks 0, 3, 6, 12, 15, 18, and 24. The primary outcome was a reduction from baseline of at least 50% in the 21-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score.

In a yet-to-be-published study in the in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, Eric Finzi, a cosmetic dermatologist, and Norman Rosenthal, a professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School, randomly assigned a group of 74 patients with major depression to receive either Botox or saline injections in the forehead muscles that enable us to frown.


Depression: The absence of gratitude

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

There was a time when I wanted a really big house. A two-story house with big bedrooms and bathrooms with his and her’s sinks – even though there is no “his.”

My siblings have huge houses on big chunks of land. BIG – as in having an intercom so the kids can ask mom to bring some snacks down to the basement, where they have gym, pool table, bar and movie room. You can put a 20-foot Christmas tree in their living rooms and it won’t hit the ceiling.shutterstock_152710781

My house is 1,332 square feet on .17 acres. No basement. No upstairs. Right now, I absolutely love it. I have the windows open and it is raining. When you live in a very small house and you open the windows during a rain, it sounds like you are actually outside, in the rain. Surround-sound rain but you are cozy and dry.

In the words of the philosopher Crow: It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.

This is gratitude and it is an entirely impossible state of mind when you have depression. If you want to get a taste of what depression feels like, it is the complete absence of gratitude. It is compounded by friends and family trying to cram gratitude down your throat…”You have so much to live for…”


How’s that New Year’s resolution working for you?

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

I don’t do resolutions but apparently a lot of people do because the gym was packed this morning.

If something needs to change, I change it. Relying on a number on a calender has never worked for me. Trust me. I’ve tried it. You can ask any alcoholic and they will tell you they have set deadlines and then either missed them or got sober for a few weeks and then they’re back at it.

It’s the same with dieting. If you can go ON a diet, you can go OFF a diet. You want to lose weight or quit smoking or drinking, you just do it – not because it’s a certain day of the year. resolutionsBecause it needs to be done and every cell in your body is convinced of that truth. In the words of the philosophers at Nike: Just do it.

Of course if you are as hard headed as I am, it may take some time to convince yourself that you really need to make a change. In fact, I brain has concocted truly ridiculous arguments  to prove to myself that I didn’t need to quit drinking, take antidepressants or see a therapist.


Christmas takes aim at my depression

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

And I shall go forth into another holiday season with this mantra: Expectations are premeditated disappointments.

I shall also turn the frickin’ channel when a jewelry commercial comes on the television or that chipper song Feliz Navidad plays on the radio. I will do my damndest to avoid sugar, especially M&Ms. I will avoid the mall and its DMV-ish lines and battles for parking spots.shutterstock_820713

I’m not doing this because I am a bah-humbug kind of girl. I’m doing this because I know that my depression is smack in the middle of the bullseye this time of year. After umpteen years of therapy and medications, I  know that my expectations about Christmas – fueled by the American advertising industry – can push me over the edge.

So, I’m working on having a Charlie Brown kind of Christmas this year. I’m going to focus on putting a single bulb on a pathetic little tree – metaphorically speaking – and remember the nativity. I was raised Catholic, which likely explains a lot of other issues that we’re not going to go into right now, and taught that Christmas is about Christ’s birth.

Santa is supposed to be a side-dish, not the main course. I am going to focus instead on the lessons of the nativity, namely humility and giving.

And in that spirit, I give you this: a simple reminder of the simplicity of Christmas.

Pathetic Christmas tree image available from Shutterstock.


How My Alcoholism Revealed My Depression

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Fourteen years ago today I took my last drink. I’m not sure exactly what it was because much of that night remains a blur – in and out of a blackout. I remember going to a party where there were massive martini glasses on each table filled with goldfish. I was determined to SAVE THE GOLDFISH! when the clean-up crew started flushing them down the toilet. Ah, the joys of being the last one at the party.

I have a few other snippets of drunken debauchery from that night but I clearly remember waking up and my neighbor coming over and asking if I was okay because my front door was wide open when he went out to get his paper that morning and some of my clothes — the kind of clothing that neighbors usually aren’t privy to seeing — were strewn about my front yard.

I stumbled into a 12-Step meeting later that day, sat in the back and realized I was in the right place — even though I thought it was insane that these people could be laughing at stories like mine from the night before! How dare they take this so lightly! Can’t they see how much pain I am in? What is wrong with these people?


Break-Up Angst and Depression

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Today is the day the rubber hits the road. The pedal hits the metal. My alcoholism, depression, bipolar hit the proverbial fan. And a bunch of other stupid idioms that somehow seem appropriate right now.

My five-year relationship with a childhood sweetheart ended after he casually mentioned, while describing his “epic” vacation, that his ex-wife tagged along. He couldn’t believe I wasn’t more understanding because, really, it was in the kids’ best interest. Really?

The last time something like this happened  I ended up in a major, major, major depression – a frog’s hair from a bottle or three of chardonnay – and on disability for two months. Depression is a bitch and relationship angst is my biggest trigger.

So, today I get to blow the dust off of all those tools I have acquired in countless therapy sessions, 12-step meetings, self-help books, feeble attempts at meditation and a stint in co-dependency treatment center. I am hoping they work. I am praying they work. I am counting on them working, along with my medications.


My Depression Hates the “C” Word

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

cancerI hate the “C” word.

Cancer.

Both my parents died of cancer. Dad died first. The week after we buried him, Mom started her last round of chemo. Eighteen months later, she was dead, too. It was a really rough couple of years. I hadn’t wanted to think about this today but it seems I pressed the wrong buttons on the remote when I ordered a Pay Per View movie and instead of getting Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson I got a movie about a young guy with cancer who was a given a 50/50 chance of survival.

When I realized my mistake I changed the channel. A few minutes later I changed it back. No way was I going to waste $5.99 and I wanted to see whether I had made any progress with my cancer “issues.” It’s been 8 years since Mom died and I am terrified of cancer and don’t want to be around people with it.

I eat organic, use botanical skin care products and I take damn near every supplement they say will prevent cancer. I don’t smoke, drink, eat gluten, soy or dairy. I get a mammogram every year. I see the dermatologist twice a year since she found two squamous cell carcinomas and I use a chemo cream one night a week on my face. Mom died of colon cancer and I would have a colonoscopy every year if the insurance would pay for it.


Staying Sober and Depression-Free with the Housewives of Beverly Hills

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Source: Bravo TV

Sometimes the power of a bad example is as powerful as a good example. I’m thinking of Kim Richards, one of the housewives on The Housewives of Beverly Hills.

My daughter got me hooked on that show when she came home from college on winter break.  There was a time – not too long ago – when that little intellectual dilettante in me would have dismissed such a show as a complete waste of time only to be watched by the mindless, vapid masses. Thankfully, I shut that little dilettante up and now I’m watching all the re-runs – thank you very much.

Watching Kim’s slow, self-destruction over this last season is good for me. I am, like Kim, am a single, somewhat middle-aged, mother whose child has grown up. We are both trying to keep our hair blonde and minimize our wrinkles. I am not going to pronounce Kim an alcoholic, but let’s just say there was a day – before I got sober 13 years ago – that I would have partied with Kim in a heartbeat.


Depression Prayer: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Feelings…”

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

I don’t think about David Funchess much anymore. I watched him die on April 22, 1986 in Florida’s electric chair. He was the first Vietnam Veteran executed in the United States. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder had yet to be discovered when Funchess, a highly-decorated combat Marine, fatally stabbed a couple during a hold-up in Jacksonville in 1974.

Death Row, Florida State Prison

I was a cub reporter and was morbidly thrilled to have the opportunity to cover an execution. The little motel where I stayed in Starke, Florida was excited to see me, too, and had posted “Welcome Christine” on its roadside marquee. This story would be the crown jewel in my growing collection of clips – mostly stories of last night’s school board meeting and car wrecks. That’s how I looked at it.

On a personal level, I was hoping the execution would finally settle my doubts about the death penalty. I was brought up Catholic but having covered a few murders, I was not convinced that the death penalty was unjust. I was on the fence. I had heard of reporters who had fainted or barfed covering executions. I did not know how I would react.


Hoping for a Happy Ending
Check out Christine's book!
Hope for a Happy Ending: A Journalist's
Story of Depression, Bipolar and Alcoholism
Christine Stapleton

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  • Christine Stapleton: Wow. Sorry about that. Here is the link. Also added it to the blog. http://onlinelibrary.wiley...
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