WBEZ | depression http://www.wbez.org/tags/depression Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Bloggess is determined to be "Furiously Happy" http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-05/bloggess-determined-be-furiously-happy-113184 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1005_the-bloggess-624x407.jpg" title="Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness in “Furiously Happy.” (Courtesy Maile Wilson)" /></div><p style="text-align: justify;">Jenny Lawson&nbsp;is the creator of the wildly popular blog &ldquo;<a href="http://thebloggess.com/" target="_blank">The Bloggess</a>&rdquo; and author of the bestselling &ldquo;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Lets-Pretend-This-Never-Happened/dp/0425261018?tag=wburorg-20" target="_blank">Let&rsquo;s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir</a>.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><img 2015="" a="" about="" alt="" book="" by="" class="image-original_image" flatiron="" funny="" furiously="" happy:="" horrible="" jenny="" lawson.="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1005_furiously-happy.jpg" style="height: 304px; width: 200px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="(Cover, &quot;Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things&quot;, by Jenny Lawson. 2015 Flatiron Books.)" /></p><p style="text-align: justify;">In her latest book, she writes that clinical depression, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis, mild OCD and trichotillomania (the urge to pull one&rsquo;s hair out) are all part of her life. But Lawson is determined to be what she calls &ldquo;furiously happy&rdquo; in the moments when things are fine and to find joy, in spite of her illnesses and ailments.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In being open not only about her moments of joy but also her moments of terror and depression, Lawson has found a community on the Internet that&nbsp;supports her and each other.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Jenny Lawson joins&nbsp;Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s Robin Young to talk about her book &ldquo;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Furiously-Happy-Funny-Horrible-Things/dp/1250077001?tag=wburorg-20" target="_blank">Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things</a>.&rdquo;</p><h4>&nbsp;</h4><h4><strong><em>Book Excerpt: &lsquo;Furiously Happy&rsquo;</em></strong></h4><h4><strong><em>Excerpted from the book FURIOUSLY HAPPY by Jenny Lawson. Copyright &copy; 2015 by Jenny Lawson. Reprinted with permission of Flatiron Books.</em></strong></h4><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_91459" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/283704871/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="615"></iframe></p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/05/jenny-lawson-bloggess-furiously-happy" target="_blank"><em>via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-05/bloggess-determined-be-furiously-happy-113184 Club drug ketamine gains traction as a treatment for depression http://www.wbez.org/news/club-drug-ketamine-gains-traction-treatment-depression-113087 <p><div id="res443482399" previewtitle="Ketamine"><div data-crop-type="">A mind-altering drug called ketamine is changing the way some doctors treat depression.</div></div><p>Encouraged by research showing that ketamine can relieve even the worst depression in a matter of hours, these doctors are giving the drug to some of their toughest patients. And they&#39;re doing this even though ketamine lacks approval from the Food and Drug Administration for treating depression.</p><p>&quot;It became clear to me that the future of psychiatry was going to include ketamine or derivatives of ketamine,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://psychiatry.ucsd.edu/About/faculty/Pages/david-feifel.aspx">David Feifel</a>, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, who began administering the drug to patients in 2010.</p><p><img alt="" ap="" class="image-original_image" photo="" special="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_97010103697.jpg" style="float: left; height: 218px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="This is a vial of the drug ketamine hydrochloride, better known in the drug culture as &quot;Special K.&quot; (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho)" victoria="" />Ketamine was developed as an anesthetic and received FDA approval for this use in 1970. Decades later, it became popular as a psychedelic club drug. And in 2006, a team from the National Institute of Mental Health published a landmark&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16894061">study</a>&nbsp;showing that a single intravenous dose of ketamine produced &quot;robust and rapid antidepressant effects&quot; within a couple of hours.</p><p>Since then, thousands of depressed patients have received &quot;off-label&quot; treatment with ketamine.</p><p>One of those patients is Paul, 36, who lives in San Diego and is a patient of Dr. Feifel. We&#39;re not using his last name to protect his medical privacy.</p><p>Paul&#39;s depression began with anxiety. &quot;I was an extremely anxious child,&quot; he says. &quot;I would always make choices based on fear. My life was really directed by what was the least fearful thing that I could do.&quot;</p><p>As Paul grew up, his extreme anxiety led to major depression, which could leave him unable to get out of bed for days. &quot;I lived in pain,&quot; he says.</p><p>Paul managed to get through college and a stint in the Peace Corps. But most days were a struggle. And Paul has spent much of his adult life searching for a treatment that would give him some relief.</p><p>He tried just about every drug used for depression, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, and even electroconvulsive therapy, which induces a brief seizure. But nothing worked &mdash; at least not for very long.</p><p>Paul says he was increasingly haunted by &quot;this comforting thought of pressing a cold gun against my forehead where I felt the pain the most.&quot;</p><p>Then one day, while investigating depression on the Internet, Paul discovered the research on ketamine. &quot;It was clear to me that this was real,&quot; he says.</p><p>Ordinarily, there would have been no legal way for Paul to get ketamine. He didn&#39;t qualify for most research studies because of his suicidal thoughts. And doctors usually won&#39;t prescribe a mind-altering club drug to someone with a mental illness.</p><p>But the studies of ketamine have produced results so dramatic that some doctors, including Feifel, are bypassing the usual protocols.</p><p>By the time Feifel began hearing about ketamine, he had become frustrated with existing depression drugs. Too often, he says, they just weren&#39;t helping his patients.</p><div id="res443483905" previewtitle="David Feifel, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, has treated about 100 people with ketamine."><div><p>A major&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2253608/">study</a>&nbsp;on antidepressant medication published in 2008 seemed to confirm his suspicions. It found that current antidepressants really aren&#39;t much better than a placebo.</p></div></div><p>Many psychiatrists criticized that study. But not Feifel. &quot;I was kind of like, I&#39;m not surprised,&quot; he says. &quot;These really don&#39;t seem like powerful tools.&quot;</p><p>Feifel remembers feeling &quot;professionally embarrassed&quot; that psychiatrists didn&#39;t have something better to offer their depressed patients. Something like ketamine.</p><p>He knew the drug had risks. It could be abused. It could produce hallucinations. And it didn&#39;t have the FDA&#39;s OK for treating depression.</p><p>But he also knew that doctors had a lot of experience with ketamine. It&#39;s been used for decades as an anesthetic that can rapidly stop pain without affecting vital functions like breathing. And ketamine&#39;s safety record is so good that it&#39;s often the painkiller of choice for children who arrive in the emergency room with a broken bone.</p><p><img alt="David Feifel, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, has treated about 100 people with ketamine." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/25/david-feifel-a840fba065cef2c5a1f9b02b005f823b760acd55-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="David Feifel, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, has treated about 100 people with ketamine. (Courtesy of David Feifel)" /></p><p>So in 2010, Feifel decided he wanted to offer low doses of the drug to some patients. The decision put him at odds with some prominent psychiatrists, including Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. &quot;While the science is promising, ketamine is not ready for broad use in the clinic,&quot; Insel&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2014/ketamine.shtml">wrote</a>&nbsp;in his blog a few months ago.</p><p>&quot;There are a lot of pundits who remain skeptical or feel we need to research this ad infinitum before it&#39;s ready, which doesn&#39;t make sense to me,&quot; Feifel says. It&#39;s hard to take the wait-and-see approach when you&#39;re treating patients who are desperate for help, he adds.</p><p>Paul was one of those desperate patients when he was referred to Feifel in March of 2014. The referral was from a local psychiatrist who had run out of ideas, Feifel says.</p><p>And Paul jumped at the chance to try ketamine. &quot;If there was even a 1 percent chance that this worked, it would have been worth it to me,&quot; he says. &quot;My life was hanging in the balance.&quot;</p><p>And for Paul, the benefits of ketamine became obvious soon after one of his early injections.</p><p>&quot;I remember I was in my bathroom and I literally fell to my knees crying because I had no anxiety, I had no depression,&quot; he says</p><p>For the past year, Paul has been getting ketamine every four to six weeks. He feels an altered sense of reality for an hour or two after getting the drug. The effect on depression and anxiety, though, lasts more than a month.</p><p>Ketamine doesn&#39;t always work that well, Feifel says. After treating more than 100 patients, he&#39;s beginning to understand the drug&#39;s limitations.</p><p>One is that its ability to keep depression at bay can fade pretty quickly. Feifel recalls one patient whose depression would disappear like magic after a dose of ketamine. But &quot;we could never get it to sustain beyond maybe a day,&quot; he says.</p><div id="res443485663"><div>Also, ketamine treatment is expensive because patients need to be monitored so closely. Feifel charges about $500 for each injection and $1,000 for an intravenous infusion, which takes effect more quickly. Insurers don&#39;t cover the cost because the treatment is still considered experimental.</div></div><p>Even so, ketamine clinics are popping up around the country and they have already treated thousands of patients willing and able to pay out of pocket. Some of the clinics are run by psychiatrists. Others have been started by entrepreneurial anesthesiologists and emergency room doctors, who are familiar with ketamine but may not know much about depression.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;ve seen ketamine clinics open up as pure business models,&quot; Feifel says. &quot;I&#39;m a little bit concerned about that.&quot;</p><p>Feifel fears something bad will happen to a depressed patient at one of these clinics. And that could set back efforts to make the drug more widely available.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/09/28/443203592/club-drug-ketamine-gains-traction-as-a-treatment-for-depression?ft=nprml&amp;f=443203592" target="_blank"><em>via NPR Shots</em></a></p></p> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 12:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/club-drug-ketamine-gains-traction-treatment-depression-113087 After suicide attempt, college student helps others deal with mental illness http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/after-suicide-attempt-college-student-helps-others-deal-mental-illness-109943 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 1.43.50 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Three years ago, Wesleyan college student Molly Jenkins tried to take her own life&mdash;twice.</p><p>Molly told her mom that her suicidal thoughts first began while recovering from a major surgery that left her bedridden.</p><p>After 6 months of therapy at Chicago&rsquo;s Rush Hospital, she returned to college and became a mental health advocate.</p><p><strong>Molly: &ldquo;It was really important for me to come out with this stamp on my forehead that said, &lsquo;I&rsquo;ve attempted suicide and I don&rsquo;t care what you guys think&rsquo; because I knew there were other people who, like me, were suffering in silence.&rdquo;</strong></p><p>To hear Molly and her mother discuss this trying period in their lives for the first time, check out the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer. </em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 14:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/after-suicide-attempt-college-student-helps-others-deal-mental-illness-109943 Daughter tries to come to terms with father's suicide http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/daughter-tries-come-terms-fathers-suicide-109826 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/storycorps ann tom.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A few years ago Anne Emerson decided to visit her mom in Boston while on break from law school. One early morning during her stay they got a phone call. It was about her father &hellip; and the news wasn&rsquo;t good. What happened next gave Anne a greater perspective on illness, abandonment, and the will to live. She shared her experience with partner Tom Gallagher at the Chicago StoryCorps booth.</p><p><strong>ANNE:</strong> Everyone has something, that if they had to live without it, it wouldn&rsquo;t be life anymore.</p><p>For her father, she said, it was losing his mental faculties after developing dementia. Anne already had abandonment issues with her dad from an early age.</p><p><strong>ANNE: </strong>The only really big problem I have with his &lsquo;method of exit&rsquo; if you will, is that&hellip; just when you think someone can&rsquo;t find a new way to leave you&hellip; they do.</p><p>To find out how Anne grapples with her loss, listen to the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer. </em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 19:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/daughter-tries-come-terms-fathers-suicide-109826 Morning Shift: The emotional expense of unemployment http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-16/morning-shift-emotional-expense-unemployment-109526 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/unemployment Flickr by theseoduke.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&#39;s easy to see the financial strain caused by long-term unemployment. Now, new research is shedding light on the less understood but equally damaging emotional cost. We delve into mental health and unemployment with professor Timothy Classen and therapist Keith Renfroe.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-emotional-expense-of-unemploymen/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-emotional-expense-of-unemploymen.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-emotional-expense-of-unemploymen" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The emotional expense of unemployment" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 08:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-16/morning-shift-emotional-expense-unemployment-109526 A father decides to be a different kind of father than his was http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/father-decides-be-different-kind-father-his-was-107790 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/storycorps dave and tom.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>After losing his mother to cancer, David Wartowski is finding his relationship with his father, Tom, even more important.</p><p>Tom has had his own struggles with cancer and depression.</p><p>The pair visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth to remember David&rsquo;s mother, whom they affectionately called Musiu, and to talk about their own relationship.</p><p>Tom: &hellip; My father was very, very strict (crying). He would always criticize what I did, and he thought by calling me lazy and stupid that I would turn out to be industrious and hardworking and smart. But really, it had the counter effect. He pretty much convinced me that I wasn&rsquo;t bright and that I was lazy.</p><p>David: You know, it turned out your relationship with me, with your son, was very little, I think, like the relationship you had with your father.</p><p>Tom: Yeah, there were some things I said I wasn&rsquo;t going to do - corporal punishment my father used a lot. I wasn&rsquo;t going to use that.</p><p>Tom tells his son he struggled with depression, but that his wife, David&rsquo;s mother, changed his life.</p><p>David: You were diagnosed with cancer in..</p><p>Tom: 2001</p><p>David: Shortly after Musiu died of cancer &hellip; I was in my roughly mid-20s thinking I would lose both of my parents without any siblings.</p><p>Listen to the audio above to hear more of David and Tom&rsquo;s story.</p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/father-decides-be-different-kind-father-his-was-107790 Why we could all use some therapy http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-05/why-we-could-all-use-some-therapy-107173 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/woody-manhattan.jpg" style="float: right; height: 223px; width: 320px; " title="Woody Allen talks to an analyst in &quot;Manhattan.&quot; (United Artists)" united="" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">While riding on the bus or the &quot;L,&quot; have you ever seen an ad for a psychological center (are you depressed? anxious? etc.) contemplated calling the number, then quickly averted your eyes, embarrassed that you even considered it?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Do I really <em>need&nbsp;</em>therapy?&quot; you ask yourself, realizing in that very moment that yes, you really do.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Then you wonder, &quot;Am I the&nbsp;only person who has ever wrestled with these crazy thoughts? Am I crazy?&quot;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The truth is, you&#39;re not crazy, and you&#39;re not alone&mdash;you&#39;re actually one of millions.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">According to the <a href="http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml#MajorDepressive" target="_blank">National Institute of Mental Health</a>, major depressive disorder (which you may just write off as a bad case of the blues) affects 14.8 million American adults each year. 5.7 million Americans have bipolar disorder, 2.2 million struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and generalized anxiety disorder affects approximately 7.7 million.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Depression and anxiety are the <a href="http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics" target="_blank">most common</a>; and unfortunately, the most likely to be swept under the rug. &quot;Man up,&quot; &quot;Stop wallowing,&quot; &quot;Stay positive,&quot; &quot;Just eat,&quot; &quot;Go for a run,&quot; &quot;Try yoga,&quot; urge friends and family members, as if a brain can instantly be re-wired with a positive attitude and some downward dog.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">These magic cures may work for some people; but for those with chemical imbalances&nbsp;or deeper issues that a good balanced breakfast and a walk in the park can&#39;t fix, therapy (combined with psychiatric medication as needed) could work wonders.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Does the steoreotypical image of lying on a couch and telling your life story to a wizened old analyst not sound like the most appealing option to you? Fortunately, psychoanalysis is much more complex, involved and helpful than film and television often make it out to be. Also, modern therapy methods can be tailored to your specific issue, whether it be depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, alcoholism, co-dependency in relationships or all of the above.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Therapy also comes in a variety of different forms, from individual appointments to support groups to family counseling sessions, many of which are fully or at least partially covered by insurance. Most therapists also have connections to psychiatrists, nutritionists&nbsp;and general physicians to treat any physical symptoms that may arise.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Stigma around mental health care still exists today; but the more informed people are about the diverse symptoms and proper methods of treatment for mental illness, and how billions of people around the world are affected every day, then they are much less likely to judge.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">If you are physically sick, then you got to the doctor to get well again. So, why feel shame and guilt about seeing a therapist for your mental health?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">If you want to talk to an unbiased professional about whatever you may struggling with&mdash;whether it be a recent breakup, a death in the family or a quarter-life crisis you just can&#39;t seem to shake&mdash;go ahead and make the call. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it&#39;s a sign of strength.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Resources in the Chicago area:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.insightbhc.com/stories/home" target="_blank"><strong>Insight&nbsp;Behavioral&nbsp;Health Centers</strong></a>&nbsp;(specializing in eating disorders, mood disorders and women&#39;s reproductive mental health issues such as postpartum and peripartum depression)</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.lakeviewtherapy.com" target="_blank"><strong>Lakeview Center for Psychotherapy </strong></a>(therapy and counseling for adults, adolescents, children, groups, couples and families)</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong><a href="http://www.urbanbalance.com" target="_blank">Urban Balance</a>&nbsp;</strong>(general therapy for individuals, couples and families) &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp; &nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.workingsobriety.com" target="_blank"><strong>Working Sobriety</strong></a> (for a 12-step approach to alcholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, etc.)</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">To find therapists in private practice, visit <a href="http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/state/IL/Chicago.html" target="_blank">therapists.psychologytoday.com</a> or contact the counseling center on your college campus.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Has therapy had a transformative effect on your life?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a> or<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank"> Tumblr</a>.&nbsp;</em></div></p> Thu, 16 May 2013 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-05/why-we-could-all-use-some-therapy-107173 Happy freaking spring http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-03/happy-freaking-spring-106308 <p><p dir="ltr" id="internal-source-marker_0.06758440856154846">The secret to Chicago is not getting through winter: It&rsquo;s being able to withstand spring.</p><p dir="ltr">Winter might be colder, but big picture, it doesn&rsquo;t feel that long due to the holidays. You have New Year&rsquo;s, then Valentine&rsquo;s Day, then Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and before you know it&rsquo;s March and it&rsquo;s spring. Whee, right? Lambs springing about, daffodils poking through the ground, delicious new-season produce, sunshine!</p><p dir="ltr">Not so fast.</p><p dir="ltr">You most likely live here so you know what happened the first day of spring. Something that looks like this:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/springweather.png" style="height: 198px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div></div><p dir="ltr">And ever since that day it&rsquo;s been the same, over and over again: gray and tedious, the weather equivalent of an orange you spent a lot of time peeling that turned out to be dry, bitter and tasteless.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1695455129_a8ce7c1944.jpg" style="float: left; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="Happy spring. (Flickr/Greg Timm)" />What&rsquo;s irritating is that the commercial world around us does not react accordingly. Baseball begins. The Gap advertises fun pastel jeans. Magazines start beseeching you to get your body bikini-ready. Stores want us to buy fun baskets and bright green fake grass to prepare for a beautiful sunny Easter when in reality you&rsquo;re probably going to have to wear a parka over your cute spring outfit and the eggs you found on your Easter egg hunt will chip your teeth because they&rsquo;re frozen. And then you eat 90 Cadbury creme eggs to make yourself feel better and you feel gross afterwards.</p><p dir="ltr">That gray sky is just looming two feet above your head all week long, and you don&rsquo;t want to go outside during your lunch hour because it&#39;s so gray and blah. You know you should but you don&rsquo;t get around to it and then you feel crappy for sitting on your butt in your office chair all day and you go home and it&#39;s only Wednesday.</p><p>And it&rsquo;s only March still? We probably won&rsquo;t feel the warmth of the sun until June? How is the lake simultaneously gray and brown? We don&rsquo;t get any days off work until Memorial Day? Good lord. Then you start googling the symptoms and cures for SADD.<br /><br />Winter gets a bad rap. But winter isn&rsquo;t the season that brings you down and teases you by promising something it can&#39;t deliver. Spring can eat it.</p><p><em>Follow me on Twitter @Zulkey.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 09:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-03/happy-freaking-spring-106308 'My Mad Fat Diary': The best television show you aren't watching http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/my-mad-fat-diary-best-television-show-you-arent-watching-105838 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/563161_330798723699218_1801726249_n.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/E4)" /></p><p>Based on the book <em>My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary</em> by author Rae Earl, the show&nbsp;<em><a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=4&amp;ved=0CEcQFjAD&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.channel4.com%2Fprogrammes%2Fmy-mad-fat-diary&amp;ei=qrUwUfTsEoe68AS-2oGAAg&amp;usg=AFQjCNE_-1ptVl57FBEUeRk51KHzpjAGvA&amp;bvm=bv.43148975,d.eWU">My Mad Fat Diary</a>&nbsp;</em>(all of the episodes are available online on Youtube)<em>&nbsp;</em>came at the exact right moment and underscores certain core beliefs that plague me even now, at age 25. To me, this show says something few shows have ever attempted: You are OK.</p><p>The show takes place over a brief period of time during the summer of 1996 in Lincolnshire, England and tells the&nbsp;story of 16-year-old Rae Earl. Freshly released from a psychiatric hospital after a four-month stay, Rae tries to gain a footing in the outside world while undergoing treatment for body image issues and depression. It is in Rae&rsquo;s struggles, as well as her everyday interactions, that the show finds its grace.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/248637_315864605192630_1998203639_n.jpg" style="float: left; height: 373px; width: 300px;" title="(Facebook/E4)" />In many ways, <em>My Mad Fat Diary</em> reminds me of the beautiful but short-lived ABC Family show <a href="http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/huge"><em>Huge</em></a>. Both shows feature a teenage female lead grappling with insecurities and weight concerns (<em>Huge</em> takes place during one summer at &quot;fat camp&quot;). But both shows also include nuanced and elegant depictions of teenage struggles with self-esteem and mental illness. Some critics argue that creating such &quot;specialized&quot; stories in fiction will alienate viewers. To me this argument holds no water; both <em>Huge</em> and&nbsp;<em>My Mad Fat Diary&nbsp;</em>provide the most profoundly accurate portrayals of the experiences of young women, of all sizes, that I&#39;ve ever seen.&nbsp;</p><p>This is in no way an exaggeration. I clicked with&nbsp;<em>My Mad Fat Diary</em>&nbsp;within the first five minutes because the writing felt real and true. We see all of Rae&#39;s insecurities. We hear her monologues. We laugh at her sketches and feel her pain.&nbsp;</p><p>We watch Rae and her friends go to parties, drink, and, on occasion, take drugs. They are unsure of themselves. They wear jeans and t-shirts, flirt awkwardly, and have discussions about what it will be like to lose their virginities. &quot;I just wished for someone who wouldn&#39;t be disappointed that they had to kiss me,&rdquo; Rae thinks during a game of Spin the Bottle. Rae and her friends argue with their parents and listen to records (really good ones at that). They are real people, the sort of people you might have known while growing up. Or perhaps, they are the sort of people you were while growing up.</p><p>In fact, <em>My Mad Fat Diary</em>&nbsp;is at its best when it is about friendship. Even though the show takes place over a period of only a few weeks, the friendships grow immensely during this short time. Teenage friendships can be so intense &ndash; and so volatile. Friendships developed at this age can feel so heavy when they are active, and so depressing when they are gone, because so much is at stake. But for Rae, it is her new family &ndash;&nbsp;her friends &ndash; that allows her to continue on her path of healing. They are not the catalyst for all of her change, but they are an important facet in her recovery.&nbsp;</p><p>For example, one thing that struck me right off the bat was the amount of touching and intimacy between the characters: hugging, hand holding, pecks of affection, secret languages &ndash; all of it emphasizing the normalcy and affection in their relationship.&nbsp;Rae feels trapped by her body; she feels that her size will hinder her ability to find love and happiness. And yet the people around her &ndash; her love interests and especially her new friends &ndash; don&#39;t keep their distance. And as the show progresses, Rae transitions from an outsider to her gang&#39;s most beloved friend.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;You can&#39;t spend the rest of your life being afraid of people rejecting you,&rdquo; says Kester, Rae&rsquo;s therapist in an especially tense scene in the final episode. &ldquo;You have to start by not rejecting yourself. So, from now on, people either accept you for who you are, or they can f*ck off.&quot; Although this occurred at the end of the season, in many ways this framed the entire premise of the show.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><p>&quot;My instincts said that you see yourself as a fragile thing, like a little broken bird sloshing around in a bottle,&rdquo; said Rae&#39;s therapist in an assessment of her first days out of the hospital. &ldquo;But if you trust me, if we trust each other &hellip; then you&#39;ll be alright. Because basically, I think you&#39;re a pretty tough cookie.&quot; And Rae is &ndash; or at least she can be. It can take a lot of work to be that tough.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/45494_320647938047630_1189967962_n.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/E4)" /></div><p>I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. watching the show&#39;s entire run &ndash; just six episodes &ndash; in one day, and it left me desperately wanting more. Later, I spread the gospel to my friend and coworker Sarah Chandler, who &nbsp;immediately expressed her own love of the show.</p></div><p>&ldquo;I found myself feeling vulnerable again,&rdquo; Chandler said. &ldquo;I remember leaving work and thinking about all the times I felt like [Rae] did in the show: uncomfortable, unhappy, defeated.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Life is a bitch, especially if you&rsquo;re a girl,&rdquo; Chandler added. &ldquo;[The show] highlights the humor in being a woman and the darkness behind it.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/24620_329924803786610_194453715_n.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/E4)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">I agree:&nbsp;<em>My Mad Fat Diary</em> is a near-perfect depiction of what it&#39;s like to be a teenage girl: It is embarrassing and public and rarely dainty. In one fantasy scene, Rae stands in front of a mirror, unzips her body, and steps out of it, as if what was hidden underneath was her &ldquo;true&rdquo; self and this skin was someone else. &quot;I am a body dismorphic without the dismorphic. I am a bulimic without the sick. I am fat,&rdquo; said Rae. This scene, so raw, left me speechless.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">This scene reminded me of my freshman year of high school &ndash;&nbsp;the year I was called a &ldquo;fat whale of a bitch&rdquo; by members of the lacrosse team, in front of the entire freshman cafeteria. I cried uncontrollably, hating myself, and wrote furiously in a leopard print journal I kept in my childhood bedroom. I was also reminded of sophomore year, the year I couldn&rsquo;t stop binging, the year I came home and curled up on the couch and felt good about nothing and no one, but especially myself. That was the year I could not wear any of my old clothes, or anything at all in the regular juniors or women&#39;s clothing stores. That was the year I wished I could just cut it all off.<p>And later, in a scene from the show with Tix, Rae&rsquo;s friend from the hospital who suffers from anorexia, I saw the next year of my own life: the obsession with dancing, the controlled eating, the endless exercise, and the desire to be &ldquo;perfect&rdquo; in contrast to my years of &ldquo;imperfection.&rdquo;&nbsp;That scene was the realest thing I have seen on TV in years.</p><p>It has been nearly a decade since I was 16, but the healing is only now complete. Nothing is as memorable as 15, as 16, as 17. &nbsp;If anything, <em>My Mad Fat Diary</em> has shown that for many, this is a reality. You are not alone, it says. You will be alright.&nbsp;</p></div><p><em>Follow Britt on twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms">@britticisms</a></em></p></p> Fri, 01 Mar 2013 08:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/my-mad-fat-diary-best-television-show-you-arent-watching-105838 Turning that first corner http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/turning-first-corner-102861 <p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.8962625502539779">A few weeks ago I wrote a thing about how </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/screaming-baby-syndrome-highly-contagious-102518">my husband and I were yelling at our infant son</a> out of frustration and exhaustion. And wouldn&rsquo;t you know, after I published that piece calling him out for being a pain in the neck, he straightened up (somewhat). As much as I&rsquo;d like to think that we scared him into being a better baby, however, it may just be time.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/portillos.jpg" style="float: left; height: 532px; width: 300px; " title="Our trip to Portillo's was a momentous day for the baby. (WBEZ/Claire Zulkey)" />So if you&rsquo;re a person who is doing the yelling-at-the-baby-thing right now, all I can say is that it gets better. That doesn&rsquo;t make it any easier in the moment, because the moment can really suck, but it does happen. Once we hit that six week mark, the baby started sleeping a bit more predictably, opening his eyes more during daylight hours, at least doing a decent impression of a smile and just being a bit more like a human baby and not a screaming ol&rsquo; blob (<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,242537,00.html">describing a newborn baby as a &ldquo;blob&rdquo;</a> may be the best thing that Angelina Jolie ever did, in my opinion).<br /><br />Dealing with more of a proto-person and not a howling abyss of poo has helped me, anyway, enjoy maternity leave more. I was sure I must have been doing something wrong if maternity leave felt more simultaneously boring and overwhelming than enjoyable and special. How could I yearn to trade places with my working-like-a-dog husband if all I could say I did all day was take care of the baby, do laundry and dishes? With everything I had going for me &mdash; healthy baby, healthy self, nearby parents, bills paid (in Internet commentary speak this all adds up to &ldquo;privilege,&rdquo; I know) &mdash; how come I felt so exhausted and not at all like I was soaking up once-in-a-lifetime memories that I should cherish forever? Many of my friends with older children had told me that I should remember these moments because they missed them. So not only was I run-down, depressed and confused, I beat myself up for feeling that way.<br /><br />I think now those friends didn&rsquo;t actually miss the first month at all. I think they confused the later months of infancy (I hear that three months is the real sweet spot where babies are more interactive but not running around either breaking your stuff or getting broken by your stuff) with those first few weeks. Those first few weeks, it&rsquo;s true, you are just surviving. And if you&rsquo;re like me, you&rsquo;re right that a lot of other people have it worse than you do. However, that doesn&rsquo;t mean you&rsquo;re obligated to feel great. Even under the best of circumstances, between taking care of a being that doesn&rsquo;t know how to express what it needs and a body that requires some serious recovery (and a modern-gal mindset that can&rsquo;t really accept this), it will be rough. Less rough than some is still rough.<br /><br />There was a day a few weeks ago when I broke down because it all caught up with me: the exhaustion and boredom and guilt and doubt. &ldquo;You should go out and do something for yourself,&rdquo; a friend told me, and I panicked because I couldn&rsquo;t think of what possibly that would be that would be practical and cost-effective that wouldn&rsquo;t involve the baby. This seemed to encapsulate my problems (or lack thereof).<br /><br />Eventually my body was my guide: later that day I cried and took a nap and cried some more and washed my face and talked to my husband and cried and washed my face again. I canceled my plans for the next day (when in doubt, parents of a newborn: CANCEL YOUR PLANS). The next day we took a long walk in the forest preserve and brought the baby along to Portillo&rsquo;s for some Italian beef and I felt better.<br /><br />Everyone needs that moment, I think, with a new baby: the crying-&rsquo;til-you-get-a-sandwich moment. (Maybe for you it&rsquo;s not a sandwich, but here the sandwich is a metaphor. I like my metaphor dry, personally, because I like to enjoy the bread.) I think once you find that moment, things start to turn a corner and you realize that you maybe can kind of do this. And the best part is, I know that a few weeks from now there&rsquo;s another corner, maybe this time one that comes with a cookie or a soft cheese.</p></p> Thu, 04 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-10/turning-first-corner-102861