Laura Delano recognized that she was “excellent at everything, but it didn’t mean anything,” her doctor wrote. She grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the wealthiest communities in the country. Her father is related to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and her mother was introduced to society at a débutante ball at the Waldorf-Astoria. In eighth grade, in 1996, Laura was the class president—she ran on a platform of planting daffodils on the school’s grounds—and among the best squash players in the country. She was one of those rare proportional adolescents with a thriving social life. But she doubted whether she had a “real self underneath.”
The oldest of three sisters, Laura felt as if she were living two separate lives, one onstage and the other in the audience, reacting to an exhausting performance. She snapped at her mother, locked herself in her room, and talked about wanting to die. She had friends at school who cut themselves with razors, and she was intrigued by what seemed to be an act of defiance. She tried it, too. “The pain felt so real and raw and mine,” she said.
Four women share their depression journeys, including the specific symptoms that let them know they were dealing with a mental illness, not a rotten day.
You might know Ashley Wagner for her steely resolve on ice. The three-time U.S. national champion broke American figure skaters’ decade-long medal drought by taking silver at the 2016 world competition. But after failing to make the 2018 Olympic team, a “very severe depression” left her barely able to function day to day.
“At first I was just really disappointed in myself for letting one event in my life derail everything that I thought I knew was true about myself and how I saw my place in the world and how I felt about my own sense of worth and value,” the skater recalled in a recent Instagram video. more
Joy in a Mental Hospital
My experience after checking myself in at a mental hospital was almost entirely positive. I had been diagnosed as bipolar at 25. At the time, I was fresh out of a top-10 law school, but I had managed to endanger my career through a series of poor decisions.
After a brief round of treatment with lithium, Prozac, and Tegretol, I decided that sanity was overrated. I quit all my meds and slipped into a five-year period of uncontrolled mania. It was, in all honesty, the happiest time of my life.
I was completely manic (and happy) for five years of marriages, near marriages, and one-night stands. I slept one to two hours a day and salsa danced until five in the morning. more
Girl, Interrupted – Ice cream parlor scene