Author Archives: annecwoodlen

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2

When $140,000 a Year Just Isn’t Enough


“Dr. Drug Rep” By DANIEL CARLAT Published: November 25, 2007 I. Faculty Development On a blustery fall New England day in 2001, a friendly representative from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals came into my office in Newburyport, Mass., and made me an offer … Continue reading

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Needing Answers


It began with a memo from the apartment building manager dated October 10 that said “Until further notice, the Community Room will be closed when the office is closed.”  No explanation was given except “absolutely necessary . . . health … Continue reading

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How Not To Be Depressed, Part 2b


2b. Don’t get an autoimmune disease. There is a relatively new area of medical investigation called PNIE—psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology. It says that how you feel emotionally is related to your nerves, your immune system, and your hormones. Who’d a thunk that your … Continue reading

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Physical or Mental Illness?


Last year—The Year of the Beast—while I was a patient in Crouse Hospital I had multiple episodes in which I was fully conscious but unresponsive. Following severely stressful events I could hear what was happening around me but I could … Continue reading

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How Not To Be Depressed, Part 2a


2. Intentionally live a healthy life. If you want to not get depressed, then live a physically healthy life. Go to bed early, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. Your emotions travel the biochemical and nerve routes … Continue reading

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How Not To Be Depressed, Part 1


1. Choose your parents carefully. There are two issues here: first, genetics and, second, child-rearing practices. According to the National Institute of Mental Health’s research, there is a gene for depression and it comes in a long form and a … Continue reading

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So What’s New?


The biggest news is that I finally have a home health aide. She is five feet tall, top-heavy, and 58 years old. She has eight children, 24 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, and there’s no nonsense about her. She knows what … Continue reading

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