Sixty Thousand Times

I began the blog Anne C Woodlen:  Notes in Passing in August 2010.  It has been read 31,789 times, with 215 being the most in one day.  Behind the Locked Doors of Inpatient Psychiatry was begun in November 2010.  It has been read 28,371 times, with 444 being the most in one day.  Sixty thousand times, people have checked in to read what I write.  I take that as a responsibility, like having a university classroom in which one hundred fifty people are going to show up every day, expecting me to teach them something they don’t already know.

It is worth noting that my readership includes a lot of people who are above average.  They are doctors, lawyers, communicators and a great many government bureaucrats.  They are, most particularly, people who have the power to make decisions about how taxpayers’ hard-earned money is spent.  By watching the statistics, I’ve learned a few things about my readers.  One is that Notes in Passing is read during the day by people at work.  Behind the Locked Doors is mostly read at night by people who work all day then come home to educate themselves about emotional distress, psychiatric treatment, and what works.

Notes is mostly about power, poverty and governance.  I didn’t intend it to be.  I set out to tell stories about what I passed in life and what I thought about it all now that I was passing out of life.  Instead, I found that I still had a few good fights left in me.  What Notes turned out to be was a lesson in applied citizenship.

Behind the Locked Doors is about mental illness, patients, psychiatrists and drugs, which is what most of my life has been about.  It tells of my beginnings in which my parents taught me to be depressed, continued through decades of drugging and the damage caused thereby, and ended with the lessons learned once my head cleared of the drugs.  Depression is caused by bad relationships between human beings; it is not a brain disease in the patient.  Drugs make your life worse, not better.

Society has rejected me because I lack academic credentials; I lack academic credentials because I have a learning disability called executive dysfunction.  I cannot sort and organize things, however, if you give me a blank sheet of paper (or screen) I can tell you what I have learned from my own experience of being very smart and living a long time.  Employers no longer judge applicants by their skills and presentation.  Instead, employers have decided to let academia do the sorting, which is foolish.  The talents and disciplines involved in getting an academic degree correlate poorly to those needed for success on the job.

One of the reasons I write is because I can do it from my “hospital” (i.e., electric) bed.  A couple years ago I still could go out and work three hours a day, three days a week.  I no longer can, but I can sit here in bed and think and write.  (Stephen Hawking is my role model.)  My brain and my mouth haven’t quit, which is really dangerous.  Several years ago I got taken out of my wheelchair, handcuffed and put in the back of a police car.  Handcuffed—WTF?  Duct tape over my mouth—that I would have understood.

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
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6 Responses to Sixty Thousand Times

  1. deanna germain says:


    what happened that u got put in a cop car and taken out of your wheelchair? you really weren’t dukctaped were u? are u kidding around or serious? were u arrested and if so for what? tell us about it-i just find it hard to believe some cop would take someone from their wheelchair and put them in a cop car-unless i said your just saying that to be funny.

    • annecwoodlen says:


      You have been viciously and malaciously abusive to me, and now you want me to answer your questions? Give me one good reason why I should. You want to drink from the well after poisoning the water?


  2. Feminist Rag says:

    Hello Anne, Natasha here (we met at Breggin’s conference in April). I’m glad to see you’re still blogging and I need to catch up on your posts, but I just read this one and wanted to make a general comment that I really like your writing style — your words are very sharp and clear and you articulate your ideas well. Recently I’ve been reading some incredibly powerful blogs by former prostitutes who are exposing the lies of the commercial rape industry (the reality of what it is versus “sex work” and other sanitized terms to mask the horror of this business). I share this because I’ve come to the conclusion that the most intelligent and powerful speakers I come across are those with actual lived experiences (and unfortunately, the wounds that come with these painful lived experiences) of what they’re talking about (and many of these people have no more than a highschool education) versus academics or “experts” who can spin theories and fancy words til the cows come how but have no MEAT to their thoughts. It is people like you who are the real educators, not those with 45 letters behind their names and no idea of the reality that comes with whatever the topic is, whether it’s disability, chronic pain, prostitution, or whatever. Words speak for themselves, as does the Spirit behind the words. And your Spirit is a mighty one, and I respect and admire you for telling your Truth. People who are more interested in truth than ego will not care about someone’s “credentials”, so please, keep doing what you do, you are doing good and important work!

    • annecwoodlen says:

      Natasha, you have taken a major step in achieving wisdom. Always seek to know the subject people, not the people who claim to speak for the people. While on inpatient pschiatry I got an excellent education about the realities of stripping from a little woman who said her biggest problem was learning to walk on the high, high heels. Then a nurse told her she had to stop talking to me because it wasn’t “appropriate.” Never let self-righteous, judgmental people prevent you from learning the truth.

      My credo is simple: be humble before the Lord, serve the people, seek the truth, work for justice. That’ll keep you so busy that you won’t need any further definition of life’s purpose. Anne

      • Feminist Rag says:

        Thanks Anne, your credo is very similar to mine. Unbelievable that the nurse tried to cut your communication with that woman because it was “inappropriate”! Talk about disrespect and treating you guys like you were in kindergarten! That’s even inappropriate with kids, to dictate who they can and can’t talk to.

        I never let self-righteous, judgmental people dictate my actions, if anything, when I’m told not to do something or listen to someone, I am more curious TO do so to see what is so “dangerous” about the other person. Usually it’s mis-informed judgment on the judger’s part. Way too much judgment, fear and ignorance in this culture. That’s why I like reading your work, you are a very clear, coherent thinker and writer with important Truths to tell.

      • annecwoodlen says:

        Thanks, guy. Amidst all the bullshit, there are people like you. Keep up the good work. Anne

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