Author Topic: Depression/Melancholy/Nervous breakdown during WWI  (Read 98272 times)

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Offline BeenaBobba

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2004, 11:04:12 AM »
Hi everyone,

I've read that Olga had a nervous breakdown, but I'm not sure what that entailed.  Alix wrote to Nicky about Olga being unwell around October/November 1915.  She apparently was tired and "green," according to Alix.  She was also given arsenic.  Why?

Not much is written about her nervous breakdown (nervous breakdown is a rather vague, nonclinical term), even by Alix and Nicky in their correspondence to each other.  Does anyone know anything about it, i.e., what it entailed and how it made her act?

I've always found it a bit strange that she went charging at those windows like that.  I've also read that she took pleasure once in breaking a small table.  I think she might have been frustrated -- and doing those things were her ways of venting, although perhaps she was acting out.  Or maybe she just liked breaking things.  Who knows?

I think she might have been clinically depressed to some degree or another at some time or another.  She was always more prone to this than her siblings were, yet they all lived through the same things, more or less.  She was sensitive, so things must've bothered and affected her more.  She probably had a genetic predisposition towards depression (making her more susceptible than her siblings) that was aggravated by the things that were happening around her.  

Alix once warned Nicky not to tell anyone about the fact that Olga was in love because it would "hurt Olga who is so susceptible" or something along those lines.

I don't think she was bipolar.  There were no stories of Olga staying up for days at a time, or displaying other manic related behavior.  Bipolar Disorder is marked by extremes of behavior.  When Olga was happy, she wasn't excessively happy and manic.  Nor do I think she was ever depressed to the point of being suicidal.  I think she was just a hormonal, depression-prone, and sensitive woman.

God bless,

Jennifer

Offline Antonio_P.Caballer

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2004, 11:36:24 AM »
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Bob, could you please tell me where to find the picture of the broken windows?



Hello Luise,
I think Bob meant the sites letters. I think i read about this there.

Janet Whitcomb

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2004, 11:59:04 AM »
Antonio, thanks for the tip re: the letters. Foolish me, I was looking for something about the park itself!

Jen, I will need to go back through my "library" of Romanov books to verify that linen closet/desk job info. I have so many books about them that it's often difficult to remember just what I found in which book!

"Nervous breakdown" is a rather vague term.  Going on what I've read so far, it seems that Olga just reached the end of her emotional rope and was given what we might call a "time out."  

Also, I was astonished to read about the windows yesterday and the table today.  These days we'd probably say that Olga was "acting out."  I'm wondering if, along with everything else, the pressures Olga faced re: her "public relations" role--and especially as eldest of the Romanov children--overwhelmed her.  Plus, I think her sensibilities were such that she felt a profound and growing frustration re: all that was going on around her.

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2004, 01:37:47 PM »
Janet:

The bridge is the tall one with the stairs and the pagoda on top with windows - not the one with the chinese statues on it.

Bob

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2004, 01:54:52 PM »
Let's not forget that there were many plots to murder her father and mother - as well as the entire family.  Not a month went by when the police didn't uncover something.  There were plots to blow up the palace itself.  I don't know why but the girls seem to have known about these - can you imagine how upsetting that would be?  You never know when something might happen or your father or mother might not come home.  Then there was Kiev and the murder of Stolypin right in front of them and earlier the blowing up of his house with his daughter being severely injured.

The pressures on Olga must have been overwhelming.

Offline Penny_Wilson

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2004, 01:55:07 PM »
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Hi everyone,

I've read that Olga had a nervous breakdown...  She was also given arsenic.  Why?

Jennifer


Heavy metals used to be used medicinally to fight depression, hysteria, or any other "nerves"-related condition.  Louisa May Alcott ("Little Women") was treated with mercury for depression -- either following her father's death or after some illness or other.  She continued to take it for some time, and exhibited all the symptoms of mercury poisoning.  It probably contributed to her eventual cause of death.

Like mercury, arsenic was believed to have a "tonic" effect, and a certain group of people in southern Austria/Hungary swore by it.  Funnily enough, they were called "arsenic eaters," and they became so dependent on it that if they stopped taking their regular doses, they could die.
"Don't do anything by half. If you love someone, love them with all your soul. When you go to work, work your ass off. When you hate someone, hate them until it hurts."  -- A Piece of Good Advice

Sometimes the truth hurts. And sometimes it feels real good. -- Henry Rollins

Janet Whitcomb

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2004, 02:41:05 PM »
Jen, this evening I'll look up my source for the quote/unquote nervous breakdown . . . and could you tell me where you read about the broken table and the arsenic?!   :o

Penny, Louisa May Alcott being a longtime favorite of mine  ::) , I remember that she died shortly after her own father died . . . she was nursing him and had to have been worn out. (Alas for that strong constitution of her youth . . . )  And I wouldn't be surprised if she was taking all sorts of "medicines" since she had been a nurse during the Civil War and was undoubtedly used to self-medicating.  (Again, I'm away from my books, or I'd reference what I've just said!)

All of this talk of arsenic and mercury and so forth makes me wonder what sort of current medical advice and medication will be found, a generation or two from now, to be both antiquated and dangerous.   :-X

Offline CayteGrL911

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2004, 03:35:20 PM »
Thank you all very much for you comments. I honestly did not know about Olga vomiting in a towel. That's so sad... Can someone PLEASE give me the link to the picture where Olga smashed a window? I have never seen that picture before and I would really like to see it. Thanks,

.::Cayte::.

Offline Forum Admin

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2004, 03:51:19 PM »
There is no photograph of the broken windows. There is an account of it happening on the Alexander Palace Time Machine.

Offline BeenaBobba

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2004, 04:02:15 PM »
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Jen, this evening I'll look up my source for the quote/unquote nervous breakdown . . . and could you tell me where you read about the broken table and the arsenic?! :o


Hi Janet,

Thanks for offering to look that up for me. I look forward to your response :)

The letter I was referring to where Alix mentions Olga taking arsenic is from Oct. 31, 1915. The letter which mentions Olga "happily" breaking the table is Alix's letter to Nicky on Feb. 16, 1916.

God bless,

Jen
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by BeenaBobba »

Offline BeenaBobba

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2004, 04:07:16 PM »
Hi Janet,

Bob's got the letter from Oct. 31 up, but the February letters aren't working. I'll post it for you.

"Olga made nonsence [sic], sitting on a tiny table, until she happily smashed it." -- Alix to Nicky, 2/16/15

Didn't all the kids (except for Alexei and Tatiana) break the windows after Olga broke hers?  I could have sworn reading that Maria and Ana. broke some as well.

God bless,

Jen

Janet Whitcomb

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2004, 05:50:13 PM »
Jen, thank you!  Neither setting is working for me right now, but I do have an actual volume of the Nicky/Sunny correspondence at home, so I'll read each letter in its entirety tonight, plus look for that getting-sick-in-the-closet reference. When I first read that passage I remember thinking how much it was like a passage from Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind.  On the other hand, I'm sure there were--and always will be--young, first-time nurses who find the linen closet a logical retreat when overwhelmed by nausea.

Offline Antonio_P.Caballer

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2004, 07:03:15 PM »
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Janet:

The bridge is the tall one with the stairs and the pagoda on top with windows - not the one with the chinese statues on it.

Bob


Im a little confussed. Ive always thought it was the chinese cross bridge. As far as i know the Great Caprice has only columns and no windows...
Did you mean the chinese cross bridge?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Antonio_P.Caballer »

Offline David_Newell

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #28 on: April 22, 2004, 10:50:57 AM »
There is a strong strain of depression running in Queen Victoria's family. I think it may link into the evidence of porphyria in the family. Alice was a very up and down person. But there is strong evidence to support Olga's depression. She was very bright and I think that sometimes goes hand in hand with depression. Also Bob is right about the fact that death stalked the family even before the revolution.

Janet Whitcomb

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Re: Did Olga have Depression?
« Reply #29 on: April 22, 2004, 11:44:44 AM »
There is a strong streak of depression running in me because I can't find that getting-sick-in-the-linen-closet reference!  Checked six of my more likely sources last night, but didn't find it. Aauurrgghhh!  So, Jen, I will keep looking and then post it ASAP after finding it, and I thank you again for your references to the letters; I have the Nicky/Sunny Letters by my side as I input this  :P . . . JM, thank you for referencing Melanie; you are a true GWTW aficienado  ;) . . . and David, thank you for giving me a great entry line   :-* , as well as offering a practical summation of the depression issue. It would seem that the odds were against Olga from numerous angles, although certainly she was also a person enjoyed life and could have fun. For example, I have shown that photo taken during the AP house arrest period of the bald Grand Duchesses, seconds after removing their headdresses, and everyone always remarks on Olga's wonderfully silly grin!