Return to Transcripts main page
Mel Gibson`s Ex Drops Abuse Claims; Cindy Sheehan: A Mother`s War on War
Aired May 5, 2011 - 21:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.
The case against Mel Gibson has just taken another weird turn.
Parents, is this the ultimate example of what not to do when you have kids?
Plus, one mother`s grief over her son`s death in war. Is it responsible for Cindy Sheehan`s latest accusations against the government?
Then, addicted nation, why we have to stop taking pills just to get some rest.
And stay-at-home moms, if you have got a glass of wine in your right hand now, put it down and watch this.
So let`s get started.
Tonight, Oksana Grigorieva says she does not want to pursue her claims that Mel Gibson abused her. Now, in July, audiotapes surfaced of Mel Gibson screaming at his girlfriend Oksana in a violent rage. Their drama played out in a very public way.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look like a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) heat, and if you get raped by a pack of (EXPLETIVE DELETED), it will be your fault! How dare you! How (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dare you! I`ll burn the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) house down.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those recordings of a man believed to be Mel Gibson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mel Gibson`s ex-girlfriend has dropped domestic violence charges against him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The shock decision by her in court today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her outrageous move in court today, what a shocker. Mel`s baby mama dropped her domestic violence claim.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oksana wants to move towards "a fair custody agreement."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Oksana claims she was punched by holding her baby. The photos of Oksana are out there. The tapes are out there. Mel`s already been charged with this crime.
But I`ve got to tell you something. People are spinning about what this case represents today, the fact that she has dropped some case. I want to get to the bottom of which case. Apparently, there are three cases out there, and we`re going to try to figure out which is the one that she has dropped.
And the other issue that I think people are focusing on that needs to be remembered here, that we can all remember, is that when things get out there in the media or on social networking sites, say, these are things that can live with us forever. What are Oksana`s children going to say when they hear Mel ranting when they`re 10 years old, 12 years old?
That`s now out there. How is she going to explain that to them?
If this was something premeditated, which people have suggested -- I don`t have an opinion about that -- remember, other people could potentially be hurt by this.
Joining us are Dylan Howard, senior executive editor of "Star" magazine. And I`ve got attorney Lisa Bloom. We`ve also got Mary Murphy. She`s a judge on "So You Think You Can Dance," and she survived an abusive marriage. We`re going to get her take on this.
But first I`m going to start with Dylan and talk about what are the details, what`s going on.
DYLAN HOWARD, SR. EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "STAR": Well, this was so much of a shock, that even Oksana`s closest confidantes weren`t aware of this when I contacted them yesterday after this hit (ph) caught.
Now, Oksana has dropped the domestic violence claim as part of her civil case for custody over their daughter, Lucia. Now, Mel was completely shocked by this.
Now, I spoke to sources close to Oksana last night who tell me that this was nothing more than "a gesture and an olive branch," an attempt by her to show to the court and Mel Gibson that she`s prepared to move towards an amicable settlement.
PINSKY: All right, Lisa. You`re the legal expert.
LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: Wow.
PINSKY: Is that accurate? Could that be accurate? Straight this out here. There are three cases, right?
BLOOM: That`s right. There`s the criminal case. That`s where Mel has already pleaded no contest to battery. In other words, it`s the equivalent of guilty.
He hit her. He`s now on probation for that. And he had to take anger management.
There`s the family law case, and that`s the one where they`ve talking about, where they`ve been fighting over custody for over a year.
Then there`s potentially a civil case for money damages down the road. That hasn`t been filed yet. So we`re talking only about the family law case.
I have to tell you, I don`t represent Oksana anymore. I did at one time. So I`m not in the know about exactly what went on here.
But my educated guess is this is a terrible legal strategy. And I`ll tell you why.
Batterers don`t respond to somebody rolling over. They don`t respond to peace gestures.
What Oksana`s been dealing with for over a year in this litigation is extremely aggressive lawyering by Mel`s side, fighting her tooth and nail at every turn. Simply giving up a major part of your case, saying I`m giving up the domestic violence aspect in the custody case, is giving up a heck of a lot. And apparently she hasn`t gotten anything in return for it.
PINSKY: Well, that`s the question. Is it possible this was a negotiated position where she got something out of this?
BLOOM: If that`s true, then Mel`s lawyers are awfully good actors, because in court they were very surprised. And if this is negotiated, Drew, we lawyers like to have everything in writing, sign, sealed and delivered. You think her attorneys would just do this on a wing and a prayer and a hope that, hey, I`m going to be nice, now they`re going to start being nice, too, after a very contentious year of litigation?
I don`t see that happening.
HOWARD: What I can tell you, Dr. Drew, is that last month, Oksana Grigorieva and Mel Gibson`s camp sat down in Century City in Los Angeles and they had a meeting to move towards a settlement. Those talks failed.
As I understand it, they`re back at the negotiating table. Whether or not they struck a deal before this move yesterday in court, I`m not entirely sure. But they`re certainly moving towards that. And that, for Mel Gibson, will be the biggest chance for him to recover his Hollywood career.
BLOOM: But he`s already trashing her in the press in response to this. He`s already saying, she wants to talk to me? I don`t want to talk to her.
HOWARD: And she doesn`t want to speak to him, as I understand it.
HOWARD: But he`s someone who still hasn`t taken accountability for what he did. He`s caught on tape saying to Oksana that he hit her -- he admitted that -- because she "f-ing deserved it." And he admitted in court documents that he slapped her. So the justice system, all of a sudden, seems to be failing here, because he pleads no contest.
BLOOM: It`s not all of a sudden. This is failing her for a year.
PINSKY: Well, hang on.
Now, Mary is here, Mary Murphy from "So You Think You Can Dance."
You`ve been the object of this sort of abuse. You must have an opinion about what we`re talking about in here. Let us hear it.
MARY MURPHY, JUDGE, "SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE": Yes, I sure do. You know, it really doesn`t surprise me.
These are really extraordinary circumstances. She was married to one of the most powerful men in the business. He`s very volatile. She`s been beaten down.
It wouldn`t even surprise me if she went back to him, because it happens with women like this over -- I went back to my husband over and over again before I could get the strength to even leave. None of this really surprises me.
Yes, I don`t think it`s going to change anything as far as, you know, is he going to be nicer to her or anything like that. She is a battered woman, and it`s already been proven. He`s even admitted it, and it certainly doesn`t shock me.
PINSKY: Do you think --
MURPHY: She has to go up against the biggest lawyers of all time. I mean, it just wears you down.
She`s already worn down to begin with. Her self-esteem is pretty much nonexistent. And she has to keep fighting the fight. Sometimes you just don`t have anything left.
PINSKY: Mary --
MURPHY: You know. It doesn`t surprise me.
PINSKY: Mary, let me ask you this. A lot of people have taken the position that Oksana is somehow culpable in all of this, that she`s manipulated these situations.
What`s your opinion on that? And did people ever blame you for being a victim?
MURPHY: No. I don`t believe, you know, whatever she did to even to show -- because nobody would believe her. You see? None of this has really come out before.
Thank God she was able to get him on tape. I say, bravo. You know? If she had to sit there with a microphone and ask him a couple questions, and then the way that he answered gave you some insight. She let the world see some insight, because usually they just get away with it completely.
PINSKY: We actually have a little piece of the audio. Let`s hear another part of this. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You almost killed us, did you forget?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last three years has been a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) gravy train for you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were hitting a woman with a child in her hands. You, what kind of man is that, hitting a woman when she`s holding a child in her hand, breaking her teeth twice, in the face. What kind of man is that?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
PINSKY: Pretty heavy.
Dylan, you had a reaction to something Mary was saying?
HOWARD: Listen, I completely agree. In this particular case, this has been dragging on for 12 months now. And I know from sources close to Oksana that she`s emotionally drained from this, and she`s lived and breathed every moment of this as if it were a roller-coaster.
And on the other hand, you have got Mel Gibson, who also has lived and breathed every moment of this, but has the highest paid lawyers in Hollywood to fight it. I think in a lot of ways it`s a very sad turn of events, that this is being dropped when someone has admitted in court papers and on tapes that he hit her.
BLOOM: Yes. And let`s remember, there is no excuse for domestic violence. There is nothing that she could have done that would have deserved getting punched in the face, her teeth knocked out in front of her 12-year-old son.
I`ve got 20 seconds. Mary, you have the last word.
MURPHY: He should have been just taken away. If he`s proved it -- if it`s been proven, why wasn`t he just taken away so that she could be safe again and safe with her children? I just don`t get it.
PINSKY: I would say one thing, that when the male perpetrator in a domestic violence situation agrees to do treatment and does it diligently, there`s some hope.
When we come back, war and the toll it takes on a nation and on a mom.
PINSKY (voice-over): Cindy Sheehan, proud mother of a brave young soldier killed in combat and the face of the anti-Iraq War movement. You won`t believe what she`s accused of saying about the bin Laden killing.
She`s here to explain.
PINSKY: It`s amazing now, but we`ve been at war for almost a decade. More than 7,000 Americans have lost their lives. They were fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.
In Cindy Sheehan`s case, her boy Casey died in Iraq. Watch this and then we will speak with Cindy.
PINSKY (voice-over): The year was 2004, a Sunday in April, and it was the last day of Casey Sheehan`s life. His mother Cindy, thrown into enormous grief. But it turned into resolve and she became the face of the antiwar movement.
Applauded by some, reviled by others, Sheehan pressed forward. She spoke, demonstrated, even camped outside President Bush`s Texas ranch.
That administration has come and gone. The Iraq War is winding down. But Sheehan`s antiwar fervor is in full swing, and she herself continues to create tremendous controversy.
PINSKY: Cindy seems to have turned her grief into an antiwar crusade, now even questioning the death of Osama bin Laden.
CINDY SHEEHAN, SON KILLED IN IRAQ: Thank you.
PINSKY: I`d like to put a -- just to bring people up to date, one of the things that prompted us to reach out to you today is you put something up on Facebook I wanted to ask you about.
It said, "I`m sorry, but if you believe the newest death of Osama bin Laden, you`re stupid. Just to think to yourself, they paraded Saddam`s sons around to prove they were dead. Why do you suppose they hastily buried bin Laden at sea?"
So, Cindy, that`s quite a statement. Do you believe that?
SHEEHAN: Actually, I think it`s a very good question. Why did they hastily bury Osama bin Laden at sea?
And, you know, they -- I`m really amazed, first of all, that the media would take something the White House says and just put it out like it`s the truth just because the White House says it, without any empirical proof. They said there was a matching DNA, but we haven`t seen any DNA samples. We don`t know who the DNA samples are from.
They said they that have photographs, but the one that they did put out was exposed as a fraud that very first day. And the White House had to say, oh, well, you know, we just didn`t want to put out the real photos because they`re too grisly.
I`m just really amazed that instead of people saying, wow, those are really good questions that people are asking, that I`m being reviled, and I`m being reviled on the CNN Web site, being called in the lunatic fringe, being called "pathetic."
I think it`s pathetic to just accept these pronouncements from our government like they`re the truth. Like you said, I was -- well, let me continue.
I was reviled when I went and said that the war in Iraq was a lie. And guess what? I was right.
And so, instead of, like, immediately labeling people, why don`t we have a discussion about these things? Why won`t the government put out the photos?
Why did they say that Osama fought back, then they said he didn`t? Why did they say he used his wife as a human shield and they didn`t?
Why did they say that Pat Tillman -- why did they cover up the death of Pat Tillman? Why did they lie to us about the death of our son?
So, come on. We have to start asking these questions --
PINSKY: I agree.
SHEEHAN: -- and not just accepting everything our government says.
PINSKY: I think that`s a reasonable thing to say. Bureaucracies are not people, they`re not known for always giving the most accurate information.
Just so I`m clear --
SHEEHAN: But bureaucracies are people. They`re made up of people.
PINSKY: But are you an anarchist or are you a -- what kind of government should we have? Are you a Libertarian?
SHEEHAN: Well, I think we should have a government that tells us the truth. I don`t know what that makes me.
SHEEHAN: Does that make me a truther, that I want a government that is up front and doesn`t lie to us? And are you saying that Democrats and Republicans don`t also want the truth, that I can`t be in the mainstream just because I want the truth?
PINSKY: Well, let`s hear what President Obama told Steve Kroft on "60 Minutes" last night about bin Laden`s death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence, as a propaganda tool. You know, that`s not who we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Also, I`ve been asked to clarify that the first photo that came out that was a fraud was not put out by the government.
But Cindy, on this program, you make some interesting points.
SHEEHAN: Well, then why did the White House --
PINSKY: Hang on. Please, Cindy. Please, Cindy. I`m asking you, please.
I like to take this program to people at home, to others mothers at home -- it`s Mother`s Day coming up -- and really talk about in your life and how you`ve taken your grief and seemed to have converted it into a cause.
Would that be accurate?
SHEEHAN: Well, yes, that`s accurate.
PINSKY: Does it help you work through your grief to have a purpose? Because sometimes I tell people, you know, when they`re dealing with depression or trying to find meaning in life, or grief, service can really make a difference.
Has that been the case for you?
SHEEHAN: Well, you know, I get up every day. I get up every day with energy to try to make this world a better place, to try to expose the lies that killed my son, to try and prevent other families from making these mistakes.
Not only were we lied to about Iraq -- and my son was lied to by his recruiter. And every soldier I talk to says that they`re lied to from their recruiters, too, to get them to join the military.
And I want to respond to what Obama said to Steve Kroft. He said that they don`t want to create -- they don`t want to create any kind of backlash or something.
Well, Barack Obama has been drone-bombing north Waziristan, in Pakistan. Like, he`s increased it three or four times, the amount that George Bush did. And just saying we`re not that kind of people that put out grisly photos, but we`re the kind of people that drone-bomb innocent civilians, we`re the kind of people that shoot people, but we`re not the kind of people that put the photos out -- I saw something on "Law & Order SVU" last night that I wanted to vomit because it was so graphic.
Is he saying that we`re not -- that we`re not sensitized to violence in this, or that not anything that the U.S. is doing in these Muslim countries is causing us backlash?
PINSKY: Right. And let`s take it back to your personal story again.
So, your son is lost. And, again, just so people can appreciate the meaning of this, it`s just not a statistic.
For instance, many marriages don`t make it through this kind of a grief. I understand -- this kind of a loss or a stress. I understand that happened to you as well.
PINSKY: Was it really directly related to Casey`s loss?
SHEEHAN: I don`t know if it was directly related. That`s very personal. But, you know, like you said, most marriages can`t survive something like this.
PINSKY: Does he have --
SHEEHAN: And many marriages have all these struggles anyway.
PINSKY: Yes. Yes.
SHEEHAN: You know, they have financial struggles --
SHEEHAN: You know, you`re just trying to make it in the world, and then you have to bury your child.
SHEEHAN: And so it does put an unbelievable amount of stress on a marriage.
PINSKY: Do you have other children?
SHEEHAN: I do. I have two daughters and another son, and I have three grandchildren now and one on the way. So --
PINSKY: I`m going to ask --
SHEEHAN: -- we`re a very close-knit, loving family.
PINSKY: Good. So thank God you have that.
PINSKY: Do they feel supportive of your cause, or do they feel that your cause pulls you away from them?
SHEEHAN: Well, they`re very supportive of what I do. And I am gone a lot, but I try to -- we connect every day wherever I am in the world.
I spend as much time as I can with my grandbabies, because they give me immeasurable joy. And the cause that I embarked on after my son was killed -- Dr. Drew, I always looked at people like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and John Walsh, the Adam Walsh Foundation. And I just thought, how could they do that?
PINSKY: I`ve got to run. Well, and you`re right. Thank you for doing it. Thank you for joining me.
When we come back, we`re going to your comments and questions. And I think you`ll may have some things to say about Cindy`s comments as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): A proud mom-turned-mourning-parent-turned- activist. What`s your reaction to Cindy`s story? I`m taking your calls.
Plus, a torrid reaction to yesterday`s show on teen moms. Amazing response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Last night we had what I thought was a great dialogue with the stars of MTV`s "Teen Mom" about the difficulty of children having children. And you all clearly were listening. Many of you told us the show -- because of the show, you started talking with your kids about sex and contraception and other realities.
And, you of course had comments for us and questions. So let`s get right to them now.
First, I have got Kate in Georgia.
Kate, what`s up?
KATIE, GEORGIA: Hi. I liked it when you mentioned the fact that the teen mom girls got paid for being on the show. I think they deserve to get paid because their whole lives are out there and their privacy is pretty much gone forever.
PINSKY: And Sharon in Wisconsin, what do you think?
SHARON, WISCONSIN: Concerning sex, everything seems to be about the girls. The boys also need to be talked to, like not pressuring girls to have sex, not dirtying their name if they choose not to have sex. Boys need to take responsibility.
PINSKY: Jennifer in Michigan.
JENNIFER, MICHIGAN: I just think that no matter what age you are when you have a child, it`s important to just always keep their best interest at heart and do everything you can to be the best mom that you can be for your child, and don`t let anyone bring you down.
PINSKY: Sabrina in Texas.
SABRINA, TEXAS: Hi. I don`t think it helps to hear about how much money the teen moms made. It gives teens a false hope that things can turn out OK.
PINSKY: Well, as usual, you guys just call in with the greatest stuff. And I`m going to try to respond to this a little bit.
First of all, boys and responsibility, yes, ladies and gentlemen, please, let`s raise our young men to understand the impact they have on young women and how to be respectful. You know what I tell my sons? I tell them to cultivate dating.
I know it`s a word you can`t really use with young people these days, but cultivate asking somebody out and, God knows, breaking bread with them and listening to them and spending time with them. A stunning idea. A stunning, brand new idea, tell them, but you cultivate your young men to understand that that will move things in the direction they want it to go.
I`m just saying.
Also, as far as the girls getting paid, I do feel strongly it was important to address that because it`s been brought up a ton. And the fact is they do get paid, and they`re destitute. If they didn`t get paid and the network made all this money, would that be fair? I`m just saying about that, too.
All right. We just received a question on Facebook, on our Facebook page, where Jen asks, "When should you start talking to your kids about safe sex?"
And that`s a great question. Usually people are asking me when to talk about sex at all.
And the key here is, there`s sort of really, believe it or not, it`s never too early to begin an open-ended conversation. I would urge you to refrain from having a plumbing lesson. Just to sort of, you know, ask them, are they confused, do they see things, do they have questions? And as you begin to tell them the facts, always check in with them.
I think, for sure, by early adolescence, you should be talking about things like safe sex.
We`re going to go back to the phones in Missouri.
How can we help? Kayla?
KAYLA, MISSOURI: Hi, Dr. Drew.
I was just thinking that we should be giving these girls kudos because they`re wonderful moms for being the age that they are, and because they`re uses thing their situations in a positive way to educate girls everywhere. Wouldn`t you agree?
PINSKY: I do agree, but it`s risky, it`s controversial. And certainly no one knew what the impact would be before they went on the air with this. But it seems to have had the desired effect.
Tomorrow, we are talking about sex for the entire hour. All right. You don`t want to miss that.
Send your comments to Facebook, Twitter, and CNN.com/Drew.
When we come back, tossing and turning over a really serious medical problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Michael Jackson`s desperate need for sleep ultimately drove him to his death. Sleep depravation is dangerous, deadly and widespread.
Stay with us, because you may have it and not even know it.
Plus, alcoholic beverage companies battling over a trademark that targets stay-at-home moms, the parents of our schoolchildren. What?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: We`ve got a lot more coming in this hour of DR. DREW. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): When it comes to sleep, depravation equals desperation. It`s a need that drove Michael Jackson to Propofol and ultimately death. Millions of people are suffering. They try everything. Homeopathics, sleep therapy, breathing machines, and finally, medication., powerful and potentially addictive.
And later, addiction behind closed doors. The epidemic of stay-at- home moms quietly descending into alcoholism. The beverage industry is not helping. They`re marketing directly through these mothers, your friends, and your neighbors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): I thought it would be important to speak about sleep tonight, because, you, guys, are hearing a lot about that. Both the medical consequences of sleep disturbances and the fact a lot of people have sleep disturbances and how they can be treated. And then, finally, this Michael Jackson case got me thinking. Dr. Murray was in the news again today. And, I`m going to be telling you more and more what I think about poor Dr. Murray`s predicament as we go along here.
But tonight, specifically, something occurred to me, which is, well, poor guy should not have taken on something like this alone, and there was a million reasons that relationship with his patient got adulterated. But the one thing that I want to point out tonight is patients should not be dictating their care. They should be participating in the care but not dictating the care. Whenever you, the patient, says to a doctor, I need to be getting Ambien CR or Ambien 10 milligrams q.h.s., that is probably not good health care.
I, as a doctor, would never take care of myself and mandate my own treatment. It`s not the way health care is done. So, let`s think about that as we go into this topic about sleep and the fact that people use a lot of pills to sleep, and that`s my other big concern with this. Sleep is supposed to restore the mind and body, but if you can`t sleep, nighttime is anything but restful. In fact, full reveal, I had a really fitful night last night. I`m going to talk to my physician friend here that`s here and see if he can help me out.
One in four Americans cannot get to sleep or stay asleep so they take pills and then they take more pills and they don`t think about what the underlying cause perhaps is or what they might do to themselves by taking pills or not getting that underlying condition treated. So, we`re here to talk about this growing problem.
First, I`ve got Dr. Douglas Prisco. He`s the director of Sleep Medicine at the University of Southern California. I have Julie Kim. She is one of his patients, and she suffers from insomnia. And I`ve also got Don Blount. He has a more common problem with sleep called sleep apnea. We`ll get into all that, but first, I want to talk to Dr. Prisco and ask what happens to us physiologically when we don`t get enough sleep?
DR. DOUGLAS PRISCO, USC DIR. OF SLEEP MEDICINE: So, physiologically, you start to get some changes cognitively. So, besides being fatigue --
PINSKY: That`s why I`m out of it today. Weird things are coming out of my mouth. I had a fitful night. And honest to God, my brain does not work right today.
PRISCO: Well, you know, after one hour or at least after one night of unrestful sleep, most likely people will be fine the next day. It`s usually when you have this persistent sleep depravation, so people are really shaving hours every night, five, six hours of sleep only, and they are getting this cumulative sleep debt that we call that is essentially responsible for some of the changes that we see.
PINSKY: And then, people have also been buzzing lately about the cardiovascular effects of sleep disturbance and sleep apnea.
PRISCO: So, sleep apnea has been proven to affect cardiovascular risk, and we now know that suffering from sleep apnea, and there`s all different degrees of sleep apnea, including mild, moderate, and severe, and the patients that have severe sleep apnea have a direct link to cardiovascular disease.
PINSKY: So, like heart attack?
PRISCO: Heart attack, heart failure, strokes.
PINSKY: OK. Now, Julie, you had a sleep disturbance. Can you tell us about it?
JULIE KIM, PATIENT OF DR. PRISCO: I still have it, and I`m actually undergoing treatment at the moment. The sleep restriction therapy --
PINSKY: How bad did the problem get, and then, tell us how Dr. Prisco treated it.
KIM: Started with sleep maintenance insomnia, which, I guess, I was waking up in the middle of the night after four or five hours of sleep. And this happened about three years ago. It started happening. I was going through a sort of a rough period in my life, and I think from there, I just developed bad habits.
PINSKY: Let me stop you, Julie, and say that now, she came to me, and the average doctor who has three minutes with their patients, you hear that story and go, OK, mirtazapine or some sort of antidepressant that induces sleep. It will be the first (INAUDIBLE). I`m sure you went through that.
KIM: Yes, exactly.
PRISCO: And that`s exactly what happened with Julie. So, Julie --
PINSKY: And by the way, let`s be clear. I`m not suggesting most doctors who prescribe a sleeping medicine, they prescribe an antidepressant.
PINSKY: It`s typically what would happen when you`re describing (ph).
PRISCO: So, Julie`s case is exactly like many Americans and the fact that she came to me after suffering for insomnia for about two years. She was prescribed Ambien. She had taken the most common antihistamine over- the-counter. She had used alcohol, some other sleep restriction or at least sleep maintenance programs, and basically, had no success. And when she came to me, we decided, look, we`re going to get rid of the medications, and we`re basically going to have her take charge of her sleep.
And we started with basically filling out sleep diaries, getting some basic sleep history, and really trying to consolidate her sleep and make her have a more predictable sleep night after night.
PINSKY: So, what you did was pushed her to go to bed later and stay asleep longer.
PRISCO: In the middle of a treatment called sleep restriction which is essentially increasing the sleep pressure or the desire to fall asleep during the day by keeping her awake most of the day and limiting her bedtime to mostly what her total sleep time nearly was, was about five to six hours.
PINSKY: This sounds -- is it a new approach?
PRISCO: It`s been around for a while. The problem is that, people tend to get worse before they get better which is exactly what Julie has been describing in the middle of this, but it is something that takes commitment on both her part and the physician.
PINSKY: Well, let`s talk to somebody who`s had the more standard kind of sleep, sounds like -- I don`t know Don`s case yet, but Don, apparently, you have obstructive sleep apnea. Is that correct?
DON BLOUNT, SUFFERS FROM SLEEP APNEA: That`s correct. Basically, I was unable to stay say sleep because of my interference in my breathing canals. That`s not a very technical evaluation.
PINSKY: Well, I guess, what we`d say is -- like you say, you had obstruction and the doctors evaluated you, put you through a sleep study, they put you in a sleep lab and watch you and they saw that you were snoring and maybe not breathing for periods of time, and then, they gave you something probably called a CPAP? Is that right?
BLOUNT: That`s correct, and I use it to this day. It`s a pillar type tubing that wraps around my head, and there`s constant pressure exuded throughout the night which keeps my breathing passages open which allows me to sleep.
PINSKY: Dr. Prisco, that`s the more standard sleep apnea story. I`m surprised that many patients cooperate with the big apparatus.
PRISCO: You`ll be surprised. So, Don is just like one of 40 million Americans that are suffering from sleep apnea, and basically, there`s two things with Don`s case which we heard earlier. The fact that he has sleep apnea, but he also suffered from insomnia which can co-exist with sleep apnea, which kind of doesn`t make sense to a lot of people, why am I falling asleep all day, but yet, I can`t sleep at night?
And in Don`s case, he was successfully diagnosed as having sleep apnea and was prescribed something called CPAP, which is a mask that delivers pressure and opens up and basically stents the airway open so that he can breathe effectively at night.
PINSKY: And that`s a pretty common thing these days.
PRISCO: That is extremely common. And people, once they end up getting on it and they sleep beautifully for the night, they feel so much better that they can`t live without it.
PINSKY: That they wear the big mask, they don`t mind it too much. Again, this is preventing cardiovascular disease in guys like Don.
PINSKY: Well, thank you very much. Dr. Prisco, thank you. Appreciate it. Julie, Don, thank you for sharing your stories with us.
I want to remind people also that when I do sleep stories, just keep in mind, sleep disturbances, there are many different kinds. It`s actually very complicated. We`re keeping it kind of simple here, but the message I always tell people, if you`re getting weird behaviors at night, basically anything you can do, when you`re awake, you can do you`re asleep, see a sleep specialist if you`re having problems.
When we come back, casual chemical dependency, how it goes way beyond sleep meds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PINSKY (voice-over): The, quote, "legitimate drugs," we`re addicted six ways to Sunday, but don`t forget booze. Wine marketed directly to stay-at-home mothers. Mommy juice. Are you kidding me? Mom alcoholics are common. They may be right next door to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): An interesting lawsuit was filed this week. One wine maker is suing another over the name of a wine that is being marketed to mothers who drink. Both products have the word mommy in the title. Now, it might be amusing if it weren`t so damn tragic. One-third of all alcoholics are women. Many of them are mothers. And I just want you to think about the special burden that women bear, women alcoholics, particularly the moms, think of the words we use to describe alcoholic women as opposed to, say, men that drink heavily.
The words are nasty like tramp (INAUDIBLE). Those are the words we reserve only for women. Think about that. Joining me is Stefanie Wilder- Taylor. She`s the author of "Sippy Cups are not for Chardonnay." If not, what are they for then? Just saying. And a new book, it`s called "I`m Kind of a Big Deal." That will be out in June. She`s a mother of three and she, herself, is a recovering person, recovering alcoholic.
And joining us is Amy, we will call her. She`s a mom and a functioning alcoholic, and she`s asked that we keep her identity hidden which we`re happy to do. All right, Stefanie. So, how bad did it get with you?
STEFANIE WILDER-TAYLOR, RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC: Here we go. It was very clear, let`s put it that way, that I had a drinking problem at the time that I quit.
PINSKY: Was it clear to you or clear to everybody else or clear to you and everybody else?
WILDER-TAYLOR: I think what`s interesting, actually, is it became very clear to me and it was not -- I think that most people in my life were very surprised when I told them that I was an alcoholic.
PINSKY: So, you hid it?
WILDER-TAYLOR: When I got help.
PINSKY: You hid it.
WILDER-TAYLOR: I did hide it, and I think that when you`re a mom, I think people want to help you hide it. I don`t think people want to see you that way, you know?
PINSKY: Let`s talk about that. Why is it even considered that way? Why don`t people look at it as, oh, she`s got this genetic predisposition, that the stress of motherhood seems to have activated. We need to help her. Wouldn`t that be a more light way to manage that?
WILDER-TAYLOR: I think it would, and in a perfect world, that would be the case, but I think we hold mothers up to a really high standard, and mothers are, by and large, thought of as the caretakers of their children, and we don`t want to see mothers as people that are drinking too much and possibly endangering their kids.
PINSKY: What` your story? How old were you when you first started drinking and when did it start to get out of control?
WILDER-TAYLOR: I was 14, and definitely drank alcoholically from the beginning, although, I would not see it that way and didn`t see it that way, but I was a blackout drinker. You know, I drank on weekends. I blacked out most of the time that I drank heavily. Horrible hangovers.
PINSKY: Are we talking about teenage years now?
WILDER-TAYLOR: Yes, teenagers.
PINSKY: And was the first drink at home as so many are?
PINSKY: OK. Was at a teen party?
WILDER-TAYLOR: Six pack of beer, you know, double date kind of situation.
PINSKY: You know, for my viewers at home, there`s all this data that shows if you start drinking, any alcohol exposure, home or otherwise before the age of 15, has a dramatic influence on increasing the risk of problem drinking, and the strange thing about that data, you can find similar phenomenon in rodents of equivalent age. So, it`s a mammalian thing, if you`ve exposed people at a young age, that they develop a problem. Amy, when did you start drinking and how bad has it gotten?
"AMY," MOM WHO DRINKS AT HOME: I didn`t start drinking until later, probably, until college or so, and I went to a really good school. And so, you know, people would drink on the weekends or, you know, random Thursday nights. And then throughout my 20s, but it really escalated after I got married and had a child.
PINSKY: How old is your child now?
PINSKY: He`s four years old. And how much are you drinking?
AMY: About a bottle of wine a night or -- but I mean, I can go three nights when I`m really trying not to, not obsessing about it. I am obsessing about it, but try not to for three nights, and then, I`ll go another seven, eight, nine days on.
PINSKY: Do you accept that you`re an alcoholic? Is that something you`ve come to terms with or comfortable with?
AMY: I am fully aware that I am, and I think I`ve known for about two years. I think I started acknowledging that I was an alcoholic when I`ve since been divorced. And that gave me a lot of freedom to drink at my own leisure. I didn`t have someone checking in with me. I had my own place. I was fairly comfortable.
And I would go to a local wine shop and buy my bottles of wine and have wine tastings on my Friday nights, buy my six bottles of wine, and be finished with those six bottles with my discount, of course, by the end of the week.
PINSKY: I want to go to a Facebook question. This is from Amanda. She asks, "Do you ever wonder what your kids might be thinking seeing you drinking?" Did you have that on the mind when --
WILDER-TAYLOR: Well, OK, for me, my kids were young. I had -- and let me just say that in my story, basically, I think that, you know, I drank pretty heavily, but then when I got married and had a baby, it escalated to a point that I did start to look at it. It became daily drinking. But, you know, I had a really young child, and in my mind, she wasn`t seeing me drinking. You know, I was drinking when she went to bed. I didn`t see it as a problem for a long time.
PINSKY: A lot of mothers think that way.
WILDER-TAYLOR: Yes, I didn`t think I was doing any harm. You know, to me, I didn`t see myself as not being present. I truly thought that I was a better parent with a couple glasses of wine in me. I was more patient. I felt, you know, because, for me, alcohol has that special thing that makes me feel a little bit better, like all is right with the world. And so, I used that to help me be a better parent.
PINSKY: When did it become not a useful thing but a problem?
WILDER-TAYLOR: Well, kind of to answer Amanda`s question, when my daughter was two, I started to realize what it might look like from her little two-year-old perspective that I always have that glass on wine on the table, that she wasn`t allowed to touch, that was mama`s juice, you know? And I started to think, like, I don`t like what I`m seeing, that I`m always focused on this glass of wine at the end of the night and waiting for her to go to bed so I can, like, really get my drink on.
PINSKY: Do you think this is a new phenomenon? Is it because women are often left single, as Amy is, and there`s new stresses of trying to maintain themselves in the workplace and be a mom? Is this a symptom of all that or is this just something that`s been there all along?
WILDER-TAYLOR: Well, I think that people have always used alcohol to cope with anxiety and with stress.
PINSKY: By the way, non-alcoholics don`t really do that so much. They do a little bit.
PINSKY: But alcoholics really do it. Yes. I mean, yes.
WILDER-TAYLOR: I don`t know. I think maybe for women, what I`ve noticed is that -- I mean, I drink because I was anxious. And I felt that drinking made -- took the edge off. I mean, I felt uptight, tense, nervous, overwhelmed, and I felt better when I drank.
PINSKY: Let`s just say that it works for alcoholics. It works. It really works that way for alcoholics. So, if you really are having a sort of an effect from alcohol where you kind of need it, you have to make deals with yourself about when you`re using, not using, that`s a problem. But, my question is the same, is this a function of the added stress on women these days? Is this a new trend?
WILDER-TAYLOR: Well, I think that women are oftentimes isolated these days, parenting, especially if you`re a stay-at-home parent. You know, a lot of us don`t have our families around us, and we don`t have -- if you don`t have help and you don`t have, you know, people around you --
PINSKY: Is this a new thing? You think women used to be more embedded in the family system?
WILDER-TAYLOR: I don`t know. I think, maybe, it just used to be more accepted.
PINSKY: So, it`s something just coming to light now is the problem?
WILDER-TAYLOR: We hear about the women having martinis all the time. I think that we just weren`t trying to check ourselves as much. I think there`s a lot of perfectionism going on, and I think a lot of women take a look at their drinking faster and feel bad about it and want to be this perfect parent and look at the fact that they`re drinking and then maybe gets worse because they`re trying not to do it, and they`re judging themselves. I don`t know. Crazy.
PINSKY: Amy, what do you think?
AMY: Well, I have plenty of friends that are not divorced and happily married who definitely have the same struggles. I mean, it is exactly as Stefanie said. You can take the edge off with a glass of wine, calms your anxiety, calms your nerves, bath time, great, I can have a glass of wine while my son`s in the bath, then, it just escalates to another level.
PINSKY: All right. Stefanie, for moms out there that may feel like they have an issue, they got a family history, things are getting out of control, how easy is it to get help?
WILDER-TAYLOR: I think it`s really important, though, to tell somebody, because the worst part of it is having it be a secret.
PINSKY: The isolation. The shame and guilt that goes along with it.
PINSKY: Yes. You`re not responsible for your alcoholism. You`re responsible for your recovery.
PINSKY: And God only knows there`s a ton of opportunity out there. There are meetings on every corner. Just give them a call. Go on meeting. Raise your hand, say I need help, and there are people there to help, and lots of moms are in those meetings.
WILDER-TAYLOR: Oh, yes.
PINSKY: Even though we reserve a very special and sort of shameful position for women that drink which I think makes me very, very sad.
WILDER-TAYLOR: That`s the problem.
PINSKY: Women are not different to men when it comes to this disease. So, there`s no different. Just the disorder like diabetes or any other, it has a treatment. Thank you, Amy. Thank you, Stephanie, for joining me.
So, let me say a few things about women and drinking. The reason some women don`t want to get help is, in fact, this. I`ve heard this from some of these women. They love their children. They believe they`re good moms, but they fear that if they come clean about their alcoholism, that somebody is going to report it to child protective services, and they`ll take their kids away.
It`s a real dilemma. My experience is that doesn`t happen. Certainly, it doesn`t happen if you go to me and raise your hand. Helping yourself is, in fact, the best thing you can do for your kids. All your kids care about is your well-being.
Now, your response to Cindy Sheehan was overwhelming, and one of our viewers thinks she`s calling the leader of the world, free world, a liar. That`s next.
JOY BEHAR, HOST OF HLN`S "JOY BEHAR SHOW": Hey, Drew. Don`t miss my show tonight. The fabulous Betty White is here, and she talks about how much she enjoys flirting with younger men. You might have a shot.
PINSKY: Well, Joy, I`m very happily married, but Betty White, I`m not sure any man could withstand that. Any great marriage could come crumbling down. Look at these screw balls laughing. You know what I`m talking about. All right. Now, we`re going to get to your comments. A lot of you have comments about the conversation with Cindy Sheehan. Here`s what you`re saying on Facebook.
Samantha writes, "I absolutely agree with Cindy. It all seems fishy. I don`t believe it at all."
All right. Then, Amy posted, "I feel sorry for her loss, but she needs a reality check on everything else."
Then we have Amanda, and she says, "I think it`s because of stupidity like this. This is why our country is in such a predicament. Grow up, Cindy Sheehan!"
And we`ve got Alana who comments, "Whether we agree or disagree, she is entitled to her opinion. Her son made the ultimate sacrifice."
And Melinda says, "Are you calling the president a liar?"
I like the comment before this one. Yes, she is calling the president a liar. Let`s be fair. That`s what she`s doing, but that she`s entitled to an opinion and her son did make an ultimate sacrifice, and thank God we live in a country where people can render their opinions.
Here`s a question from Romeo on Facebook, "I understand that there are many different ways to express grief." Actually, I saw this question just before we went on the air here, and it stunned me. Listen to this. "many more ways to express grief, but there also are many more ways to exploit it. Your thoughts?"
Boy, oh boy. Romeo, that`s a thoughtful question. And I think what`s behind that is you`re implying that Cindy or people that use their grief for a political ends is exploiting it. Yes, there are ways to exploit it, but I tend to look on a more positive way at this kind of thing, taking on a cause because of a shattering event in your life. I look at it as trying to make meaning out of loss. So, let`s not judge too hastily.
Before we go, Cindy Sheehan has clearly taken a lot of heat for her views as we`re finding here from our callers and viewers and Facebook friends, and it may be easy to judge if you`re not in her shoes. But, I`ll tell you what, the loss of a child causes a tremendous, tremendous effect on someone. I don`t want anyone out there to have to go through that. I certainly wouldn`t want to. And let`s remember, her child made a sacrifice on behalf of us.
So, let`s kind of look back at today`s program and think about the fact that we`ve really kind of touched on a bunch of issues about women, didn`t we? And with Mother`s Day approaching this weekend, I want you all to think about your moms, give them a kiss, whatever you can do to sort of tell them thanks, but I think more.
Tonight`s show made me think about the fact that women bear up a lot in our culture and there are lot of issues that are specific to them. Look at the alcoholism and the effect there. People marketing directly to women with wine. We have the domestic violence that we opened up with, and God knows that`s an unfortunately very common issue. Please, if you`re stuck in a circumstance of domestic violence, there is help, and it is a cycle that doesn`t break without help, typically.
And then finally, again, mothers in our society, women in our society, the ones that are bearing up with the loss of their children, dads, too, but women, seems to me, carry a special burden as they do in so many areas of our lives and our culture. So take a beat. Think about the women in your life. Respect them, honor them, and have a nice Mother`s Day. Thank you for watching. I will see you next time.