April 26, 2022
Christine Catino in 2014 was working full-time managing a restaurant and running a side catering business, priding herself that she could do all that and still maintain a household with a husband, two kids and five dogs.
Then she was hit with a double whammy.
Her husband suffered an aortic aneurysm rupture, nearly killing him and necessitating multiple surgeries over the next few years at Massachusetts General Hospital. Then, her father was diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia and ended up in a nursing facility in Stoneham, Massachusetts. Christine found herself driving every day from her Derry home to Mass General to spend the day with her husband, then stopping in Stoneham on the way back to spend two or three hours with her dad.
“Within all that, I kind of lost myself,” she says. “Between the hospital and the nursing facility, I was surrounded with sadness all the time. I got in touch with CLM because everything about me was gone. They got me in right away.”
She started seeing a therapist to help her with her depression, and with the ADHD (adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) with which she was soon diagnosed. She has continued that therapy ever since.
“I stuck with CLM because they’ve been a really supportive program,” she says. They’re there when I need them. They’ve been a lifeline for me.”
She also took advantage of CLM’s Supported Employment Program, which helps people with serious mental illnesses find and maintain meaningful jobs they are passionate about. She was put in touch with the New Hampshire Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which helped her build a plan to start her own business.
Today, Christine is the proprietor of Kiss the Cook, a macaroni and cheese company that uses only local, fresh and whole ingredients, based on her mother-in-law’s old family recipe, and which offers gluten-free and vegan versions. She can be found at farmers markets in Derry, Salem and Milford, New Hampshire, as well as Tewksbury, Massachusetts and other venues. She sells about 100 pounds of macaroni and cheese a week, and treks to Vermont every other month to buy 180 pounds of Cabot cheese to use in production.
“It has put so many wonderful smiles on people’s faces,” she says of her business, which started in 2019. “I just really wanted to share that with everybody.”
She continues to meet with her CLM Supported Employment Program advisor, Jane Martin every week. “She’s another lifeline,” Christine says. “She helps me with everything, deadlines for venues, the farmers markets, the applications.”
Christine acknowledges that she still has occasional bouts with depression “but for the most part I’m living my life daily, very positive. I can honestly say right now I feel amazing in my life. I’m where I should be.”
She encourages others with depression to take the same steps she has.
“To get the help they need, it’s only a phone call away,” Christine says. “Once you get out of your comfort zone and talk to someone, people can turn around their lives.”