She estimates that she has about $70,000 in credit card debt, and even though she hasn't used a card in about a year, she is sinking deeper into debt because of late fees and penalties.
About a month ago, a creditor froze $900 from her Social Security check that was supposed to pay the mortgage.
Bankruptcy, she said, is her only alternative.
Because she is embarrassed, Schapiro hasn't told her family or her boss that she intends to file for bankruptcy. But experts contend that the stigma has worn off for many.
John Bachman, a psychologist at United Behavioral Health in San Francisco who has written about the psychology of debt, said that people who experienced the Depression felt a deep humiliation when they couldn't repay their debts.
"The very prescription that [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt provided for us to get out of that depression was to purchase and consume," said Bachman. "Those generations that have followed have done so. The taboo is not there any longer."
Del Pizzo, the bankruptcy attorney in Dundalk, agrees, saying that people "don't feel like they are going to go to hell if they go into bankruptcy."
Bankruptcy attorneys say they are troubled by the cavalier attitude of young people who file and show little remorse.
"When I explain bankruptcy to young people, they say, `Cool,'" said Rodgers.
Why bankruptcy filings are more common in Maryland than in other states is a mystery to experts here.
Of 94 federal judicial districts nationwide, Maryland's had the ninth-largest number of bankruptcy filings with 34,700 in 2002. California's central district, which covers the area around Los Angeles, topped the country with 81,702.
"There is really no pattern," said Gerdano of the bankruptcy institute.
What is clear is that the business of bankruptcy is booming.
Gerdano's group, made up largely of lawyers, recently added its 10,000th member and has doubled in size since 1995.
Del Pizzo works six and seven days a week, and said he wakes up in the middle of the night thinking about cases. "I am here all of the time," Del Pizzo said. "It is somewhat disheartening."
Craig W. Stewart, a bankruptcy attorney with Wilson & Stewart in Annapolis, said business has been so strong the firm recently opened a second office in Laurel and plans to open one in Frederick this spring.
Members of Congress have been trying since 1997 to stiffen bankruptcy laws to make it more difficult for people to file.
A bill that passed the House would force more people to work out payment plans and continue to pay off their debts by filing Chapter 13 bankruptcies instead of Chapter 7, which enables individuals to walk away from most debts. It also would provide that instead of being allowed to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy every six years, a debtor would have to wait eight years.
Gerdano doesn't think the bill's chances of final passage are good this session. With the job market sagging, passing a law that makes it more difficult for people to file could be a political gaffe.
"If you had several months of unambiguously strong news, then I think that argument begins to go away," Gerdano said. "I think right now that's a deterrent to the leadership deciding that we want to make this bill a big priority."
Darlene Schapiro blames herself for her financial problems, but she also blames the credit card companies for making it so easy to fall into debt. She is grateful that she can wipe the slate clean by filing for bankruptcy and get a second chance.
"I am not going to beat myself up about it," Schapiro said. " It is a hard lesson in life learned."