Category Archives: Mental Health

What You Can Control: A Guide to Dealing With Mental Health in the Age of the Coronavirus

There is a lot in life that we can’t control. We can’t control the traffic on the way to work or school. We can’t control how long we will be waiting at our next doctors appointment.

But there are things that we can control.

In the age of the coronavirus, it feels like everything is out of control. Schools and work places are mostly closed and employees (if they are lucky) are able to work from home and still earn a paycheck. The number of sick, dead and dying rises every day. There is a spike in unemployment claims that has not been seen in decades, if not lifetimes.

But there are things that we can control . That is what I want to talk about today.

Over the past few weeks, I have found that knowing what I can and cannot control gives me peace of mind.

I cannot control the virus. But there are things that I can control.

I can control the fact that I still have a job (for which I thank G-d for every day) and I continue to work as hard as if I was in the office. I can control the number of hours that I am sleeping. I can control what I am eating. I can take advantage of the technology that allows me to keep in touch with family and friends. I can still write. I can still go out for fresh air, exercise and minimal errands. I can listen to the advice from the professionals and stay home.

Though I live with depression (as many of my regular readers know), it is ironic that it takes a pandemic to take a step in the right direction when it comes to my mental health.

To everyone out there, stay home, stay healthy (hopefully) and take it day by day. We will get through this.

Happy Sunday.

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Filed under Mental Health, National News

Mental Health and the Coronavirus

To most, if not all of us, the coronavirus has turned our world upside down. What we considered to be everyday activities have been severely curtailed or stopped completely. As per the recommendations of the medical experts, many of us are quarantined in our homes.

For those living with mental illness, having the ability to voluntarily self-quarantine may seem ideal. But the reality is that this self-quarantine is detrimental to our mental health. Below are a number of ways we can prevent ourselves and others from getting the virus while not putting our mental health at risk.

  • Open your windows. There is nothing like fresh air to remind us that the world outside still exists.
  • Get some exercise. If you can get out of the house for even a short walk, you may find that you feel better. But, if not, some simple cardio will help tremendously.
  • Reach out to others. Sometimes it takes hearing another person’s voice is just the pick me up that we need in times like these.
  • Do something that makes you happy. Whether it is cooking, drawing, knitting or whatever makes you happy, do it. By doing what you makes you happy, you are proving that the depression cannot and will not win.
  • Try to eat a balanced diet. Eating crap that messes with your blood sugar will only exacerbate the depression.

We are all in this together. We will get through. We just need to be strong and help each other through this crisis.

Happy Monday.

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My Favorite Movies of 2019

Going to the movies is sometimes akin to stepping onto a roller coaster. Sometimes you love the film your seeking. Sometimes you hate it.

My favorite movies of 2019 are as follows:

  1. The Farewell: The Farewell is my favorite movie of the year because it is heartfelt, genuine and thoroughly human. In the lead role, Awkwafina proves that she can play much more than the comic relief.
  2. Avengers: Endgame: If there was a perfect way to end a film series, this film is it. Balancing both action and narrative, this thrill ride is pure perfection.
  3. Judy: Renee Zellweger is an absolute shoe-in for the Oscars as the late film icon Judy Garland. Disappearing in the role, she tells the true story of the final years of Garland’s life.
  4. Downton Abbey: Transferring a popular television show to the big screen is often easier said than done. The Downton Abbey movie is the perfect film bookend to this beloved television program.
  5. Harriet: This biopic of Harriet Tubman is nothing short of tremendous. In the lead role, Cynthia Erivo is Harriet Tubman.
  6. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: This final entry in the Skywalker saga is not perfect, but it ends with both a nod to the past and an open door to the future.
  7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The late Fred Rogers was more than a milquetoast children’s TV host. He taught generations of children in ways that go beyond the classroom. Inhabiting the role of Mister Rogers is Tom Hanks, who reminds viewers why we loved him.
  8. Joker: In this re imagined world from that Batman universe, Joaquin Phoenix adds new layers to this iconic character while talking frankly about mental illness.
  9. The Song of Names: Based on the book of the same name, the film follows a man who is trying to discover the secrets of a missing childhood friend.
  10. Frozen II: This sequel to the mega-hit Frozen was well worth the six year wait. Instead of doing a slap-dash direct to video type sequel, the filmmakers expanded this world in new ways, making the story even more relevant.

This will be my last post for 2019. Wherever you are, thank you for reading this year. May 2020 be bright and hopeful.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies, Star Wars, Television

Mental Illness is No Excuse For Hate

It’s been two days since the attack against the Orthodox Jews in Monsey.

Since then, it has been revealed that the accused perpetrator suffers from mental illness. It was also revealed that investigators found evidence of previous antisemitic ideas and research he did on the internet with an antisemitic bent.

The problem with claiming that mental illness is responsible for such acts has become an easy way out. Granted, like many who live with mental illness, I know all too well the unwanted extra it adds to your life. However, that does not excuse what he did.

As disturbed as I am that some are claiming that mental illness is responsible for his actions, I am equally disturbed by the fervent antisemitism. When we talk about antisemitism and the Holocaust, the first thought is of the Jews. But the Jews were not the only targets. People of African descent were as high on the Nazi hit list as the Jews were.

I wish there was a better way to end 2019. I wish that we, as a culture, had grown a little and become better than we were at the beginning of the year. It is obvious to me that we are still in the same place that we were back on January 1st.

Maybe we will be better in 2020.

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We Miss You, Space Mommy

Courtesy of Vanity Fair

When the average person thinks of the late (and dearly missed), Carrie Fisher, they think of the iconic character she played in the Star Wars film series. Princess turned General Leia was badass, in charge, unapologetic and had no problem telling the boys off.

The woman behind the character was just as badass, in charge, unapologetic and had no problem telling the boys off.

She also was open about her struggles with drug abuse and mental illness. Both are subjects that are touchy and depending on the person, it is a no go conversation wise. But Carrie, in her unique way, was honest and upfront about her usually, almost brutally so. In doing so, she allowed the rest of us to be open and honest about our own battles, whatever they may be.

Tomorrow is the 3rd anniversary of her passing.

In the words of our mutual ancestors, may her memory be a blessing.

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Filed under Feminism, Mental Health, Movies, Star Wars

A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death Book Review

There are two things in life that are guaranteed: death and taxes. Everything else is up in the air.

While death itself is simply explained, everything else around is difficult. A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death, by BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger, takes away that difficulty. The book is a step by step process of dealing with death. From the legal and financial paperwork to dealing with the healthcare system, preparing for the funeral and the grief that follows, the book is the complete guide for dealing with death.

I originally picked up this book because as someone who lives with depression, I wanted to get another perspective on illness and death. What I got instead was a book that is tremendously helpful. As my generation gets older and our parents reach the age in which their health comes into question, we will need to deal with issues we have not dealt with before.

While this book cannot completely help with the emotional aspects of this topic, it can help with the legal, medical and logistical aspects that make illness and death just a little easier to cope with.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health

Thoughts On the Anniversary of the Sandy Hook School Shooting

Seven years ago, the students and staff entered Sandy Hook elementary school as they would any school day. By the time the school day ended, 26 people, mostly six and seven-year-old students were dead.

If these children were alive today, these children would either be twelve or thirteen years old. They would be on the brink of teenage-hood and everything that comes with being a teenager. But they will never experience what it is like to be a teenager or anything else for that matter.

If I had a time machine, I would go back in time and try to stop the massacre of innocent life. But time machines do not exist. The only thing we can do is move forward and remember the lives who were taken far too soon.

We can also honor their memory by preventing another massacre of this ilk. Common sense gun laws and assistance for those with mental health issues are not a 100% foolproof to prevent another Sandy Hook. But they can go a long way in helping drastically cut down the number of young people who are killed in school.

May the memories of the 26 people killed that day and hundreds of others who died in mass shootings since them be a blessing. Z”l.

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What I am Grateful For on This Thanksgiving

As many of us gather around the table this Thanksgiving, we often cite what we are thankful for.

This year, I am grateful for many things. When you live with depression, it is easy to get mired in a negative mindset. Today, I am determined to not let the depression get the best of me.

I am grateful for the breath in my lungs and my physical health.

I am grateful for the food on my plate and the clothes on my back.

I am grateful for the unending love and support of my family and friends.

I am grateful for the professional opportunities that have come and will continue to come my way.

I am grateful for the ability to write and the drive I have to succeed as a writer.

Most of all, I am grateful to be alive.

From me and my family, I hope you have a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving. May the upcoming holiday season and the New Year be a blessed one.

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I Love My Red Hair

When you’re a kid, you want to fit in. The last thing you want is to stick out like a sore thumb. When you’re a redhead, you stick out whether you like it or not.

Though I am proud of my red hair now, there were many times as a kid that I wished that my hair was another color. It took many years and a lot of work, but at nearly 40, I have come to love my hair.

Today is National Redhead Day. Thanks to this day, How to be a Redhead and three of the characters below (which is a short version of a very long list), I appreciate my hair in ways that I did not in the past.

Zelena-Once Upon a Time (Rebecca Mader)

Zelena is a redheaded badass because she knows what she wants and she goes after it. Though she may not (at least in the beginning) care that she is hurting others, it is her confidence and her one-liners that makes me proud to be a redhead.

MeraAquaman (Amber Heard)

Mera is a queen in every sense of the word. But instead of being the standard female royal who waits for things to happen (i.e. rescued from the big bad), Mera takes charge of her own life. She is also unafraid to stand up for what is right, even if that means going into battle.

Demelza PoldarkPoldark (Eleanor Tomlinson)

It takes a strong woman to be true to herself in an era when a woman is supposed to be meek, mild and subservient to her husband. Demelza Poldark (nee Carne) may have been born a miner’s daughter, but she has not forgotten who she is. Though she is a member of the upper class through her marriage, Demelza is still a tough as nails working-class girl who is intelligent and more than capable of standing on her own two feet.

I am going to end this post with a quote for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. It’s time to not care what others think and embrace who we are.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”-Dr. Seuss

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Filed under Mental Health, Movies, Once Upon A Time, Poldark, Television

Law & Order SVU Character Review: Casey Novak

*I apologize about the late post. Life, as it sometimes does, got in the way last night.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

For many of us, the first few years in our careers can be defining years. They can also be challenging, forcing us to submit to the idea that the reality of our job does not match what we thought it would be. On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Casey Novak (Diane Neal) is one of the many District Attorneys who assist the SVU team with putting away criminals. Young, ambitious and serious about her job, Casey keeps her emotions and her private life to herself.

Her job would be simple if she worked for another unit within the NYPD. However, she works with SVU, where the crimes are often physically and emotionally messy. This leads Casey to lean on the steady and reliable law, especially when the case she is trying verges into a morally grey area.

Though she tries to keep her emotions and private life separate from her work, both inevitably bleed into her work. A previous relationship with a mentally ill ex-boyfriend nearly cost her life and affected her judgment when she purposely sabotaged a case involving a schizophrenic child rapist.

Though her work ethic is admired by the SVU detectives and her supervisor, her zeal nearly ruins the professional relationships with her colleagues. But in the end, there is a mutual respect that develops from her drive and her ability to open emotionally to her colleagues.

To sum it up: It takes courage and time to come out of one’s shell, especially in the workplace. But Casey does it in a way that does not feel forced or unnatural. She remains dedicated to her work, but she also bonds with her colleagues in a way that allows them all to do their jobs. That is why, as a character, Casey Novak stands out.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Mental Health, New York City, Television