Category Archives: Mental Health

Real American Book Review

The term “real American” is both simple and complicated. The simple definition is a person who was born in this country or has forsaken their country of birth and has chosen to become an American. The complicated definition is plagued by historical, political, and/or cultural images of who is a “real American”.

Julie Lythcott-Haims is the daughter of an African-American father and a white English mother. Her 2018 memoir, Real American, is about growing up bi-racial in the United States. In the book, she talks about how racism has affected her life and her self esteem.

This book is very good and very tough to read. The pain and anger of dealing with racism on a daily basis is immediate from the word go. I could feel it radiating from the page. If I could have, I would have directly apologized to her not just for my own innate prejudices, but for what the image of person of color is to the outside world. If nothing else, the author is challenging her readers to take a hard look at themselves and how they have been taught to look at some people deemed as “the other”.

I also appreciated the unique format of the text. Though it may seem a little out of the box, it fits in well with the message.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Running on Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships With Your Partner, Your Parents, and Your Children Book Review

When dealing with a problem, the first step is to name it. The second step is to do the work to resolve problem. Comparatively speaking, step is one is considerably easier than step two. But if we are put the issue in the rear view mirror, there is only one option: we have to face our demons.

The 2017 book, Running on Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships With Your Partner, Your Parents and Your Children, by Dr. Jonice Webb, is the follow up to her 2012 book, Running on Empty. Extending the methods and conversations in the first book, Dr. Webb explores how those suffering from CEN (Childhood Emotional Neglect) can work through their issues with three distinct and important people in our lives: our spouses/romantic partners, our parents, and our children.

Getting to the heart of CEN, Dr. Webb is able to walk the reader through the difficult process of being up front about what is holding them back. She is also encourages them to be open with their loved ones about their feelings and begin the process of healing.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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WTF is Happening to this Country? Adam Toledo and the Indianapolis Shooting

There is a Chinese curse which says, “May he live in interesting times.” Interesting times is one way to explain what is happening in the United States.

Last week, a 13 year old boy was shot and killed by police in Chicago. His name was Adam Toledo. He was murdered because the officers believed that he had a gun. Adding salt to the wound was the reference by Fox News host and all around asshole Sean Hannity that this child was a fully grown man. I see two issues with this story.

  1. The blood of this young man is not just on the hands of the police officers who killed him. It is on everyone who played their part to get this supposed weapon into young Mr. Toledo’s hands.
  2. Our local and national law enforcement department must be able to do their jobs. But they have to get it into their heads and their training materials that they are not avenging angels. The police are just one link in the chain of the justice system.

May the memory of this boy be a blessing and finally get us off our asses to stop police brutality against Americans of color.

On Friday morning, a former employee of a FedEx facility in Indianapolis killed eight people. According to his mother, the man who was responsible for the murders had mental health issues.

In response to the umpteenth mass shooting in the United States since March, President Biden referred to this new wave as a national embarrassment. I can’t think of a better description of this unnecessary slaughter of innocent civilians. We can fix this problem, it doesn’t take a genius to put together a national law to prevent future events of this nature. The problem is that some Republican lawmakers are blind to the idea that any national gun control legislation does not infringe on the rights of gun owners who are of sound mind and followed the laws. It is a measure that desperately needed (and has been needed for more than two decades) to save lives.

I don’t know what it will take to wake this country up, but something has to be done.

Happy Sunday.

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Filed under Mental Health, National News, Politics

Audrey (2020) Review

When dealing with childhood trauma as an adult, there are generally two paths to take. The first is that of possible mental illness, addiction, and life long emotional scars that never heal. The second is that of forgiveness, being open, and putting the past behind you.

I watched the new Netflix documentary, Audrey (2020) last night. It is an intimate vision of Audrey Hepburn, one of the most iconic performers from Old Hollywood. Using archival footage, interviews, and clips from her work, the film opens the door to an image of the icon that goes beyond the glitz and glamour. The movie documents her difficult childhood during World War II, her turn as one of the most famous performers in the world, and then her later years, highlighting the charity work she did in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

I loved this movie. It goes beyond the typical Hollywood documentary. I felt like I was introduced to the real woman, not the actress whose profile was specifically created by the studio system. As a fan, it made appreciate her more, both as a performer and a human being.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Audrey is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under History, Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix

Kid 90 Movie Review

Being a teenager is hard enough. Adding in Hollywood to the mix is a dangerous cocktail that has the potential for unwanted consequences.

The new documentary Kid 90 premiered last night on Hulu. It follows former child actor Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster) as she interviews her friends who were also child stars growing up in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Reading from her old diaries and revisiting video footage that is decades old, she recounts her own teenage years with honesty that is sometimes missing from our memories of that period in our lives.

I enjoyed this movie. It revealed that the teenage experience is universal, regardless of where we are growing up. It also spoke of mental health issues and how being a kid actor can mess with your head in ways that are unique to showbusiness.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Kid 90 is available for streaming on Hulu.

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Piers Morgan Can Dish it, But He Can’t Take it

Criticism is relative. Depending on whose mouth it comes from and the tone of what is being said, it can either be helpful or hurtful.

As an example, good criticism (otherwise known as constructive criticism) can help us grow. I’ve been a member of a writing group since 2015. The purpose of attendance is not be cruel, but to improve our writing skills. An example of bad criticism is the shit that television personality Piers Morgan has heaped on Megan Markle. After the interview with Markle and Prince Harry aired on Sunday, Morgan continued to dump on her. When he was called out for his comments on air, he took an adult temper tantrum, stormed off stage, and promptly quit his job.

When asked about Morgan, fellow British TV personality Sharon Osbourne said the following:

 “I think people forget, he’s in a position because they pay him for his opinion. He’s a royalist, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The generation he was born into, we were all taught to be royalists. We were all taught at school…You fight for your Queen and your country.”

Loyalty to one’s home country is one thing. However, when someone like Morgan ( i.e. a while male in a position of power) uses his platform to openly and constantly denounce a woman (especially a woman of color), that is a bridge too far.

I’m going to end this post with a tweet from Bette Midler, but she is awesome.

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Filed under Feminism, Mental Health, Television

Thoughts On the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Interview

The fairy tale books we are read to when we are young present images of royal perfection. Though the characters exist within this world have problems, those issues are resolved by the time the story ends. But that is fiction. But, as we all now, real life is not as simple.

Last night, the interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aired on CBS. Sitting down with Oprah Winfrey, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex explored issues relating to their marriage, mental health, the overwhelmingly negative and racist press coverage, and the decision to step back from the Queen’s inner circle.

The overwhelming message I got is that the family, known as “the firm” is an institution that is more concerned with the external image than the well-being of individual members. The treatment of Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana, contains more than enough evidence of that fact. The thing about intuitions is that while tradition is all well and good, one must roll with the times. Just because something was rolled under the rug two or three generations ago does not mean that rolling it under the rug now is going to make it any easier to deal with.

I appreciated both Meghan and Harry’s honesty. It must have been cathartic to get all of that off of their chest, especially in front of an international audience. I also appreciate that instead of being a tabloid-ish tell-all, there were some boundaries. Harry could have easily revealed who made the awful comment about his son’s potential complexion. Instead, he chose to keep that information private.

I have nothing but admiration for the both of them. The problem with a toxic environment is that it is often too familiar. It takes a lot of courage to step into the unknown and even more courage to emotionally move on from what is keeping us from living a full and happy life.

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The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control Book Review

Mind control is like any element found within nature. It is neither good or bad. It is merely a tool to be used as one sees fit.

Back in the 1970’s, Steven Hassan was a college student dealing with a broken heart. Approached by other “students”, he eventually joined the Unification Movement, lead by cult leader Sun Myung Moon. Decades later, he became an expert on cults and mental health.

His latest book, The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control, was published last September. His theory is that you know who’s appeal went beyond that of a political leader. His supporters acted as if they were under mind control, blindly believing what they were told instead of thinking for themselves. Backing up his ideas with research and the experiences of other cults, Hassan makes his case for how truly dangerous this man is.

Among the books that have been written about you know who over the past few years, this is one of the more unique ones. Hassan’s angle is an interesting one, answering the question of how so many can turn a blind eye to the truth that is right in front of them.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath Book Review

The plot line of a biography is as follows: the person was born on x date, accomplished a, b, and c, and died on y date. From there, it is up to the writer(s) to add the details and color to the story they are telling.

Heather Clark’s biography of Sylvia Plath, entitled Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, was published last October. Delving into Plath’s life and work (including The Bell Jar, one of my personal favorites), Clark takes the reader on a journey from Plath’s early years in New England in the 1930’s to her death in 1962 from lingering mental health issues. Using information that was previously unknown, Clark pulls information from interviews, unpublished works, and other documents to create a complete image of one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

If there was ever a blue print on how to write a compelling biography, this is it. When I finished reading this book, I felt like I knew her. Not just as a poet and a writer, but as a human being. As a reader, it is one thing to connect to your favorite writer based on their work. But when you get to know them as an ordinary person, that is where magic happens.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Mental Health, Writing

Thoughts On the Parkland Shooting, Three Years Later

Our high school years are supposed to be our formative years, both inside and outside of the classroom. These are the years we experience many firsts that will impact the rest of our lives.

Three years ago, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were robbed of those experiences.

Though we cannot go back, we can move forward. We can and should enact national gun laws to keep firearms out of the hands of potential criminals. Those with mental health issues should be treated as those with physical health issues.

May the memories of those killed that day forever be a blessing. Z”l.

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