Mental health disorders have a way of isolating those who suffer. Logically, they know that they have a solid support system of family, friends and partners/spouses. But mental illness and depression specifically says otherwise. It makes that person feel alone, that everyone around them is lying. The only thing that is honest is their depression.
Recently, the rock band Disturbed released their latest song and accompanying video, “A Time To Fight“.
The thing that strikes me about this song and the video is that it negates the idea that those who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses suffer are alone. There are millions of us who wake up everyday with this weight on our emotional shoulders.
Knowing that we are not alone, that there are many out there who suffer from this disease is important not just for those who live with mental illness, but for those who love them. That knowledge, from my perspective, is the most important aspect of not just treatment, but living a full life.
The best sensor we have is our body. When it tells us to slow down, we should listen to it. If we ignore it, we do so at our peril.
When it comes to mental illness, ignoring the signals that we need help is more than detrimental. It could be life threatening. Last week, Britney Spears checked into a mental health facility following her father’s health scare.
I admire her for getting help and not being afraid to publicly admitting that she needs to take time to take care of herself. The hardest thing that one can do when suffering from mental illness is to ask for help. It’s easy to pretend that your OK and try to go about your business. It’s harder to take a step back and say that you need to talk to someone.
I hope that her actions inspire others who suffer from mental illness to seek treatment. The more we speak of mental illness, the less it becomes a stigma and that will finally lead to an open conversation about this debilitating and deadly disease.
Mental illness affects millions of people around the world.
Mary Cregan knows all too well the pain that mental illness can bring. In her new book, The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery, she talks about her own bout with mental illness and how she was able to survive.
When she was in her late 20’s Ms. Cregan had it all: a job that made her happy, a loving marriage and a soon to be new addition to the family. The joy of a new child soon turns to grief when the baby dies two days after she is born. The death of her daughter plunges her into depression and thoughts of suicide. Years later, in writing this book she reflects on her deeply personal and heartbreaking experience with mental illness while talking about the history of how mental illness was viewed and treated.
One of the most glaring aspects of mental illness, from my own experience, is the feeling of being alone in the world. Ms. Cregan’s book reminds me that those of us who suffer from mental illness are not alone. We may not have asked to join millions of others who suffer from mental illness, but it brings us together in a way that allows us live full lives while grappling with a disease that will always be part of us.
I recommend it.
Earlier this week, you know who took another swipe at the ACA.
If he had attempted the same thing six months ago (not that its first time he’s tried to remove the ACA), I think my response would be of a general outrage. This time, the potential removal of the ACA is personal.
I wrote a while back about an unexpected curve ball that was thrown my way.
That curve-ball is a change to my career that I did not see coming. As of the end of next month, I will be out of work. My employer is generous to include health insurance in the severance package, but that health insurance is temporary.
The fact is that health insurance is a necessity. Not just to ensure that I have continued access to the mental health professionals who help me to live with my depression, but to provide access to my regular doctor.
Health insurance is a human right, not a privilege. No one should be denied access to a doctor because they cannot afford the appointment or have to go into debt to remain healthy.
But then again, some politicians are so blind that they prefer to save their own skins instead of supporting the voters who hired those politicians to represent them.
No one goes through life without asking the “what if” question at least once during their lifetime. This question becomes multiplied when it come to war and the loss of life that comes with war.
In the 2013 author Jillian Cantor asked this question in the book, Margot: A Novel.
It’s 1959 in Philadelphia. Margot Frank survived the war and has started a new life as Margie Franklin, living as a Gentile and working in a law firm as a secretary.
Her sister’s diary has become the darling of the publishing world. The movie, based on the book, has just been released into theaters. Margot/Margie’s carefully constructed outer shell begins to crack. While juggling PTSD and survivor’s guilt, Margot/Margie’s past come back to her via a case and an unusually strong emotional bond with her boss.
This book is amazing. When it comes to the story of Anne Frank, her elder sister is often pushed out of the spotlight. In giving Margot the spotlight, Ms. Cantor tells the story of Holocaust survivors who for any number of reasons, choose to keep their pasts to themselves. It is also the story of America in the late 50’s when antisemitism was not as obvious, but still existed beneath the thin veneer of respectability.
I recommend it.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like I am always busy. I got to work, I write, I work out, I see my family and friends, etc. But sometimes, I just want to relax and do nothing.
Rachel Jonat’s 2017 book, The Joy of Doing Nothing: A Real-Life Guide to Stepping Back, Slowing Down, and Creating a Simpler, Joy-Filled Life, is about just that. In the book, she encourages the reader to slow down and take time out for themselves. The advice varies from getting up 15 minutes earlier to simply breath to taking the kids outside and away from the screens that occupy most of their time.
I loved this book and I loved her recommendations. I loved it because it reminds me that our mental health is often forgotten over the course of our busy lives. Taking a break is more than lying on the couch and watching television or going out with our friends. It gives us a chance to decompress, relax and put our mental health first.
I recommend it.
Music and art in general has a way to freezing a moment in time.
16 years ago yesterday, Evanescence released what would be a career defining album for the band: Fallen.
Back then, I was a senior in my last semester of college. Graduation and the real world was on the horizon. Being in your early 20’s and knowing that you have an uncertain future is harder when you live with mental illness.
I didn’t know that I was living with depression back then. I didn’t know that I had options to deal with the emotional black hole and anxiety that is depression.
Then Fallen was released. Not only had I found a band whose music absolutely rocked my world, but an outlet to release the darkness that was inside of me.
To this day, Fallen is one of my favorite albums and my go to music when I feel the tentacles of depression spreading.
Thank you, Evanescence, for this amazing album. I don’t know where my life would be without it.
Part of the fight for equality is the way we are treated as children. Boys are taught that taking risks and getting dirty is just part of being a boy. It’s fine if a knee is scraped or the goal is not achieved. Girls are taught to not take risks, to stay clean. If a girl skins scrapes her knee or does not achieve her goal, it’s akin to the end of the world.
Written by Reshma Saujani, Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder, was published last month. In a nutshell, Ms. Saujani describes how girls are raised to be perfect and how that has a negative emotional and mental impact later in life. Interviewing a variety of women, the message is that it’s ok to fail and make mistakes. It is a message that women desperately need to hear.
If I can describe this book in one word, it would be empowering. When we as women are allowed to fail and make mistakes, it is a weight of off our shoulders. It also helps, especially when it comes to mental health and self-esteem issues.
I recommend it.
Human beings have an innate need to be wanted and to be included. The problem is when instead of looking in the mirror for approval, we look to others for approval.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson was published in 2016. While this book falls into the “self-help” category, it is not your average self-help book. Mr. Manson is to the point, blunt and tells his readers to make a choice. They can care about everything, everyone and anything. Or, they can choose what/who is important to care about and discard the rest. He also speaks of how to deal with rejection and the unexpected challenges that life can bring.
I really liked this book. I liked it because Mr. Manson does not coddle his reader, but at the same time, supports them with real world experience and advise. I also appreciate his bluntness, because the truth is, life is hard sometimes. When that happens, the only thing we can do is pick ourselves up, and keep moving, in spite of how difficult it is.
I absolutely recommend it.
P.S. Mr. Manson uses the f word frequently in the book. This is your obscenity warning.