Tag Archives: Mental Health

New Amsterdam Character Review: Ella

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series New AmsterdamRead 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.

Human beings were not meant to be alone. The need to be around others is built into the DNA of our species. We need each other if we are going to not just survive, but thrive.

On New Amsterdam, Ella (Dierdre Friel) is in a jam.

After briefly dating Rohan Kapoor (Vandit Bhatt), Ella has discovered that she is pregnant, but the father of her child is nowhere to be found. What makes her situation more complicated is that Rohan’s father is Vijay Kapoor (Anupam Kher). Ella and Vijay almost did the will they/wont they dance, but that ended when Ella started seeing Rohan.

Unable to support herself, Ella is about to leave New York. Knowing that if this happens, he may never see his grandchild, Vijay proposes that Ella move in with him. Though it takes sometime for them to work out the kinks in their unorthodox relationship, Ella and Vijay eventually meet in the middle. Which comes in handy when Ella reveals that she has OCD and Vijay is the one to help her relax.

To sum it up: As much as we may pretend that we can do it alone, the truth is that we can’t. In Ella’s situation, it would be easy to put up a wall and pretend that she does not need help. In accepting Vijay’s offer, she is not only willing to bring her guard down, she recognizes that their need for support and connection is mutual.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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

New Amsterdam Character Review: Lauren Bloom

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series New AmsterdamRead 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.

Addiction and mental health issues weigh heavily on the lives of millions around the world. It is easy to pretend that these issues don’t exist. But the reality is that until one is able to see that they need help, they will never begin to move on.

On New Amsterdam, Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery) is the head of the Emergency Department. Smart and efficient, she has the ability to manage a very busy staff while ensuring that the patients are looked after. But underneath her professional abilities, Lauren is facing the two-headed demon of addiction to Adderall and the unhealed emotional wounds from a traumatic childhood.

She is forced into rehab when her colleague and friend, Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) notices that something is off with Lauren. Rehab forces her to confront her troubled past and deal with the addiction that has hindered her ability to emotionally recover. But life is not all sunshine and roses when Lauren returns to work.

After bringing Georgia Goodwin’s (Lisa O’Hare) daughter in the world, Lauren has a different recovery ahead of her when she survives a car wreck. Well aware of how easily she can slide back into addiction, she turns to Helen and Zach Ligon (JJ Feild), her physical therapist, and sometimes hookup partner for support.

In the end, Lauren is able to put her past behind her, but not without some serious soul searching and hard work.

To sum it up: There are two ways to deal with problems. The first is to pretend that nothing is wrong. The second is to admit that you need help. Though it is infinitely harder to admit that you need help, the payoff is worth the risk. In admitting that she has a problem, Lauren shows that she has the strength and courage to move beyond the demons that have plagued her for far too long.

That is why she is a memorable character.

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

Mental Illness is Not an Excuse for Sexual Abuse

Mental illness and it’s various forms affect countless people around the world. But unlike physical illness and it’s many variations, mental illness does not get the respect it deserves.

Back in 2008, Malka Leifer was accused of sexually abusing several students at the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne, Australia, where she worked as a teacher. But before she could be brought into the courtroom to face her accusers, Ms. Leifer left Australia for Israel. Twelve years later, she faces extradition back to Australia. Her lawyers and supporters claim that she is mentally ill.

I have a huge problem with this claim. The problem is that her claim (if it is not true) is not only foolish, but it could also have life-shattering consequences. Millions of us wake up every day with mental illness. I wake every day with depression hanging around my neck. Does that mean I will commit such a heinous crime as sexual assault on a minor?

No.

It’s hard enough to admit that one is living with mental illness and needs help. The last thing those of us who live with this disease need is for someone to use it as an excuse for moral failings.

Mental illness is NOT an excuse for sexual assault and never will be.

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Filed under International News, Mental Health, World News

New Amsterdam Character Review: Ignatius ‘Iggy’ Frome

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series New AmsterdamRead 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.

I’ve often talked about mental health and my own battle with depression on this blog. But what happens when the person with mental issues is also the doctor helping others with the same illnesses? On New Amsterdam, Dr. Ignatius ‘Iggy’ Frome is the head of psychology. In short, his job is to help his patients heal emotionally from whatever is holding them back. But while he is helping his patients, Iggy has his own issues to deal with.

Married to Martin McIntyre (Mike Doyle) and raising their three adopted children, Iggy’s life seems to be perfect. He has a loving husband, healthy children and a satisfying career. But as anyone dealing with mental illness can tell you, you can have it all and still feel like you have nothing.

Living with Disordered Eating, Iggy will bounce from eating junk all day to eating nothing at all. Affecting both his physical and mental health, the disorder begins to take a toll on him. He is also living with a negative self image that is only able to reveal itself in an intense therapy session with his husband. But this therapy session comes only after his marriage is on the brink of collapsing.

When he gets a call that another child is up for adoption, Iggy agrees to take the child without consulting Martin. When Martin finds out, he is naturally furious. They are only able to hash it out when the hospital is on lock down and there is no choice but to put it all out on the table. In the end, Iggy and Martin’s marriage returns to the stable place that it was in, but not Iggy shows a part of himself that few are able to show.

To sum it up: When you have a problem, the first step is admitting that you have a problem. But that first step is the hardest step to take. When Iggy takes that first step and admits that he has a problem, he can finally begin to heal and accept himself.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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

RIP Dr. Lorna Breen

When we talk about health, we often talk about physical health. Mental health is likely to be ignored.

As Covid-19 continues its stranglehold on our world, we look to the doctors and nurses for support and help. But who helps them?

This month is Mental Health Awareness Month. In normal times, we would be talking about removing the stigma from mental health and allowing those who suffer to open up. But we, as we all know, are not living in normal times.

Last week, Dr. Lorna Breen, committed suicide after working for weeks on end to save the lives of as many Covid-19 patients as possible.

If nothing else, I think that loss of Dr. Breen’s life and every other medical professional reminds us that our health is more than our body. It is our mind as well.

Sometimes, the only way to change is to face a dramatic loss or upset. Perhaps when this is all said and done, we will finally recognize the important of mental health and treating it with the same respect as physical health.

May the memory of Dr. Breen and everyone who has died because of this virus forever be a blessing. Z”l.

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Filed under Mental Health, New York City

Depression & Perfectionism: Failure is not an Option

Human beings make mistakes. It is a part of life, as much as we may hate it.

One of the harder aspects of depression (at least from my perspective) is perfectionism. In a nutshell, it is the ultimate desire to be perfect and the toll it takes to reach a goal that is forever unreachable. In my case (and I suspect in many others who suffer from mental illness), the unrealistic expectations create a negative emotional spiral, regardless of whether a mistake has actually happened.

It feels like failure is not an option and will never be an option. The only way to be is perfect, knowing full well that perfection is impossible. When a mistake is imagined, it could easily trigger an anxiety attack. When a mistake is real, it feels nothing short of life shattering. It’s as if we are unworthy of all the good things that life offers, unless we are perfect.

Perfect is one of the songs on Alanis Morissette’s ground breaking 1995 album, Jagged Little Pill. I can’t think of a better way to sum up the disease that is perfectionism.

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Filed under Mental Health, Music

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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Filed under Mental Health, National News

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

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