Tag Archives: mental health

It’s More Than Mental Health

The shooting yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead reminded us that once more we must publicly grieve the loss of innocent lives due to unnecessary gun violence.

In addressing the nation this morning, you know who put much of the blame on the shooter’s mental illness. He did not mention that the shooter was able to legally purchase a weapon is meant to be used on the battlefield and not in every day civilian life.

I have two problems with this statement:

  1. Millions of people around the world (myself included) suffer from mental illness. Only a tiny fraction of us spiral down into murdering innocents, but the news reports would make it seem like mental illness is the only reason for the shooting. Unlike other medical conditions, mental illness carries a stigma. Using mental illness as a framing device for any mass shooting, regardless of the state of mind of the shooter is counterproductive in erasing the stigma and helping those who are suffering.
  2. I know it’s been said every which way for a generation, but we need reasonable gun laws now. We needed them yesterday and the day before, but some of those in power are continuing to turn a deaf ear to the cries of the survivors and the loved ones of the victims. But while they are turning a deaf ear to the voting and grieving public, they seem to have no problem accepting money from the NRA.

My heart breaks for the survivors and the victim’s families. There are no words we can use to bring back their loved ones and dry their tears. But there are laws that can be put on the books and enforced to prevent another mass shooting and we can stop using mental illness as a crutch for mass shootings.

The question is, are we willing to do so or will we continue to see lives lost for no reason?

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Filed under National News, Politics

Rick Springfield Opens Up About His Battles With Depression

Depression knows nothing of boundaries. It doesn’t matter where you grew up, where your family is from, who you go home to every night, etc. Not even fame and success in Hollywood can ward off the demons of depression.

Rick Springfield is one of the millions around the world who suffer from depression. The musician and actor recently opened about his own bouts with depression and his attempts to take his own life.

I found his story not only to be meaningful, but also relevant. One of the things I have learned about depression is that those of us who suffer from the disease tell the same story. We may use different phrasing and talk about our battles with depression from our own individual perspectives, but the stories are the same.

I find that very comforting because we need to talk openly about depression and other mental illnesses. Talking open and honestly opens doors, helps to diminish the stigma, brings comfort to those suffering and will hopefully prevent the loss of life due to suicide.

 

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This Is What Depression Feels Like

It can be said that one cannot understand another until they walk a mile in another’s shoes.

Especially when it comes to depression.

I could describe how it feels to live with depression, but I think the video below basically says it all.

It’s a cold, lonely feeling that never ceases to go away, akin to sitting in a empty bathtub, shivering cold with no clothes on, without light or heat.

It is the saddest, scariest feeling anyone can experience. Millions of us suffer from it and too many die from it.  I think the most important thing to remember is that we are not alone. If we remember that, then we can somehow find a way not just to live, but to thrive.

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I Got Out Of The House Today

Do. Or do notThere is no try.”-Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

One of the more common signs of depression is how easy it is to stay home and do nothing.

The weather in New York City for the past few days has been frigid. Walking outside is akin to walking into an icebox. No amount of layers can protect against the freezing temperature.

I could have stayed in today after completing some minor errands. It would have been easy to say that the weather makes for an excuse for staying in.

But I knew I couldn’t stay home. I couldn’t let the depression win. Not today at least.

It took a lot for me to get out after completing my errands. More than I expected. But I did it. I know that my depression will never go away. But if I have the courage and strength to fight against it, then maybe one day, it will not have the stranglehold it does on my life.

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Filed under Misc, Movies, New York City, Star Wars

Carrie Fisher-Gone A Year Today

 

A year ago today, Carrie Fisher passed away.

Writer, actress, mental health activist, mother, daughter, sister, feminist, Fisher was an icon to many for many reasons. Playing Leia Organa in the Star Wars film franchise, Fisher helped to change the way women are portrayed in film, especially in science fiction and fantasy films. Leia was not just the heart and the brains of the rebellion, she was whip smart and in charge.

Leia grabbing the blaster from Luke’s hands and shooting at the storm troopers was a small moment in A New Hope, but a big moment in the history of women on-screen.

After Star Wars and in between her other roles, Fisher became one hell of a writer, publishing her own work in addition to gaining the envious title of one of the most in demand script doctors in Hollywood.  She was not afraid to speak openly about her addiction and mental illness issues when others were still in the closet about their addiction and mental illness issues.

The thing that will always stand out for me, is that she was herself, warts and all. Unapologetic, unafraid and upfront. We should all be so brave to be ourselves and not give a sh*t what someone else thinks of us.

For that, she will always be my hero.

RIP Carrie. A year still seems like yesterday.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Movies, Star Wars, Writing

If Not Now, When?-Thoughts On The Texas Church Massacre

One of the most famous questions that the philosopher Hillel the Elder asked is:

“If not now, when?” Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

Every time there is a mass shooting in this country, decent minded citizens have asked when we can finally talk about gun control. The answer, the last few years, have been predictably that this is not the time.

Yesterday morning, there was a shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  26 people were killed, many of them children.

My heart hurts. My head hurts. We say the same thing in the aftermath of every mass shooting:”Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims and their families.” But at this point, the phrase has become meaningless.

I will not state the killer’s name on this blog, he’s receiving enough press. I will only say that mass shootings will continue to be the average news story in America until real change is made.

Back in 1996, there was a mass shooting in Australia, 35 people were murdered. Instead of waxing and waning (and giving into the gun industry, lobbyists and the NRA), the Australian government enacted sweeping and strict gun laws.  Since then, the Port Arthur massacre is the only mass shooting in recent Australian history.

Whether or not the gunman’s mental health played a part, only time will tell.  I’m just tired of hearing of another mass shooting and the loss of innocent lives.

P.S. I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice that Donald Trump’s responses to shooting are different based on the shooter. He called for the death penalty for the accused and the removal of the diversity visa program in response to the murder of 8 people in New York City last week, but his response to this shooting (where the killer was white) was markedly different. Just an observation.

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Filed under History, National News, New York City, Politics

Happy Belated Birthday Carrie Fisher

Yesterday would have been the 61st birthday of actress, writer and mental health advocate Carrie Fisher.

Originally known to audiences as Princess Leia Organa from the Star Wars films, she was the daughter of the late singer Eddie Fisher and his first wife, actor/singer, the late Debbie Reynolds.

I could write about what her legacy is to the millions of Star Wars fans around the world and to the millions who are suffering from mental illness, but that’s been done. I want to remember as a woman who was not afraid to call out the bullshit, especially in Hollywood. Since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke two weeks ago, the floodgates of women who were sexually assaulted, not just by Weinstein, but other men in Hollywood have come forward. One of these men assaulted a friend of hers and Carrie responded as only she could.

In honor of Carrie, I give you Star Wars Rap Battle: Han Solo vs Princess Leia.

Happy Birthday, Carrie. You are gone, but never forgotten.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Movies, Star Wars

Robin Williams-Gone Three Years Today

Today we remember the late, great Robin Williams who took his own life three years ago. He is sorely missed for his humor, his heart and his own unique brand of comedy that can never be duplicated.

When I think of Robin Williams, I think of one of my favorite childhood movies, Hook. There was no other actor who could have portrayed that character of the adult Peter Pan so perfectly.

His death also reminds me of how mental illness and depression specifically are not one size fits all diseases. For some people depression means staying home all day, mindlessly watching television and afraid to step out the door. For others, it means scheduling every moment of their day so they don’t have to face what is brewing inside them. For another group, it means putting on the mask and doing what has to be done, even though all they want to do is lay on the couch and watch television.

If I take away anything from his death (in addition to recent and heartbreaking loss of Chester Bennington), is that we need a new approach to treating mental illness. We also need to remove the stigma of mental health to allow those suffering to receive treatment openly and honestly.

Z”l Robin Williams. You are truly missed and loved.

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Is Suicide A Cowardly Act?

In the wake of the sudden loss of Linkin Park’s front man Chester Bennington to suicide earlier this week, the outward pouring of grief from fans, his band mates, fellow musicians, friends and his family speaks of the collective heartbreak of the loss of a man who will be missed.

Korn guitarist Ben “Head” Welch initially called Chester a coward before altering his statement.

Is suicide the act of a coward? Some may say yes. It is giving into our personal darkness instead of fighting and finding a way towards the light.

To label suicide as the act of a coward is wrong. It does not help those who are dealing with the pain of mental illness and it does not help the loved ones who lost someone to suicide.

Mental illness and suicide are a call for help. To label someone who has committed suicide as a coward only ostracizes those who are haunted by the specter of mental illness and the thoughts that lead to suicide.

I understand that grieving often brings us to say and do things we would not do otherwise. I also understand that we are all entitled to our opinions. But at the same time, the statement that suicide is cowardly only hurts the effort to prevent suicide and help those who feel that it is the only way out from their pain.

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RIP Chester Bennington

Suicide has claimed another life today. Chester Bennington, front man for the rock band Linkin Park, took his own life.

He was 41 years old.

It hurts.

It hurts because I know the pain and the agony that can bring on suicide. I also know that this man was an amazing musician. I am not a huge fan of Linkin Park, but I understood their music. One of their most recent hits, Heavy, hit a raw nerve. The lyrics spoke to me in a way that few songs have.

Suicide claims too many of us. It smothers our light and takes away the possibilities that life can bring.

My heart goes out to his family, his friends and those who knew him best.

RIP.

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