Tag Archives: Mental Health

Good on Simone Biles for Taking Care of Herself

Within the worlds of mental health and mental illness, the concept of self care is important. It is one of the tools in our toolbox that allows us to relax and take a break from the havoc that brains are wreaking on us.

In the world of sports, gymnastic superstar and Gold medalist Simone Biles is stepping back from competition for a few days from the 2020 Olympics. Stating mental concerns, she is withdrawing from tomorrow’s women’s all around finals. Whether or not she competes next week in the four individual finals is up in the air.

The most important thing about living with mental health is knowing when you have to step back. I admire her for not just doing what needs to be done, but being open it. It also helps that USA Gymnastics is completely supportive of her decision, which is a nice change from the way Naomi Osaka was treated recently. The response to Biles’s decision is how we should all be treated in cases like this. Unfortunately, that does not always happen.

Regardless of whether or not she leaves Tokyo with additional hardware, she is still a hero in my eyes. Her legacy as a gymnast will live on for decades to come, as will her honesty of how important it is to take care of ourselves physically and mentally.

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Filed under International News, Mental Health, World News

It’s Time to Break Britney Spear’s Conservatorship

There is no doubt that Britney Spears is an icon. She is one of those few performers whose name and work is instantly recognizable. It doesn’t take much to conjure up her image or one of her songs.

Since 2008, Spears has been under a conservatorship led by her father. At the time, it made sense. Given her the public mental health breakdown, it was obvious that someone needed to step in. To sit back and do nothing would have irresponsible. It was supposed to be temporary, until she was able to function as an adult. But somewhere along the way, it became more about using her a cash cow while treating her as a child incapable of taking care of herself.

In response, the #FreeBritney movement and the Hulu documentary, Framing Britney Spears, fans have been advocating for Spears to have at least some control over her life.

It’s time for the conservatorship to end. If not wholly, reduced down so that she has some say in her personal and professional life. I also have to wonder if she were a man, would the treatment been different? I think so. There have been a quite a few male celebrities who also live with mental illness and have been open about it. They were not legally and personally shackled down as Spears has been.

#FreeBritney

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Filed under Feminism, Hulu, Mental Health, Music

My Unorthodox Life Review

Walking away from the family we were raised in and the world that we have known our entire lives is not easy. In the world of Orthodox Judaism, the term is called “off the derech“.

The new Netflix reality show, My Unorthodox Life, follows the life of former Orthodox Jew and businesswoman Julia Haart. Living in New York City with her second husband and three of her four children, the viewer is introduced to the tug of war between Haart’s previous life in Monsey and her current day to day life.

After watching a few episodes, I can understand why some Orthodox Jewish women are annoyed by how their community is portrayed, I think the viewer has to take into account that this is Haart’s perspective. I like the mental health aspect of the series, addressing how many women in conservative or fundamentalist may feel trapped by the constraints of their gender and the rules of their gender. I also liked how positively Judaism is portrayed. Though Haart is no longer Orthodox, she is still Jewish and not afraid to be open about it. It is educational without hitting the audience over the head.

It has the gloss of a Bravo reality show, but it is slightly less trashy and not as much of a brain drain as other programs in the genre.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

My Unorthodox Life is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Feminism, Mental Health, Netflix, New York City, Television, TV Review

Milk Fed: A Novel Book Review

Food is more than the physical nourishment our body needs to function. It can also be stand in for something else in our life that has not been entirely dealt with.

In the new Melissa Broder novel published earlier this year, Milk Fed: A Novel, Los Angeles transplant Rachel was raised Jewish, but those days are long gone. Outside of her job at a talent agency, the most important thing is her physical appearance. She counts calories like the world is ending and can be found after work at the gym, furiously working off whatever she eat earlier that day. Following up on her therapist’s recommendation, she cuts of all communication with her mother for 90 days. Since she was little, Rachel has been constantly reminded to watch what she eat.

Shortly after, she meets Miriam, the zaftig employee behind the counter of one of Rachel’s favorite frozen yogurt places. Miriam is more orthodox in her practice of their mutual faith and intent on making sure that her soon to be new friend is well fed. Taken by Miriam, Rachel goes on a journey of family, faith, sex, and learning to love yourself.

I loved this book. Instead of being one of those obnoxious skinny women who makes the rest of us feel unattractive, Rachel is human, complicated, and completely relatable. I loved her emotional trek as she opened herself up to eating, Miriam (and everything Miriam represented), and learning to let go of the parental criticism that makes itself too comfortable in our consciousness.

Do I recommend it?

Absolutely.

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Alias Grace Review

The accusation of insanity can be vague. Depending on the circumstances, it can be used correctly or an easy excuse when a viable reason cannot be found.

The 2017 Netflix miniseries, Alias Grace is based on the Margaret Atwood book of the same name. Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) is a young woman in 19th century Canada who has been found guilty of killing her employer, Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin). After languishing in prison for fifteen years, she is being analyzed by Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft) to determine if the verdict can be removed due to insanity.

First of all, I have a problem with the all too common use of the word “insanity”. We live in a world in which mental health is both real and diminished in importance compared to physical health. By doing so, it lessens the experiences of those who live with it every day.

That being said, I really enjoyed this series. It is never quite clear if Grace had a hand in Nancy’s murder. But like that ambiguousness, it kept me engaged and wanting to know if the truth would ever be revealed. It also spoke to the idea of class and who has certain rights and who doesn’t.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Alias Grace is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Mental Health, Netflix, TV Review

Rainbow Vision Journal YELLOW. How to take control of your personal well-being and happiness Book Review

If you were to enter the term “self-help book” into the search bar of any major online bookseller, the list of titles to choose from is nearly endless. It is head-spinning to consider the possibilities and perspectives that can help us overcome what is holding us back.

Sharon Dawn’s new book, Rainbow Vision Journal YELLOW: How to Take Control of Your Personal Well-Being and Happiness is the latest self-help book to hit the shelves. It would have been easy for the author to just preach to the reader about what they should or should not be doing. Instead, she asks questions and presents a variety of situations. It is then up to the individual to fill in the blanks and work through the emotional and psychological exercises. It feels like a therapy session that instead of being conducted in person or via telehealth, is a personal conversation the reader has with their inner selves. Allowing that person to work through their issues, it comes off as a natural and cathartic way to relieving ourselves of our burdens.

As someone who has been keeping a journal for twenty-ish years and has been in therapy on and off for nearly thirty years, I appreciate the insight that Ms. Dawn has. Therapy is great, but sometimes the therapist has an unwanted point of view that they inject into the session. A good therapist is an objective witness to our troubles. They listen to the patient and once in a while, provide examples from their own lives to help. But mostly, they are there is let the patient vent and provide guidance to help them achieve their goals.

I really enjoyed this book. Given the millions of people around the world who live with the various forms of mental illness, it is incumbent that we prove assistance in whatever way we can. By presenting Rainbow Vision Journal YELLOW: How to Take Control of Your Personal Well-Being and Happiness to the reading public, it becomes another tool in our collective arsenal to relieve those burdens.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The original review published on Discovery can be read here.

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A Radical Awakening: Turn Pain into Power Embrace, Your Truth, Live Free Book Review

There are two ways to deal with an emotionally painful past. We can either let it control us. Or, we can do what we need to do to no longer be tied to it.

A Radical Awakening: Turn Pain into Power, Embrace Your Truth, Live Free, by renowned psychiatrist Dr. Shefali was published last month. Speaking directly to her female readers, she examines all of the ways in which we are holding ourselves back. She talks not just about mental health issues, but the detrimental problems that are directly connected to the way that women are taught to behave and think.

Though it was not the complete literal gut punch the author promised, there were still parts of the book were emotionally difficult to read. What I appreciated was addressing the fact that many women these days are torn between the traditional idea of womanhood and living their own lives on their own terms.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Beautiful Things: A Memoir Book Review

Addiction is not a thing we can turn on and off like a light switch. It is an all consuming habit that devours and destroys everything in its path.

Hunter Biden, the younger son of President Joe Biden released his memoir back in April. Entitled Beautiful Things: A Memoir, is an emotionally raw and difficult read about Biden’s decades of drug addiction, his adoration of his late older brother Beau Biden, and his many attempts to get clean. He tells the story of his life as only he tells it. From the death of his mother and baby sister when he was a young child, to his father’s time in politics and his attempt to live a normal life while dealing with his inner demons, nothing is off the table.

If this book is not among the top five, if not the best book of the year, something is wrong. I have a feeling that putting pen to paper was a cathartic experience for him. It is real, it is uninhibited, and it is emotional. I wanted to reach out through the pages and give him a long hug. Leaving no stone unturned, he is honest about his long years of drug abuse.

He also talks about the accusation that came from the other side during the 2020 Presidential election in regards to the laptop that linked him to the Ukraine scandal. Unlike a certain person and their family, Hunter Biden comes off as a genuine person who is not always looking out solely for number one.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health, National News, Politics

The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos Book Review

When we think of war, we generally think of men on the battlefield and women keeping the home front going. But the reality is that women have waged war, but not in in the way we perceive it to be.

The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos by Judy Batalion, was published earlier this year. The book tells the story of a group of young Jewish women who actively fought against the Nazis in the Polish ghettos during World War II. Told in vivid detail using interviews, archival information, and written accounts, the author brings to light an aspect of this era in history that has been overlooked.

This book adds a new layer to the information we have about the Holocaust. I loved that each woman is given her time to shine. We are told that women are weak and emotional. We are incapable of being bold, brave, and courageous. The subjects of this book are the opposite. They know that death is waiting for them at every turn. But they cannot sit back and do nothing. Instead these young women used every tool at their disposal to save as many lives as they can.

I appreciated the epilogue in which the author sketches the lives of the survivors after the war is over. While some settled down into of normal life, others are haunted by those years and what they experienced. They lived with what we now know to be PTSD, creating a shadow that stayed with them years after peace was declared.

Though it is not the heart pounding thriller I thought it would be, it is still a good and a very important read.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge Book Review

A good biography does much more than provide the basic facts found on any general internet search. It introduces the reader to the real person that is sometimes hidden behind history and the PR machine.

In 2019, Sheila Weller published Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge. The biography tells the story of the late and beloved actress, writer, and mental health advocate. Born to Hollywood royalty Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, her early years were not all sunshine and roses. Her most famous role was that of Princess Leia in the Star Wars movie franchise. Like her off-screen counterpart, Leia was a bad-ass, smart mouthed woman who did not conform to the idea of what a woman (and a princess) should be. She also lived with bipolar disorder and addiction, demons that stayed with her until the very end.

I loved this book. As much as I knew about Ms. Fisher before I read it, I learned even more. She was intelligent, incredibly funny, smartass, loyal to those she loved, and vulnerable. What made this one special was that it showed her humanity. It is a complete picture of a woman who has inspired generations of fans, women, and those living with mental illness to not be afraid of being who they are.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, Mental Health, Movies, Star Wars