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.
There are two things in life that are guaranteed: death and taxes. Everything else is up in the air.
While death itself is simply explained, everything else around is difficult. A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death, by BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger, takes away that difficulty. The book is a step by step process of dealing with death. From the legal and financial paperwork to dealing with the healthcare system, preparing for the funeral and the grief that follows, the book is the complete guide for dealing with death.
I originally picked up this book because as someone who lives with depression, I wanted to get another perspective on illness and death. What I got instead was a book that is tremendously helpful. As my generation gets older and our parents reach the age in which their health comes into question, we will need to deal with issues we have not dealt with before.
While this book cannot completely help with the emotional aspects of this topic, it can help with the legal, medical and logistical aspects that make illness and death just a little easier to cope with.
Seven years ago, the students and staff entered Sandy Hook elementary school as they would any school day. By the time the school day ended, 26 people, mostly six and seven-year-old students were dead.
If these children were alive today, these children would either be twelve or thirteen years old. They would be on the brink of teenage-hood and everything that comes with being a teenager. But they will never experience what it is like to be a teenager or anything else for that matter.
If I had a time machine, I would go back in time and try to stop the massacre of innocent life. But time machines do not exist. The only thing we can do is move forward and remember the lives who were taken far too soon.
We can also honor their memory by preventing another massacre of this ilk. Common sense gun laws and assistance for those with mental health issues are not a 100% foolproof to prevent another Sandy Hook. But they can go a long way in helping drastically cut down the number of young people who are killed in school.
May the memories of the 26 people killed that day and hundreds of others who died in mass shootings since them be a blessing. Z”l.
When you’re a kid, you want to fit in. The last thing you want is to stick out like a sore thumb. When you’re a redhead, you stick out whether you like it or not.
Though I am proud of my red hair now, there were many times as a kid that I wished that my hair was another color. It took many years and a lot of work, but at nearly 40, I have come to love my hair.
Today is National Redhead Day. Thanks to this day, How to be a Redhead and three of the characters below (which is a short version of a very long list), I appreciate my hair in ways that I did not in the past.
Zelena-Once Upon a Time (Rebecca Mader)
Zelena is a redheaded badass because she knows what she wants and she goes after it. Though she may not (at least in the beginning) care that she is hurting others, it is her confidence and her one-liners that makes me proud to be a redhead.
Mera is a queen in every sense of the word. But instead of being the standard female royal who waits for things to happen (i.e. rescued from the big bad), Mera takes charge of her own life. She is also unafraid to stand up for what is right, even if that means going into battle.
It takes a strong woman to be true to herself in an era when a woman is supposed to be meek, mild and subservient to her husband. Demelza Poldark (nee Carne) may have been born a miner’s daughter, but she has not forgotten who she is. Though she is a member of the upper class through her marriage, Demelza is still a tough as nails working-class girl who is intelligent and more than capable of standing on her own two feet.
I am going to end this post with a quote for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. It’s time to not care what others think and embrace who we are.
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”-Dr. Seuss
It has been said that what defines us is not how we fall, but how we rise after a fall.
The late Carrie Fisher rose many times in her 60 years. Today would have been her 63rd birthday.
What she went through might have stopped some people in their tracks. But she found the will to survive, the courage to look her demons in the eye and the sense of humor to publicly laugh about them.
She was more than the lone female for most of the Star Wars film series. She was a daughter, a mother, a sister, one hec of a writer, a bad ass and a mental health warrior. She was not afraid to speak her mind and speak for those who could not speak for themselves. Though many might be shamed into silence by their addiction and mental health issues, Carrie spoke openly and honestly about her demons. In doing so, she allowed others to do the same.
Creating a villain for the sake of opposing the hero or heroine is easy. It’s harder to create a three dimensional character who is still a villain, but is just as human as the hero or heroine.
The new movie, Joker, is a standalone/maybe prequel in the world of Batman. Set somewhere in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, Arthur Fleck/Joker (Joaquin Phoenix) lives in a Gotham City plagued by crime and poverty. Arthur earns his living as a clown for hire, though his professional goal is to be a stand up comedian.
He lives with his mother, Penny Fleck (Frances Controy) in a beaten down apartment. He dreams of following in the footsteps of his idol, Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), a Johnny Carson like late night talk show host. He also suffers from mental illness and has daydreams of dating his neighbor, Sophie (Zazie Beetz).
Over the course of the film, Arthur slowly transforms into the villain that we know of as the Joker.
I admire that director Todd Phillips and his co-screenwriter Scott Silver tried to tackle the very complicated ideas of mental health and economic disparity. However, I found the violence to be a little much for my taste. The film was also a little on the long side.
Since the release of the film last weekend, there have been some concern that the portrayal of Arthur’s mental illness might be a trigger for those who suffer in real life. While I can completely understand that concern, I am also concerned that some in the audience might come out of the theater with the general idea that everyone who suffers from mental illness has violent or criminal tendencies.
Life has a way of throwing us curve balls when we are least expecting or liking them.
Nina Hill is the titular character in the new Abbi Waxman novel, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. Nina Hill is content with her life. The daughter of a single mother, Nina lives with her cat, works at a local bookstore and spends her free time at book clubs and pub quiz tournaments.
Then she is thrown for two loops. The first loop is that the father she never met dies and wants to bring her into his large extended family. The second loop is her attraction to Tom, a member of a rival quiz team.
I loved this book. I loved that I totally understood Nina’s perspective and why she reacts to the changes in her life. I also love that Ms. Waxman approaches mental health in a way teaches without preaching or standing on a soap box.
The first step to conquering any issue or problem is to talk about it. The problem is that this first step is often the hardest.
Thursday was World Mental Health Day. It was a day to highlight the importance of mental health, regardless of whether one is mentally healthy or lives with mental illness.
I wish that we could talk about mental illness in the same manner that we talk about other illnesses. I wish that mental illness was treated by both the medical community and the general public as other illnesses are.
But they aren’t. Mental illness is often maligned and used as blame for events that in reality has little or nothing to do with that event. It’s an easy out instead of taking a hard look at what is the real cause of the event.
We need to openly talk about mental illness as we would talk about other illnesses. We need to respect those who suffer and understand that their illness is no different than any other illness.
Until then, the idea of mental health will continue to be maligned and misunderstood.
All faiths have a build in method for which the members of the faith confess and absolve themselves of their sins and their mistakes.
In Judaism, the High Holidays is not only the beginning of the Jewish New Year. It is a time to review what has has transpired in the past year, accept that we have made mistakes and make the promise to hopefully learn from those mistakes.
Regular readers of this blog know that I am not particularly religious. But as I have gotten older and I have grappled daily with depression, I have come to appreciate the mental health aspects of the High Holidays.
The Tashlich service is simpler than Rosh Hashanah, but in my mind, just as important. To make a long story short, it is a ceremony in which prayers are made and bread is thrown into a open body of water, simulating the throwing one sin’s away.
As I completed Tashlich yesterday. I felt a sense of relief. My least favorite (if there is one to be had) aspect of depression is the constant reminder and regurgitation of past mistakes. Though I will never be free of these mistakes, Tashlich provided the opportunity for the emotional release of the errors from the past year, if only temporarily.
On Tuesday, Yom Kippur begins. It is an intense 25 hours of prayer and fasting. To say that it is not easy is an understatement. At a certain point in the day, it is mind over matter. But it is worth it. The emotional freedom that comes with completing Yom Kippur is akin to a weight being lifted off one shoulders. For a moment, it is as if my depression does not exist. But I know that the moment will pass and my depression will come back as it always does.
For those who celebrate, have an easy fast and may you be written in the book of life for the coming year.