Tag Archives: mental illness

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

Mental Illness is No Excuse For Hate

It’s been two days since the attack against the Orthodox Jews in Monsey.

Since then, it has been revealed that the accused perpetrator suffers from mental illness. It was also revealed that investigators found evidence of previous antisemitic ideas and research he did on the internet with an antisemitic bent.

The problem with claiming that mental illness is responsible for such acts has become an easy way out. Granted, like many who live with mental illness, I know all too well the unwanted extra it adds to your life. However, that does not excuse what he did.

As disturbed as I am that some are claiming that mental illness is responsible for his actions, I am equally disturbed by the fervent antisemitism. When we talk about antisemitism and the Holocaust, the first thought is of the Jews. But the Jews were not the only targets. People of African descent were as high on the Nazi hit list as the Jews were.

I wish there was a better way to end 2019. I wish that we, as a culture, had grown a little and become better than we were at the beginning of the year. It is obvious to me that we are still in the same place that we were back on January 1st.

Maybe we will be better in 2020.

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Filed under History, Mental Health

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

A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death Book Review

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.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health

What I am Grateful For on This Thanksgiving

As many of us gather around the table this Thanksgiving, we often cite what we are thankful for.

This year, I am grateful for many things. When you live with depression, it is easy to get mired in a negative mindset. Today, I am determined to not let the depression get the best of me.

I am grateful for the breath in my lungs and my physical health.

I am grateful for the food on my plate and the clothes on my back.

I am grateful for the unending love and support of my family and friends.

I am grateful for the professional opportunities that have come and will continue to come my way.

I am grateful for the ability to write and the drive I have to succeed as a writer.

Most of all, I am grateful to be alive.

From me and my family, I hope you have a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving. May the upcoming holiday season and the New Year be a blessed one.

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Joker Movie Review

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.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies

Belated Thoughts On World Mental Health Day

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.

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Filed under Mental Health, Thoughts On....

The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith Book Review

Sometimes it seems like everything and everyone is conspiring against us. Nothing goes right, no matter how hard we work and/or pray.

According to author and speaker Gabrielle Bernstein, nothing is as bad as it seems. You need only to trust the universe and have a little faith that things will work out.

Her most recent book, The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith, was published at the tail end of last year. In the book, she writes that it is possible to let go of fear and embrace life to the fullest. Guiding the reader from fear to faith, she uses real life examples, prayer and meditation to help them release what is holding them back.

Unlike many self help books, this book is neither out there or too hippy dippy. The author does not judge her reader, she speaks to him or her as if speaking to a friend. Her advice comes from love, experience and encouragement. Though she speaks of faith, she speaks of faith in a spiritual sense without relying too heavily on any specific religion.

As someone who lives with mental illness, I absolutely loved this book. I loved that I felt like I had a way to release my feelings in a much needed healthy and emotionally profound way.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Life, Mental Health

Law & Order SVU Character Review: Peter Stone

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Read 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 us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When it comes to one’s career choice, many are influenced by their parents or other family members. But going into the family business is not as easy as it seems. On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, District Attorney Peter Stone (Phillip Winchester) is a second generation District Attorney. His late father, Ben Stone (Michael Moriarty) was also a New York City District Attorney.

D.A. Stone’s introduction to the characters and the audience is via his father’s funeral. He became the District Attorney after the previous D.A. Barba (Raul Esparza) resigned. Like many new relationships, there was some initial tension with the SVU detectives, who were used to Barba and his perspective of the law. But that tension disappeared as Stone became another member of the team.

Over the course of his time with SVU, Stone revealed more about himself than his knowledge of the law. He had a promising career in baseball before an injury forced him to change professions. He has a sister who lived with mental illness, she died in his arms during a police shootout.

In the courtroom, Stone is a professional, but he is also imperfect. He is accused of rape, but the charges are lifted when the real rapist, a friend of Stone’s is arrested. He also was able to take down a rapist who his father was not able to. In his final character arc, he put his career on the line to stage a prosecution in order to win what seemed to be in an unwinnable case. When his plan is revealed, Stone resigned. His heart and his morals were in the right place, even if he stepped over an ethical boundary.

To sum it up: Stepping into the career shoes of one’s parent or family member has it’s own set of challenges. But D.A. Stone is not one to simply stand in his late father’s shadow. He is a brilliant lawyer in his own right and thoroughly human.

Which is why fans still appreciate him, even if his time on SVU was all too brief.

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Filed under Character Review, New York City, Television