Tag Archives: mental illness

WTF is Happening to this Country? Adam Toledo and the Indianapolis Shooting

There is a Chinese curse which says, “May he live in interesting times.” Interesting times is one way to explain what is happening in the United States.

Last week, a 13 year old boy was shot and killed by police in Chicago. His name was Adam Toledo. He was murdered because the officers believed that he had a gun. Adding salt to the wound was the reference by Fox News host and all around asshole Sean Hannity that this child was a fully grown man. I see two issues with this story.

  1. The blood of this young man is not just on the hands of the police officers who killed him. It is on everyone who played their part to get this supposed weapon into young Mr. Toledo’s hands.
  2. Our local and national law enforcement department must be able to do their jobs. But they have to get it into their heads and their training materials that they are not avenging angels. The police are just one link in the chain of the justice system.

May the memory of this boy be a blessing and finally get us off our asses to stop police brutality against Americans of color.

On Friday morning, a former employee of a FedEx facility in Indianapolis killed eight people. According to his mother, the man who was responsible for the murders had mental health issues.

In response to the umpteenth mass shooting in the United States since March, President Biden referred to this new wave as a national embarrassment. I can’t think of a better description of this unnecessary slaughter of innocent civilians. We can fix this problem, it doesn’t take a genius to put together a national law to prevent future events of this nature. The problem is that some Republican lawmakers are blind to the idea that any national gun control legislation does not infringe on the rights of gun owners who are of sound mind and followed the laws. It is a measure that desperately needed (and has been needed for more than two decades) to save lives.

I don’t know what it will take to wake this country up, but something has to be done.

Happy Sunday.

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Filed under Mental Health, National News, Politics

Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath Book Review

The plot line of a biography is as follows: the person was born on x date, accomplished a, b, and c, and died on y date. From there, it is up to the writer(s) to add the details and color to the story they are telling.

Heather Clark’s biography of Sylvia Plath, entitled Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, was published last October. Delving into Plath’s life and work (including The Bell Jar, one of my personal favorites), Clark takes the reader on a journey from Plath’s early years in New England in the 1930’s to her death in 1962 from lingering mental health issues. Using information that was previously unknown, Clark pulls information from interviews, unpublished works, and other documents to create a complete image of one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

If there was ever a blue print on how to write a compelling biography, this is it. When I finished reading this book, I felt like I knew her. Not just as a poet and a writer, but as a human being. As a reader, it is one thing to connect to your favorite writer based on their work. But when you get to know them as an ordinary person, that is where magic happens.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Mental Health, Writing

Running on Empty Book Review

At a certain point in our lives, we come to the realization that our parents are not perfect. If we are lucky, they are loving, supportive, and provide the foundation that allows us to become happy, healthy, and productive adults. But that does not mean that our emotional needs as children were met.

Running on Empty, written by Drs. Jonice Webb and Christine Musello was published back in 2012. This self book explores how the specter of childhood emotions that have not been dealt with can grow into a shadow that can hold us back as adults. Using a number of examples, worksheets and practical advice, the authors are guiding readers to move beyond the unseen scars of their past.

I really loved this book. The authors are able to explain how CEN (Childhood Emotional Neglect) does not end when we are no longer children. They also empower their readers to examine and understand their childhood emotions and ultimately, overcome what is holding them back.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Thoughts On Mental Health Day & the Lingering Effects of Covid-19

Living with mental illness of any kind is akin to living with a metaphorical and invisible weight on your shoulders.

I should know, depression has been my constant companion for many years. Adding Covid-19 to mix creates the perfect storm of a physical and mental health crisis.

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Like many of you, I have been home nearly 24/7 for the last seven months. Though I am grateful that my life has not been completely upended, it would be foolish to ignore the changes that the virus has brought on.

Before March, I had no problem with being busy. Going out and being social was the antidote to the daily battle with depression. Now it feels like the depression has won out. Other than taking care of my weekly errands, I don’t want to go anywhere. I just want to stay in and sleep.

If there any silver lining, it is that these last few months have finally forced us to examine how we treat mental illness and those who suffer. Perhaps when all is said and done, mental health will finally get the respect and treatment that it deserves.

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Thoughts On Kanye West’s Mental Health Issues

When a subject is taboo, the first step in removing the taboo is starting a conversation about that subject. Sometimes, that conversation starts with the headline of a known name tied to that issue.

As of late, rapper and entrepreneur Kanye West‘s behavior has become so erratic that his family has asked for compassion as he faces another brutal battle with Bipolar Disorder.

I normally loathe to discuss this particular family, but this topic hits too close to home.

Mental illness of any kind is not a joke, nor it is a drama king/queen’s way of getting attention. It is a real health condition that requires support and access to medical care. Until we realize that and put in the structure needed to help those who suffer, it will never be on par with physical illness.

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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

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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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