RIP tWitch

For many living with mental illness, the only way out is suicide.

Earlier this week, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, best known as the DJ for the Ellen DeGeneres Show took his own life. He was 40.

The thing about mental health issues is that they are not obvious. It’s not the same as wearing a cast for a month to heal a broken leg. Just because someone is smiling on the outside does not mean that there isn’t a torrent of emotions on the inside. I think there are a lot of people who try to understand, but they really don’t.

It is often seen as the only way to get rid of the pain. As difficult as that is to comprehend, it is the truth. I don’t know why he did what he did. But it was obviously a sign of deeper issues that remained unresolved.

I wish that he had talked to someone before making the ultimate decision. Whatever he was going through, he felt like there was one way to make it stop.

My heart goes out to the people who knew his best. May his memory be a blessing. Z”L.

If you are feeling suicidal, please call 988 or your local crisis helpline. Your life is worth it.

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Thoughts On the Forced Hospitalization of the Homeless and Mentally Ill in NYC

Homelessness is one of those issues that seems both simple and difficult to explain and confront. Sometimes, it can be boiled down to a single problem. Other times, there are several threads that lead to one living on the streets.

Last week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced a plan in which homeless persons who show signs of severe mental illness will be forced to go into the hospital.

On paper, this plan sounds reasonable. However, there are logistic questions that must be addressed.

  1. Do the hospitals have the beds and staff to handle this potentially large influx of patients?
  2. Will the doctors and nurses have access to the medical histories of the individuals so they can treat them properly?
  3. Who exactly will be on the teams that locate these people? Will it be clinicians and police? In case the encounter becomes dangerous, law enforcement may need to step in. Given their history, just charging in guns blazing is not the best option.
  4. Upon release from medical facilities, will these people have access to the services they need?

Obviously, the details have to be ironed out and it goes without saying that it will not all be smooth sailing in the beginning. But I have to admire Mayor Adams for trying. Something is always better than nothing.

Stutz Movie Review

Talk therapy is one of the most common forms of working through mental illness. Speaking to a therapist allows one to air their grievances (so to speak) in an emotionally healthy manner.

The new Netflix documentary Stutz is a conversation between actor Jonah Hill and his psychiatrist, Phil Stutz. Over the course of 136 minutes, both men spill their guts (figuratively speaking). Hill talks about being known as a plus-sized actor and the downside of fame. Stutz delves into his past and how his own trauma has gotten him to this point in his life.

This film is fantastic. I loved the honesty of both men. Filmed in mostly black and white, it speaks to the power of the importance of respecting mental health. As someone who has been grappling with it for many years, I related to Hill and his struggles. I also appreciated Stutz’s approach to working with his patients and helping them to achieve their goals.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Stutz is available for streaming on Netflix.

The Light We Carry Book Review

It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind and many headlines coming from the evening news. Before we know it, the stress and negativity start to creep in and our outlook starts to change for the worse.

Michelle Obama‘s new book, The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, was published this month. While reflecting on her own life and challenges, the former First Lady asks big questions that do not have an easy answers. In doing so, she talks about the people and skills that have helped her to get through the various obstacles that have stood in her way. Building on a life of experience, she encourages the reader to tackle the stumbling blocks in their own lives and find their happiness.

This is classic Michelle Obama: funny, down-to-earth, honest, and humble.

Though she does not speak directly about mental health, there are aspects of the book that can help with this illness in its various forms. Instead of bullshitting or providing pie-in-the-sky answers, her approach is simple and relatable. As someone who has been living with mental illness for years, I appreciated her outlook. It is refreshing in a world that could easily bring us down.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Light We Carry is available wherever books are sold.

We Send Our Kids to School to Learn, Not to Die

When I was younger and in school, the purpose of the experience was to receive an education. It was not to be target practice for someone who had no business having access to firearms.

On Tuesday, a young man walked into a high school in St. Louis and started shooting. Two lives were lost, a teacher and a fifteen-year-old student. The shooter was killed by police.

The family of this boy claims that they did everything when it came to his mental health problems.

The point, as I see it, has once more been proven. Did this boy have a mental illness? The evidence, as we have it so far, points to yes. However, that does not preclude the fact that this tragedy and others of its ilk are and were preventable.

I would love to know why a civilian needs access to an AR-15. This is why we need common-sense gun control laws. If this child has not been able to get his hands on that weapon, then both of his victims would still be alive.

May their memories be a blessing. Z”L.

P.S. The girl who was killed was less than a month away from her 16th birthday. For anyone who thinks that we do not need to legislate against gun violence should consider this fact before stating that there is no need for measures of this kind.

Today is World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day.

There has been a lot said about mental illness.

Instead of retreading what has been said, I just want to give it a shoutout to anyone living with this debilitating illness. Regardless of whether or not you were able to get out of bed this morning, I want you to know that you are not alone. You can get through this. I know it’s a slog, but it’s not impossible.

I believe in you.

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Anne Heche and the Impermanence of Life

Life, as we all know, does not last forever. If we are lucky, we will be around until our golden years. But not everyone has that opportunity.

Last week, actress Anne Heche died in the aftermath of a car crash. After lingering in a coma for several days, she was taken off life support and declared brain dead. She was only 53.

As someone who has been living with mental illness for a long time, I am reminded daily that we only have one chance to go around the sun. When, how, and where we leave this Earth is unknown. We can only live as best we can.

I wish I could say that Heche’s unexpected passing gave me the impetus to finally drop all of my emotional baggage and give it the proverbial middle finger. But I know it won’t. The only thing I can do is deal with the cards I’ve been dealt.

May Heche’s memory be a blessing. Z”L.

Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD Book Review

Jason Kander is many things: a politician, a veteran, a published author, and a family man. He was also living with PTSD after serving his country.

Kander’s new memoir, Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD, was published earlier this month. Back in 2017, Kander’s political future was bright. He was running for mayor in his hometown of Kansas City. All signs pointed to an easy victory. There were even whispers of him as a possible candidate in the 2020 Presidential election.

Then everything stopped. After being home from Afghanistan for more than a decade, he suddenly became depressed and suicidal. This deeply felt and dark memoir is the story of how the darkness nearly claimed him and the difficult task of recovery that he underwent to heal.

His story is personal, heartfelt, and a reminder that mental health is health. Just because the scars are not visible to the naked eye does not mean that the person is not suffering. What I was impressed by was how brutally honest Kander was about the experience. He also was very vocal about the fact that our veterans are not being given the medical care that is owed to them. They gave up almost everything for this country, the least we can do is ensure that they are as physically and mentally healthy as possible.

My favorite part of the book was the interjections by Kander’s wife, Diana. It shows that this disease does not only affect the person, it affects everyone they love. Mental illness requires a team effort to live with and/or overcome.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD is available wherever books are sold.

Moon Knight Review

The ancient world has always been fascinating. The mixture of mythology, history, and curiosity about life back then has piqued the interest of modern people for centuries.

The new MCU/DisneyPlus series, Moon Knight, premiered last Wednesday. Steven Grant/Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) is a former member of the US Marines. Living in London and working at a museum gift shop, Steven/Marc has a figurative weight attached to his ankle via dissociative identity disorder. Blacking out and then having vivid dreams of another life, he encounters Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke). Arthur is an enemy from one of Steven/Marc’s other life. To say that he is dangerous is an understatement.

He soon finds out that he has the powers of an Egyptian Mood G-d. Though the powers appear to be a windfall, there is a downside that he quickly discovers.

I walked into this series completely blind. This is the first time I’ve heard of Moon Knight. Knowing nothing about what I was about to watch was a good thing. I had no expectations, therefore I cannot be disappointed by any changes that have been made from the original text.

I liked the inclusion of mental illness. It is one more step away from stigma and one step closer to acceptance. My problem is that I was confused. Maybe it’s the plot or maybe it’s because I am totally new to this world. Either way, the jumping back and forth was a bit confusing. What did make me want to at least watch the next episode was when he turned into his superhero alter-ego.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

Moon Knight is available streaming on DisneyPlus.

The Murder of Christina Lee Scares the Shit Out of Me

One of the rights that a woman should have is the ability to be outside after dark without fear of being attacked or killed. That right is still being fought for, even in 2022.

On Sunday, Christina Lee was heading home to her apartment in New York City‘s Chinatown. Unbeknownst to her, a man was following her. He is accused of killing her in her own home.

As of yesterday, the murder is not based on Ms. Lee’s Korean-American heritage. But that does not mean that the police will find evidence to prove otherwise.

What scares the shit out of me is that this is every woman’s worst nightmare. Ask any female and she will tell you the same story. Carry your keys in your hands, mace in your bag, be aware of your surroundings, walk-on brightly light streets with lots of other people, etc. We shouldn’t have to follow these rules, but they could mean the difference between life and death.

What is even scarier is that this is not the first time that the accused (who shall not be named here) has gone after a random stranger. Last September, he punched another man for no reason at all. According to reports, he has a history of mental illness and should not have been on the streets to begin with.

One of my concerns is that this one heinous act creates a perception of an entire community. Like millions of others around the world, I live with depression. The difference between this man and myself is that I have access to getting the help I need. I am lucky enough that I have health insurance via my job which allows me to see a therapist and take medication. Not everyone has the same opportunity. This creates a vacuum and opens the door for people like the accused to hurt and kill others.

My heart breaks for those who knew Ms. Lee. No one should know this type of grief. I can only hope that this unnecessary loss of life spurs those in power to do something (and not just throw someone in jail, which is another topic for another time).

May her memory be a blessing. Z”L.

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