I had no idea that last month was Mental Health Awareness month. It felt like the whole year was that — culminating in this summer’s explosion of post-lockdown “roaring twenties.” With all of our fear, anxiety and full throttle approach for a BIG RETURN. Some see it as a giant sexplosion as condom sales are now topping off. So … singles are ready to mingle at the Jersey Shore rentals and beyond. Others are settling with just connecting with friends as conversation becomes the new intimacy.
Most of all, Covid has highlighted and changed the psychotherapy world with teledoctoring and Zoom. Now we are on the brink of a whole new platform for relating to ourselves and others. Quarantining has made us aware of the importance of mental fitness as an adjunct to physical health. Now, it’s one big world of WELLNESS — that means resilience skills, diet, exercise, self-care, and personal connections all under one roof.
Remember when it was just about taking Prozac or Xanax and good luck. Now you have to have a breathing coach, a life counselor, cardio trainer, keto chef, and a dog to keep you humble and engaged. And remember to take your supplements with mind enhancing mushrooms. Supposedly mushrooms help us focus, achieve mental clarity and balance. Not to mention the rise of “micro-dosing” psychedelics to boost energy, treat anxiety, depression and addiction! Wow! Sock it to me, baby!
I remember those Timothy Leary days of turning on, tuning in and dropping out. Maybe THAT will be the 24/7 news cycle. And here I thought coffee could do all this psychological course correction. That was then, this is now.
And if you missed investing in Bitcoin or the CBD/Cannabis craze, get ready for the “shroom boom.” Which will include all the psychedelic research happening worldwide. I am spinning with all this mind-blowing development for well-being when I used to know so many people who had “bad trips” and never “came back.” Imagine, we will now cure our PTSD (we ALL have THAT) with a morning dose of LSD! I say, “buckle up.”
All this sounds high-minded, but what I am left with at the moment is Prince Harry and his series of victimized embarrassing “truth bomb” confessionals. He has made his psychological breakdown and breaking up with the Royals a career move worth $80 million.
But the public seems bored, and we all have our own problems. Give this young man some psilocybin and maybe have him go off and work quietly on his own so we don’t have to hear about it anymore. Instead, he made a program deal with Oprah on all this.
Part of the craze of “working on yourself” is the giant story of sharing it all and lately it has become THE narcissistic emblem of celebrity. Insane rich people confessing their rich problems — oh, how they suffered — on social media feeds.
Take Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop site where she readily admits she is now “servicing” her body. After getting Covid and struggling with long-haul fatigue, she offers you her $500 infra-red blanket, her $60 bottle of detox, not to mention her $220 Kaha High Gore-Tex hiking shoes and her $8,600 “wholeness medallion and gem necklace” which you can hold and meditate with your power prayers.
Oprah now has her Apple TV docuseries (co-produced with Prince Harry – “The Me You Can’t See.”) featuring stories from regular people and high-profile athletes as well as Lady Gaga, Glenn Close and Oprah herself breaking down in tears over their past abuse.
We can all appreciate that Oprah cares that “all over the world people are in some kind of emotional and mental pain.” Thankfully, she is there to help air out all that dirty laundry! TMI? We even get to see Harry performing his EMDR therapy, tapping his shoulders and chest to bilaterally stimulate his angst. But in the end, all we really get to see are a bunch of “professional victims” who can afford to get the best “help” and to admit they (in some cases) are now happy and healthy after humble beginnings. Having Harry admit he feels “crazy” isn’t revelatory or even all that helpful to us poor slob viewers. “The Me (or should that be Meg) No One Sees” might be best served as a private work — sight unseen.
Now everyone will go to Oprah to pour out their guts for viewing pleasure. I bet Ellen DeGeneres is next. Oprah already got tearful actor Elliot Page to talk about his sexual transition to an openly transgender man. Remember when Barbara Walters greatest feat as an interviewer was to get all her guests to cry? Oprah has that mastered before they even sit down.
I always admired Oprah for her infamous talk show which featured a personal workshop transformational atmosphere. She was the first to do that. You didn’t have to go to group therapy. Instead, you could just turn on Oprah at 3:00 pm Monday – Friday and feel a part of Oprah’s “healing.” Until it became a SNL cliché and suddenly her “heartfelt” talkfest became Jerry Springer without the tossing of chairs.
When Oprah returned this year, I was happy to see her, but was hugely disappointed that she re-appeared with her Meghan and Harry “tell all.” She has now continued this theme with her docuseries. Meanwhile, her gal pal Gayle King rides shotgun at CBS Morning with her own “royal reports” and “news” from Oprah’s front.
I will say, one of the great emotional celebrity reveal moments was Gayle’s interview with R. Kelly in 2019 after his sex abuse charges. As Kelly flew into a rage and suddenly stood up in Gayle’s face in a threatening stance, she held her own cool. Now THAT was a TV mental health exposé for the ages. We could all see and hear the whole story right then and there. He didn’t need to reveal any “Me Nobody Sees.”
The ultimate antidote to personal depression or upset is to do something of service instead of dumping your story everywhere. Look at Betty Ford who founded the Betty Ford Clinic out of her own struggle with alcohol and put rehab on the map. Even Tipper Gore, who kept her extreme depression under wraps, went off to become Clinton’s Mental Health advisor in 1999 (not for him personally) and founded Tennessee Voice for Children to promote services for children suffering from emotional, substance, and other mental health problems.
Ironically, HBO just started their new “In Treatment” series. It was a popular weekly must-see in 2008 with Gabriel Byrne seeing patients in a Brooklyn brownstone. I loved the New York Times reviews headline at the time: “He listens. He cares. He isn’t real.” We all loved it AND him.
Now it stars Uzo Aduba who strangely resembles Oprah but wears long dresses and big statement belts. She sees patients in her LA Baldwin Hills newly remodeled moderne decorated home. So, we get the predictable diverse patients, discussions on cancel culture, wokeness, and police violence. These are Covid enhanced times. Different strokes, different folks. Too bad Harry didn’t get to appear on this show as a characterization of himself. It would have been a much more successful and compelling appearance.
Meanwhile, Prince William and Kate continue to be healthfully out and about in constant service to their country, while Harry is in the Daily Mail competing reports with his blasts that “the world is depressing and making us all sick.”
Actually, Prince Charles came out last week and beat them all with his soft spoken, underplayed video statement:
“This pandemic has emphasized the importance of preparedness, resilience, and the need for an approach which addresses the health of the whole person as part of society which does not merely focus on symptoms alone. As part of that approach, yoga can contribute to health and healing. By its very nature — yoga is an accessible practice which provides practitioners with ways to manage stress, build resilience, and promote healing.”
Hey … Harry … take it from your old man. Please … less talking, more deep breathing, and leave us all with a sense of …