Mental illnesses have been marginalized by society for as long as we can remember. Recently, mental health awareness campaigns are spreading the word about its importance and that it's as crucial as physical health. People approve of physical pain because it is visible, but just because we cannot see it, doesn't mean it isn't there. People ridiculed the sufferings of others, which made mentally ill people hide and suffer alone in silence. Fortunately, the stigma around it is being lifted little by little. We should take care of each other, and look out for signs if we notice any changes in a loved one's behavior or even ours.
The first step in any treatment is admitting that you need help. It's a long journey, so if you have any of the symptoms mentioned in the list below, you should seek a psychiatrist as soon as possible to avoid any deterioration in your mental health. If you're not feeling comfortable yet with talking to one face to face, there are always online psychiatrists that provide the same service. It will take time and effort to be cured, but the most important thing is to never give up or listen to the hurtful thoughts inside your head.
We all get mood swings, with waves of sudden sadness or happiness. But the outbursts that you should look out for are the overreactions to situations that don't require the over-the-top attitude. Extreme emotions such as fury rage or severe distress control the person forcing them into making regrettable decisions.
Some problems we face are worrisome, but being worried 24/7 without a logical reason or explanation is because a person is suffering from anxiety. They have irrational fears and get troubled when they think of the future as it is full of nail-biting unknowns. In severe cases, they may get panic attack episodes, as in trouble breathing, palpitations, and restlessness. Moreover, meeting new people and going on public transportations sound like hell when you have anxiety.
Life without experiencing sadness is a shell of a life. Apart from crying occasionally, some of us feel blue all the time, even in the times when something good is happening to us; there is a veil between our happiness and our minds. We carry a burden that we cannot even tell why or when did it fall on our shoulders. That's depression, and it's not something temporary that you can ignore, because no one should live in a constant state of burnout.
Self-hate is common among mentally ill individuals, they don't get convinced with any good words about themselves. You may not be able to trace when you started to under-appreciate yourself and hate it for simply existing. But if you feel that you're worthless and unlovable, then you're wrong, it's the mental illness talking to you. You succumbed to the feeling of self-hatred, and it shows when you instantly disregard anyone that compliments you.
We all know that we need from 6-8 hours of sleep to lead a healthy life. If you sleep less than 5 hours or more than 10 hours, you should look for the reasons behind the lack or excessive sleeping. Some sleeping disorders such as sleep paralysis and nightmares might keep you up at night as you fear what you see when you close your eyes. Others excessively sleep as a form of escapism, they hate their reality so much that they cannot stand waking up.
Decreased Productivity and Social Withdrawal
Some days work is too much to handle. Fortunately, you should only be alerted if your productivity is decreasing drastically. If you're not functioning the way you used to even in your personal life, a red flag should be raised.
You may have never been a party animal or an extrovert, but not being able to keep up a conversation and running away from any social event is definitely a sign. Humans need to socialize in order to survive, in your case, socializing causes you anxiety and disturbance, which is, in a way, against our nature.
Unhealthy Relationship with Food
We can develop bad habits as excessive or under-eating when we don't feel like ourselves. Some people stress-eat when they are sad or anxious, which could cause them health problems and lead to obesity. Also, people who view themselves as overweight and suffer from self-hatred will avoid eating and will develop disorders like bulimia, which may be challenging to each person who may experience it.
After reading this, you will be more educated and will be able to figure out when to go to a professional. If any feeling of sadness, anxiety, or anger prolonged, you must realize that there is something wrong before they affect your life tremendously. You shouldn't be alienated just because you're suffering differently.
5 min read
Except for 16, I have celebrated all of my milestone birthdays in New York City.
I turned 16 in Arnold, Missouri. Arnold is a small town (though not small anymore) 20 miles south of St. Louis. St. Louis is known for the Gateway Arch, a beautiful arch of shiny stainless steel, built by the National Parks Service in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's vision of a transcontinental U.S. St. Louis is also known for its custard, a frozen dessert that is so thick, they hand it to you upside down with a spoon inside. Something else about St. Louis you should know is that there is a courthouse just steps from the base of the Gateway Arch where one of the most important cases in history was tried: Dred Scott v. Sanford.
I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive.
Mr. Scott was born into enslavement around 1799 and, in 1830, was sold to a military surgeon who traveled back and forth between his military posts in Illinois and Wisconsin, where slavery was prohibited under the Missouri Compromise of 1820. In 1842 the doctor and Mr. Scott both married, and they, all four, returned to St. Louis. Still enslaved, Dred Scott filed a lawsuit against the doctor's wife for his and his wife Harriet's freedom. We don't know exactly why he chose this moment in time to file a lawsuit, however, he did. At the time of filing his, now, famous lawsuit, he was 50 years old. Ultimately, The Scott family did not gain their freedom, but their profound courage in filling this case helped ignite the Civil War and what we would come to know (or think we know) as freedom from enslavement for all human beings. Powerful then and even more powerful now.
My next milestone was turning 21, and I did it in the Big Apple. Having only moved to "the city that never sleeps" a few months prior, I knew nobody except my new friends, the bus-boys from the restaurant I was working at, Patzo's on the Upper West Side. And, yes, pazzo is actually the correct spelling of the Italian word, which translates to "crazy." Trust me we all had several laughs about the misspelling and the definition going hand in hand. I worked a full shift, closing out at around 11 PM, when, my kitchen team came out from the line with a cake singing, "Cumpleaños Feliz." It was fantastic. And the kindness of these almost-strangers was a powerful reminder of connection then as it still is today almost 29 years later.
I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy.
When I turned 30, I had just finished a European tour with Lucinda Childs dance company. The company had been on tour for months together and were inseparable. We traveled through Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, and Rome. We ate together, we rode on a bus together, we had drinks after shows together, and we even took turns giving company class to get warmed up before a show. It was deeply meaningful and dreamy. We ended the tour back in New York City at BAM, The Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was an incredible way to end the tour, by being on our home court, not to mention I was having an important birthday at the culmination of this already incredible experience.
So, when I invited everyone to join me at Chelsea Pier's Sky Rink to ice skate in late August, I was schooled really quickly that "tour" does not mean you are friends in real life, it means you are tour friends. When the tour ends, so does the relationship. I skated a few laps and then went home. This was a beautiful lesson learned about who your real friends are; it was powerful then as it is today.
Turning 40 was a completely different experience. I was in a serious relationship with my now-husband, Joe. I had just come off of a successful one-woman dance show that I produced, choreographed, and danced in, I had just choreographed a feature film, John Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes, with A-list actors, including Kate Winslet and James Gandolfini, who became a dear friend and had even been on the red carpet with Susan Sarandon at the Venice Film Festival for the movie a year earlier.
And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age.
This was a very special birthday, and I had, in those 10 years between 30 and 40, come to cultivate very real friendships with some wonderful colleagues. We all celebrated at a local Italian restaurant, Etcetera Etcetera (who is delivering for those of you in NYC — we order weekly to support them during COVID), a staple in the theater district. Joe and I were (and are) regulars and, of course, wanted to celebrate my 40th with our restaurant family and friends. We were upstairs in the private room, and it was really lovely. Many of those in attendance are no longer with us, including Joe's Dad, Bob Ricci, and my dear friend Jim Gandolfini having transitioned to the other side. Currently, that restaurant is holding on by a thread of loving neighbors and regulars like us. Life is precious. Powerful then and today even more so.
I write this article because I'm turning 50, still in New York City. However, I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive. And I could not be more filled with hope, love, possibility, and power. This year has included an impeachment hearing, a global pandemic, and global protests that are finally giving a larger platform to the Black Lives Matter movement. Being able to fully embody who I am as a woman, a 50-year-old woman who is living fully in purpose, takes the cake, the rink, and the party.
I'm making movies about conversations around race. I've been happily married for 11 years to the love of my life, Joe Ricci. I'm amplifying and elevating the voices of those who have not previously had a platform for speaking out. I choose who to spend time with and how long! I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy. Being 50 is one of the most amazing things I ever thought I could experience. And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age. I'm 50 and powerful. Dred Scott was 50 and powerful. This powerful lesson is for today and tomorrow. We have the power. No matter what age you are, I invite you to use your powerful voice to join me in making the world a better place.