This has been a heavy week for women – one that is sure to bring the issue of mental health, stress and emotional stability to the forefront. Or at least in a perfect world, it will. Need a recap? Here are 3 of the most press-worthy examples (all from this week alone):

1. A scorned woman literally busted the windows our of her lovers used Cadillac (video link).

I can’t make this stuff up! We commented on this foolishness here. No, I still do not know why was she allowed to go buckwild on his car for so long. No, the police didn’t have the foresight to ask both parties to leave the premises before they departed. Yes, it is safe to assume that this is a classic case of a lover scorned and as we mentioned, i.e. he must be worth the anger (good sex, deep pockets, baby’s father), because homegirl just successfully competed for a guaranteed jail sentence courtesy of Detroit’s finest. News flash: there are other ways to get revenge, boo, without all this drama. Not that we would ever advocate for any of those methods here at Free Condoms an Lollipops. *clears throat* Moving on.

2. Catherine Zeta Jones volunteerly checked herself into a mental hospital for treatment of bi-polar II disorder.

Catherine Zeta Jones is one of my favorite actresses.

According to E! Online:

After supporting her husband during his successful cancer treatment, Douglas’ wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones briefly checked herself into a mental-health facility for treatment of her bipolar disorder, her rep confirmed to E! News. “After dealing with the stress of the past year, Catherine made the decision to check into a mental health facility for a brief stay to treat her Bipolar II Disorder. She’s feeling great and looking forward to starting work this week on her two upcoming films.”

Catherine Zeta-Jones is best known for her work in The Mask of Zorro, Chicago, and Ocean’s Twelve. As you may know, Catherine is married to actor Michael Douglas and has two children. Michael has been waging a public battle with cancer, after pubicly sharing in 2010 that he suffers from advanced stages of throat cancer.  I cannot imagine managing a household, being an attentive mother to young children, and supporting  a mate through radiation and treatment. I would be literally ragged. Hair all split and damaged. No make-up. Stress. *goodness* In a situatioThere is no normal. Your entire life is is revolved around ‘creating’ normality and embracing every moment you can due to the presence of a ‘disease’ – a foreign object that just decided to insert itself in your life. According to a recent editorial on About.com, public response has included comments like: “Oh, poor Catherine Zeta-Jones. She’s got money, success, she can afford expensive treatment – she doesn’t know what it’s really like,” and “She has problems???? How about those who have lost jobs, home, kids and the dog?” Let me say this, being famous does not mean that you are exempt from suffering from mental illness, stress, and other emotional pressures.  In fact, what binds us all is our health. There are millionaires billionaires with the same health problems as the poor. They may have access to better care and treatment, yes, but nevertheless, a healthy body is our most precious asset. I will resist the temptation to share my thoughts on why universal healthcare is beneficial…I digress.

3. A mother drove her minivan, containing her 3 young children, into the Hudson River

I am almost disgusted to even have to share this news to you – as a severe example. Long story short, 25-year old Lashanda Armstrong drove a minivan carrying her 3 young children (Landon Pierre, 5, Lance Pierre, 2, and 11-month-old Lainaina Pierre) into the Hudson River. Her son, Lashaun Armstrong, 8, was the only survivor after escaping through a window before the van submerged. In reports following the incident, it has been reported that the boyfriend/baby daddy, who was the father of three of Armstrong’s four kids, was trifling, plain and simple. Allegedly, he was cheating with a neighbor for three months while Lashanda was pregnant with their youngest. This is such a sad story – plus, what was going on with her where she decided to also take the lives of her children? Was she seeking to hurt her mate by taking ‘everyone’ out? Is drama in relationships worth the distress? Did no one in her social network see any issues before hand? Her stress, angst, and desperation should have never gotten to this point. She lost hope…and sanity. Source

Ok, now do you believe me? Heavy week indeed. Take a moment. I’ll wait.

I don’t understand this fascination that we as a society have of trying to be everything and project the image that we (always) have our ish together. No one is perfect. And money doesn’t buy happiness either. Our consumerist culture teaches us that the latest Louis Vuitton, BMW 3 series, iPhone or True Religion jeans will fill us, making us feel more important and status-worthy. Or that the finest, richest man or woman will “complete” us. Gag me. Please. Those items and ideals only provide temporary satisfaction. You will never be able to tell a broken woman, if her nails are done, her hair is did, and she is rocking the latest fashion. Go deeper. This has applications for both men and women.

I want to leave you with a few of my thoughts. Hopefully, they are helpful:

1. Mental health services are not considered a part of primary healthcare plans.

As a nation, for us to be as rich as we are, we completely missed this opportunity to link mental health care services with primary medical healthcare.  Mental illness has been linked statistically to rates of suicide, crime, disability, and other health issues and social statuses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in every 4 people (or 25% of the population) develops one or more mental disorders at some stage in life.  Mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease and can now be diagnosed reliably and accurately and, often, can be prevented or successfully managed and treated.  So, the next time you are around someone who is ‘acting’ brand new. You have my permission to officially give them the side eye (O_o). 25% is no joke.

2. When it comes to your emotional health, you have to be selfish.

Yes, I said it and openly admit that I have learned that sometimes I have to shut the party down.  I can’t be everywhere, do everything or be around everyone all the time. That is even within my own home.  When I am feeling a bit off-centerred (e.g. uneasy, not relaxed, tense, busy mind) that is my sign that I need an emotional break. Just because. For me, that includes a quick hour of mindless television (think RHOA, Glee, Say Yes to the Dress), a bubble bath, a music session (ipod), an evening on the patio with a nice cold corona (add grenadine), spa visit – you get my picture.  I need that time. I crave that time and, admittedly, I am a better person (co-worker, wife, mother, friend, business owner), by allowing myself to stop or slow down and appreciate that time. Try it. I promise that it will work.

3. It’s ok to not be (or feel like) superwoman/superman.

At least in two of the above shared examples, the main culprit may simply be that these women were trying to do and have it all, but were losing. We place so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect – to keep the image. But, life’s circumstances are not always in our control (maybe your long-time boyfriend dumped you, maybe your loved one was diagnosed with cancer, maybe you and your best friend have grown apart). You know what? It’s ok. Who are you trying to impress? Or, better yet, who are you afraid will judge you for being imperfect or having an imperfect life? I have a lot of amazing blessings in my life, but I have grown to also be proud of the imperfections. My decision to accept them has greatly impacted my character and outlook for the better.  When this mentality is adopted, you learn not to ‘sweat the small stuff’ and to also stay centered when new storms come.

4. Accept people for who (and where) they are. Never let anything or anyone remove you from your center.

I wish someone would have given me this advice in my early twenties. I have spent a lot of wasted time stressing over why a ‘man’, a ‘friend’, or ‘coworker’ responded a certain way towards me. Yes, I admit to being a needy b*tch, in my youthful days, and being overly pressed and involved in people drama. But, I look back on those now and wonder why I gave so much emotional energy to people I have no control over.  I know that he didn’t call or that he let you down. I realize that your boss lied to your face about that promotion. Yes, your ‘friend’ shared your business all over Facebook and your social circle.  But, accept their actions for what they are – I also had to learn not to judge people by their intentions – and respond accordingly. Keep it moving.  You would be amazed at how much stress this will save you.

I hope that this post leaves you assessing your own state of mental health. Please share your thoughts and tactics that you have used. My advice is simple: Just stop. Rest. Avoid stressors. Be still. You are not required to give anyone an explanation. Your mental health with thank you.

One comment for “Mental health and the modern woman

  1. Javonne (Edit)

    Wow…what a week. I was recently just informed that mental health coverage is not deemed a priority in many health plans and I was shocked! With as much craziness that goes on in the workplace alone….SMH. We gotta do better!

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