celebrities, memories, mental health, psychology

Been watching Prince Harry’s mental health documentary series with Oprah Winfrey…

Lately, Prince Harry has been in the news a lot. He’s coming out about his issues with mental health struggles, having grown up in the British Royal Family. He and Oprah Winfrey have produced a new series for Apple TV+ called The Me You Can’t See.

Historically, I’ve never been that much of an Oprah fan. It’s not because I don’t like her work. It’s more that I was never exposed to it when she was up and coming. In the 1980s, when she had a daytime talk show, I was busy with my horse. I didn’t really watch day TV until I got a lot older. By then, she had her own network (The Oprah Winfrey Network OWN), which I never really watched… I guess there were just too many channels to choose from. I’ve always been partial to reruns, anyway.

This show really speaks to me.

Anyway, I have noticed a lot of buzz about this latest show, which airs exclusively on Apple TV+. I started watching it a couple of days ago. I must admit, it’s pretty compelling. The series isn’t just about Prince Harry and his struggles. It’s also about other people– celebrities and non celebrities– who have struggled with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. I have had my own travails with depression and anxiety. That doesn’t make me “special”.

The Me You Don’t See really drives home the reality that depression and anxiety are extremely common conditions that affect so many people. And yet, being depressed and anxious can make a person feel very alone. When those feelings are especially profound, some people may start thinking of suicide, or they may start doing things to self-medicate. Harry has mentioned that he tried to erase his thoughts of his mother’s, Princess Diana’s, horrible death by drinking alcohol. He was also willing to experiment with drugs, all in a bid to blot out the pain of losing his mom.

I’ve seen a lot of derisive and, frankly, kind of mean spirited comments about Harry’s decision to speak about these issues. I want to go on record to say that I think Harry has as much right to be heard as anyone does. I know he was born wealthy and has had privileges that the vast majority of people will never be able to fathom. But with that fame came difficulties that regular people don’t have to face.

The whole world watched as Harry and his brother, William, mourned their mother, who was the most photographed woman in the world. Princess Diana was iconic. Many people worshiped her from afar. To be honest, I found her fascinating and beautiful, but I never put her on the same pedestal that many of my friends did. She was human and fallible, and she had faults. She also made some huge mistakes. Unfortunately, her worst mistakes were made on the day she died, when she rode in a car with a driver who was very drunk and failed to wear a seatbelt.

Still, Princess Diana was a remarkable person… and when she died, she had been in a relationship with someone who wasn’t white and European– Dodi Fayed. Harry mentioned that he has that in common with his mom. Meghan Markle is biracial. He has very real fears that he could lose her the way he lost his mother, either to being hunted down by the paparazzi as Diana was, or to suicide, as Meghan reportedly suffered so much in Britain that she considered taking her own life. Harry also said that his father once told him that he had suffered growing up, and that Harry would also suffer. Harry quite correctly commented that parents shouldn’t try to visit pain on their children, just because they went through pain when they were growing up.

I think a lot of people look at Harry and Meghan and have very little sympathy for them. They’re relatively young, beautiful, and wealthy, and they don’t have the problems that more ordinary people have. However, they are still human beings, and I don’t think it’s right to discount their problems just because we can’t relate to them. In fact, of all of the British Royals, I’ve always thought of Harry as one of the most relatable. To me, he seems like the kind of person who would want to be like everyone else.

I’m about halfway through the series, I think… and I’ve enjoyed the way it presents the global issues surrounding mental health. Oprah Winfrey also talks about what it was like for her, growing up extremely poor and discriminated against in Mississippi, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. Oprah is famous and wealthy beyond most people’s wildest dreams, and she’s managed to achieve that success in spite of being a Black woman. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t struggled or suffered… and like me, she is a human being.

I respect Harry for striking out on his own. I think that took a lot of courage. I’m glad he’s sharing his story about his mental health struggles, too. Maybe by sharing his story, he will help some people find their own way out of their mental health issues. I know he’s rich and famous, but he didn’t choose to be born royal, and he had nothing to do with the fact that he lost his mother at such a young age and never got any help dealing with that pain.

Trauma affects everyone.

Other people who have been on The Me You Don’t See include Glenn Close, Zachary “Zak” Williams (Robin’s son), and Lady Gaga (Stefani Germanotta). Both Lady Gaga and Glenn Close– famous women– have had some significant challenges that they’ve had to overcome. I appreciate hearing their stories, which really drive home the realization that everyone has a struggle to deal with and a load to carry. I am also glad Zak Williams spoke. He and I have something in common; we both had dads who had Lewy Body Dementia. While I know that not everyone thinks Harry has a right to complain about anything, I, for one, am glad he’s sharing his story.

Frankly, I’ve just about had it with people who have no empathy for others. I think those who don’t care about the royals should just keep scrolling and keep their cruel comments to themselves. Some of us are interested in hearing Harry’s story, as well as the stories of others who are being profiled on The Me You Can’t See. I think I’ll watch more of the series right now.

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humor, royals, technology

God bless Queen Elizabeth II…

I don’t have much to write about today. I wrote about how we spent yesterday on the travel blog, so if anyone is interested in that, click here. Other than that, I just have one more thing to write about, and that is the mighty Queen Elizabeth II and her annual Christmas speech.

I never used to consider myself an Anglophile, even though my earliest memories are of England. As I’ve gotten older and have had a chance to visit my ancestral homeland a couple of times, I find myself more appreciative of England and its immediate environs, to include Ireland, even though Ireland is definitely not England.

This morning, my ex shrink, who is now a friend, shared Queen Elizabeth’s annual Christmas message. I decided to watch it, and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t moved to tears by it. Queen Elizabeth still looks fantastic, and I am awed by her fortitude and attitude of service. She’s 94 years old!

“God Save The Queen”… the band on horseback and the healthcare workers singing were highlights, besides Her Majesty’s wise words. She really is a remarkable woman.

After I watched this video over breakfast, I sat at the table sniffing back tears. At the end of the Queen’s speech, there’s a lovely version of “Joy To The World” sung by NHS workers that made me all weepy. The older I get, the more scenes like this make my heart fill with emotion. It’s nice to be able to cry because I’m moved, instead of because of someone or something hurting me. I love the way the Brits celebrate tradition and pomp and circumstance, and I love the music and humor of Britain. It makes sense that I’d love the Brits, though, since I would have been a Brit if my people hadn’t moved to America. They’re kind of my people.

Then Bill showed me the very cool and pointed “deep fake” version done by Channel 4. Bill earned a master’s degree in cybersecurity a couple of years ago, so he’s particularly interested in this stuff… I thought it was brilliantly done, although I’ve heard that the folks who made it got some flak. It’s a good reminder, though, that things are not always as they seem, especially online.

Always verify your info and double check your sources. What you’re seeing might not be real.

It’s pretty scary how technology has made it possible to alter messages and create disinformation. I, for one, plan to keep this in mind in 2021. Well done, Channel 4! They managed to make this valuable and entertaining message without being mean spirited or preachy. And yes, I laughed after the Queen made me cry.

And if you’re interested in seeing how this was done, check out the video below!

Fascinating! I like that they’re reminding us about how technology can be used to trick us.

Hopefully, in 2021, there will be some sense of normalcy restored. Until then, I’ll keep following Queen Elizabeth II. She’s a wonderful lady and I admire her very much.

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Netflix

My thoughts on season four of The Crown…

Once again, I’m fighting the urge to write about politics and COVID-19. I do have a lot on my mind about both topics, but I figure we’re all a little tired of reading about politics and plagues, especially since we’re all affected by them these days. Since I finally got around to watching The Crown on Netflix, I figure now is a good time to write about that, instead of yet another anti-Trump screed or observations about how shitty COVID-19 is on so many levels.

I have mentioned before that it takes me a long time to get into most television series. I used to be addicted to TV, but got out of the habit. Consequently, sometimes it will be years before I watch a very popular show. Sometimes I never get around to seeing them. For instance, I’ve never seen a single episode of Lost. But then, I’ll binge watch shows like Tiny Pretty Things. I did manage to see the end of that series yesterday. Now that I’ve seen the ending, I can state with no hesitation that, in my opinion, it’s not a very good show.

The Crown, on the other hand, is a very good show. Even though I fell asleep during the first episode, the rest of it kept me riveted for a couple of intense weeks. I finally finished season four a couple of days ago and am saddened that I’ll probably have to wait two years for season five. Filming for the next season is projected to start in June of 2021. I guess I’ll live. I’ve been patiently waiting for new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, too.

The official trailer for season 4…

Season four of The Crown covers the time period that I, and most other people of a certain age, remember the most. I was nine years old when Prince Charles married Princess Diana. I remember living in England during the Silver Jubilee in 1977, and we had memorabilia from that event in our house, to include a nifty marble lighter that had Queen Elizabeth II’s insignia on it. My parents were smokers in those days. But I don’t really remember that much about the Royal Family when we were in England. It wasn’t until the 1980s when I even knew who Prince Charles was. In fact, I think I remember Margaret Thatcher more from the 70s than the Royal Family.

As fascinating as the earlier seasons were, and as much as I preferred Claire Foy’s version of Queen Elizabeth than Olivia Colman’s (although I think Olivia Colman is a fine actress), I might have been more drawn into season four because I remember Charles and Diana so well. And it’s amazing to me that there are so many young adults out there who were born after Princess Diana died. She was definitely a big part of my childhood.

Emma Corrin plays young Diana, who was regarded as shy and sweet. At twenty years old on her wedding day, she was at the height of her beauty. And yet, Prince Charles just wasn’t into her. He loved the former Camilla Shand, who is now his second wife. Charles and Camilla met in 1971, when they were both young and randy. He had also had another girlfriend, the late Dale, Lady Tryon, whom he’d nicknamed “Kanga”. But Kanga has no role in The Crown, probably because she did not eventually become Charles’s wife, nor was she in the press as much as Camilla was. Lady Tryon is also dead, having suffered many health problems. She died of septicemia in November 1997.

Actors Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles) and Emerald Fennell (Camilla Parker-Bowles) seem to have genuine chemistry as they play two real life lovers. I remember seeing Fennell in Call The Midwife, in which she played a 60s era nurse who is a lesbian. I was impressed by her in that role, but I think she also did a great job being Camilla.

A lot of people dislike Prince Charles. A lot more people dislike Camilla, although the vitriol against her seems to be less these days than it once was. People tend to blame women more, when they get involved a married man. Camilla obviously knew Prince Charles was married. I know nothing at all about this couple, other than what I’ve read and seen on television, but having lived through the Charles and Diana years, I can state that I notice that they’re not in the tabloids. By contrast, Charles and Diana were always in the news. It was very clear that they had nothing in common and did not love each other. But they stayed together for fifteen years… fifteen LONG years. When I think of that wasted time and how miserable it must have been for both of them, I feel nothing but empathy.

The other day, Bill and I were talking about The Crown. In one scene, they showed Charles being kind of mean to Diana. It was often reported in the press that he was mean to her. I remember back then, many people automatically took Diana’s side, perhaps because she was so charming and beautiful and young. But the truth is, Diana wasn’t blameless. She had affairs. She also suffered from mental illnesses. It was widely reported that she had bulimia and borderline personality disorder. Either one of those illnesses would make someone difficult to live with, even if they are much loved. Charles never loved Diana, so my guess is that the stress level must have been stratospheric.

That doesn’t excuse the terrible way he treated Diana, of course, nor does it excuse his cheating on her. But having read about Diana’s problems, realizing that she was much younger than Charles is, and had completely different interests, and knowing how I, myself, behave when I am forced to interact with someone I can’t stand, or someone who can’t stand me, I do have some empathy for Charles. It really is a shame that he wasn’t allowed to marry the woman he clearly loved. Hindsight is 20/20, of course. At least it appears that the Palace has learned from the Charles and Diana nightmare fairytale.

And while I can see why people don’t like Camilla, and why Diana especially didn’t like her, as the second wife of a man who married the wrong person first, I have some empathy for Camilla. Bill and I did not have an affair. He didn’t even take off his wedding ring before he divorced his ex wife. But their marriage was also one involving two people who were completely incompatible and mismatched. I imagine enduring it must have been like wearing high heeled shoes on the wrong feet. And they weren’t under a microscope the way Charles and Diana were. I don’t think Charles and Diana ever had a hope in hell of staying together. It was obvious they were miserable. As Charles’s second wife, Camilla has proven to be much more suitable and stable. Personally, I like Camilla and have empathy for her and their situation, even if I don’t condone the cheating.

She was in a tough situation. I wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t married Charles.

My mom and I were talking on Skype last night. I asked her if she’d been watching The Crown. She said she had, and didn’t enjoy the latest season, because she remembers watching it unfold in real life. I think the actors did a good job portraying their characters. Josh O’Connor is especially adept at making some of the pained facial expressions Charles made so often in those days. Emma Corrin doesn’t look that much like Diana, but she has a shy, pretty quality about her that makes it easy to suspend disbelief. And again, I genuinely enjoyed watching Josh O’Connor and Emerald Fennell portray Charles and Camilla. They really seem to have a genuine connection. O’Connor and Corrin, by contrast, were not as easy to watch. I got the sense that it was difficult for O’Connor to be genuinely nasty to Corrin.

I also enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s take on Princess Margaret, who seemed to have been quite the character. I now feel like learning more about her. She seems like she was a trip.

I suppose I ought to mention Margaret Thatcher, too, played by Gillian Anderson. I never saw Gillian Anderson in the X Files. I remember when she was very famous for her role as Dana Scully. I will say that listening to her speak like Margaret Thatcher, with that super hoarse sounding voice, made me cringe a bit. Like, it was painful to my ears to listen to that, although I understand Margaret Thatcher did have a distinctive speaking voice. I was impressed by how Gillian Anderson was able to channel her character in such a realistic way. She managed to bring Margaret Thatcher back to life, even if that voice made me cringe… not just because it was unpleasant to listen to, but also because I imagined that speaking that way was probably exhausting for her and perhaps even potentially dangerous to her natural voice.

And finally, I want to say that my favorite character in seasons 3 and 4 is Princess Anne, played by Erin Doherty. I loved her facial expressions and no nonsense delivery. As someone who loves horses myself, I loved seeing her in her breeches and riding boots, and I enjoyed the witty one liners. I have heard Princess Anne is actually kind of like that in real life, and she does so much resemble her mother. But I think Princess Anne, at least as played by Erin Doherty, should have her own show. I think she’s awesome. I might have to find Erin Doherty’s other works.

I love Princess Anne, as portrayed by Erin Doherty.

Well… that about does it for my take on season four of The Crown. I am officially hooked, and yes I realize it’s a dramatization, so the British culture secretary has nothing to fear about my getting “the wrong ideas”. I find the show visually stunning, which is such a treat during these lockdown days. I love the quirky stories they’ve found, all of which are based at least partially in truth, even if the interpretations are dramatized. And having watched the dreadful Tiny Pretty Things, I now feel like I need to find something higher quality to knock the images out of my head… Hell, I think even the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team might do it. And I happen to have a fresh episode to watch as I type this, so I think I’ll close and go give myself a mental enema.

Perhaps I’ll watch this documentary later.

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complaints

Just pop, already…

Like a lot of people, most of them in Britain, I’ve been waiting for Meghan Markle to have her baby. Well… maybe I’m not waiting with “bated breath” or anything, but I am curious as to what the little tyke will be like. Meghan and Harry, of course, are doing things differently than other royals have done in the past. They’ve decided to keep the details of the birth “private” until they’ve had a chance to celebrate as a family.

I suppose I understand that thinking on one level. I guess even Britain’s royals have the right to some privacy. On the other hand, Meghan and Harry are very public figures. It’s true that Harry didn’t choose to be royal, but they are “working royals”, so that means they kind of have a duty to the people. If they weren’t working royals, people would be less interested in their lives and their offspring. If they want to live private lives, they should probably give up being royal and go live privately on their own pounds. They should name their baby Fred or Judy or something and eat Beanie Weanies for lunch.

Every day on my newsfeed, there’s at least one new story about Meghan Markle and the status of her womb. Thanks to their decision to be secretive, speculation is at an all time high. I think that deciding to birth privately has made people all the more determined to invade their privacy. It seems inescapable to me… and I think maybe they should just get over themselves and stop with this “privacy” nonsense. It’s a pipe dream. I get that Harry doesn’t like the paparazzi. He has every right not to like the media (even if he did marry an actress), but unfortunately, putting up with the press is part and parcel of being royal.

I have to be honest, not that anyone cares, but I’ve found myself not really liking Meghan Markle that much. There’s been a lot of drama this year. The royal family had finally stopped having so many scandals and were acquiring more respectability. Now, there’s all kinds of scuttlebutt coming out about Harry and William, Meghan and Kate, Meghan and the royal staff, Meghan and her father, Meghan and her bodyguards, etc. I find it annoying, although I’m sure other people find it fascinating. Plus, every picture of Meghan shows her with that same smile on her face and her hand floating over her enlarged middle like a satellite.

My Google newsfeed is mostly full of stories about the British Royal Family, mainly because I opted out of anything about Donald Trump or any stories that I have to use a VPN to read. That leaves the British Royal Family and The Duggars, along with assorted articles about such varied subjects as worm infestations in dogs, cruise ships, and whether I should join the Army or the Air Force. Here’s a clue. I won’t be joining any military services. I’m not sure how that got on my feed in the first place.

Anyway, I’m ready for Meghan to pop already. I know she has to do it on her own time, but I’m tired of reading stories about gamblers in Britain betting on her baby’s birthday. I’d rather read about Kate Middleton getting pregnant again. I won’t be surprised if she has another child, even if being pregnant does make her sick. Once Meghan pops, I can turn my attention to Jessa Seewald, who’s also about to pop. These women are popping all over.

On another note, I see CNN has gotten into the fun game, as they’ve provided a Royal Baby Name generator on their site. There was a time when it was considered a serious news source. I guess it’s not anymore. I’d like to write something clever, but I’m distracted by the noise outside my window. They’re doing roadwork that involves jackhammers.

Edited to add: Ask, and ye shall receive.

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