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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book reviews, mental health

Repost: A review of Suicide: the Forever Decision

Here’s a reposted review of Paul G. Quinnett’s book, Suicide: the Forever Decision.  I found it helpful reading back when I was suffering from clinical depression.  Fortunately, I haven’t needed to read this book in a very long time.  I am reposting the review so it doesn’t get lost and, perhaps, to help anyone reading this blog who might need help. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the Suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This review was originally posted for Epinions.com on October 2, 2003.

Suicide is a solution.

Does my review’s title shock you? Well, if it does, I’m sorry, but I write the truth. If you think about it, suicide is a solution for the the person who commits the act. It creates all sorts of problems, however, for the people he or she leaves behind. I learned that tidbit of wisdom in the 1997 edition of Paul G. Quinnett’s book Suicide: the Forever Decision. I read this book quite often during my own depression back in 1998-99 and I found it to be quite helpful. Quinnett comes across as a very wise counselor. He doesn’t write a lot of trite, mushy “you’ve got your whole life ahead of you” stuff that depressed people have heard a billion times before. Quinnett writes the truth. And despite what I wrote at the beginning of this review, he doesn’t condone suicide. After all, I’m still here, aren’t I?

The first chapter of this book is entitled “You Don’t Have To Be Crazy”. What a fitting way to start off a book about suicide prevention! Depression is a lonely, painful state of mind and people who are thinking about suicide often think they’re crazy to want to end it all, or other people think they’re crazy to want to kill themselves. In reality, the act of suicide is usually more often a case of frustration and desperation, rather than genuine craziness. Besides, most people have had at least a fleeting thought of suicide.

In the second chapter, Quinnett challenges readers to remember where they got the idea to kill themselves. Did someone in their family kill themselves? Did a friend commit suicide? Did they get the idea from a famous person? People have been committing suicide for as long as there have been people– it’s very likely that someone somewhere gave the reader the idea to commit suicide. Quinnett cites statistics that show that when someone famous kills themselves, the suicide rate rises. It seems to be a contagious phenomenon.

To the question “Don’t I have the right to die?” Quinnett’s frank reply is that he doesn’t have a very good answer to that question. But his final answer is, “No. You don’t have an absolute right to kill yourself.” At least not from a legal standpoint. He explains that there are laws against attempting suicide and if readers try it, sometimes unpleasant legal consequences may follow. He also explains that as a psychologist, he is trained to save lives, not help people end them. But if all of this information comes across as harsh, it’s also very honest. Quinnett explains that there are a couple of schools of thought about a person’s right to die– some people believe that everyone has the inalienable right to die whenever they want to and others believe that people should be kept alive at all costs– until every last breath of life is beaten out of them. An interesting discussion about this topic ensues. But then he also offers a reassuring pledge that while there are people out there, even some mental health professionals, who don’t care if readers live or die, there are other people who do. They will be the ones who won’t sit on their hands and do nothing when they see a person who is obviously suffering.

Quinnett then asks his readers once more if they are absolutely sure this is the decision they want to make. He makes an interesting comparison of a depressed, suicidal person to a bug in a cup. We can see around the insides of our cup (ie; depression), but we can’t see over the lip. Moreover, a suicidal person generally doesn’t have all the information he or she needs to make a wise decision about whether or not they should end their lives. The suicidal person may not know that their depression is time limited and that they will feel much better in a matter of weeks or months– probably even sooner with treatment.

Quinnett also addresses anger, loneliness, and stress and provides methods on how to deal with them. One of the chapters in the book is entitled “They Won’t Love You When You’re Gone, Either”. This is intended to address those folks who want to kill themselves to punish other people, particularly parents whom they feel didn’t love them. Quinnett reminds these people that they are the ones who matter now, not their parents. And if their parents didn’t love them when they were kids, chances are good that they won’t love their children when they’re dead, either.

Quinnett speaks to his readers confidently and personally. He also asks them to put the book down if they are high on drugs or drunk on alcohol. He says that he expects his clients to come to therapy with their whole brain ready for use. He expects the same of those who read his book. Quinnett offers somes commentary on those who have already attempted suicide, warning that those who have attempted to kill themselves are now at a higher risk of attempting to kill themselves again or actually succeeding in the act. He asks these people to consider what could happen if they don’t succeed. He relates stories of some of his clients– people who have wound up paralyzed, disfigured, vegetative or maimed because they attempted suicide. Quinnett also reminds would be suicides of the people they would be leaving behind– family, friends, perhaps children. He writes that the day that a reader commits suicide will become a day of infamy for his or her family. The family will never be able to enjoy that date again without thinking of the horror of how their loved one died by their own hand. Quinnett reminds readers that it’s not fair to put family and friends through that kind of guilt.

At the end of the book, Quinnett offers tips on getting help for depression and suicidal ideation and points his readers in the right direction. He explains the difference between psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, and master’s level clinicians. He also emphasizes the importance of getting a physical in order to rule out physical reasons for depression (aside from brain chemical imbalances).

I found this book to be very comforting when I was feeling depressed on a regular basis. Quinnett’s tone is empathetic, insightful, and respectful. The book is not overwhelming or overly long. He’s used a comfortably large sized font that’s easy on the eyes so the book is easy to read. In my opinion, it would be easy for people with depression to pick this book up and read it– it was for me, anyway. Those who have the will to read this book have most assuredly not conclusively decided to kill themselves. I believe that Paul G. Quinnett’s book may help these people tip the scales in the direction of choosing life. Yes, suicide is a choice that people are able to make to solve all of their problems right now and forevermore. But this book is very likely to show readers why they shouldn’t make a choice that will solve all of their problems forever. For that reason, I recommend it wholeheartedly. 

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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homosexuality, LDS, mental health

I hope the first thing she did was ditch the underwear…

Last night, I read the news that noted Mormon sex therapist, 49 year old Natasha Helfer, was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Helfer is the latest person to challenge some of the LDS church’s more toxic beliefs. Typically, when someone does that, especially when the someone is a female, the church responds by holding a “court of love” and kicking them out. I wonder if excommunicated members get an insulting pamphlet inviting them to come back, like my husband did when he resigned his church membership.

Helfer has said that she thinks the LDS church is targeting the mental health profession, while church officials claim that she was disciplined for her public opposition to the church’s teachings. I suspect that church officials aren’t too pleased that Helfer, who is an attractive and intelligent woman with a powerful voice, is leading members away from the counsel of the old white dudes who have been running the church since its inception. That, and Helfer obviously knows a little something about clubbing, as she said “It was so ridiculous. I was treated like I was at a club with a bouncer in it.” Helfer said that when they didn’t let her into the council with her phone, “I did not plead or beg.” It wouldn’t surprise me if her lack of pleading and begging was also offensive. Evidently, church Helfer signed an agreement that she wouldn’t record the proceedings. Church officials asked her to turn off her phone. Since she had prepared her notes on the phone, Helfer declined to turn it off and left.

While I do have a basic understanding of how important religious beliefs can be to people, I also think that Helfer is probably much too good for the LDS church and she’s better off without being constrained by church leadership. I’m sure it was painful on some level for Helfer to be excommunicated, particularly since it was such a public decision. However, I also believe that now she has the freedom she needs to be completely open and honest. It’s like her eyes have been opened to the truth. And now, she can open other people’s eyes.

According to The Washington Post, Helfer ran into issues with church officials when she started saying such horrifying things like masturbation is not a sin, pornography should not be treated as an addiction, and same-sex marriage should be supported. Church stake president, Stephen Daley, who is also Helfer’s husband’s former boss, sent Helfer a nastygram about how “negative” Helfer’s posts were toward the church and its leaders. However, Helfer’s positions are in line with what licensed mental health professionals promote. So… it sounds as if Helfer chose to be a good sex therapist rather than a good (and obedient) Mormon woman.

Helfer specifically posted on her personal Facebook account and podcast comment sections, “The last thing I want for my people is to replace one patriarchal prick for another. You can quote me on that one. Beware of any person/organization/system that assumes they know better than you about what you need.”

Daley took note of that comment and its “colorful” qualities when he chastised Helfer. To her credit, Helfer’s response was, “When will they stop calling homosexual people degenerate and perverse and unholy? They’re upset that I called them patriarchal pricks. If they want me to stop saying bad words, they need to stop calling other people bad words.”

Helfer, and other progressive Mormon therapists, noted that many of her clients were left damaged by things they heard said from the pulpit, and they are left to “pick up the pieces” when members with sexual issues that go against the church’s teachings come to them for help. And Mormons, who mostly seem to support science and research efforts, are much less progressive when it comes to issues like sexuality. Below is a video I have shared many times in my blogs about Mormonism and why I think it’s so fucked up. Here’s a reminder for those who haven’t seen it or need to refresh their memories.

This video was made in November 2003 in the Toulouse, France, mission. He touches on masturbation and pornography… just what Helfer is referring to.

And here is a more humorous take on Mormons beliefs regarding masturbation. It’s partly based on a now retired pamphlet called “To Young Man Only”, which was passed out to young men from 1976 until 2016. The pamphlet was all about how to avoid masturbation. In it, Boyd K. Packer, a former church leader, refers to “the little factory”, which causes wet dreams.

Self-abuse is “immoral”? I don’t think so. It’s the safest sex a person can have.

This is a light-hearted, funny look at real church teachings and comments made by leaders such as Boyd K. Packer and Mark E. Peterson, whose words are regularly quoted by church members. But this is a serious issue. Church members have actually committed suicide over issues like masturbation and homosexuality. And some unlucky church members have wound up in “aversion therapy” sessions which have also caused great harm to their mental health. The church is also against banning “conversion therapy”, which supposedly helps people with “same sex attraction” (the church’s term) become straight. It doesn’t work, and causes harm, but the church’s stance is that banning it is disrespectful to their religious beliefs. It doesn’t seem to matter to the church’s leadership that people have DIED over these practices.

And those who haven’t died often suffer needlessly, thanks to unsound and inhumane beliefs that are promoted within the church. I dare anyone who doubts how painful and damaging this “therapy” is to read Jayce Cox’s account of his time at Evergreen, a conversion therapy program that was offered at Brigham Young University and employed electric shocks to reverse homosexuality. Cox’s experiences were featured on MTV in 2004. Evergreen is now defunct, but it was renamed North Star and revamped… and sadly, Jayce Cox, died in 2013. Prior to his death, he worked as a suicide prevention coordinator in Helena, Montana. He was a much beloved friend who died much too young.

Natasha Helfer clearly cares about her clients and doing good work that is promoted by professional mental health organizations. I congratulate her for her bravery, for I know that it’s not easy for people to leave Mormonism, particularly if one’s entire family is in the church and believes wholeheartedly in its tenets. But she’s in good company. According to The Washington Post:

Helfer’s disciplinary case follows those of at least three high-profile former members who were excommunicated from the church for apostasy. Kate Kelly, who advocated for the ordination of women in the church, was excommunicated in 2014. John Dehlin, a well-known advocate for dissenting Mormons, created a forum online to help them gather and was expelled in 2015. And Sam Young, who protested one-on-one interviews between clergy and youth, was excommunicated in 2018.

Helfer has said she plans to appeal the church’s ruling. She has thirty days to do that. Personally, I think she should just abandon the church and go on doing good work for people who need her help. Life is short, and I doubt she’s going to change the church’s stance on these issues. On the other hand, she’s definitely made some big waves… and, as famous Mormon woman Laurel Thatcher Ulrich once said, “well-behaved women seldom make history.” We’ll see what happens.

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disasters, mental health, music, narcissists

Jenna Ryan in the Land of Delusion…

A song that was popular during my high school days. I think it kind of fits– replace “confusion” with “delusion”.

Remember Jenna Ryan? For a few weeks in January and February, she was in the news a lot, running her mouth about storming the Capitol on January 6th, the day thousands of unhinged and delusional Trump supporters tried to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election results in Joe Biden’s favor. On that bitter, cloudy, bleak day, Ms. Ryan, dressed in a cutesy American flag scarf she said she’d bought at a kiosk, promoted herself as a real estate agent and bragged about her part in the whole failed “#StoptheSteal” campaign.

A news item about Jenna Ryan when the news was fresh.

I wrote a couple of times about Ms. Ryan when her story was new news. I have to admit, she’s a very compelling character. She definitely talks a good game, doesn’t she? If you watch the above clip, you can hear her trying to minimize her part in the rioting, even though there were photos and videos of her participating in the mayhem with gusto. From boarding a private jet and bragging about that to claiming that the day of the insurrection was “the best day of [her] life”, it’s clear that she’s in the thick of this mess. And since “her president” didn’t give her the pardon she requested, she is now facing several federal charges that, if she’s found guilty, could land her in prison.

Listen to her say that she thought this was just a “protest”, then see her on video saying she doesn’t care that someone got “shot in the face”.

She didn’t think she would be charged… and now she feels “very persecuted”. In case you missed it— there is a very real chance she could be going to prison. But just a few months after the insurrection, Ms. Ryan thinks she will not end up behind bars. Why? Apparently, because she’s a “pretty” white woman with blonde hair and nice teeth. When a Twitter user named Tyson Stuart commented on the fact that Ryan is in deep legal doo doo, she responded:

I think 50 year old Jenna might want to consider that she may soon need her roots touched up and her teeth capped. Jail is a very real possibility for her.

Twelve hours ago at this writing, Ryan shared an article from Politico with the headline “Many Capitol rioters unlikely to serve jail time”. She commented:

This could be true for a lot of people… but will it be true in HER case?

If I were Jenna Ryan, I would not be so bold as to state that I definitely wasn’t going to be going to jail. Especially when I’ve made a lot of false statements that were later proven to be false due to the “miracles” of video and screenshots. She was caught on video bragging about what she was doing, which was definitely a violation of federal law and can carry jail time.

I think, as a major cheerleader for the insurrection, Jenna Ryan probably deserves some jail time, although she’s not as guilty as the people who were actually violent and/or hurt or killed people and caused property damage. I’ve not seen evidence that Jenna Ryan was particularly violent (other than screaming on camera that her fellow supporters are armed and dangerous). She’s just extremely delusional and obnoxious, as far as I can tell. Still, she obviously hasn’t learned to keep quiet, and I think that will hurt her in the long run. Her “white privilege” statement doesn’t help her cause, either.

I’m not a psychiatrist, nor do I play one on TV. I’ve also never met Ms. Ryan. However, having been around a lot of character disordered, high-conflict personalities, I suspect that she has some pathology. She claims she doesn’t need money, but then launches a GoFundMe campaign, which was later taken down. She encourages people to give to her cause, not because she’s in dire need of money to pay her lawyer(s), but because the donators will be “blessed”. Like– she’s doing them a favor by giving them the chance to donate to her cause… a cause that is illegal and led to people dying and major property damage, not to mention the psychological damage to everyone who was traumatized by that day. She’s been taking Paula White lessons.

She claims to have “seen the light” and whines about having fallen for a scam, but then overconfidently tweets that she won’t be doing any time in jail because she has “blonde hair, white skin, and a great job”. Is she really setting the real estate world on fire down in Texas? I know she’s had some major financial problems in the past— debts and tax problems that led to a lien on her house. But one quality that makes a great salesperson is that “fake it until you make it” attitude and using other people’s money. I’m sure there are some people out there who might support her cause. She’s kind of cute for her age, and there are plenty of deluded Trumpers lurking out there in the shadows who think what happened on January 6th was A-OK. But I think a lot more of us dwell in the glorious sunlight of reality. Despite her confidence and “sass” on Twitter, Jenna Ryan is truly in deep shit. And she, alone, put herself there.

At least in January, Jenna was smart enough to see that prison was a reality for her:

“I listened to my president. He told me to go to the Capitol. I’m facing a prison sentence…”

Yes, you are, Jenna. You are not a victim, either. You got on that private plane of your own free will, unmolested, in part because you are a white woman with blonde hair and pretty teeth. You were not a spectator. You bragged about “marching” to the Capitol and stated, on camera, that you didn’t care if someone got shot in the face. You even said you didn’t care if YOU got shot. And you sipped white wine while you walked around our nation’s capital city, shrieking about how your desires to keep Trump in office were more important than everyone else’s rights to a newly elected (and much more competent) leader chosen in a free and fair election. Here you are on Twitter screaming like you’re at a fucking high school pep rally…

“You’re messing with the WRONG people!!!! … We are ARMED and DANGEROUS!” You said it, Jenna. It’s right here on video!

I would love to know what events from her past made Jenna Ryan into the obviously delusional person she is today. It’s been my experience that people like Jenna have a lot of pain in their histories. People who can deny reality so blatantly and try to pass themselves off as people they’re not, usually have reasons to develop that ability. I suspect some person, or people, probably hurt Jenna, and she’s learned to survive the pain by being completely out of touch with reality. And because she believes her own lies, other people are willing to believe her. However, judging by the comments she’s getting on Twitter, it appears that she’s her own worst enemy, and more people are ready to see her cuffed and stuffed than not.

Jenna Ryan may very well not go to prison… and maybe some nice sugar daddy will come along and give her life a happy ending. Stranger things have happened. Look what’s happened in my life. But, I think it’s much more likely that Jenna will have a reckoning soon. Even if she doesn’t get any jail time, there will be a heavy price for her to pay. She can deny it all she wants, but the truth always comes out in the end. She’s very desperate to show everyone who she is– or, at least the fake version. But pictures and videos don’t lie. She’s clearly guilty as hell. Hopefully, she will get exactly what she so richly deserves.

“Land of Confusion” lyrics… (I think it’s genius… a perfect song about the state of our world today. The boys from Genesis were definitely on to something back in the 1980s. Plus, it still sounds good!)

I must have dreamed a thousand dreams
Been haunted by a million screams
But I can hear the marching feet
They’re moving into the street

Now, did you read the news today?
They say the danger has gone away
But I can see the fire’s still alight
They’re burning into the night

There’s too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And there’s not much love to go around
Can’t you see this is the land of confusion?

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in

Oh, Superman, where are you now?
When every thing’s gone wrong somehow?
Men of steel, these men of power
I’m losing control by the hour

This is the time, this is the place
So we look for the future
But there’s not much love to go around
Tell me why this is the land of confusion

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in

I remember long ago
When the sun was shining
And all the stars were bright all through the night
In the wake up this madness, as I held you tight
So long ago

I won’t be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
We’re not just making promises
That we know we’ll never keep

There’s too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And there’s not much love to go around
Can’t you see this is the land of confusion?

Now, this is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth fighting for

This is the world we live in
And these are the names we’re given
Stand up and let’s start showing
Just where our lives are going to

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Anthony George Banks / Phillip David Charles Collins / Michael Rutherford

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healthcare, mental health

High priced help for the hungry…

For some reason, my post about Adam and Darla Barrows’ love story has attracted a lot of attention. I am intrigued, because it’s somewhat uncommon for items in newspapers to generate interest for so long. Usually, you get a burst of interest in the hours or days after something hits, then people move on to the next thing. And I am especially surprised by the interest in my comments on Barrows’ piece, which was a Modern Love story, rather than a hard news item. I’m just an American blogger in Germany. Why do people care what I think? Why do they care so much that they want to respond or even set me straight? And do they know that sometimes their comments lead me on unexpected paths? That’s what today’s post is about– my unexpected trip into high priced help for the hungry in Switzerland. I never thought my post about a newspaper story would lead me there.

I recently got comments from two people who have never posted here before, both of whom have direct experience of loving someone with anorexia nervosa. One commenter seemed to agree with my take on Adam Barrows’ New York Times article about how he fell in love with a woman with anorexia. The other one clearly did not agree with me, and in fact, says my views are “outdated”. Both commenters have children who have suffered from anorexia. I appreciated that they took the time to read and comment. I won’t be surprised if others also comment, since that post is clearly very hot even a month after I wrote it. Adam Barrows’ story obviously really resonated with and rattled a lot of people.

I just want to mention a few things about that post. First off, all of my posts on this blog are mainly just my opinions. I share them with the world, but I don’t necessarily expect people to agree with me, nor do I assume I’m always right. I wouldn’t want everyone to agree, because it’s hard to learn anything new if everyone thinks the same way.

Secondly, I really think that Barrows’ story was less about anorexia and its treatment, than the development of Adam’s unique love relationship with his wife. I think a lot of people read Adam’s story, got very triggered by it, and felt the need to judge him. He probably knew people would have strong reactions to the story. Ultimately, I think a lot of people missed the point entirely, and focused on anorexia rather than the love story and his perspective as a man who loves someone with an eating disorder. Furthermore, Barrows’ story is not a long piece and was probably edited a lot, so it’s not a good representation of Adam Barrows’ character. It pained me to read so many nasty comments about Mr. Barrows, and that was why I wrote about his NYT piece in the first place.

Finally, I’m really glad he wrote that story and shared it, despite the polarized reactions. It has really made me think and, as you can see, continues to inspire new posts for my blog. 😉

Which brings me to today’s fresh topic. One of the people who commented on my post expressed disappointment that The New York Times shared Barrows’ piece and “glamorized” anorexia. Looking on my Statcounter results, it appeared that “Danielle” might have been writing to me from England. If she is from England, it would make sense that she would give me hell about my comments. She may or may not be aware of how different the US and UK healthcare systems are. In the United Kingdom, citizens have access to the National Health Service, which means healthcare doesn’t cost people as much as it does in the United States. A basic level of affordable care is available to everyone.

In the United States, healthcare is very expensive for most people, even for those with decent health insurance, which is also expensive on its own. Mental health care coverage is often woefully inadequate. It’s been years since I last had a “civilian” health insurance policy, but I seem to remember that my coverage only allowed for thirty days of inpatient psychiatric treatment per year. And that’s if there were no pre-existing conditions! Outpatient care was somewhat more generous, but it was not covered the same way or to the same extent a physical problem would be.

In the United Kingdom, there is also a process called “sectioning”, in which people can be involuntarily hospitalized for mental health conditions. The Mental Health Act of 1983 allows for family members and physicians to act in another person’s best interests when it’s clear that they need psychiatric help and won’t cooperate on their own. Anyone who is being sectioned must be assessed by health care providers first, but it appears that a person can be sectioned for a much broader array of reasons than they can be in the United States. Someone who is starving to the point of death because they have anorexia nervosa could possibly be sectioned, for instance, even if they are over 18 years old.

In the United States, we do have the means for hospitalizing people against their will for psychiatric reasons, but it’s a lot more difficult to force an adult into psychiatric hospitalization than it is a child. A lot depends on the laws of specific states. Moreover, in the United States, involuntary commitment seems to be done most often in cases in which a person is clearly a danger to other people as well as themselves, and is not in touch with basic reality. Someone with anorexia nervosa is probably not going to pose a genuine threat to anyone other than themselves. They also tend to be basically rational in things besides their body image. Anyone who is curious about how eating disorders in the United States are treated may want to watch the excellent 2006 documentary, Thin, by Lauren Greenfield. As you’ll find out if you watch this film, a person’s insurance coverage is also quite important in their ability to access care. I can’t say that adult people with eating disorders never get forced into treatment in the United States, but I think it’s more difficult to do it there than it is in England and Wales.

In the 1960s, there was a big push in the United States to deinstitutionalize people with mental illnesses, which meant that a lot of facilities closed down, for better or worse. The emphasis is more on outpatient treatment. In fact, healthcare is more for outpatient treatment for regular medical conditions, too, mainly because of how bloody expensive it is.

An eye-opener about how eating disorders are treated in America.

As I was thinking about Danielle’s comment and chatting a bit with my friend, Alexis, who is herself employed in healthcare, I got to wondering how eating disorders are treated in Germany. I went Googling, and found a few items that didn’t tell me much. But then my eyes landed on an ad for a rehab in Switzerland– specifically, Paracelsus Recovery in Zurich.

I know Switzerland has really excellent medical care. I also know that it’s an eye-wateringly expensive place. I know healthcare is not cheap in Switzerland, either. I was interested to find out what this place in Zurich was like. I found out that it’s a family run business. Clients are treated one at a time, and have the option of staying in one of two huge penthouses.

The fees include five star treatment, to include a personal chef and a counselor who stays with the client 24/7 in beautifully appointed accommodations. There’s a medical staff, including nurse practitioners and physicians, a wellness staff, with personal trainers and yoga instructors, and therapists. If you access their Web site, you can take a tour of the posh penthouse, which includes a bedroom for the therapist. If you like, you can pay separately for accommodations at a hotel, although the accommodations are included in the price of the treatment and I’m not sure if you get a price break for staying off site.

A very comfortable place to recover in Zurich.

This center treats several different psychiatric conditions, including drug addictions, eating disorders, mood disorders, alcoholism, and behavioral addictions (porn addiction or gambling, for instance). It’s a very discreet place and, judging by the fees they charge, is intended for helping only the very wealthy. At this writing, it costs 80,000 Swiss Francs per person per week to be treated at this facility. To put this price into perspective, at this writing, 80,000 Swiss Francs is equal to about $86,000 or roughly 72,000 euros. The fees cover everything related to the treatment, although if you fall and break your arm or get sick with COVID-19 and need hospitalization, you will have to pay for that medical treatment separately. Also not included is accommodation for anyone who accompanies you or a two day pre-assessment, which is an additional 20,000 francs.

As I was reading about this place, it occurred to me that there must be a market for it. I’m sure their clients are mostly extremely wealthy people, such as royalty from the Middle East, Hollywood movie stars, rock stars, or business moguls from Wall Street. Paracelsus gets excellent reviews online, but I wonder how many people have had the opportunity to experience this kind of treatment. Still, it’s fascinating to read up on it. I wonder what it would be like to work at such a place. I’m sure they deal with some extremely high maintenance people. I also wonder what would prompt someone to start such a practice, which seems to cater only to extremely wealthy people. To be sure, that population is unique and may need special accommodations, but I’m sure the cases are uniquely challenging, too. People with a lot of money are often used to hearing the word “yes” a lot. Maybe such posh surroundings are less effective for people with addictions. But again, I could be wrong. At the very least, it looks like a very competently run place, and in a city well known for psychiatric care.

Wow… very beautiful and very expensive! And no need for a translator.

I found another rehab in Switzerland, Clinic Les Alpes, that has a relatively bargain basement cost of 45,000 Swiss Francs per week, although the typical stay is for 28 days, so you do the math!. It looks like there, you can be treated for exhaustion or burnout or addictions. They seem to focus on addictions the most and offer care that emphasizes comfort, as well as the classic 12 step program to sobriety. It’s in a beautiful area, just off the shores of Lake Geneva, in an area with many forests and no sound pollution (which sounds wonderful to me). But this program appears to be a lot less private. There are 27 rooms for clients to stay in rather than two exclusive penthouses.

I would imagine that healthcare in Switzerland there is delivered expertly, especially if one is paying many thousands of Francs. My experiences in Switzerland have mainly been in a few hotels, a couple of which were high end. The Swiss definitely do high end hotels right, although on the whole, I find it a rather boring, soulless place, even if it is also very beautiful and scenic.

Well… I’ll never darken the door at one of those very special rehabs in Switzerland. I do find them interesting to read about, though. They’re not for ordinary people with big problems. They are for extraordinary people with big wallets. Obviously, there’s a need and a market for them, since at least two of them exist… and to think I found out about them because of a comment on my post about a Modern Love story I read in The New York Times over a month ago! I am always amazed by what inspires me to think and to write… and that’s why I like to hear from people. I’m sure Danielle never knew her comment about how wrong my opinions are would lead me to research luxury rehabs in Switzerland. You learn something new every day!

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