I’m Crazy about Mental Health

Despite the tongue-in-cheek title, this is a serious subject about which I care deeply. Sadly, there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues which prevents many people from seeking the help that is available. The world is not an easy place to navigate and there are very few individuals who could not benefit from some type of therapy and/or medication.

I know this first hand. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I suffer with dysthymia, a mild form of depression. I have had to deal with it since childhood, although it was not correctly diagnosed until about ten years ago.

Although mild, dysthymia is debilitating. It’s often connected to social anxiety, as it is in my case and causes a lack of enthusiasm and anhedonia, an inability to experience pleasure. When I’m in the throes of it, I have no ambition and become lackadaisical. Accomplishing any task becomes extremely difficult. Because it so mild, it very often goes unnoticed and can last for months or even years.

zoloft

I am happy to say that it can be controlled. I spent about ten years in therapy with an excellent counselor and I’ve been taking Zoloft (pictured above) for about three years. I have an occasional downturn, but not nearly as frequently or as drastically as in the past.

I am now able to be the best version of myself. I’m more productive in my chosen craft of filmmaking and in all other aspects of my life. I can recognize the onset of a bout of depression and curtail it before it sets in.

The point of this post is: if you have any type of problem with depression, anxiety, phobias, any type of mental illness, don’t be ashamed of it. It’s your brain chemistry, not who you are as a person. Diabetics take insulin, people take pills for their hearts. The help is out there and if you need it, seek it. Be proud that you are dealing with a problem that is not of your making. Be your best self. Live the life you want. I did it. You can too.

Since I am a filmmaker, I will throw in a bit of trivia. I used the obscure word, “anhedonia”. This was the original title of the film, “Annie Hall”. United Artists insisted on a title change because of the fact that very few people are familiar with the word. They tried ads that included a definition, but who wants to get a vocabulary lesson in an advertisement?

Happy Birthday Mom and Woody

Today, December 1st, is a significant day for me.  It’s the birthday of my idol, the comedic genius, brilliant writer and director, Woody Allen.  It’s also the birthday of Audrey Rothbart, who gave birth to a comedic genius, brilliant writer and on his way to becoming a brilliant director.  Yes, I’m talking about my mother.  Let’s face it, you have to admire my trademark humility.

My brother, my son and I celebrated with my mother.  We got her a cake, cards, some nice presents and bought her dinner.  She’s a terrific person and is just happy to have her family around her.  She is a great mother who pretty much raised her three children alone.  She always made sacrifices for us and encourages me constantly.  I admire her strength.  My father passed away a little over a year ago and she has handled it much better than we could have anticipated.

As far as Woody goes, I celebrated with a mini-marathon.  I watched ANNIE HALL, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, the three films for which he won Best Original Screenplay (ANNIE HALL also earned him Best Director) at the Academy Awards.  Later, I’m going to watch MANHATTAN because it’s my favorite film of all time and I don’t need an excuse to view it.

There is so much to be learned from watching great movies and reading well-written scripts.  (You can learn as much, if not more, from watching terrible movies and reading awful scripts, but today is about celebration.)  I have other influences, the main ones being Neil Simon and the late Nora Ephron, but Woody is first.  Always.

So happy birthday, Mom.  Your oldest appreciates everything you do for your family.  It’s good to know that even if everyone else hates ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? you will love it!

Happy birthday to you too, Woody.  Love your work, all of it.  Not just the films.  Thanks for inspiring me and showing me that a short, homely, neurotic guy from Brooklyn can succeed with his intellect, talent and wit.