By Naomi Serviss / New York City
Is it mere coincidence
that Mother’s Day
and Mental Health Awareness Month
fall at the same time?
Mothers are supposed
to drive their kids nuts.
It’s in the manual.
That being said,
an official day
(Even if your mother
was an emotionally abusive narcissist
with a borderline personality to boot.)
Fortunately, we’re all adults now
and can discuss
suicidal ideation without blanching.
And who hasn’t been
depressed, anxious, panic-stricken
and a smidge agoraphobic
in the past two years?
We’re all touched by
posttraumatic stress disorder.
How could we not be,
after living two years on Covid-hold?
Merely living in the here and now,
going about my business,
I’m shadowed by whispering variants
that float effortlessly, airborne.
But I’m not paranoid,
just worried about everyone’s mental health.
Everyone is susceptible to the unthinkable.
The latest shocking celebrity suicide
was country singer Naomi Judd
who struggled for years with mental illness.
Judd’s daughters Wynonna and Ashley
attributed their mother’s suicide to
“the disease of mental illness”
in a statement.
Judd had been open
about her mental health issues
At the nadir of despair in 2013,
she spent two years on the couch.
Considered taking her own life
at a bridge near her farm.
In 2017, Judd wrote
River of Time:
My Descent into Depression
and How I Emerged With Hope.
That year, she discussed her experiences
on morning news shows
and seemed to be in good spirits.
When famous families speak publicly
About their loved one’s pain
it benefits those
without familiar surnames.
(not her real name)
has been in therapy for 50 years.
Gratefully, she reports
being at a balanced, healthy juncture.
A far cry from the two times
she tried to kill herself.
Chronic depression is a disease
that’s haunted her,
Name an antidepressant
and Debra’s likely been on and off of it.
She now undergoes Ketamine treatments
a day’s drive away from home,
under medical supervision.
Her “trips” as she calls them,
can be soothing and restorative,
psychologically satisfying or nerve-wracking.
“This weekend I was really agitated
and didn’t want to bike or play mahjong
or meet for lunch.”
Her support-team family
helps her maintain equanimity.
“It’s always a struggle
and has ups and downs.
I have more up days now than down,” Debra adds.
“Really learning how to let go
of the past shit in my life,
which is healthy.”
Debra credits her in-patient,
psychiatric hospital experience
as being one of the best things
she’s ever done.
is a multi-talented
Broadway actor/cabaret-singing writer
who understands depression.
Her autobiographical play with music
is Walking With Bubbles.
The tale reveals Hendy
as a single mom
navigating a life
enmeshed with her ex,
who became homeless in New York City.
He refused treatment.
“I watched his rapid
and severe mental decline
and finally left
with my four-year-old son,
Beckett,” (aka Bubbles).
When Hendy moved to New York City,
her ex followed.
“His brain couldn’t handle big city life
and that’s when he began
living as a homeless man.
“I struggled with
guilt, shame and secrecy,”
“I lived a double life.
We would meet him in parks
and Bubbles could see his dad.”
Keeping her secret
upended Hendy’s life
and mental stability.
Therapy and writing anchored her.
Her “light-bulb moment” was realizing
that everyone has been touched,
in some way, by the disease.
that by sharing her harrowing story
it would encourage others
to share theirs.
“Going to therapy
is a path
to own and love your story,”
“We’re all more alike than we think.”
Hendy’s truth-telling play with music
has a May 19 midtown reading.
will be generous angels
and discerning producers.
The month of May
will forever be linked
to honoring our foremothers.
It's also the perfect gratitude moment
for our mental health support team.
Without mine, I wouldn't be here.
Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com