Category Archives: Media

‘Joker’ Movie: A Wake-Up Call to America

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I’ve been seeing in the news that the Joker movie is already stirring up controversy, and it hasn’t even opened in theaters yet.

The main complaint, one example is here, is that the movie centers around a white male with mental issues. Thus, the critics contend, it will encourage more white males with mental issues to commit crimes, most notably active shooter crimes that have become so prevalent in the U.S.

I happen to be a white male with mental issues. Does that mean that after I see Joker, I’m going to purchase an assault rifle and body armor and kill as many people as possible in the nearby mall/restaurant/movie theater/supermarket/etc?

Of course not. That’s profiling. And in America, we ALL know that profiling is wrong.

Do I think the movie Joker, about a white male loner who gets beaten down by society, thus turning him into a mass murderer, is going to trigger more people like me to commit crimes?

I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not.

But I think everyone is missing the point. In the previews, Arthur Fleck, who becomes Joker, is told by his psychiatrist that she will not meet with him anymore. Maybe because he is not improving. Is she giving up on him?

I think the point is that this demographic needs help. MY demographic. I have had three psychiatrists in my life who have literally kicked me out of their offices, telling me never to come back because I “wasn’t improving.” I was told by more than one therapist that I “didn’t need medication” because I “just needed to change my thinking.”

I think society gives up on people like us too easily and quickly. Might I remind everyone that mental illness is a disease. My sister’s friend recently committed suicide even though he had a family that did all they possibly could to help him.

Unfortunately, the young man was just not able to see the love being poured out to him; he was not able to realize how devastated his family and many friends would be if he took his own life.

My sister, her friend’s father, and everyone else who is “normal” (Therapists hate this word, but I don’t care) did not understand that the young man was enveloped by a dark cloud that prevented him from seeing clearly. It’s not that he didn’t care about hurting his loved ones; he was not able to realize it.

Perhaps the controversy surrounding Joker needs to be a wake-up call to society: People need help. “White males” with mental issues. Those who are bullied. Misfits. Loners. We need help.

Professionals need to care more. Teachers need to intervene more. Family members and friends need to engage more. Strangers need to care more.

My personal issues have caused me to be an outcast my whole life. I still have scary flashbacks from when I was bullied during my childhood. They won’t go away.

We, just like Arthur Fleck in the beginning of the movie, are merely people who have been crapped on by society. Instead of banning the movie, why not use it as a teaching moment for American society?

And you “normal” people: Do your part. Be nice to weirdos. Try talking to that outcast/loner kid at school. Don’t be so quick to kick us out of your psychiatry offices.

Maybe it’s not guns that are the problem in America. Maybe it’s the neglecting of those who are not “normal.”

~t


Advice to My Son, the Future Soccer Pro

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I’m back in the Middle East for my job. Before I left home, I wrote a “book” for my youngest son who is really into soccer (football). It’s a book where each page is one piece of advice on how to become a pro and how to do your best to achieve your goals.

It all started when he told me that he wanted to be a pro football player someday. The kid has talent. He’s the best player on his team, and it’s in a league where he is playing against 15 year olds. My son is only 11 by the way.

Did I mention that he is obsessed with Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus?

I started giving him little nuggets of advice because I want him to go pro. What parent doesn’t want their child to be a professional athlete? I realized I was giving him so much advice that I decided I would write it all down to remember. Then I realized that if I had enough nuggets of dad-wisdom, I could print it out and bind it for him. I even made a cover for the “book.” It’s the image above of Cristiano as a badass.

Some of my advice in the book:

Don’t let anyone get in your head. Once you do, it’s all over.

Being a pro is 90% mental and 10% physical.

Always ask yourself: What would (Cristiano) Ronaldo do?

Live to fight another day. Is your game off? Live to fight another day. Your team lost? Live to fight another day. Don’t lose hope or give up.

I used the Notes app on my iPhone to record my little nuggets. While I’m watching my son in a game or practicing, a line of inspirational advice will come to me. I type it in my Notes and save it, sharing it with my son at a later time.

Someday, after I think of enough quotes, I’d like to find a publisher and put it out there in the world to inspire other kids. If I have to self-publish, then so be it.

What’s cool is that my advice can be applied to anyone in any situation like Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

It has really boosted my self-esteem and self-confidence. I go back and read the book full of my very own quotes (I don’t steal or rip off anyone else), and I feel proud of myself. I feel like a successful father helping his son achieve his dream.

I told my son that while I’m on the other side of the world for six months, I want him to read my book of quotes before every game. I told him it would be like daddy is right there with him, urging him on proudly.

~t

 


Another Celebrity Suicide…

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Dear media: Stop giving out the suicide prevention hotline!

I saw the news this past week on my favorite music blog, MetalSucks, that yet another celebrity had succumbed to suicide. Her name is Jill Janus, and she was the singer for a metal band called Huntress. She was only 43.

I don’t expect many of you to know who she was. Heavy metal has so many subgenres that there are literally thousands of bands out there that are listened to by fans of this type of music.

Haters: Topaz, you’re just another hypocritical Catholic. Heavy metal is of the devil.

Topaz: Thank you for your free advice.

I’m writing this post because I’m saddened by another celebrity person taking their own life.

I’m saddened that the metal blog (where I first read the news) ended their article by saying something like, “Please, please. If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call this toll-free hotline: XXX-XXX-XXXX.”

I’m saddened by the comment section where quite a few people said things like Why didn’t she reach out for help? Why wasn’t she on medication? Why wasn’t she in therapy?

I’m saddened and angered by the ignorance of those “normal” people that just don’t get it.

They’ll never understand.

Because they’re not like “us.”

They don’t have the disease that is mental illness. Jill suffered from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and dissociative identity disorder, according to a 2015 interview.

Am I against suicide hotlines? Sort of. They don’t work for me. I’ve used them several times.

Am I against medication and therapy? Of course not. I’m partaking in both.

What angers me is that people don’t realize that there are many instances where mentally ill people CANNOT reach out for help because they are too enshrouded in darkness. Their minds are telling them that there is no other option but death.

This is why I have attempted suicide more than once. Two of those times I passed the point of no return (only to miraculously end up alive).

With Jill, I don’t believe that she was always in that dark state where she couldn’t think clearly. I’m sure there were times when she was partying and having a great time, enjoying life.

So, since there will always be suicides because the disease of mental health is too overpowering at times, is there any hope for “us”?

Yes. I believe that we sufferers should seek treatment such as medication and therapy when we ARE in a right state of mind; don’t wait until it’s too late. If you suffer from any of these damn diseases (depression, bipolar disorder, etc.), go to a doctor before you slip and fall headfirst into the deep, dark pit.

Had Jill been on a regimen of medication and therapy, then I think she would still be alive today. Instead, the world has lost another talented individual, and her friends and family have lost someone very special.

In conclusion, don’t give out the suicide hotline to those who are not “normal.” Instead, grab them by the fricking hair, kicking and screaming, and drag them to the doctor! Check up on them several times a day! Watch them take their medication! Drive them to therapy!

Because a phone number isn’t gonna do a damn thing for someone who is already too far gone.

~t


Blessed Are The Misfits

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Let’s see. How can I sit down right now and write an encouraging blog post for you? As you know, I’m not the most encouraging blogger. I kinda suck.

Anyway, I’ve been reading a book. Actually I’ve read it, but I’m reading it again. That’s how good it is. The book is Blessed Are The Misfits: Great News for Believers Who Are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something. For short, I just call it Blessed Are The Misfits. You can tell from the title just what kind of book it is.

I won’t get into the details too much, but it is a perfect book for someone like me. The author, Brant Hansen, spends time describing how introverts and “weirdos” like he and I don’t really fit into the whole Church culture. (He’s coming from a Protestant viewpoint by the way.)

What I like is how he says that, even though we don’t fit in or aren’t “fired up” to share Jesus with people, we as Christians still have an obligation to love people.

To love people.

This is super hard for me because I generally don’t care much for humans. I have to work with them and teach them, but that doesn’t mean I like them.

Topaz, how can you call yourself a Catholic when you hate people?!

I try to love them. I also fall short a heck of a lot. That’s where God’s grace and effort on my part come in. Here is an excerpt from the book:

I know I don’t fit in. But I also know I’m supposed to love people, even those who will never, ever understand me and don’t even want to.

Obviously he’s talking about the “popular kids.” You know. The happy cliques, the look-at-me types, the ones who I went to school with, and the ones who I have to work with. (Nope. The popular cliquish people are also found in jobs in the adult world. It doesn’t end in high school. *eye roll*)

Hansen says at the end of an early chapter:

He [Jesus] knows this world is both cruel and inhospitable to Him and His people. But He told us God “so loves” it anyway.

He even plans to rescue it.

This is what I get from everything so far: I don’t have to force myself to become an extrovert in order to be the best Christian I can be. I just have to deny myself and try and love people. Because Jesus loved people. He still does. He even loves the people on heavy metal blogs and websites that talk about how they hate Him and that the Church He founded is a pile of garbage that we don’t need. (It breaks my heart, but I still visit those metal blogs and sites because, well, I love metal.)

Anyway, I hope you got something out of this post today. If not, then just remember to love people because God loves people. Even if it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever tried to do. And try to love the misfit types and “different” types too. Because God does.

~t


In Defense of Logan Paul and the Suicide Forest Video

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Logan Paul

As you probably know, I blog only when I have something to say, which isn’t very often these days.

However, the recent controversy over YouTube star Logan Paul caught my attention for two reasons: 1) He went to Japan, a country in which I used to live, and 2) he encountered a suicide victim inside a forest named Aokigahara, a place referred to in English as the Suicide Forest.

I have been to Aokigahara. It’s at the foot of Mount Fuji, a famous inactive volcano. I didn’t venture inside the forest because of all the warning signs and creepiness. Plus, it’s believed to be haunted, and I’m scared to death of the supernatural.

As a person with mental illness and suicide ideation, I wanted to see with my own eyes this ‘foolproof’ method of ending one’s life. Suicidal individuals wander inside the vast, dense forest and literally never find their way out. They usually die of starvation. The trees are so dense that helicopters cannot see inside the forest from above.

To be honest, I had never heard of Logan Paul before this latest controversy. I was able to see the video on TMZ though since it doesn’t exist on YouTube anymore.

Paul seems to me like an arrogant, immature 22-year-old. Being a YouTube sensation and getting filthy rich from it, it appears in the video that he and his friends decide to give his fans a treat and spend the night in the ‘haunted’ forest. They accidentally find a hanging body as a result.

From this point the media rage ensues: Paul didn’t turn off his video camera. Instead, he decided to show a close-up of the hanging body with purplish hands. The face was luckily blurred out.

And then he uttered a joke and laughed. Jeez, an arrogant, rich kid had the audacity to do this. *Sarcasm mode off*

My gosh, young people nowadays take selfies with their dead grandparents at funerals. They watch daredevils fall to their deaths from tall buildings without batting an eye. Some people, young and old, laugh as a coping mechanism when faced with awkward situations.

Bottom line: Logan Paul is a young, foolish, stunt-driven punk who laughed while standing next to a suicide victim. What the hell else would you expect?

Personally, seeing the cold purplish hands of the victim in the video was a strong enough deterrent for me. I don’t want to end up like that, so I keep taking my meds and visiting my therapist.

Paul probably had little interest in promoting suicide prevention. Anyway, the video is out there and it’s not going away. Paul will continue to make money off his videos because his legion of young fans are forgiving of their heroes.

Since I saw the video a few days ago, I’ve had zero thoughts of suicide.

All I can say is: It helped me.

Has it occurred to you that the video might help others too? Help them in ways that a suicide hotline number wouldn’t?

~t


Living Our Lives For Christ

What makes a person happy? What makes life worth living?

Is it money? Fame? Popularity? Career success?

We all know the answer: not at all. There is only one thing – or one person, to be more exact – that can make us happy, and that’s Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the only way to understand what the women described below decided to do. Even with worldly success, they gave it all up to follow Christ in a more focused way in the religious life.

Of course, you can follow Jesus without joining a religious order. Some of us are called to go into business, to work in the entertainment industry, to have families, etc. But some are called to the radical religious life – and they remind us of what’s really the most important.

 

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Olalla as a nun

Olalla Oliveros was a successful Spanish model, starring in movies and advertisements throughout the country and the world.

Then she visited Fatima, Portugal, the site of the famous Marian apparition to three children there in 1917, and had what she later described as an “earthquake experience.” She says she received in her mind the image of herself dressed as a nun, something she said she initially found absurd.

But she couldn’t get the image out of her mind. She eventually concluded that Jesus was calling her to give up her glamorous life and become a nun.

“The Lord is never wrong,” she said. “He asked if I will follow him, and I could not refuse.”

She is now a member of the semi-cloistered Order of Saint Michael.

 

 

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Amada Rosa Pérez was one of Colombia’s most successful models before she disappeared from the public eye. Then years later, she re-emerged to explain her absence: she had had a religious conversion and was working with a Marian religious community (though she had not become a nun).

At the height of her career, she was diagnosed with a disease that made her lose part of her hearing. The diagnosis led her to question her lifestyle:

“I felt disappointed, unsatisfied, directionless, submerged in fleeting pleasures… I always sought answers and the world never gave them to me.”

Now, she regularly goes to Mass, goes to confession, prays the rosary, and prays the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

“Before I was always in a hurry, stressed out, and got upset easily. Now I live in peace, the world doesn’t appeal to me, I enjoy every moment the Lord gives me.”

She also has re-evaluated what it really means to be a “model”:

“Being a model means being a benchmark, someone whose beliefs are worthy of being imitated, and I grew tired of being a model of superficiality. I grew tired of a world of lies, appearances, falsity, hypocrisy and deception, a society full of anti-values that exalts violence, adultery, drugs, alcohol, fighting, and a world that exalts riches, pleasure, sexual immorality and fraud.

“I want to be a model that promotes the true dignity of women and not their being used for commercial purposes.”

These wonderful ladies ought to be an inspiration for the rest of us. No, you don’t have to become a nun or a priest to follow Christ to the best of your ability. All you need is a heart for God and He will do the rest, blessing you along the way and growing you into the man or woman that He envisions you to be.

We all have the same potential, so let’s strive to live a life of faith through action. If you indeed take that step, God will bless you beyond comprehension.

~t

(via ChurchPOP)

 


Movie: The Road Within

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I just discovered this movie on Netflix. As I always say, I don’t get out too often, so most of you may have already seen this film. Not only do I like indie films, but I especially keep an eye out for ones that explore aspects of mental illness.

This particular film caught my eye because it qualifies as:

  1. a “buddy flick” – and I love those, and
  2. a movie dealing with characters who suffer from some sort of metal illness.

The Road Within is about three young people who don’t know each other, but they all escape from the same wellness center (I’m trying not to use ‘psych ward’). The main character, Vincent, suffers from Tourette syndrome; Marie is anorexic; and Alex, who they pick up at the last minute, has severe OCD. So severe that he constantly wears latex gloves and opens and shuts car doors exactly five times before entering.

They steal/borrow Vincent’s father’s Mercedes and head for the coast to spread Vincent’s mom’s ashes. Along the way they encounter adventures and moments of self-discovery and heartfelt sharing.

It’s not the typical buddy-movie formula: these characters are deep and they’re hurting. They just want and need some help and someone to love and understand them.

I didn’t realize this before watching the movie, but I didn’t know that anorexia was a disease of the mind. I was ignorant like most people probably are.

Alex tells his new friends that his OCD keeps him trapped inside a world of rituals that he cannot escape. He even pays a gas station attendant to chase him out of the store to make it look like Alex ran away without paying. He later confesses to his friends that he did this “to look cool” and to feel normal for a change.

Vincent explains that his Tourette syndrome is like a sneeze: you can’t stop the tics and outbursts of vulgarity no matter how hard you try.

One moving scene in the film shows Vincent’s dad confessing to the boy’s therapist where he went wrong:

It’s awful to say, but I was embarrassed by him… I wanted a different boy. And he knew it. He could see it on my face.

This film doesn’t offer any answers or self-help advice. It’s just a movie about three individuals who are not like the majority of society and how they learn to cope with and eventually rely on each other. I highly recommend it.

~t