My rant about creepy actor Doug Hutchinson, 51, marrying a seemingly emotionally unstable 16-year old Courtney Stodden, was a personal and therapeutic moment of release, to say the least. It left me feeling sliced open though and reminded from within that I can get snarky and go balls to the wall on any topic, but at the end of the day our society is in a deep mess and that's what I'm so upset about. As a mental health advocate and counselor, it scares and motivates me to no end.
While trying to practice what I preach and arrive at a wholly self-aware place, the first question I looked to answer after the article was published was: would my blood have boiled to such extremes had the tables been turned? If a 51-year old actress and a 16-year old boy announced their marriage, would my sadness over emotional wounds from both parties have been as distressing? The answer is yes, it would have.
Having worked primarily with young men early in my career, I have a soft spot for the horrid way we continue to treat both young and adult males, demanding they contain their emotions and pretend everything is ok at all times especially when it's not, or risk being made to feel like "less of a man."
Just as I feel sad for Courtney Stodden for being so clearly troubled for reasons that go beyond her choice in husband, I'm also sad for men like Hutchison, Woods, Schwarzenegger, James, Sheen, and Weiner because I don't believe for a second that any of them are bad people. I believe they're emotionally troubled with an array of personal issues that deserve professional support and attention, and are spilling over in the public eye.
My frustration, triggered by the Stodden/Hutchinson marriage, is not specifically about gender or even age; it's about mental health in the media, or lack thereof, and our glorification of denial, trauma, and damage. Every time I turn on the TV or pick up a magazine, it's obvious that things are spinning scarily out of control. The entertainment world has shifted from fun and appropriately voyeuristic, to consistently bothersome and destructive, for both participants and viewers.
An individual's willingness to act out their emotional wounds in the public eye has become the prerequisite for celebritydom, and as an over-stimulated society in which being seen and heard is a rare gift, the desire for celebrity or attention for something -- anything -- continues to spread like a bad rash.
Our world is messed up. And from a mental health perspective, it just keeps getting worse and it makes me want to vomit and cry. I know what it takes to be emotionally intelligent, I know it's a messy and at times ugly and painful process. I also know the heart-filling and indescribable joy that spills through your soul when you do the work; when you get real and peel away the layers of denial and paralyzing fear. It's very much worth it. I just want more people to be willing to go there.
So, that's where I'm at -- somewhere between sad and motivated -- wanting to throw my TV into a ditch and never see a magazine again. Yet, at the same time, continuously fantasizing about going to Amber Portwood's house and scooping her up, letting her know she is beautiful, loved and worth it - and helping her get there. Or daydreaming about sitting down with Chris Brown or Lindsay Lohan and getting to the root of the issue. I simply want to save the world, and sometimes I get a little fired up about it. Is that so wrong?