are you okay?
November 25, 2020

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, revealed that she had a miscarriage over the summer in a remarkable New York Times op-ed published Wednesday. "Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few," she wrote, adding that "despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning."

Markle's op-ed follows Chrissy Teigen's essay about her miscarriage in September, but while Teigen and her husband, John Legend, frequently share stories about their personal and family lives, Britain's royal family keeps a famously tight lid on private issues.

Markle, 39, and her husband, Prince Harry, stepped back from being senior royals in January and now live more or less quietly in California with their 1-year-old son, Archie. "After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp," she writes in her op-ed, describing what had been an otherwise "ordinary" July morning. "I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second. Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband's hand," watching his "heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine."

The duchess turned their private grief into a larger rumination on a year that "has brought so many of us to our breaking points," from COVID-19 to the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd to the deep divisions that have fractured the U.S. into siloed factions and individuals. "That polarization, coupled with the social isolation required to fight this pandemic, has left us feeling more alone than ever," Markle writes, and she kept returning to a question that might save us: "Are you okay?"

"This Thanksgiving, as we plan for a holiday unlike any before — many of us separated from our loved ones, alone, sick, scared, divided, and perhaps struggling to find something, anything, to be grateful for — let us commit to asking others, 'Are you okay?'" Markle writes, suggesting that if we do, and if we really see one another, "we will be." Read her full op-ed at The New York Times. Peter Weber

August 4, 2017

Some people re-read books because they like those books. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly apparently re-reads books as a grave warning to himself, The Wall Street Journal reports:

Soon after accepting the chief of staff position, Mr. Kelly picked up C.S. Forester's novel, The General. The 1936 novel chronicles a British officer's rise through the ranks until finally his mediocrity catches up with him and he causes thousands of men to be unnecessarily killed. Mr. Kelly had also read it six months ago when he was given the job of Homeland Security secretary, and before taking top command posts as a Marine general — as a reminder of what to avoid as a leader. [The Wall Street Journal]

The book might hit especially close to home, too: "Everyone in the White House likes referring to [Kelly] as 'General,'" said former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Read more about how Kelly is adjusting to the White House, and how the White House is adjusting to Kelly, at The Wall Street Journal. Jeva Lange

February 17, 2017

President Trump's tendency to repeat falsehoods and brag about his own election weeks after the inauguration has left both friends and enemies expressing concern about his wellbeing.

Worries came to a head on Thursday when Trump delivered a wild press conference, bashing news about the White House as being "fake" even though he conceded the "leaks are real" and bragging he had the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan, despite such an assertion being demonstrably false. "Judging by his Thursday press conference, President Trump's mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic, and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored, and unglued," David Brooks wrote at The New York Times.

Democrats have not been shy about expressing their concerns. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) fretted in a floor speech that the 25th Amendment of the Constitution does not adequately cover mental or emotional fitness when discussing methods for removing the president, while Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) is working on legislation that would require a psychiatrist or psychologist in the White House, The Hill reports.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) even confirmed to CNN that "a few" Republicans have confided in him concerns about Trump's "mental health."

For Brian Stelter's Reliable Sources, CNN's Brian Lowry revisited Howard Stern's prediction that the presidency would deteriorate Trump. "I actually think this is something that is gonna be detrimental to his mental health too, because, he wants to be liked, he wants to be loved. He wants people to cheer for him," Stern once said.

Mental health professionals warned The Hill against the "politicization" of claims that an opponent is suffering from mental illnesses: "We certainly wouldn't want individuals to use mental illness as a weapon to harm others," said University of Georgia psychologist Joshua Miller. But even mental health professionals are paying attention to Trump's behavior, with 35 psychologists and psychiatrists recently authoring a letter to The New York Times warning of "the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump's speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president." Jeva Lange

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