Category Archives: health and wellness

Naming Mental Illness: It’s A Mind Game.

My beautiful pictureIn the wake of multiple lives lost at the hands of another, lone gunman, we as a society pause yet again to face the truly disturbing: sick minds are a threat to us all.
And, the bigger problem looms. Our care and oversight with regard to detecting, diagnosing and treating the mentally ill is, to this degree, still woefully incomplete.
To begin with, I believe we use the term “mentally ill” far too loosely, and imprecisely; consequently, a “cry wolf” mentality seeps into the public consciousness. We misappropriate the term, applying it whenever we think we don’t particularly like or understand someone, and miss the truly deadly potential in those who really are unwell.
Let’s take a step back, and lay out some facts.
., the official website on the topic, states:
  • One in five American adults experience a mental health issue;
  • One in 10 young people experience a period of major depression;
  • One in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
“Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.
Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need.”
Given the above indisputable data, over 80% of those who are really ill get no treatment in their earliest years, when containment and rehabilitation is possible.
Meantime, we go about our days interacting with all manner of personalities. Somebody demonstrates a trait not common to our own notions of good protocol, rubbing us the wrong way. Perhaps louder, or more vociferously than we might, such an one misbehaves in public. One of us says to another: “She’s mental.”
Let’s not mistake acute passion, expressed in the presence of others, for imbalance.
“The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness.”
How many of these lone gunmen were ever described by anyone who knew them as out acting? Rather, categorically, up until the moment of their psychotic break, each behaved in a manner decidedly well beneath the radar of public condemnation.
Even as we move forward to improve our detection and diagnosis of the mentally ill, let’s check our reactions toward each other at the door. Become more wary of the unusually silent, among our young and old; watch eye movement; document the absence of response, rather than each outburst otherwise easily recognized; and, communicate all observations to the appropriate resource as soon as they have been made.
But, withhold public declaration. Defaming the innocent is almost as deadly to our collective relationship as is missing one capable of suddenly taking yet another life.
© 6/7/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Originally published at

The Kiss.


I swooned with everyone else.

Not only was he tall, strong, and handsome, Cuomo was fresh, well rested, adroit, and the picture of health. A shrewd contrast to Maddow’s incisive, rapid fire analysis, this broadcasting commentator offered a more streamlined, to the point style which appealed not exclusively to heterosexual females but to everyone on the go seeking a solid, bottom line summary of the day’s political events. The package was just the icing on the beefcake.

Frankly, tuning in was already old to me; I’d been a daily news viewer for years. Perhaps growing up in a fundamentalist sect affected my latent thirst for up to the minute real time check ins on world realities. Who knew? For the past decade following the ticker had become my thing, and what better way to finish off the day than with a face which harkened to my own beloved? It’s true; both Cuomo and my significant other are genetically similar, bearing the wide, toothy grin and broadly open eyes of either Calabria or Campania, though mine a decade or so ahead in age and, okay, we Dagos like to keep it in the family. Besides, being on call in a hospital keeps my own absent on most evenings. But, you aren’t convinced.

So, it was time. Time for the latest heartthrob of the astute and vigilant to visit Colbert Nation.

He wouldn’t have been the first. AC had already been, as had his own late night comrade, D Lemon. But, he would be a first, and inimitably so. Chris Cuomo would bring his winsome charm all the way to the mats.

They’d made it nearly to the end of predicted reparte, “getting after it” for a solid twelve. Can we even remember how it came next? No. We can’t. But, we won’t forget it, either.

Somebody challenged somebody to the floor. Who could do 100 push ups?

The ties came off. The cuffs came up.

It was brain to brawn, lean to clean, waddaya mean. Counting aloud, the audience held their collective breath.

Then, just past 40-something, the inexplicable happened. The five second delay kicked in, and the frame froze. No amount of rewind could retrieve it; the outcome was lost. Cable rarely gave out, not nearly as often as dish, but it would be the next day, on the Tube, that we’d see why.

The host had been the first to give, well, because he was the host. Collapsing to the floor, Colbert curled almost fetal, closed his eyes, and smiled like a baby in a bassinet.

Then, Mario’s youngest did what all good Italian boys do. He laughed, crawled over on top of Colbert like a puppy in a litter, hugged him, and kissed him on his face.

Did the tape stop, on purpose? Was there a mad dash to edit?

Now, it might only be the Italian Americans who will have understood. We claim no corner on the market of affection, but we do hold this court. And, I’m betting that even the most stoic Swede in Minnesota felt it, right where open meets honest and fake is the joke, right?

That’s right. It’s all there, in the heart of everyone with a will and a brother.

Swoon on.






© 5/29/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.   Thanks for the read, and the respect. Be well.





What Is This Thing Called Life?

Jodie Johnson’s baby boy.

A lot changes in one lifetime.

My grandmother was raised without the car, the radio, or the television. I grew up without a computer. Transistor radios were the first portables, the size of a human hand; early televisions were sold in black and white; and, the term “wireless” originally applied only to morse code and telegram.

Technology has advanced our civilization like no other force on the planet. We can do things, and interact, in ways which were unimaginable just fifty years ago.

But, one thing hasn’t changed.

Humans are still required to reproduce themselves.

Whether we engage in sex or not, sperm and egg must converge in order for conception to occur, and female bodies must be their host.

At present, fertile women hold an immense amount of power. They endure pregnancy, and bring into the world the next generation. Until the day when alternate hosts for gestation are provided, women alone will carry to term every conceived life.

Or, not.

My elder brother is an expert witness. He possesses the qualifications to serve in court. Attorneys hire him to comment on the facts related to scientific inquiry, because he is a chemist with a PhD. While not required to have been present at the scene of either a crime or as yet unexplained death, he is permitted to speak with authority as to its evidentiary details. Growing up at his elbow, I learned to pay attention to what science teaches us.

Now, while scientists irrespective of gender across the nation remain in hot debate over which of them has the authority to determine the origin of life, society and its politicians are now re-visiting when life begins.

Here is what can be clearly understood. Millions of sperm are observed under a microscope swimming like tadpoles. Furthermore, the human egg does appear to burst from the ovary of its own volition, spurred by the follicle stimulating hormone. A single sperm is known to penetrate the egg, and a merger of the two produces a zygote which immediately begins to divide, cell by cell. Cell division is the natural process of what is called growth within an organism and an organism, by definition, is alive.

Nature is our reliable educator. All we need do is become its attentive student. The female body signals its every cyclic phase, and the process by which these phases can be followed has been called the Sympto-Thermal Method*.

As fertility approaches, both the basal body temperature changes and the vagina begins to secrete an opaque solution; once the solution becomes clear and viscous (like egg albumin), this indicates that the mature egg has exited the ovary and is traveling down the fallopian tube to the uterus. During this phase, should sperm be introduced into the vaginal canal (or, already be present in waiting), conception becomes increasingly likely. Once the egg has reached the uterus, there is a precise, 24 hour period during which basal body temperature remains elevated and the egg will remain viable, able to be fertilized by one sperm.

If a male sperm reaches the egg first, a male child is conceived. Female sperm swim slower and live longer; perhaps a female sperm will penetrate the egg, by the next day, if the egg does not begin its own demise. But, once penetrated by a sperm, if sufficient progesterone is present the fertilized egg attempts to nest in the wall of the uterus. If successful, the zygote begins to grow; if conception and/or nesting does not occur, the egg dies and the basal body temperature descends. Once this temperature returns to normal, conception can no longer occur until the cycle repeats.

Nature also has its own means by which unviable fetuses are dismissed. This is called miscarriage. The relative health of the mother as well as the fetus usually determines this involuntary outcome but, one thing is certain: this decision is made by the body, itself, and not the mind of the person dwelling within it.

The act of disturbing any living fetus to the extent that it can no longer continue growth is called abortion. Is there a species from within the animal kingdom on our planet which has demonstrated voluntary interruption of fetal growth? If so, what are the conditions which predicate the act?

Put yourself in the following position. A female kangaroo is within arm’s reach. Inside the kangaroo’s pouch is a gestating fetus. What would happen, were you to attempt to reach into the kangaroo’s pouch?

Women are entitled to three humanitarian options. We have the option to conceive. We have the option to gestate and give birth. And, we have the option to let nature take its course. Anything else is in violation of the living organism our bodies are capable of producing.

And, women, because we are currently the hosts, must take full responsibility for the potential of life in the womb. We must educate girls and women fully, both in the area of pregnancy health as well as pregnancy prevention. The Sympto-Thermal method can be taught, and should be a requirement within every public and private school curriculum. Even very young girls, regardless of socio-economic background, can be given a thermometer and shown how to take their basal body temperature in preparation for puberty. As for the small number of those who remain unteachable, great care of these should be taken by the entire society’s watchful and compassionate eye and any children they bear should be cared for accordingly.

Each of us has been given life, entirely outside of our own choice; as such, we should respect this involuntary gift, and sustain life by choice.

And, this would render the agonizing and impossible abortion argument null and void, forever.


Because in spite of life’s endless changes, living itself is precious.








© 5/15/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.   Thank you for your respect.