My 10 Most Popular Posts of 2018

It’s always fun for me to see my most popular posts. There were a few posts on this list that surprised me, and a few I’m just happy to see other people seemed to like as much as I did. The content varies so much that I still have no idea what I should write more of and less of… I guess I’ll keep using the spaghetti method, throw things on the wall and see what sticks.

11 Best Non-Fiction Books About Mental Illness

This was one of my most popular posts for 2017, and I’m glad to see it made #1 this year.

Don’t Ban Eleanor & Park

I passionately love this book. I’m always against censorship, but this is a book I wish had been around when I was growing up.

Old Things and Abandoned Places

Apparently, I’m not alone in my love of these things.

10 Best Novels from Over 100 Years Ago

This has been one of my most popular posts ever since I wrote it back in 2011.

Our Dark Duet- A Review

This is the sequel to This Savage Song, and I have strong feelings about them both.

“Master Yoda, Is The Dark Side Stronger?”

My philosophical musings on good vs. evil.

12 Responses to Excuses About Why You’re Not Reading

I’ve seen a lot of posts about “how to read more,” but for me, what it boils down to is, we do what we prioritize.

I Highlight in Books, But Only Monsters Dog-Ear Pages

Seriously though.

10 Best Fiction Books About Mental Illness

I’m glad that people are so interested in books on mental illness.

The Dinner List- A List & A Review

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did.

My 10 Most Popular Posts of 2017 and My Plan for 2018

I got a lot of new subscribers in 2017, which was nice. (I know you’re there, even if you’re not talking… come join the conversation!)

2017 was a year I tried to settle into a groove with blogging. In previous years, I tried to do daily (which was way too much) and other times when I had no schedule. In 2017, I tried to post on Tuesdays and Fridays. For 2018, I’m going to go back to a Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday format. Because of the interest in book challenges, I’m going to try to check in once a week with what I’m reading and my progress on various challenges. Starting next week, that will be on Mondays. (Happy New Year, BTW!)


Most of the popular posts from this list are from 2017, but some are older (some much older). Without further ado, my top 10 from this year…

  1. 11 Best Non-Fiction Books About Mental Illness You have no idea how happy I am to see this at #1. People are becoming more interested in mental illness, and I think that’s a wonderful step toward conversation and destigmatizing what so many people struggle with.
  2. 10 Best Novels from Over 100 Years Ago This post is from 2011 and has consistently been one of my most popular posts. It’s a little sparse, back when I just made lists but didn’t consistently post pictures or say anything about the books. But… I guess that’s what Amazon is for?
  3. What Bullying Looks Like as An Adult Again, another post I’m happy to see as popular. We really, really need to stop telling children no to be bullies and then turn around and do it ourselves. Take a look to see the subtle ways you might be participating in bullying.
  4. Don’t Ban Eleanor & Park A post from 2016. I’m so against book banning. I think that any book that really speaks to someone is going to make someone else mad, and that’s okay. Kids need books like these. Eleanor & Park is a book I wish had been around when I was in high school
  5. Book Challenges 2018 A very recent post, but it just goes to show how interested in book challenges people are becoming. I’m going to try to be better about posting updates on my progress next year. Join me and feel free to update me on your progress too!
  6. Open Letter to the Writer Who Left My Writer’s Group You know, I almost didn’t write this post. I hate that I may have contributed to discouraging another writer. But it wasn’t done out of a spirit of meanness, and I think that it’s important to admit to my mistakes so I can become a better person. None of us are perfect. And even though the writer who this letter was intended for will probably never see it, maybe someone else who needs to see it will.
  7. 5 Things Not to Say to a Writer This post is from 2013, and I remember what made me write it. I was still working at crisis back then. We had some down time and were sitting around. I was working on a story and started bouncing ideas off my Arizona bestie, who is not a writer. He pretty much said everything on this list, and it made me crazy. When I showed him the blog post, he laughed.
  8. Promoting Kindness This post was inspired by all the vitriol I see (even among friends) over differing opinions regarding politics.
  9. 10 Best Fiction Books About Mental Illness I love that more people are trying to write characters with mental illnesses; I just prefer that people get it right. Exposure to fiction is known to increase empathy, so reading about characters with mental illness definitely can promote understanding and reduce fear of these disorders.
  10. The Pros and Cons of Writing in Coffee Shops Spoiler alert… it’s not my thing!

Doing a very scientific analysis, it seems that my most popular posts are lists of books and more personal type posts. I’ll try to keep that in mind as I’m brainstorming topics next year.

Are there any topics you’d like to see me write about? Any topics you’d like less of? I’m always open to suggestions, so feel free to comment on this (or any post) or email me at

Thanks for coming along for the ride that was 2017 for me! I’m hoping that 2018 will be even better.

11 Best Non-Fiction Books About Mental Illness

On Sunday, in honor of May being National Mental Health Month, I posted my ten favorite fiction books about mental illness. Here’s a list of my favorite non-fiction books on mental illness. It’s a mix of memoirs and psychology books, but I kept the list to books that I think would be accessible and interesting to non-psychology majors.

Please note that all these books could be difficult reads for some people. I chose them because they’re real and raw, and don’t gloss over the struggles. If you want to learn more about any of these issues from a close up perspective, these are great books.


  1. Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle With Anorexia, by Harriet Brown It’s a mother’s memoir of her daughter’s struggle with anorexia. It shows the toxic thinking that a person can go through when in the grip of a mental illness, despite a supportive and loving family. It also shows that mental illness becomes a family issue, leaving no one untouched.
  2. Why People Die By Suicide, by Thomas Joiner When I started working in mobile crisis, this book was required reading. Mr. Joiner became interested in the topic after his father committed suicide, and he made it his goal to find out why people do it.
  3. Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, by Rachael Reiland Rachael was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, considered by many people to be the “worst” disorder. I know a lot of therapists who don’t like working with people with this issue because they’re incredibly exhausting. But if they’re exhausting to a therapist, imagine living like that… As with many folks diagnosed with this disorder, she struggled with explosive anger, substance abuse, and anorexia. Rachael is real about how it feels to live that way, and how, with a supportive therapist, she recovered.
  4. Loud In the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl, by Stacy Pershall Stacy grew up as a “strange girl,” someone who never fit into her small town. She struggled with all kinds of self-destructive behaviors. She was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, and eventually began a long road to recovery. Today, Stacy embraces her life as a strange girl and is an advocate for mental health.
  5. Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen This book isn’t all that much like the movie. It’s a look into the dark past of mental health treatment. In 1967, after a single session with a psychiatrist, Susanna was placed in a mental hospital for the next two years. These days, people are only hospitalized if they’re a danger to themselves or others. It’s rare for anyone to be inpatient for years. Still, this is an important past we shouldn’t forget.
  6. When Rabbit Howls, by Truddi Chase Truddi was the victim of horrific abuse from two-years old on. To deal with it, her mind created “The Troops,” alternate personalities who protected her from the reality of what was happening. She didn’t find out about them until adulthood. I was deeply fascinated by dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder) when I was a kid, reading all the books I could get my hands on. This, and Sybil, by Flora Rheta Schreiber, are the two best memoirs on the topic that I’ve found.
  7. Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych ER, by Julie Holland This book was written by a doctor working weekends at a psychiatric ER. Folks coming to the ER were in acute distress, and it gives a good picture of what it’s like working with people in psychiatric crisis. Most people who reviewed the book poorly did so because they didn’t like her personal decisions or her lack of empathy (which she talks about). I thought that this added to the book, because lack of empathy for the mentally ill is a huge problem with the professionals who are there to help them, in my opinion.
  8. A Piece of Cake, by Cupcake Brown Cupcake was a child when her mother died and she ended up with an abusive foster parent. After being sexually assaulted, she began running away and using drugs and alcohol to escape. Growing up, she didn’t know how to live differently, and stayed on her self-destructive spiral. It would be easy to dismiss someone like her as a loser, a drain on society. But Cupcake was a survivor, and eventually got sober. Now, she’s a lawyer and a writer. This is a fantastic, wrenching memoir, the best book I’ve read so far this year. It’s a great reminder to judge no one because you don’t know what they’ve been through.
  9. Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism, by Temple Grandin Temple writes about her experiences with autism and thinking differently, and mixes it with information about the brain. It was a fascinating look inside her mind, one I wish I’d read when I was still doing therapy. I thought it was an easy read, though the two people in my book club thought it was dry. Be warned.
  10. The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook–What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing, by Bruce Perry This is one of my all time favorite books. Bruce Perry is a child psychiatrist who works with traumatized children. This book recounts stories of horrific situations kids have been through, and what he did to help them. It discusses how early childhood trauma actually affects brain development, and how we can help retrain the brain of these kids.
  11. Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy, by Irvin D. Yalom Dr. Yalom literally wrote the book on group therapy, and is considered one of the most historically influential therapists. This book is a series of stories about him doing therapy. It gives a glimpse into therapy sessions, and he also talks about his human struggles with being a therapist. It’s not always easy, and I think that often, therapists put on a mask as if we’re perfect, when we’re all just human. If you read only one book on this list, I’d recommend this one.

Honorable mention: The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath I didn’t put this one on the fiction list, because it was inspired by true events in Sylvia Plath’s life. It’s the story of a young woman’s breakdown and hospitalization.

10 Best Fiction Books About Mental Illness

IMG_8691May is National Mental Health month. If you’ve been a subscriber of this blog for awhile, you know that I’m passionate about destigmatizing and discussing mental health. I like writing about characters who struggle with mental health issues. In fact, I have a novella coming to E&GJ Little Press soon about a man struggling to deal with a mentally ill woman he once loved. Stay tuned…

Memoirs aside, my main problem with mental health in fiction is that it’s not portrayed well. Often times, the mentally ill character is frightening, or a caricature. But I shouldn’t complain, because at least authors are trying to portray these characters in a positive light. We’re all talking about mental illness, which isn’t something we did in the past. But I caution you to use stories as a bridge to discussing mental illness. Don’t assume you know what someone’s going through, just because you read about it. Even if it is accurate, everyone’s experience of mental health is different.

I’ve taken this opportunity to list my 10 favorite books that portray fictional characters with mental illnesses. In no particular order…

  1. A Monster Calls, by Patrick Naess Thirteen-year old Conor has a monster come to visit him, and helps him deal with grief over his mother’s illness. This story was great because it shows how people can grieve before an event happens. So often, we think of grief as a discrete event, occurring after a loved one dies, and having an ending point. Through the story, this demonstrated that grief can begin in anticipation of a loss. Genre: Young adult
  2. All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven Violet and Theodore are on opposite ends of the social spectrum, but are both contemplating suicide. They become friends and start a project together. It’s told in dual point of view, and both of them are heartbreaking. But as one of them starts to recover, the other gets worse. It’s a powerful, haunting story. Genre: Young adult, but may not be appropriate for all teens
  3. Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon Maddy can’t leave the house because she’s literally allergic to everything. Olly moves in next door, and Maddy watches him, getting more and more interested in his life. They become friends, first messaging, and eventually, Maddy risks her life to meet him in person. I can’t tell you why this book is about mental health without spoiling the ending; but trust me, it’s not a rip-off ending where Maddy’s crazy and everything’s a dream. It’s fantastic. Genre: Young adult
  4. Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell Cath struggles with anxiety. So much anxiety. When she goes to college, she expects to live with her twin sister, but her sister wants them to meet new people. At first, Cath makes it to class, but can’t even go eat dinner alone. But eventually, she makes friends and some of her anxiety eases up. And, like real life, Cath isn’t the only person in her family who’s struggling. Genre: Young adult
  5. The Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick I talked about this one during my A to Z blog, so I’ll be brief. But I liked this one because Pat just got out of the mental hospital and is learning how to live, and his romantic interest, Tiffany is strange and does unexpected things. But they find something in one another that’s important and lovely. Genre: General
  6. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher This book (and the TV series on Netflix, which I haven’t seen) have become very controversial recently. Books about suicidal characters are nothing new, but this book is under fire because it’s about a girl named Hannah who leaves tapes for 13 people, explaining how they contributed to her suicide. Some people who kill themselves want revenge against people who wronged them, and Hannah gets it. There’s also a part where she tries to get help, but the counselor brushes her off. It’s portrayed as if Hannah did everything she could have to get help (though she doesn’t). I debated about putting this book on the list. I liked it, but I’m an adult without suicidal thoughts, and not going to be triggered by a book like this. For a teen who’s contemplating suicide, this could be a dangerous book. If you like dark books, this is an excellent one, and it does a good job of showing how bullying can contribute to suicide. But it’s definitely not for everyone. Genre: Technically Young Adult, but not appropriate for all teens
  7. All Around the Town by Mary Higgins Clark  Laurie is kidnapped as a small child, and returned years later. She leads a normal life until after her parents die, when her history of trauma from being kidnapped and her subsequent dissociative identity disorder come to the surface. Honestly, I don’t know how good of a depiction of dissociative identity disorder this is. I’ve never worked intensively with someone with the disorder. From what I’ve read about the disorder, the book seems well-researched and legitimately portrayed. In any case, I love this book. Genre: Thriller
  8. 600 Hours of Edward, by Craig Lancaster Edward has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. His life is a set routine. When a new neighbor with a nine-year-old son move in, things change for him. At first, he struggles with the change, but over 600 hours, his life becomes different and better. I liked this book because of the way it portrayed his OCD. Too many books and movies just go for obsessive cleaning, but the disorder is about so much more than that. It’s a fast read, and I loved all the characters. I especially loved how the neighbor, at first, reacted to Edward with fear. Because that’s what would happen in real life, and the book doesn’t shy away from ugly truths. Genre: General
  9. The Silver Link, the Silken Tie, by Mildred Ames This is one of my all time favorite books. I just randomly found it at a flea market one day, and it seemed interesting, so I picked it up. Tim has always felt out of place, ever since a family tragedy that he feels responsible for. Felice has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is an orphan, and an outcast among her peers. When the two of them are thrown together, working on the school newspaper, they absolutely hate each other at first. Though they don’t fit in anywhere else, they find that maybe they fit together. Genre: Speculative Young Adult
  10. Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock This is a book about two girls who experience abuse from their father. The sisters decide to run away from home to escape the abuse… the ending is one you won’t forget. This is a fantastic, underrated book. Genre: General

If you’ve read any of these, did you like them? Why or why not?

On Wednesday, I’ll post my list of best non-fiction books about mental illness.


How My Former Bullies Are Doing Now


Halloween 2015

We weren’t friends.  I knew her since elementary school because we rode the bus together.  I distinctly remember her bullying me a time or two.

In high school, she left me alone.  I don’t think we ever had a real conversation.

She friended me on Facebook, and I accepted.  Since then, she’s been open about her struggle with depression, which makes sense in light of my memories of her and what I know now about the link between depression and anger in kids.

A few years ago, I posted pictures of a Halloween party I had when I was 10 on Facebook.  Recently, this girl commented on the photo that she remembered the party and that she had such a good time.

I am positive that she was not there.

I have no doubt that she remembers being there.  It’s clear to me that she wants to belong, is seeking out positive memories to help her get through the day.  My first thought was to argue with her and let her know that she wasn’t there; I like to be “right” sometimes too.

But then I thought about it and wondered why I should spoil a good memory she has, even if she’s not correct.  She’s not a bully anymore.  She’s a person struggling to live her life as best as she can.  So, why should it matter to me if she has good memories of a party she wasn’t invited to?

I wasn’t a popular kid.  I was a weird kid, who was usually too buried in books or my own imagination to notice how not popular I was.  The only time I gave it much thought was when people picked on me.

It makes me wonder, if in some way, this girl wanted to be my friend.  Because honestly, I wouldn’t have noticed that either.  But whether she was someone who picked on me because she was unhappy, or someone who picked on me because she wanted me to notice her, it doesn’t much matter to me.  It’s all long since forgiven.

As a side note, I’ve had a few people who bullied me as a kid end up friending me on Facebook.  And I find it interesting that all of them struggle with depression.  They all talk about not wanting to be judged for their struggles.

Keep that in mind next time you hear about a kid who’s bullying someone else.  I know that most of us react that we want to slap that bully down and put them in their place.  But is that really the best approach for everyone involved?

I’m not scarred from the bullying that happened to me.  It also wasn’t that bad, overall.  Not compared to what you hear about nowadays.  And I didn’t have to deal with cyberbullying because it didn’t exist back then.  So I’m not saying that bullying can’t be quite bad and scarring.  But in my case, I believe that it made me stronger, less reactive.  I have thick skin, but I also try to be understanding of people who don’t.  Because I’ve been there.

Have you ever been bullied?  Have you reconnected with any of your bullies?  Did it change your thoughts about them in any way?

C is for Crazy

Jerome, AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Jerome, AZ; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I have an interesting relationship with the word “crazy.”  For those of us who consider ourselves unique, idiosyncratic, and not-followers, the label can be a badge of honor.  When people call me “crazy,” I feel complimented rather than put down, no matter how the label was meant.

I try not to use the word in my day job.  As a therapist, used at work, the word can be incredibly stigmatizing, especially when used in front of someone who’s been called “crazy” because of their mental illness or substance abuse problems.

I was reminded of this recently when one person in my group made a comment about “crazy chicks” and someone else said “I find that incredibly insulting.”  I sometimes forget how much words can hurt people.  I have thick skin and am not insulted by many of the things other people might be, but that doesn’t mean that some words don’t hurt.

People in the gay population took back the word “queer” and use it in an empowering way.  Can “crazy” ever be a badge of honor for people living with mental illness?

Crazy is a label that others put on those who stand out, as a way of dismissing them or keeping them down.  But being crazy only begins to describe me and really doesn’t capture the essence of me.  It’s an imprecise word.  So call me quirky.  Call me a know it all.  Call me irritable and scary.  Those words describe me so much better than that one word.  But if you can’t find anything else to call me, call me crazy.

I’m in good company.

“Being crazy isn’t enough.”
― Dr. Seuss

“A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?”
― Albert Einstein


Bullying and Me

IMG_1316So yesterday, I wrote about my issues with being a vegetarian, and I talked a little about my weight struggles. In a moment of great timing, I saw a link to Bombshells Against Bullying on Stacy Pershall’s Facebook page. If you don’t know who Stacy Pershall is, she’s a wonderful author and advocate for mental health awareness and destigmatization. Her book, Loud In The House of Myself, discusses her recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, probably the most stigmatized mental illness in existence.

But I digress.

I was reading the Bombshells Against Bullying page, where various women talk about their experiences with being bullied, so I’d like to share mine.

My first memory of being bullied was on the school bus. I was maybe 5 or 6, and pudgy, as I said yesterday. An older boy from church started calling me “Pigface,” and the name followed me for years. I remember I had a beautiful pink winter coat that was fuzzy. I loved that coat. A girl my age started chanting at me, “Hey ho Eskimo, don’t you eat that yellow snow. I thought I saw a doggy go.” Of course then the, “Ew, you eat yellow snow?” followed.

There were more incidents throughout the years. I’ve been called, “Elephant,” “Fido,” and many other things. The ironic thing about this is that I was really beautiful, and yeah, I had a few pounds on me, but I wasn’t that overweight. These days, I’m heavier than I’ve ever been, but I’m also more comfortable with my body than before. Would I like to be thinner? HELL YES. Am I going to stress about it or make it the focus of my life? I’m going to try not to.

I think we all need to focus on how we function. When I was struggling with stomach problems, I changed my eating habits in a way that worked for me. It wouldn’t work for everyone, but it worked great for me. I felt better and it fit my lifestyle. I love to hike and walk and swim, and I’m able to do those things. If my weight gets in the way of what I enjoy, THEN it’s a problem. If my weight affects my health, THEN it’s a problem.

I have great eyes, and people always ask me if I dye my hair because it’s such a cool color. My strengths are what is important. If it’s not a strength, that doesn’t mean it’s a weakness. Unless I allow it to be.

I’m a whole person, not just the sum total of my parts, and if I want others to treat me that way, then I need to treat myself that way. I used to wear baggy clothes that weren’t flattering because “I didn’t care how I looked.” But that was just defense. By not taking care of my appearance, I was trying not to care.

Recently, I went into Lane Bryant, Torrid, and New York and Company with a friend who dresses great and bought clothing that flatters my shape and makes me feel good about myself. If I feel better about how I look, then I feel better in general. I want to be a good role model for others, and the best way I can do that is to be me.

And in case you’re wondering if the bullying ended when I was a kid, it did, more or less. People learned in high school that I was too hard to bully to be bothered with. I cried when I was 5, but by the time they called me “Fido” in high school, I just rolled my eyes and told them to try to be a little more creative. However… about 6 months ago, I was at a buffet with an “average weight” friend of mine, and she was teasing me about how being a vegetarian is weird and I need to eat some meat. “Screw your vegetables,” she said. A random woman said, “I agree. You tell her.” I laughed until the woman continued, “And all the vegetarians I know are fat anyway.”
I didn’t say anything back because I was stunned. My feelings weren’t really hurt, but I realize that part of the reason for that is that I’ve internalized “fat” as part of my identity. But the fact that a grown woman thought that was okay to say to a stranger just tells me how far we still need to go in the fight against bullying.

*After I finished writing this post, I came across another article, Eight Things I Learned from 50 Naked People.  It relates to the topic of loving yourself, no matter your shape… I highly recommend it.  My favorite quote from the article:  “Your weight is the least interesting thing about you.”  -Kate Bartolotta

Brave Girl Eating- A review

Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown is a story about a family struggling against anorexia.  It gives completely new insights into anorexia, and I’m very glad I read the book.  Harriet Brown is a journalist, who peppers the narrative with research, so I better understand where she’s coming from, but also what the “experts” say.

The therapist in me wants to focus on the research, but if you want to know more about the research, you’ll probably read the book.  It’s engaging, terrifying, funny at times, honest, and both easy and hard to read.  I had trouble putting it down, because I wanted to know more about 14 year old Kitty and her family.  They don’t waste time speculating on the causes of Kitty’s anorexia.  After all, anorexia is often fatal, so the family didn’t care much how she got it or why.  Mostly, they focused on first, keeping her alive, then helping her get better.

I’m always happy when a book like this comes out, and hopefully helps de-stigmatizes mental illness.  Our brains are part of our body… so why, when it comes to mental illness, do we treat it as something separate or different?  We are whole people, not just different parts.  I’m not my wide feet, small hands, pretty eyes, or smart brain.  I’m the sum of the whole.  Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, any more than high blood pressure or diabetes is something to be ashamed of.

And this concludes my rant.

If you’re looking for a good non-fiction book or a narrative on anorexia, this is one I’d highly recommend.

Harriet Brown doesn’t post on her blog anymore, but it still has good info.  It can be found here.

Stacy Pershall Speaks on Borderline Personality Disorder

Those of you who’ve read this blog for any length of time will know that I’m a big fan of Stacy Pershall.  She wrote a really great memoir called Loud In The House of Myself, an honest look at borderline personality disorder.

Even in the mental health field, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is often looked at as the red headed stepchild of mental illness.  Counselors who will be understanding of someone who is depressed or psychotic get a bad attitude when dealing with “a borderline.” It can be exhausting and unrewarding.

One of the things I love about Ms. Pershall’s memoir is that she talks about how miserable it was to live inside her own skin.  She didn’t want to be the way she was; she just didn’t know a better way.

She recently spoke to some students, and this article is a summary of her life and her advocacy for people struggling with mental illness.  It’s an interesting article, and I very much recommend it if you have any interest in mental illness.

M is for Mental Illness

Readers of this blog will know that by day, I’m a Mobile Crisis Therapist.  By night, I’m a writer of the weird and wacky.  I have a lot of experience with mental illness, both in my job and with people that I know and love.

A lot of people I meet have a number of misconceptions about mental illness, and I’d like to take a moment to look at some of the more common ones I see.

1.  If you’re mentally ill, you’re “crazy.”-  Not true.  People with mental illness often have a chemical imbalance in the brain causing cognitive and emotional disturbances.  An estimated 46% of adults will struggle with some type of mental illness in the course of their lives(NIMH, 2005).  This can range from a temporary depression or anxiety to more serious disorders, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

2.  Most people who are mentally ill are drug addicts, and that’s why they’re crazy.- Not really.  Many people who struggle with mental illness do turn to drugs as a way of self-medicating.  They feel horrible all the time and need some way to escape it.  Because many people are undereducated about mental illness, it can be hard to know where to get help.  Families and friends often want their loved one to get over it, and they can’t.  Drug use can cause mental health like symptoms, but most people who get addicted to drugs started as a way to feel better.  And let’s face it, most people don’t do drugs unless they’re looking for an escape and a way out.

3.  If I take medication, that’s like giving up.-  So not true!  There are many people walking around right now who have struggled with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or an addiction, and you’d never even know it.  People take medication as a way to regulate their brain chemistry, and I believe it works best in conjunction with a therapist they trust.  It can be hard to feel better.  Let’s face it; most of us can’t afford a tropical vacation or time at a spa.  We still have to work, shop for groceries, drive on the road and not get killed.  Taking medication temporarily or permanently can be a way to manage those thoughts and feelings.  You’d take medication for high blood pressure or diabetes, wouldn’t you?

I’d like to see mental illness and addiction addressed in fiction.  Let’s face it, with 46% of the population struggling with a mental illness at some point, it makes sense that it would touch a main character’s life.  And notice, the term I use is “mental illness.”  If you’re ill, you can get better.  A mental illness isn’t a death sentence.  It’s just one more thing in life to deal with.

I’m done for now.  I’ve included the link of my source to the NIMH and for the National Association for Mental Illness, if you’re interested in additional reading.  Coming up in the very near future, I’m going to write a top 10 list about the best books about mental illness.