Y is for Y (Why) People Die By Suicide

Unknown-10The end of the alphabet is always tough.  I could only find one book starting with a “Y” that I’d actually read, and it didn’t affect me in any way.

This book was one of the many on my “W” list, and when it occurred to me that I could get creative and use it, I was thrilled.  This is a book that I feel very passionately that more people should read.

Why People Die by Suicide, by Thomas Joiner, is a book that was recommended to me when I started my job as a crisis therapist.  It opened my eyes to so many of the reasons that people attempt suicide.

There are a lot of myths about suicide.  We saw that after the death of Robin Williams.  People had opinions.  Many people expressed that he was selfish or cowardly.  It’s easier to believe that, I suppose.

The truth is that when people die by suicide, they often feel that they’re doing a good thing for their friends and family.  They honestly feel that others will be better off without them.

Suicide touches the lives of many people, and I think it’s important to talk about it, de-stigmatize it.  Talking about it gives us all power.  Plus, as I learned while working crisis, you never know when talking to someone frankly about what they’re dealing with can help them to make a less permanent decision.

Suicide is a permanent reaction to a temporary problem.

This is an accessible book for anyone who’s interested in learning more about this topic.  The clinical psychologist who wrote it started asking the question after someone in his family died from suicide.  The information is tied into research, but there are also anecdotes and

This book helped me gain a better understanding of this topic, but it also helped me be more empathetic.  It’s hard for most people to understand what goes through the mind of someone who chooses to die, which is what makes books like this one so important.

Understanding, love, compassion are all things the world could use a little more of.


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


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.