One of my goals at the beginning of this year was to read at least one book per week, or 52 books this year. I am well on my way to reaching that goal!
I was recently contact by a man from India who who asked me to read and review his book entitled Gulabi. The book was about a man who experiences psychosis. As I read the book, I couldn't help but wonder if the author himself had experienced psychosis. I reached out to him and he informed me that he was in fact diagnosed with schizophrenia and that Gulabi was one of his hallucinations during a psychotic episode. I was so impressed that this author, who has struggled with schizophrenia, was able to write this short book, and give readers a small glimpse of what it could be like to experience psychosis. He is now in graduate school and doing well!
It all got me thinking about mental health and recovery. When people hear the word recovery, they often think of addiction. But there is recovery in mental health as well. I thought I would share with you today some books written either about recovery or by those who are in recovery from mental health challenges.
Gulabi, written by Pankaj Suneja
Dante's Cure, written by Daniel Dorman
New Vision of Recovery: You Too Can Recover From Mental Illness, written by Daniel Fisher
Nobody's Child, written by Marie Balter and Richard Katz
There and Back Again: A Mental Health Recovery Book written by Someone Who Has Lived It, written by Emily Grossman
First Person Accounts of Mental Illness and Recovery, edited by Craig LeCroy and Jane Holschuh
My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness, written by Sandra Yuen MacKay
If you find yourself struggling with a mental health challenge, know that you are not alone. And, know that there is hope. It is possible to get better! The people and books above not only give us a glimpse of mental illness but also give us a glimpse into the possibility of recovery.
As always, feel free to contact me if I can be of help!
Wow, 2015 already! Did you set any New Year's Resolutions? I don't really believe in those types of resolutions, because for me, they just haven't ever worked. If they work for you--that is fantastic, and keep on going on! If you have struggled with them, like me, perhaps it is because if we aren't ready to make a change that we need to make all year, why would we be ready just because the calendar has moved to January 1st? Making changes are hard. It is possible to make changes though, provided that we're are ready to make the changes and that we have the information and support needed to make the changes.
Maybe you want to stop smoking. You might think you are ready, but do you have the support needed, if you have other smokers in the house? Support could come in the form of family members, doctors, co-workers, etc.
Or, maybe you are ready to lose some weight. Again, it might work on your own; for some people it does. But, most likely, you are going to need the support of those around you in order for it to be successful.
The same goes for challenges with mental health. If we all could just have the mental health we desire all by ourselves, 1 in 5 people would not be struggling with a diagnosable mental illness. We need to be ready for change, yes. But we also need information, and we need support.
Getting assistance for mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. It means you are strong because you are taking care of yourself. So, talk with a loved one, a doctor, or a therapist. Seek out support groups if those would be helpful. Join a gym and workout with others. Think back to what in the past has improved your mental health, and try to incorporate some of these things back into your life now. You are worth it!
Wishing all of you strength, courage, and peace in the year to come. Happy New Year!
Let's face it. We all have fears. One of my biggest is speaking in front of others. As a therapist, I do have great skills of speaking one-on-one and of building rapport quickly. However, if I have to speak in big groups, I am scared. My heart races, my palms get sweaty, and my hands and voice shake. I recently decided that I would like to face this fear, and so I joined Toastmasters. In a few days, I am supposed to give my first prepared speech, the "Icebreaker." I am nervous just preparing it. :) The theme of my speech, which is supposed to tell others about myself, is going to focus on my journey of realizing how similar we all are. Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my favorite authors, said, "We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness." I plan to share how this quote seems to keep coming back to me, through experience after experience. And, in order to help me get through the first speech, I will try to remember to Breathe and Smile, more advice by Thich Nhat Hanh.
What fears do you have? How do you work on addressing those fears?
**Calligraphy Art by Bill Damon.
Those of you who know me know that I love, love, love self-care. What is self-care? It is taking care of YOU first, so that you can then work towards your goals and other priorities. If you aren't taking care of you first, you aren't going to be able to be the best you can be, whether that is a parent, a partner, an employee, a friend, or balancing all of the above. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started. What else do you add to this list?
One of my goals for 2014 is to read more.
I recently finished a book called I Thought It Was Just Me (But it isn’t): Making the Journey from ‘What will People Think’ to ‘I am Enough’ by Brene Brown, and wanted to share it with you.
It is a book about connection with others. And how shame can disconnect us from others. While the book is geared towards women and the most common categories of shame that we experience (appearance/body image, motherhood, family, parenting, money and work, mental and physical health, sex, aging, religion, being stereotyped/labeled, speaking out, and surviving trauma), the strategies Brown offers for working through shame can be applied by anyone.
Learning to recognize and understand our shame triggers is the first step. Next, we have to practice critical awareness, reach out to others, and then (perhaps the hardest step) “speak our shame.” Now none of these steps is easy by any means, but necessary. Necessary because they move us towards more connection, empathy, and compassion, with ourselves and others. After reading the material, I have another goal to add to my list for 2014—practicing these steps.
If you would like to read the book, or learn more, here are a few links (both to her book and to a couple of talks she has given).
Hoping your 2014 is off to a great start!
Amber is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. She offers counseling for individual adults and clinical supervision for social workers. For fun, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, researching genealogy, reading, and dragon boating.
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