Shattering Stigma as Book Advocates [Guest Post at It Starts at Midnight]

Today, I’m honored to be over on my lovely friend Shannon’s blog, talking about the power of book advocates to break the stigma of mental illness.

ShatteringStigmas-2-e1472245713311It begins:

My young adult novel Truest, which came out last year with HarperCollins, features a teenager with a depersonalization disorder that makes her question whether real life is actually real—or if she is just dreaming it all. To me, it’s a compelling concept, sparking thoughts around philosophy, reality, and the nature of existence, not to mention mental illness and depression. Although I’m not a doctor or psychologist, I still felt qualified to write this story. Why? Because I dealt with solipsism syndrome myself.

To read the rest, click here! Thanks for taking the extra time to hop over and read my thoughts.

 

 

“Mental Illness” vs. “Brain Disorder”

brain disorderI’ve seen the term “brain disorder” cropping up all over the place– a replacement for the term “mental illness.”

I like it.

It’s a better description, sounds more clinical (to me), and is free of the baggage that comes with the phrase “mental illness.” I think it suits the sufferer better too– it frames the person as a victim of a sickness instead of as a culprit. It’s more of an noun than an adjective. (Yes, yes, I know “mental illness” is a noun too, but so often we hear it used as a descriptor: she is mentally ill.  I don’t think people would say, She’s brain disorder-y.) It gets to be what it is: an affliction.

I’d love to hear your thoughts: do you like one term more than the other? Or would you suggest something entirely different?

Image credit: Dierk Schaefer

Tweet: “Mental illness” or “brain disorder”? Does it matter what we call it? [via @jackieleawrites] http://ctt.ec/oPbef+

Being Me with OCD by Alison Dotson

BeingMeWithOCDI first connected with Alison Dotson through the International OCD Foundation blog, where we realized that we were both from Minneapolis and made plans to get coffee.  I can still remember that first in-person meeting at Dunn Bros, one of those lovely times between two obsessive-compulsives finding joy and relief in saying, “Me too, me too!”

Alison’s book– Being Me with OCD— is aimed toward teenagers and young adults, but I think its audience is much wider than that.  It’s incredibly well-written, chock full of helpful information, and– most importantly, I think– it’s like sitting down with a friend.  While reading it, I kept thinking of my first meeting with Alison.  Her comforting, empathetic voice comes through so strongly in the book that you feel like you have a friend, a cheerleader, right beside you.

The book is part-memoir, part self-help, and is sprinkled throughout with personal essays from teens and young adults who offer wonderful insight into a variety of areas.  OCD is a strange beast in that, while it works the same way for most people, it manifests itself differently for each person, and the personal essays help the book touch on areas that haven’t been a part of Alison’s own personal journey with OCD.

I deeply appreciated her approach to medication.  I also loved that she dedicated considerable time discussing exposure and response prevention, even though she never underwent ERP herself.  Alison also spends time talking about overcoming stigma.

All in all, a great book for teens, young adults, or any age!  The best part is finding someone who gets it,
someone brave enough to share, someone on your team.

Read an excerpt. Buy the book on Amazon. Follow Alison’s blog.

It could be the smiling person next to you.

depressed

Only my closest friends and family ever really knew what I was dealing with.  I smiled a lot, was the class clown, told great stories, graduated summa cum laude.  No one would have looked at me and guessed that I was drowning in depression, a slave to OCD, driven to certainty in unhealthy ways.

Try to hear what people aren’t saying.  And have more discussions.

Related posts:
My Darkest, Lowest Days
The Sons of Korah Get It

Stigma, Part Two: I Don’t CHOOSE to be Unhappy.

Recently, the following was posted on the Twin Cities OCD Facebook page:

Happiness is a state of mind –

It is important that you understand and appreciate that your happiness lies within. Consider this – no one can make you unhappy if you have decided for sure that you will be happy in every situation. If you have made up your mind to be happy, you can always seek out the positive aspects of a situation and remain happy. Life may throw challenges at you but solutions will come faster and to you if you face them with a smile on your face.
Sounds easy? Its only a challenge at first-then momentum happens. 

And while I don’t think the poster meant to be offensive, I deleted it immediately.

People with mental illnesses are not choosing to be unhappy.  That is such an upsetting suggestion!  It’s like someone has accused me of poisoning myself.  Or being too weak or stupid to choose the right option.  It’s like saying, “Look, you have to understand that if you just choose every day to not have diabetes, it will get easier and easier.”

I don’t choose to have a body that absorbs serontonin too quickly.

do choose to take pills to slow that process down.  And to seek out therapy that gives me tools to manage my mental illness.  I can choose to treat it, but I can’t just choose to not have OCD or depression.

Please stop insisting that I am responsible for my mental illness.  

This, my friends, this is stigma.

stigma2

Related posts:
Stigma
More Stigma
Things That Offend Me
5 Easy (ha!) Steps for Finding the Right Medication
“Happy Pills”