You would think i’d be smart enough not to leave for so longMay 26, 2011
So i have about a bajillion reviews to catch up on but that’s not what this post is. i also haven’t participated in Top Ten Tuesday in forever but this post isn’t for that either. Ironically this post has something to do with one of the reasons i started blogging. However, i’m not always so good at using it to its full advantage. Have i lost you yet?
First of all part of the reason i’ve taken a bit of a break from blogging is because i’ve been trying to really focus on researching grad schools. i want to make an educated decision so that means lots of time examining every last detail about different schools and that takes a lot of time. Not to mention all the anxiety that comes with applying and hoping someone will like me enough to accept me and worrying that i’m not smart enough or worldly enough or whatever else enough.
And i guess that gives me a nice segue into what this post is actually about. Mental health and books. This post has been living in my head for a bit now and i couldn’t decide if i actually wanted to write it. i didn’t know if it was more for me than anyone else but then there were more and more things that bothered me or inspired me and i guess i just don’t care anymore if it is just for me or not.
i’ve always been a fan of books that feature different aspects of mental health, not only because it’s really fascinating but also because they are so close to me personally. Mental illness runs in my family and it has been a part of my daily life for as long as i can remember. It also affects some of my closest friends in different ways. i’m not going to discuss them with you because i don’t live inside their head. i can talk about me though.
Most people who meet me don’t know that i have PTSD, they don’t know that i deal with depression and anxiety. These are not things i bring up when i introduce myself. And that makes sense to me. But they aren’t things that i often bring up later on down the road either. It’s amazing that even with the influx of advertisements from pharmaceutical companies mental health still has a stigma attached to it, it’s either a bad thing that we should keep to ourselves or something that we make a joke of. Think about this: if you are supposed to go to work one day and you wake up and have the flu, you call in sick to work and you stay and home and take care of yourself. But imagine waking up depressed, i don’t mean the word depressed that gets thrown around lightly in conversations, i mean actually clinically depressed. What do you think would happen if you tried to call in to work saying that you were depressed? If you’re lucky it would be treated the same as someone who had the flu but more often than not the response is closer to, “Well, suck it up” or “You know sometimes if you just make yourself smile pretty soon you don’t have to fake it anymore.”
Don’t get me wrong i have used both of these techniques myself and they have both worked at certain times. But those things don’t always work, sometimes we need more help than that. Sometimes we need help in general and it’s really hard to ask for help from someone who just tells you to suck it up. It’s hard to feel like what you’re going through is okay when people around you joke about taking mental health days or about having OCD.
One of the ways my anxiety affects me is that i have OCD tendencies. They used to be much worse but i’ve leanred to deal with them in some ways. Others i’m still working on, for example, when i get to work i have to rearrange the desk (five of us use it but only one at a time) so that everything is in its particular place, it really upsets me when someone comes in and messes with my stuff. The people i work with tease me about it because they don’t understand that when my order is lost i feel a little bit like the world is spinning off kilter. Like i will mess something up on the next phone call i take or i’ll forget to do something important. i know none of those things make logical sense but there is a connection in my head that makes it important for me.
It’s easy to feel alone with this stuff and much like finding solace in the queer characters i read about i found/find solace in the characters who deal with different mental health diagnoses. We all have times that we need so badly to know that someone in the world knows what we are going through and i think maybe even more so regarding this. It is also so incredibly important to see those characters deal with whatever they are going through. Therapy (both talk and drug) can also have a negative stigma so to have characters- even though they may be fictional use both and demonstrate the ups and downs and eventually after much hard work some sort of success i think provides an awesome sort of roadmap to someone trying to feel out what to do.
Here’s another problem: these are often books that are challenged because they deal with some really heavy material. i think we all know how i feel about banning books in general but just think about this for me. . . .i think most of the people trying to ban and challenge these books are adults who think the material is too much for younger readers, that it isn’t appropriate for them, i beg them to try an remember how much it worse it must be to be living those things firsthand. To take those books away is to take what is sometimes the one outlet someone has to deal with those same things you think are too much for young readers. (i’m not sure that made sense but i’m hoping)
i’ve talked about how much Speak meant/means to me i can’t imagine my life right now had i not been able to read that book. i can’t imagine my life right now if i hadn’t had some really amazing people in my life who challenged what i had always been told about therapy and suggested (or maybe forced, in a good way) me to go. i don’t have the luxury of free therapy like i did when i was in college but it was there that i learned different things that i could do if therapy wasn’t available or a possibility. One of those things was writing both my poetry and journaling have been an amazing way for me to get out the emotions that i tend to keep locked inside until i fall apart. Starting my blog was a way for me to sort of journal or reach out to people in a community that i respect and love even though it is really hard for me to actually reach out or meet new people. Hence the title of this post, i really should know better than to leave the thing that keeps me so grounded. That’s part of the daily struggle though i guess.
I guess i hope with more and more celebrities talking about their struggles (Brooke Shields and postpartum depression, Catherine Zeta-Jones with bipolar, Demi Lovato with eating disorders, cutting, and bipolar to name a few) that we, as a society, will start to realize that they are a part of everyday life. If someone has diabetes we would encourage them to take their insulin and get help and we would think it was awful if they didn’t have the resources to deal with it, why can’t we have the same attitude toward mental health? Depression, bi-polar, anxiety, etc these are diseases too. They are not something people can wish away, they aren’t something people can suck up but they are something that can have just as deadly an effect if not treated.
Okay,that’s enough of my ranting. Here are a few books that i’ve enjoyed that have mental illness featured:
And just because i can, here are two of my favorite songs that talk about therapy:
This one is slightly censored but it has Raul Esparza so i had to choose this version.
That’s that. i’m sorry for rambling for so long. i would absolutely love to hear your thoughts about this and to find out your favorite books that feature mental health. Or if you just want to tell me that Raul Esparza makes you swoon as much as he makes me swoon that’s okay too.