If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo) and writing a mental health self-help book! That’s why I’ve been so inactive on my blog. I’ve spent the last 19 days writing over 30,000 words, with my end-goal being 50,000+ words. For those of you who have been with me since the beginning of my blog, you know that Ungluing Stigma (US) started out as a book, but I got overwhelmed and decided to write a blog instead. With US, I found my voice within the mental health community and what topics I had a passion for writing about. It was my New Years Resolution to write 10,000 words a month to “train” for nanowrimo. If you’re interested in what my book will be about, specifically, here’s a first look at my introduction! And feel free to leave me your thoughts in the comments, I would love the feedback.
SNEAK PEEK: What to Do (When You Don’t Know What to Do)
If you’re like me, high school was rough. And again, if you’re like me, you sucked at the social aspect. Relationships are hard. While high school may have taught you physics and advanced calculus, it didn’t teach you how to navigate rough waters when your best friend was angry with you, and is certainly didn’t teach you healthy coping skills when life just seemed to be too much. Once again, if you’re like me, you had to learn these things the hard way, losing a few friendships and maladaptively coping along the way . This book is here to change that. Well, not change the past necessarily (although that would be pretty cool), but to fill your toolbox with skills to help you manage life… to not simply survive, but to thrive.
I wrote this book because like it or not, there is a stigma surrounding mental health. It can show up in little ways, like when you friend doesn’t hang around anymore after you tell them you have depression because they don’t want to be around “an attention seeking burden” (which remember, is not true). Or it can show up in big ways, like when people blame terrorist attacks on a mental health problem. This stigma prevents people from getting help. I was one of those people. I was so ashamed of being “abnormal” that I felt like I was dooming myself by admitting that I thought I had depression. I avoided therapy and mental health diagnosis for years solely out of shame. I let it all build up inside of me for years until I snapped. I suddenly was convinced that I needed to be locked up in an insane asylum because I was “dangerous” and unwell. It was only then, when I sought professional help, that I realized having a mental illness doesn’t make you a dangerous, or even a bad, person. Since then I have been through years of intense therapy, even living in a mental hospital for a portion of 2016, to get to where I am now. And the sad part is, most of the things I’ve learned… most of the skills I use on a daily basis to keep myself stable and safe… aren’t things that you have access to in your everyday life. People struggling with anxiety can’t benefit from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) in most places, because it’s generally just for those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder. The truth of the matter is that DBT is packed full of tools to help people manage anxiety, crises and even everyday relationship problems. None of my relationships would be what they are today without DBT. It’s something I firmly believe everyone should have access to (more on why later). Living in a mental hospital was like high school in a sense, because we had classes all day every day, and mountains of homework every night, learning skills to help us live the best life we can. But a program like that tends to have waiting lists that can take months or even years to get off of, and you have to go through a lot of screenings and doctors appointments to even be considered for a spot. It’s my hope, my dream, that this book can help people build a foundation for their lives with access to dozens of life skills that normally they wouldn’t have access to. I want to make mental health accessible to everyone, not just the sickest of us… ironically.
I also wrote this book to share my story. I want to give you a glimpse into my life and into my head, to show you that a stable and healthy life is achievable, and is a lot closer than you may think. I hope to inspire you with my pitfalls, showing you the ropes that were tossed to me at rock bottom and how I climbed back out, again and again. If I can do it, so can you.
You’ll notice as you read more of the book that I’ll refer to the same event in my life throughout this book. This serves two purposes, and neither of which are to annoy you. The first is that I designed this book to not necessarily be read from start to finish. It’s okay if you jump around, so you might miss the first time I tell the story and find yourself lost as to what I’m talking about when I refer to something in my life. The other reason is that I hope you begin to truly understand the situation I was in, and how I used multiple tools to help me in the same situation. I want to give you a multidimensional look at my story to show that there are many ways to approach a situation, and there can be a lot to learn from even one situation that can give you insight in how to improve your life.
The therapy book I’ve found the most helpful in my recovery was a book written by a doctor and it was similar to this one because it included various life skills to improve your life. It also had various made up patients whose stories demonstrated a practical application of the concepts and skills. I found this exceedingly helpful. It made me feel less alone on my journey to recovery while showing me how to actually apply the skill. I struggled with the fact that their lives were made up though… of course the skill helped them! You can make up any ending you want to their story! The difference between my book and that one is that I’m not a doctor or a licensed professional, I’m the patient, so I can legally share my own story and provide you with living proof that these tools can radically change your life. I don’t want this book to be a textbook filled with skills that eventually gets overwhelming because too many things are being thrown at you at once. I want this to be a journey. Our journey. If I bring you on my journey and teach you the skills that I’ve learned, I hope that you can increase your quality of life and begin an epic journey of your own.