Book review: Clean by Amy Reed

Simon Pulse, 2011

Clean by Amy Reed

This YA novel is told with a five-person narrative in addition to the patients’ detailed personal essays and compelling substance abuse questionnaires. While I both like to read and write from alternate viewpoints, I was concerned five would be too much but then remembered how much I enjoyed The Poisonwood Bible. That was also five perspectives being the mother and the four daughters caught up in the Belgian Congo in 1959. Well besides both being five viewpoints, they couldn’t be any more different. These five patients in a rehab center come together not on their own accord but end up enhancing the lives of the other characters, if only for a brief moment in time.

Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have hit the rock bottom of addiction. The individual voices were unique, honest and intriguing and portrayed their distinct frame of minds as they confronted their pasts amidst forced introspection in this new group of strangers. The difficult, often gut-wrenching concepts of the danger of drugs and the necessity of help were well written, albeit occasionally choppy because of the format. But it was heartening to know that there is hope out there, so you don’t have to be alone once they stopped resisting treatment as is common with teens.

All in all, the characters were relatable in this fast-moving story about hope and guidance despite bad backgrounds and experiences. It was reminiscent of the 1985 teen movie, The Breakfast Club as to how the five teens were thrown together, not knowing they needed one another and ultimately touched each other’s lives amidst the harrowing nature of life’s circumstances and sometimes obstacles.

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, my memoirs, or Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , or AllAuthor.

Book review: Therapy by Kathryn Perez

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014

Kathryn Perez created characters for this book that were deep, flawed and in some ways broken. She revealed such effortless depth depicting depression, bullying, and self-harm.

Jessica Alexander, the poet protagonist in this YA novel about mental illness is tormented by high school struggles and suffers from self-mutilation. It’s a story about friendship, self-discovery, redemption that is interspersed with heartache. The trials and tribulations of depression add to the facts that she doesn’t fit in in any high school cliques, or have meaningful friendships. She doesn’t know anything about love or hope and allows boys to use her for sex by being easily accessible attracting ridicule from the popular kids. Deep down, Jessica wants to be loved and has no real family to support her. She’s lost. She uses her body and sex to build her own self confidence and self worth making her unpopular and gets her attacked by her bullies. On one particular beating occasion, Jessica is saved by a popular boy.

So, enter Jace Collins, who is a smart, athletic boy with a heart of gold who protects and stands by Jessica’s side and may have his own dark side which allows him to empathize with victims. like the fact that he lost his younger sister to bullying. While Jace is confident, Jessica has low self-esteem and lacks confidence. Her clinginess may ruin what they’ve found in each other. But Jace really sees her and gets her, so he sets their relationship on the correct path to protect her from the same demise as his younger sister. Their friendship turns into a budding romance, but one final thing will tear them apart for six years where Jessica suffers in silence.

Jessica made decisions because she honestly felt that she was doing the right thing.  Seeing how these decisions impacted her life in the future was often times painful and heartbreaking. It’s a sad journey that teaches us life isn’t easy and that you need to learn from your mistakes. But what if one learns to love oneself? Is there a guiding power that once you become a better person sets you on a path of redemption?

This beautifully written, deep, and emotional tale finds Jessica suffering in silence, and after six years is forced to face her past. When a series of unexpected events arise, will secrets be revealed and will lies become truth? Jace crosses paths with Jessica again in the most unexpected way.  Seeing them as adults, the reader sees that Jace is that guy in school that you never got over, the one who sticks with you through the years wondering what they are up to, always a constant within your heart.  There were so many missed opportunities, so much wasted time, and so much heartache.

Enter Kingsley Arrington who throws the reader for a loop and steals your heart. He comes into Jessica’s life at a time where she was so down on herself and her life. He meets Jessica in therapy. She’s there for cutting, promiscuity, and depression; He is there with a plethora of his own secrets. Kingsley shows her unconditional love, kindness and how to truly live life. Result: love triangle. Who will Jessica choose? All the while battling her depression. Watching Jessica’s journey struggling with mental illness as well as the stigma of the disease is devastating yet beautiful.

Now Available

Angela Grey is a writer with paranoid schizophrenia, OCD, PTSD, and social anxiety. She has created memorable moving tales about the sometimes unexpected and challenging road to first love: Secret Whispers (a story about schizophrenia), Déjà vu (a tale about a teen with bipolar disorder), and Of Laughter & Heartbreak (a piece about obsessive-compulsive disorder).

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, novel in verse, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on Bookshop, TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Mental Illness Struggles by Decade

mental health

In my twenties, after getting over the years of low self-esteem in my adolescence, which came about through parenting and realizing what really matters in life, I noticed changes first in college seeking my Associate’s degree. I began thinking someone followed me throughout my days and into the night. Paranoia also set in big time. The voices and hallucinations started slowly and, at that time, were indecipherable. Did I know something was wrong? Yes. However, I knew I couldn’t remain married to an alcoholic any longer and filed for divorce while my four children were preschool age. With that came worries about custody, so I kept my illness to myself.

The thirties brought security in my relationship in the form of Robert. I knew I’d met the love of my life and didn’t want to lose him. My jealousy turned into hallucinations, which I felt a subsequent loss of control with as days progressed. This brought about disagreements and strife. Custody issues permeated my thoughts. So I kept my illness to myself. I’d returned to college for drafting, as well as the goal of a Bachelor’s degree.

During my forties, I was deep in hallucinations. Any anxiety brought about a deeper delve into madness. This also was the start of social anxiety disorder. I think that came roughly due to the fear of being found out. I started taking more online classes for the generals. I only stepped foot in a classroom if it was through the U of M’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, such as yoga, MBSR, or other overall wellness-related topics.

Alas, the start of the fifties. Am I really this old? I don’t feel it. This time is pretty much entrenched upon the adage: Life begins at the edge of one’s comfort zone. I don’t know where I heard that, but it rings true.

For this reason, I push myself to remain part of society, and not hide away in my writing cave, in hopes of attaining real enjoyment despite discomfort to achieve such new experiences. Coming to grips with my intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives, thereby helps me conquers fears. Although it’s easier said than done…

Psychosocial Treatment

angelagreyI’ve been receiving psychotherapy since I was twelve plus in and out of group therapy from the age of fifteen. So why is it now that I’m being prompted to add other psychosocial treatments to the mix. I know the response: to improve socialization. However, doesn’t class work count towards psychosocial therapy?

Psychosocial treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (changing negative thought patterns), family education, occupational therapy, group and family psychotherapy, and cognitive remediation. They are thought to help lessen schizophrenia symptoms, learn new skills, help in coping with the illness, prevent relapse, and achieve a connection with others.I already learn new skills from all the classes that I take. Regarding the compensatory learning strategies, I think the classes I’m in also aid in memory, planning, organizing, and concentration.  I think this blogging helps, too. It allows me an outlet to journal experiences each day. In that way, it will aid in preventing relapse by getting feedback from my family members in order to stay focused on being mentally healthy.

Courageous Writers Circle


In this class, we first set up our sacred space. Next we received our model cue for the day. Then as we wrote the instructor guided us through relaxation prompts to allow our creativity to come forth. Afterwards came the opportunity to share which promoted recognition of our efforts, connection with others, and understanding of different circumstances which were in our stories. Both speaker and listener interacted, even if the listener never spoke. It was truly enriching to hear about the lives of others in what they wanted to share in this courageous writers circle.

Soul Journeying Lesson

intro to shamanic journeyOne of the things about me is that I’m open to new therapies such as soul journeying. It is for purely meditative reasons and Friday night’s class was tremendously calming and provided the opportunity for self-awareness. Clear intention, in the form of a clear question, made the journey to inner wisdom and healing very focused. The facilitator warned that lacking a clear intent would result in the journey being fuzzy. I wanted to know how I could be of help to a loved one. Others made it a healing journey, interpretive, a journey to meet with an ancestor, connection with the natural world, or explorative. We then learned how to create and hold sacred space so others cannot as easily harm us. We did this by restoring individual power and health (balance and harmony) through intention (focus).

She started by telling us our style options for journeying: being on the outside looking in, walking with our helping spirit, or merging with our power animal. Flipping back and forth between styles was also an option to us. Next we were told that everything that was about to occur on our journey was an answer to our question or intention.

Then the instructor guided us through the three worlds (lower, upper, and middle). Each has a transition area such as a tunnel, clouds, or fog. The lower world can be accessed through visualizing entrance via a natural body such as a lake, stream, roots of a tree, etc. I used a lake that I knew well as a child as my access point. The upper world passage for me was via hot air balloon. I visualized that then ran into a cloud layer as my transition point. The middle world is our world and entry was via a fog mist as I left my front door. Each world has power animals or guardian spirits that teach or guide us, thereby helping us solve our real world problems. (Drums guided us between worlds and to start/stop points along the way)

I thought it was sort of like a visualization puzzle. The class assisted us in expanding our awareness, self discovery, healing, increased energy and allowed us to access our own individual spiritual guidance, Higher Power, which varied for all involved. All in all, it enlivened me and restored balance and completeness.

Embodied Imagination Remedy

Embodied Imagination Remedy


This creative psychotherapy–embodied imagination–assisted us in visualizing imagery from our dreams as well as memories to work our way through our body. Since dreams are felt as real world experiences, they occur in a world that can be accessed to explore the landscape of that dream world to work through problems. The teacher helped us by talking throughout and asking us to mentally describe the landscape so we could better experience the vivid process.  At that point we felt what we had sensed during the dreaming process. We then explored the symbolism of other people, places or things in our dream. We embodied the different states or perspectives through sensations we had during the dream or memory process. In my case, I used my dreams of being inside lost inside my mind and body where I tried desperately to repair illness. Some group members worked with memories of childhood trauma while others worked with bad dreams of arguments, war, or a cheating spouse.This new awareness changed the way we perceived the dream or memory so that we could better mentally work through our problems in our everyday life by dealing proactively with an approaching negative situation similar to that of our bad dreams.

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