Dancing Without Music is Now Available

When major depressive disorder, seizures, and an eating disorder leads to hopelessness, lack of interest, loss of pleasure, and worse: alcohol abuse, self-mutilation, isolation, anxiety, panic attacks, physical illness, and suicidal feelings, seventeen-year-olds Mia Callan and Milo Chatham who only recently began dating find this brutal array of dangers overwhelming, and possibly even deadly.

Bullying on and off social media, spiked drinks at first parties, stalking, and sexual assault are just some of the obstacles they have to face as burgeoning young adults.

What happens when they try to get out of danger? Will it follow them anyway and wreak havoc upon their lives and those of their loved ones. Will they find the correct medications that will allow them to live normal lives full of success, satisfaction, and sobriety? Can a first true love win in the end?

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.

35 Fantastic YA Books on Mental Illness

  1. Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
  2. Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton
  3. The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos
  4. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  5. The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart
  6. Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
  7. Paperweight by Meg Haston
  8. When We Collided by Emery Lord
  9. Clean by Amy Reed
  10. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  11. If I Wake by Nikki Moyes
  12. Therapy by Kathryn Perez
  13. Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
  14. How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox
  15. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
  16. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  17. Challenger Deep by Neal Schusterman
  18. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  19. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  20. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  21. Perfect by Ellen Hopkins
  22. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  23. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  24. Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
  25. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  26. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  27. The Fear of Doing Nothing: Notes of a Young Therapist by Valery Hazanov
  28. Under Rose-tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
  29. Cut by Patricia McCormick
  30. Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
  31. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
  32. The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
  33. Beneath the Skin by Kyla Stone
  34. Glass Screams by L.R. Claude
  35. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

These are the ones that come to mind when asked about my favorites. I know I must be missing some; but it’s a great list, nonetheless.

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

Book review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Bloomsbury, 2016

In this intensely romantic and emotional rollercoaster of a story, Vivi is the type of girl who wants to live her life to the fullest and to record her passage through life, but she has a disease: bipolar disorder. Although she wants to live, the treatment leaves her to be miserable and so she stops taking her medications. Jonah is a boy who lost his father to a heart attack. He and his two older brothers have to take care of the house and their three little brothers. Jonah doesn’t really get to experience everything other kids his age do while Vivi does whatever she possibly can. Throughout the novel, the two characters learn a lot from each other and learn to engage in a lot of new things they usually wouldn’t.

This YA novel was filled with many moments of suspense and joy as it brought out so many different perceptions of each character and overall was just a very exciting read as its storyline is magnificent with its appreciated details that take you into Vivi and Jonah’s world. This well-written experience about accepting yourself and helping others while continuing to live on even though things might not be at their best right now and taking life rain and shine. It’s about how sometimes even our scars can help others and give a little bit of light to those we meet. This book shows how lives can be messy but beautiful while still leaving an impact on so many others, too.

Enjoyed this post? Why not check out my YA novels about mental illness or Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads, LinkedInBookbub , or AllAuthor.

My Reason for Starting This Blog

I started this blog to reach out and connect to people with similar challenges in a healthy and positive way. The blog has personal history, ideas on lessening the severity of some symptoms, insight, goals, and therapies for those with similar diagnoses or those with family members or friends that are curious on how to communicate or help their loved one.

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It’s fulfilling and therapeutic to open up about my past, present, and future goals. I’ve enjoyed the messages that I’ve received from likeminded individuals through my books’ contact information. Some of the things that helped me aided them as well. That makes it all worth it.

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By finding articles and researching studies to write my own articles, I learn more about my diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment for my disorders and those of loved ones such as depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, eating disorders, self-harm, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, among others.

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Some people who read this mental health blog are concerned individuals who want to reach out and connect with the mental health community to understand what their children, family members, friends, or acquaintances experience. Some of the earliest posts on this blog are from a few years ago when I started it. My mental health took a downturn for a brief time, and I became distracted. This time around, I’m in a better place and have learned more than I knew before and continue to take part in therapies to lessen the illness. I welcome those new readers and thank those that have written to me about the topics I share here and those in my books.

Enjoyed this post? Why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads, LinkedInBookbub, BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Book review: Haldol and Hyacinths by Melody Moezzi

A Bipolar Life

Avery, A member of Penguin Group, 2013

“People tend to look unfavorably upon the mentally ill, especially those of us who’ve been hospitalized. Losing your mind is indeed traumatizing but doing so in front of a supposedly sane audience is mortifying. It’s not like getting cancer. No one rallies around you or shaves her head in solidarity or brings you sweets. “Normals” (or “normies,” as some of us “crazies” affectionately refer to them) feel uneasy around those of us who’ve lost a grip on reality. Perhaps they’re afraid we might attack them or drool on them or, worse yet, suck them into our alternate universe where slitting your wrists and talking to phantoms seem perfectly rational.” ― Melody Moezzi

Haldol and Hyacinths, is a powerful, funny, and moving narrative that pays tribute to the healing power of hope and humor, by writer Melody Moezzi, an Iranian American and Muslim, who speaks out against the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder. She certainly doesn’t fit the highly inaccurate stereotype of someone with mental illness.

“A lot of ways, when you are labeled with something like manic depression or schizophrenia. That label carries so much weight and you take it on as part of your identity in a way that can be really harmful.” Moezzi said.

She isn’t disabled or violent or contagious. Melody is an attorney with a Master’s degree in Public Health. She is an award-winning author who has made many national and international media appearances. Many people who suffer from mental illnesses are highly educated, high functioning individuals.

For Moezzi, and only after years of mania and depression, was she successfully diagnosed in 2008 and subsequently, found access to the right treatment plan and medication.  Bipolar disorder can be wrought with hallucinations, delusions, extremes highs or lows in mood, and impulsivity. In her case, such impulses led to a suicide attempt. But after years of improper diagnoses, medications, and humiliating, dehumanizing inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations, medication, therapy, and having a partner that helped her focus on her full self she managed her illness and found her calling to tell her powerful story. It took a lot of bravery, and humor, for Melody to share her story.  She is quick to point out the importance of speaking, writing, and living authentically.

It was exciting, interesting, and excellent glimpse into the life and mind of an extraordinary young woman with an unfortunate mental disorder.

Enjoyed this post? Why not check out my YA novels or Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads, LinkedInBookbub , or AllAuthor.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Facts & How it Affects Me

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OCD is characterized by intrusive, troubling thoughts (obsessions), and repetitive, ritualistic behaviors (compulsions) which are time-consuming, significantly impair functioning and/or cause distress. The average onset of OCD is 19 years old and occurs slightly more often in females than in males. It affects 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children.

When an obsession occurs, it almost always corresponds with a significant increase in anxiety and distress. Subsequent compulsions serve to reduce this associated anxiety/distress.

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Common obsessions include:

  • contamination fears
  • worries about harm to self or others
  • need for symmetry, exactness and order
  • religious/moralistic concerns
  • forbidden thoughts (can be sexual or aggressive)
  • a need to seek reassurance or confess

Common compulsions include:

  • cleaning/washing
  • checking
  • counting
  • repeating
  • straightening
  • routinized behaviors
  • confessing
  • praying
  • seeking reassurance
  • touching
  • tapping or rubbing
  • avoidance

Many people with OCD recognize that it isn’t rational but continue to need to act on their obsessions with their corresponding compulsions and may spend lengthy amounts of time, like several hours daily, performing senseless rituals. OCD can be chronic and interfere with a person’s schoolwork, job, family, or social activities. Proper treatment with medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy can help sufferers regain control over the illness and feel relief from the symptoms.

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My onset was also at 19 years old despite occasional cutting (of my thighs) as a younger teenager. The bulk of my OCD began when with dealing with an alcoholic spouse. I’d start worrying about a fire in the apartment and what the police or firefighters would walk into, so I repetitively cleaned, straightened, and reorganized many times so they wouldn’t think low of me. At 21 years old, when my daughter was born, I worried something bad would happen to her; so I began touching a set of feng-shui coins tied in a red ribbon that I’d nailed to the entry door trim. Then I established the handwashing routine where I’d scrub roughly for eighteen minutes. After that the tapping the table eight times began.

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When I returned to college at age twenty-six, I’d avoid certain hallways and walk unnecessarily around campus as opposed to direct paths. When I had to take the quick routes for social reasons, I’d ask for reassurance that nothing bad would occur. Two years later, after I filed for divorce, I sought help so others wouldn’t see my compulsions. The psychiatrist prescribed SSRIs which eased a good deal of the more embarrassing situations.

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Now, I take Zoloft (serotonin) and Wellbutrin (dopamine) for the chemical imbalances in my brain. Those are an immense help. Now the social disturbances are almost non-existent unless an event occurs that stresses me beyond normal levels, such as my daughter receiving radiation therapy or immunotherapy. The only thing that I compulsively perform is touching the coins when I leave or enter. The reasoning behind that is that nothing will happen to my loved ones. I realize it’s irrational, but I can’t quite handle that obsession and compulsion yet.

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My point is that help is available. You may not be cured, but a combination of medications and cognitive-behavioral therapy may treat it to the point of others not observing your behaviors, especially in confined spaces like classes, meetings, or elevators.

Enjoyed this post? Why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, my writing memoirs, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads, LinkedInBookbub , or AllAuthor.

Book review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013

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This book is about a misfit trying to find her place in the world. For most of her life, Elise has been an outsider when it comes to making friends. So the summer before her sophomore year, Elise uses current trends and fashion in one last attempt to be accepted by her peers. However, it goes horribly wrong, and Elise attempts suicide but realizes that she isn’t serious about it. When Elise, an avid music lover, has trouble sleeping, she goes on long walks, and one night she happens upon a hidden dance club. Elise feels that she has finally found a place to fit in with the kids in the club in addition to the DJ playing the music.

Elise’s road to acceptance and freedom isn’t smooth, and through the bumps along the way she finally finds who she’s meant to be. Elise is smart and funny and very relatable. She is so real and suffers from such a painful combination of self-scrutiny, naivety about others, and deep convictions about what’s really important in life and who is really on her side, half of which are wrong. Most of her observations and sentiments are spot on, though some of her interactions with her family seem to be her pretending to be someone else. It does deal with tough subjects of suicide, fitting in and cyber bullying in a moving, insightful, inspiring and often comedic way.

Elise’s love of music is a huge part of her story, and there are many references to bands and songs throughout, so some teens or twenty-somethings will love it. Older readers might not be interested enough to follow Elise on her journey of self-acceptance. Others will see it as a brilliant story about a young woman trying to find where she fits in the world, discovering her talents & joy through music and finding her own sense of community which will make it a fun, inspiring read.

Enjoyed this post? Why not check out my YA novels or Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads, LinkedInBookbub , or AllAuthor.

Book review: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Vancouver rocker and classically trained pianist Kiri Byrd is home practicing her art while alone for the summer since her parents are off on a cruise. Pretty early into her stay at home, Kiri’s plans go awry when she receives a mysterious call to pick up some of her deceased older sister’s belongings in a sketchy part of town. Kiri forms a bond with sister Sukey’s troubled neighbor and with a boy named Skunk that alter her views of many things.

At first it seems that Kiri is simply coming into her own, gaining wisdom, and accepting life’s unpredictability, but soon it becomes clear that Kiri (manic) is also losing control because the experience of dealing with the shocking truth causes her to tumble into a downward spiral, so Kiri’s mental state is alarmingly called into question. Reader will sense the narrative becoming less lucid, more frantic, and questionably mentally ill as is that of her new romance who is paranoid.

Kiri is a musician, preparing for the Young Pianists’ Showcase, which means dedicated practice and now she’s not sleeping and manically playing at 5 a.m., while her thoughts go wild and then subdued again. Due in most part to the author’s convincing dialogue and moving characterizations this young adult, coming-of-age novel blurs the lines between genius and madness, love and loss, demands and freedom, perception and reality, peace and turmoil. The debut author’s embracing of the complexities of grief, family dynamics, creativity, mental illness, and love pens them with a thoughtful, subtle hand. Despite how we as readers may fear for Kiri, she’s unabashed in how she lives her life, and it’s both exhausting and exhilarating to watch.

Enjoyed this post? Why not check out my YA novels or Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads, LinkedInBookbub , or AllAuthor.

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