Book review: The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart

15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs, and Me, Ruby Oliver

Ember, 2011

This YA novel is about self-discovery while attending prep school. The narrative is about fifteen-year-old Ruby Oliver and her relationships about which her psychiatrist, Dr. Z. focuses her therapy sessions. Ruby is a social outcast that has lost her boyfriend and her best friend (in fact, the two are now dating).

It’s a humorous at times and heartbreaking at others look at teenage angst and confusion while portraying psychiatrists very well and not coming across as sanctimonious. The protagonist’s voice is written well. with relatable traits and personality while maintain her uniqueness.

Ruby learns that lust exists outside of love and that it is natural and okay to feel one without the other. It’s how you deal with those feelings that is key. There is a lot of slut shaming in The Boyfriend List. In fact, the characters learn how emotionally charged the social context of this word is.

This light look at feminism follows Ruby (judgmental, pretentious, and oversensitive) as she sees how her behavior results from commonly accepted gender roles like passively waiting for the boy to make the move. In the novel, Ruby learns her voice and that it means she doesn’t need to wait for things to come her way. The story develops seamlessly and isn’t the least bit didactic as it follows a imperfect character as she makes mistakes and learns lessons along the way.

This quick, short read is funny writing at its best; a book about the challenges of being a teenage girl: boys, high school, gossip, dances, female friendships, toxic relationships, and the influence on panic attacks and mental health.

Book review: Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Harperteen, 2016

Paula Stokes YA novel, Girl Against the Universe is a fresh, informative, and powerful look at PTSD, grieving, and the rollercoaster of falling in love when your world is imploding. In this book we follow the protagonist, high school junior Maguire Kelly, who believes she makes bad things happen. After all her father, brother, and uncle died in a car crash that Maguire walked away from, a tennis mishap with Jordy, an unfortunate fall by his sister, or the neighbor’s house catching fire. There was even a time when a rollercoaster went off its tracks injuring her two friends leaving her thinking she’s a jinx.

So, what does Maguire do about it? She buys good luck charms and performs rituals, compulsive behaviors, so bad things don’t happen when she’s around. What she doesn’t do is listen to the logical explanation by her therapist. Instead, Maguire shields herself and hides away in her bedroom. That is so no one else can get hurt. What changes? Maguire meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star who enlists in helping her break her unlucky streak. They’re supportive of each other both in and out of therapy. It’s a very realistic, contemporary romantic tale about young love, therapy, and family relationships at a time when the character believes the whole world is against her.

Positive vs. Negative Symptoms for Me

strengthThe positive symptoms (in addition to reality) of schizophrenia are: hallucinations (see and hear things), delusions (false beliefs that defy reasoning), paranoia, disorganized thinking,and grandiosity (believing that I have supernatural powers),

And the negative symptoms (lacking from normally considered behavior) are: lack of emotion, slow speaking, poor hygiene, impaired memory, poor concentration or decision making skills, limited social functioning, lacking motivation, and inability to experience enjoyment in things I once found pleasurable.

I’ve highlighted the ones that I experienced. In addition to those, I experienced sleeplessness, OCD, depression, and high anxiety. All of my symptoms have been treatable. I do still experience hallucinations when the stresses in my life are too great. Things haven’t gotten easier for me; instead, with the aid of medication, psychotherapy and my support structure, I’ve learned what is and isn’t real. I can control my emotions but I still have trouble relating to other people because I fear that my symptoms may arise in their presence. But the key is that I am in control and feel empowered.

Contrary to myths, as a person with schizophrenia, I don’t have developmental disabilities, violent tendencies, or a split personality. Not being in contact with my birth family, I don’t if genetic susceptibility or environmental factors (nature or nurture) played a role. I was diagnosed with PTSD years back due to physical and emotional trauma as a child; but I believe those are irrelevant at this point in my life as I’ve gotten over and forgiven all responsible. I truly hope they are as happy as they can be in their own part of this world.

At this point, the medication works but isn’t without side effects. The worst of all is the tremors. However, restlessness comes in a close second. All in all, I prognosticate that I will be in full remission (symptom free), with the aid of medication, within six months time.

Embodied Imagination Remedy

Embodied Imagination Remedy

embodiedimaginationwork

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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