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.

Self-harm with Mental Illness

Discovering that your child is self-harming is profoundly shocking and upsetting for every parent; but it’s quite likely that your child is self-harming in ways you haven’t even noticed. Plus, they may or may not outgrow it as adults self-injure as well.

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Self-harming is an epidemic that affects many people, especially the young: 9% of girls self-harm in the USA and 6.7% of boys reported non-suicidal self-injury. And those numbers don’t reflect the study participants who chose to keep it hidden.

Most of the coverage of self-harm in the media focuses on cutting, referencing children with self-inflicted wounds on their arms. But the reality is, this is only one form of self-harm, and many other forms get overlooked, as do adults who do non-suicidal self-injury. 

Signs and symptoms of self-injury may include:

  • scars, or a pattern of scars
  • fresh cuts, scratches, bruises, bite marks or other wounds
  • excessive rubbing of an area to create a burn
  • keeping sharp objects on hand
  • wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather
  • frequent accidental injuries
  • interpersonal relationship difficulties
  • behavioral and emotional instability, impulsivity and unpredictability
  • statements of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness

The following list will help you identify other ways that your child may be self harming:

Most Common: scratching, pinching, cutting, burning, hair pulling, and ripped skin

Less Common and often overlooked: Eating too much/too little, excessive exercise, and self-isolation. These often-overlooked examples are ways that young people self-harm, affect their bodies and their health over longer periods of time.

Another set of behaviors that can be neglected are aggressive tendencies such as: punching walls, getting into fights, and putting themselves in risky situation such as promiscuity.      

Why do young people self-harm? The reasons behind self-injury are complex and unique to each child, because each child/adolescent self-harms for different reasons. The most frequent reason was relief from thoughts or feelings (overwhelming emotions). Some of the other most common reasons include schoolwork struggles, loneliness, being bullied, underlying mental health difficulties, and many more everyday stressors.

This illness usually starts in the early teens (but school statistics questionnaires find it common as early as third grade) but can go way into adulthood, and most of the time includes an underlying illness such as depression or anxiety.

Book review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2014

For most people, life can be divided into parts, like the beginning, middle, and end of a story. For this YA novel sixteen-year-old Alexi Littrell and Bodee Lennox, there are only before and after.

Before, Alexi and Bodee were relative strangers, brought together only by locker proximity and coincidence, a world of differences between them. Bodee was known more simply the Kool-Aid Kid, an unassuming oddball with weird hair who was the object of ridicule and scorn amongst his peers. Alexi was known more simply a shy, ordinary teenage girl who liked spending time with her best friends.

After, the two teenagers are dealing with psychological trauma far beyond their sixteen years. For Bodee, this means attempting to escape the violent legacy of his murderous father, who killed his mother in a devastating incident of domestic violence. For Alexi, only the self-inflicted scars on her neck give away the sign that someone close to her did something terrible to her. Now she is faking normal and dealing with the crippling aftermath of her rape and betrayal at the hands of someone she trusted. Alexi’s secret is killing her on the inside. In order to cope with the internal pain, she engages in various rituals, including self-mutilation, and she still gets up every morning and pretends like everything is fine. No one in her family notices how much she is suffering every day. Even with all the anxiety building up inside her, she still can keep her family and friends in the dark.

When the Littrells welcome Bodee into their home, Alexi and Bodee form an unlikely bond despite their vastly different backgrounds and upbringings, their reciprocally shared pain forging an indelible link between them. When he moves in with Alexi’s family, he discover the scars on her neck, the ones she inflicts on herself and always tries to hide it. They become friends and help each other to deal with their traumas together. As the two teenagers attempt to seek closure and redefine themselves after all that has happened, Alexi and Bodee may find that there is no greater power than that of love and that there is light to be found at the end of even the darkest of tunnels.

Faking Normal deals with the sexual assault, self-injury, and spousal abuse. It is a story about being honest with yourself and finding courage. It also about understanding that you are never alone, no matter how lonely you feel.

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.

Book review: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2015

This enticing and compelling read is not a quick page-turner but instead delves into depression and how a conformist attitude hurts the victims, perpetrators, even the extremely passive bystanders like the main character, Tori. Individuals who chart their own course (love interest) seeking to change a world deadset on not changing are hurt worst. For Tori, it’s best to view everything as all good and don’t burden anyone which does more harm than good, but Tori isn’t herself as depicted by the previous highly exaggerated letter that’s at odds from who she is now: dulled by lack of not caring.

Mental breakdowns come out of the blue as they do in this book where Tori’s ramblings have no immediate backstory. Tori isn’t judgmental but instead mentally ill. The suicide attempt and self-harm relapse are written well and relatable.

This book doesn’t lend itself to problematic ideas but instead shows a realistic portrayal of mental health issues with the perfect amount of seriousness with a good climax breakdown that is a hopeful but realistic end to this story.

Book review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Delacorte Press, 2016

Girl in Pieces talks is a masterfully created emotional rollercoaster about self-harm, sexual assault, eating disorders, depression, suicide, alcohol and drug addiction so there is a trigger warning for anyone seeking to read this book. This novel doesn’t romanticize or glorify self-harm and mental health and reveals dark depictions of homelessness and abuse. Kathleen Glasgow masterfully shows the inner turmoil of someone battling mental health issues. The book has its readers walk along with the protagonist, Charlie Davis on her journey from waking up in a Minnesota psychiatric hospital to a sudden discharge back to the same life that drove her there. She should be dead by now.

As the title suggests, Charlie attempts to pick up the pieces of herself and make herself whole again throughout the book. Every time Charlie would go two steps forward, she’d fall two steps back and may not off the happy ending we always hope for in a read that tackles the less spoken issues in society such as suicide down to less triggering topics as our health care insurance system whose lack of healthcare puts Charlie back out from where she came.

As Charlie grapples with toxic relationships, an unfixed past, and an unsteady future, she must make a decision to fix herself or stay shattered. Girl in Pieces is raw, blunt, and acknowledged a lot of the struggles that are normally not written about like the recovery aspect of mental illness and the ups and downs of healing.

Book review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Greenwillow Books, 2017

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk straddles two worlds: in real life, she’s a shy and friendless high school student, but online, she is known as LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the highly popular webcomic: Monstrous Sea. Eliza finds so much joy online that there’s hardly any joy left for her life offline. She lost herself in the world and characters she created, and it was so much easier for her to remain cocooned in her imaginary world than challenge herself to make real-life connections. But when Wallace Warland transfers to Eliza’s school, he reveals himself to be Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, rainmaker. Though Wallace and Eliza grow close and bond over their love for Monstrous Sea, Eliza struggles with revealing her own identity as the creator of the webcomic.

Wallace even begins to draw Eliza out of her shell. After a series of strange events threaten to expose everything, she’s worked to keep hidden, Eliza finds that her world has begun to crumble around her. She deals with anxiety, depression, and overwhelming pressure as she tries to learn how to reconcile the two halves of her life that seem so far apart. She lives in her comics and her dedication to her creation and her fandom borders on an unhealthy obsession as she treads the boundaries between her online presence and reality.

Shyness, escapism, obsession, and low self-worth were all very relatable in this story. It’s a great look at the messiness of love when depression and low self-esteem get in the way of communication. This heartbreaking, quick read is also worth reading for parents that are wondering, no, struggling to understand why your teen is a part of a fandom. The book has little drawings and stories from her webcomic throughout, making it more interactive and engaging. It’s delving into PTSD, anxiety, and depression is a trigger warning for this near tearjerker about teen angst and romance.

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