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Heavier Things

February 17, 2019

Instead of a wrap up, this Sunday, I’m going to do things a little differently.

Mental health is really important to me.

That should not be a surprise to anyone who follows this blog or my bookstagram account or knows me in real life.

I am about to graduate with a masters degree in clinical social work, this May, but that wasn’t the catalyst for the importance.

My interest started decades ago when my absolute dearest family member was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. It was scary, at first, and took a lot of work, but said person remains my hero and is often my own biggest cheerleader.

This was long before it was even halfway acceptable (because it’s still not actually “cool”) to talk openly about mental health struggles.

I actually lied to my mom about watching Frozen (though I did eventually make it all the way through), when it first came out because the absolute spot on parallel Disney painted to my own life was overwhelming. I stopped early on in my viewing, around the moment when the sisters are separated due to Elsa’s debilitating hurt and shame.

Not that we found ourselves fighting a raging ice monster but, honestly sometimes, Depression, Bipolar, Addiction, Eating Disorders, and other hurdles can feel that way.

Because there is so much secrecy and shame woven around mental illness and seeking mental wellness, we often find ourselves in a place where sharing feelings seems less scary than fighting monsters. And we do just about anything to lock ourselves in our own glass castles, away from anyone who might be caught in the fallout.

Flash forward a decade or so, and I had my own raging monsters to deal with. Alcoholism and Bulimia nearly took me out in my 20’s.

Me!

Even though I was the first crusader I knew for talking about mental health!

Even though I thought I knew everything there was to know!

Even though I had good people around me!

Even though!

Even…

Ah.

And there it is.

It is, quite possible that we think that we have every advantage and won’t get “caught” by the things that bring other people down.

We’re better than addiction.

We’re stronger than depression.

We’re smarter than eating disorders.

I mean, written out like that, it seems a little silly.

But it’s easy to ignore the reality of brain chemistry when we keep everything inside.

Which is why writing and reading and talking about mental health and mental illness is so important.

That’s why I am crying happy tears (and some mourning tears, as well, for those battling all of the things) for the release of Jen Petro-Roy’s set of books focused on Eating Disorders.

Open, honest, and written in a way that invites conversation, GOOD ENOUGH and YOU ARE ENOUGH are absolutely about to change the game around not just eating disorders but around mental health, in general.

Jen has been a relentless warrior on behalf of the recovery community (you should definitely go check out her page at ANAD on body image) and was the person I reached out to when I found my own self inpatient for five weeks of Bulimia treatment.

I don’t hope we can change the conversation around mental health.

I know we can.

As long as we continue to speak out and reach out, sharing the vulnerable places with one another, instead of fighting monsters alone.

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