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Friday, May 22, 2009

There's a new show coming to television on May 26th called, Mental. When I heard this I thought maybe someone finally figured out a way to depict the reality of the mental health system and bring some much needed publicity to a subject that people don't like to talk about until it effects them or their loved ones. And then most be people won't talk much because of the stigma associated with mental illness.

Typically, and too often the news focuses on the horror stories and not the day to day courageous struggles and triumphs of people coping with the challenges of invisible demons that can make life miserable. (I encourage you to visit and meet some real heros and heroines. Check out the Organized Chaos website where you can learn a lot from teens and young adults).

Monk is probably the best show I can think of that tackles the challenges of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Yet the people dealing with OCD don't always do as well as Adrian Monk. The torturous thoughts that plague some people aren't laughable, but laughter can help us feel better. More shows like Monk might make it easier to discuss other mental disorders as easily as headaches and back pain. That's one way we can help fight stigma.

The New Yorker's, Nancy Franklin, reviews 'Mental' at this link:

If she's right, then a great opportunity was missed to make a difference. If you get a chance, watch it, and see what you think. Maybe there's still hope.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

I have been writing for about ten years and studying the craft of writing a lot longer than that. But about two years into the writing of my first novel my oldest child who was then eleven was diagnosed with a non-verbal learning disability. This diagnosis does not mean that she can’t talk. It’s the way the brain perceives the world and is very similar to Asperger’s Syndrome. In other words the performance part of the brain is the non-verbal side on an I.Q. test. This disorder is also known as right hemispheric brain disorder. And that’s probably as clear as mud. It is very confusing but it has caused severe anxiety for our oldest, which bloomed into full blown obsessive-compulsive disorder. The OCD is a terrorist of sorts for our oldest daughter, and has held our entire family hostage at times. If you’re interested you can go to:

We didn’t know it at the time but this was the beginning of a very long and difficult journey for my entire family. One that we continue to battle every day. Many families have to cope with disabilities of all kinds and I’ve struggled for these past eight years to find a way to keep my dreams alive and keep my family intact. It’s not easy. I’m sure there are a lot of others in similar circumstances who have to find a way to keep working at what you love to do when major life issues become the Goliath’s in our lives.

Here are a few things that I’ve done, and I’d love for you to add to this list so all of us that can benefit from the wisdom.

• PRAY- If there’s one thing that makes you hit your knees fast it’s when a child becomes ill.
• ASK FOR HELP- when the going gets tough don’t be too proud to ask for help.
• CARVE A NICHE FOR YOURSELF- If I don’t have time for me I go a little crazy. It’s so important to find time for you, but so incredibly hard to do. My husband and I give each other time and space to do things we want, but the down side of that is finding time together.
• WRITE WHEN YOU CAN- You may have to write long hand or dictate into a microphone. Carry index cards and come up with characters you want to use while waiting in the grocery line. We don’t always have the luxury of sitting at the computer when there is too much on our plates. It’s okay.
• LISTEN TO CONFERENCE CD’S- I’ve found that conference CD’s can be an incredible motivator and gives your creative mind a chance to break away from the day to day stresses of life. You not only get a chance to learn new things but you can enjoy you own private conference at your convenience. This may be while you are driving to work, on your lunch break if you work full time like I do. It may be while you are cleaning house or doing the dishes.
• ENCOURAGE OTHER WRITERS- Brainstorm, critique, judge contests. You might not be able to do this every week, but I bet you can do it every year. And the years add up, so make them count.

Philippians 4:13 (English Standard Version) I can do all things through him who strengthens me.