Chances are, you are close, know someone—or even love someone who has a mental illness; millions of people are affected by it. But there is a stigma that surround mental illness. Often times, people who come forward, revealing that they have it, may be shamed for it. Laurie Finkelstein, author of Next Therapist Please, is fighting the judgment towards mental illness one page at time. Here are five truth bombs featured in the comedy/romance novel:
1. You Can Have Depression and Still Have a Vibrant Personality
In the beginning of Next Therapist Please, we learn about the face of depression. There is a misconception that people who have this disorder will appear to show a look of sadness. When Janie attends the art exhibit, she appears calm and pleasant. She uses sarcasm and sense of humor to override her depression.
2. With Mental Illness, there is No Such Thing as a Small Fight
Janis experiences social anxiety when her agent, unexpectedly introduces her to a couple who are interested in learning more about her artwork. Just moments before, she was doing fine, despite her depression—standing alongside other artists. In an instant, her social anxiety was triggered because of fear of having to converse, talking to possible collectors, and telling them about her work.
People living with a mental illness don’t have the luxury of turning it off. Sometimes it comes in waves. And as you see in this story, Janie fights her social anxiety, by continuing to remain in the guests’ presence, even though she still feels awkward and uncomfortable.
3. People with Mental Illness Can Have a Love for Hope, Adventure and Life
In Chapter 3, Janie shows a contentment with life. While staying at hotel, she gives us and insight of how she feels. It reads:
“The best feature of the room is the private indoor/outdoor shower. I adore showering outdoors. A sense of freedom and danger prevail. I would enjoy the atmosphere more by sharing with a partner, but for now, I’ll revel in the idea of being a nature girl, showering in the twisted jungle.”
Janie is hopeful, feeling adventurous, and experiencing happiness within herself. She is perfectly fine with being single, and she doesn’t view it as a bad thing or an inadequacy.
4. Having to Struggle with Daily Duties but Finding Ways to Persevere
We get to see what life was like before tragedy struck. Janie struggled to find balance: being a wife, panic attacks, and the ups and downs of motherhood. She is transparent about her obstacles. Honest about her difficulties. And it one of the reasons why Janie perseveres.
5. Ditching Life to Make Time for Self-Care
One of my favorite parts of Next Therapist Please is when Janie calls her good friend, Debbie. They take a day off from their lives and busy schedules for self-care. They plan to go to the spa, eat lunch, relax and go shopping. Self-care is important to everyone, but it is especially crucial for someone with a mental illness. To them it is more than a break or a refresher, it’s similar to a much needed rest.
To battle inwardly and possibly, on the outside—sometimes each day, should not be viewed as a weakness, or associated with negativity. If it represents anything, it show us that anyone living with any type of mental illness is an overcomer and strong-willed.