Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Call For Mental Health Spotlights & "Life In Rewind"

When I began Loving With Chronic Illness, my goal was to tell my story and reach out to other people living with Spondylitis. I didn't know what to expect and even wondered if I'd get sick of blogging, like I had tired of so many old diaries. Soon life took its own course - as it tends to do - and so did my health. Incidentally, my first year of writing coincided with my most painful year, both physically and emotionally. For months my Spondylitis was unrelenting and, as a result, I developed Fibromylagia - a second chronic pain disorder.
Along the way, I've met several extraordinary individuals; people who have changed me for the better. I've even been lucky enough to spend time with some of them in person! They have offered their support, input and, perhaps without knowing it, have added to the overall depth and scope of this blog. By adding my "Spotlight Series", I've had the honor of learning about and sharing the stories of 16 incredible human beings (with many more to come). More than ever, I've seen the power of narrative therapy. The majority of people who have been spotlights on my blog have found the process of answering questions to be cathartic. For many, it was their first time speaking openly about their illness/es and this experience took their personal relationships to a new level.

The importance of story-telling also recently struck me after reading Life in Rewind a true account of an amazing young man named Ed Zine. Following the death of his mother at age 11, Ed's world is turned upside down. Desperate to keep things the same, he becomes consumed with protecting his loved ones and ultimately stopping the progression of time. His symptoms and compulsions are so severe, that he becomes a prisoner in his own home and within his own mind. I quickly became invested in Ed's well-being as he battled one of the most severe cases of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that has been ever reported. This is an important book that gave me profound insight into the torturous realities of this condition.
Ed Zine

After reading this novel, I also recognized a missing element within my blog. Although I've discussed my battle with depression and anxiety, the majority of spotlights on this blog pertain to people living with physical health issues. As an aspiring social worker, I'm all-too-aware of the societal stigma surrounding mental illness. Thus, I offer a humble request. If you're living with mental illness, please remember that your story is just as valuable as anyone else's; that you're vital to spreading awareness. My hope is that, together, we can give a face to mental illness.

If you or someone you know might be interested in participating in my spotlight series, please e-mail me at I would be honored to help tell your story. Even if you've been a spotlight on this blog already and now wish to speak about a mental health condition, you are more than welcomed. After all, physical and mental health are so often intertwined. Similarly, if you have important literature or article recommendations pertaining to mental illness, please send them my way!

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