Every book lover loves a good book. While they may fascinate themselves on science fiction or have a good cry over a sad love story, the end result of reading is not pure entertainment. For the most part, there is some type of moral standing or lesson to be learned that every good book has to teach. When it comes to self-help books, the emphasis is on helping oneself to improve your situation.
A popular trend among every facet, any genre of health, are the books written by people suffering the ailment. Within the mental-health community there are thousands, yes thousands of books available about people living with bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder…You get the point. Not every story is the same, but most books stumble into the pitfall over-sensationalizing and romanticizing the trauma of mental disorders and the many symptoms. Not every story should be a book. Some should just be brochures.
Life Bipolar FREE: DREAD all’bout ME… My drugs I used both legal and illicit! My wild days of self-indulgence and about MY cat, MY dog, MY fish…Read about who I slept with & what I slept with! Read ‘bout what I ate and why I ate it. The medications I took and the meds I stopped taking and the hospital psych-wards that have the best food! You’ll love to read about all my spending sprees and about what I bought and even more CRAZY antics… I even have a paragraph that might help someone… YES, READ MY LIFE story with bipolar disorder since I was diagnosed last WEEK! On sale, ONLY $50.00. Caption: Is your Mental Health Story a book or a brochure
One common pitfall that I keep reading is the glorifying of illicit drugs and alcohol use during a manic or depressive state. Instead of using the experience to help others avoid such destructive behavior, some almost seem to encourage it as a rite of passage for mental illness recovery. The abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs as a self-medicating tool is a farce. There is nothing medically necessary that requires someone to boast about how drunk they got or how high or wasted they were during a self-medicating session. It’s ludicrous to promote self-medication as a healthy substitute for professional services. I don’t care how bad the professional services are in your area (mine are extremely limited) there is just no excuse…even more so to make it into a book as a good read. The only lesson being taught is ignorance.
There’s an old expression in print media, I’m sure you’re aware of, “sex sells.” But I don’t think a self-help book should include all your romps and roles in the hay in extreme detail if you’re trying to help someone. Hyper sexuality is a reality of bipolar disorder mania. For many it’s a curse and can lead to unprotected sex, disease, unwanted pregnancies. Total destruction of your self-esteem, especially when you wake up next to someone that never in 1 million years would you find attractive if you weren’t pushed by compulsion, desire and lack of control to be with that person in the first place. Tips on how to avoid such situations can be helpful; but surely not worth six chapters of your book. Again, we are talking about self-help books. But even memoirs and any book that is trying to promote mental illness as its main subject should consider toning it down. But that is something you can’t do in this world today. Even when you do, you’re looked upon as being different and odd especially when you baulk the number one rule of print… Sex sells!
Violence…a mentally unstable mind while not prone to violence, may have been surrounded by it most of their lives. Yet, there is no need to glorify the violent confrontations some have had in order to try to help others avoid violence. How does your attacking a police officer during a crisis…with you boasting how fun it was to be stunned with the stun gun…helpful? Nor is it helpful to read about the many fistfights you got into because your mood was filled with rage and you just had to take it out on someone. It seems to me that glorifying a violent past does nothing more than re-stigmatize the idea that mentally ill people are violent and should be locked away.
Drugs, sex and violence are the common misconceptions to a road to recovery for self-help books. You don’t need to promote it and try to use the shock value to add depth to a shallow variance of your story.
Granted if you leave out the drugs, the sex, the violence…all you have is a few pages. Understand that your book should not be a book, but rather just a brochure. That’s not making light of the value of your story. Think about it as you being ecologically-friendly on the use of paper, thus saving trees! Oh, unless it’s an eBook then forget everything I said and write anything you want. ** SEE BELOW Warning
**The above post and cartoon was drawn and written for one reason and one reason only – to get your goat, to illicit a reaction, test your pulse, to see if you are paying attention. It’s a manipulative rant with a purpose. For it to be successful, you should now be feeling the compulsion to write a comment that either identifies with what I wrote or condemns what I wrote as poppycock. Whatever you are feeling, I would like you to comment below. This will be a therapeutic exercise to help release tension, self guilt, and glorify your self worth by giving you a voice in order to tell me off. If you’ve already written something before you’ve read this, I applaud you. You are human and you are worthy of much of praise. The truth is every story about mental illness is a good story and one that we can all learn from even if it’s riddled with alcohol, drugs, sex and violence. The fact that you are alive and telling the story speaks volumes of your recovery and sets a great example for others to follow.
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Last reviewed: 12 Mar 2013