For those of you who know me, or who have interacted with me in life outside of this blog, you know that I will support you in your endeavors (by buying your books, reading your work, buying your art, etc.) and the other thing I will do with almost everyone I meet is share resources. I love to network and help people out. And I always try to leave competition out of any social situation that isn’t a friendly game of Scrabble, or Bananagrams. So although I recently published a book, I do not hesitate to recommend a fellow advocate’s book to you for your consideration (there is enough space under the Christmas tree for dozens of books this year).
I know many of you who read this blog also suffer from anxiety or bipolar disorder, both of which the author and speaker, Gabe Howard, has. Gabe just released his book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and Other Observations, and it is a monster of a book with over three hundred pages (Gabe wanted to make sure you get your money’s worth). The book is a compilation of three years of Gabe’s essays, and blog posts for Psych Central, Bipolar Magazine, and other online publications.
I thought there was a possibility that the book would be so specific to bipolar disorder that it wouldn’t interest people with schizophrenia, but remember doctors thought I had bipolar disorder for almost twenty years before accurately diagnosing me with chronic paranoid schizophrenia. In other words, one mental illness can look a lot like another mental illness and be hard for even experts to differentiate.
Don’t let the title of the book; Mental Illness is an Asshole and Other Observations, throw you off from the practical advice the book has to offer. One reason the book is so timely is the advice it includes on maneuvering the holidays, and the tips and tricks section is relevant to those with any mental illness, not just bipolar disorder.
The two words that I would use to describe the book are educational (dispelling myths) and helpful (full of advice on everything from handling social situations when you suffer from social anxiety to boosting your self-esteem). Gabe has a clear, and direct writing style that is easy to read and contains plenty of anecdotes to help illustrate points and make the reading more lively than a point by point discussion.
I had two favorite parts to this book one was letters from Gabe’s readers and his responses to their questions and concerns, and the other one was Gabe’s “annual birthday post.” at the end of the book. In the birthday post, Gabe reveals the real impact mental illness can have on all of us and how that impact can challenge our sense of self, our accomplishments and our confidence in our abilities.
This book is suitable as a gift to those people in your life that you might want to understand better what living with a mental illness is like, and those of us with a mental illness who want to live our best life. Gabe isn’t a doctor, but there are times when the lived experience is a better teacher than the ones we find in books, but in this case, you get a book of lived experience, and it’s a good one. I recommend it to you without hesitation.