What's after World Mental Health Day?

World Mental Health Day is October 10. Normally, I look forward to sharing my story in hopes of showing friends and family that they aren’t alone if they are living with mental illness. But, this year I felt differently. I’m so thankful for the conversation that it starts, that it allows people an opportunity to share their experience, that it gives young people a language for their struggle. Growing up, I knew what I felt was different, but didn’t know it was an illness or something I could seek help for.

But, sometimes days like this feel like a bandaid on a much bigger issue. It’s so important to bring visibility to these often invisible illness, but what happens today when the hashtag stops trending? Will the conversations continue with young people, with athletes, with people of color? Will friends and family have patience for the hundredth time you’ve cancelled plans because you need to take care of your mental health? Will lawmakers take note and start making mental health services more accessible to people without insurance or an extra $20-300 (many times more) they can spend per week on copays and medication? Will folks in correctional facilities gain access to treatment? Will we be able to talk about mental health at work without fear of losing our jobs? Will it start being treated with equal weight as physical illnesses?

Even on days like World Mental Health Day, when important conversations are being had, it can feel like a glorification. So many of us (me included) share our experiences with a beautifully curated picture, and it just perpetuates the media’s image of mental health being something posh and romantic. I don’t have to tell you that it’s not. The pain goes past today, the strain on relationships and wallets goes past today, the lack of action in government goes past today.

I don’t think we should stop posting pictures and talking about our struggles - that’s how we get closer to ending the stigma. There’s so much value in that! And I realize that most people aren’t posting with the intention of romanticizing their illness, but I worry about the long-term impact. For every post we make, we should be thinking of ways we can take concrete, lasting action. Two of my favorite ways to do this are through writing my representatives (always with resistbot) and volunteering with the Crisis Text Line.

Stay strong, friends. This is one of many fights we can’t give up on. Keep talking about mental health if you are in a place to do so, work toward removing the stigma, and for godssake keep demanding action.

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Book Review / My Year of Rest and Relaxation

 
 

Ottessa Moshfegh is really making a name for herself as a master of character study. This is my favorite of her work yet. She creates these characters that seem so unreal on paper but then brings them to live with her words. By the time you're halfway through the book, you start understanding the character's motives in a way you never expected to. 

In My Year of Rest and Relaxation, our narrator experiments with a year-long, drug-induced hibernation. Normally, this would seem like an incredibly dramatic situation, but Moshfegh somehow makes it feel... light and natural?

Let's be real - we've all felt the calling to hibernate for a year when life is too much. I felt a sense of satisfaction in the narrator's ability to plan out and implement her hibernation (regardless of the unhealthy means by which she attains it) because at its core, I think this novel is a reminder that sometimes, we all need to take a break and return to ourselves before we can carry on with life.

Thank you to Netgalley & Penguin Press for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review / Convenience Store Woman

 
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Convenience Store Woman is a charming novel about a quirky and socially inept character who defies convention, baffling everyone around her. 

When Keiko Furukura starts working at a convenience store during her time at university, she feels that she has finally found somewhere she belongs. She loves the predictability of stocking the shelves, counting out bills, and talking with regular customers. Pulling from the behavior of her colleagues, she’s able to piece together the appearance of what people expect of a woman her age. 

But eighteen years later, both her family and her co-workers at the convenience store wonder why she hasn’t found a husband and moved on from the store. As their questioning becomes more insistent, Keiko is faced with the decision to conform or to live the life she wants to live. 

Murata brings to the page a penetrating look at Japanese culture and the pressure many feel to conform. The woman she creates in this novel is a pleasure to spend time with. Looking at the world through her eyes offers a fresh perspective on tradition and expectations.

Rating: 4/5

Convenience Store Woman comes out on June 12, 2018. Thank you to Grove Atlantic for gifting me this novel in exchange for an honest review.