#MHYALit: Kneejerk Reactions are Just Jerky, a guest post by author Stacie Ramey
Today as part of the #MHYALit Discussion, we are honored to host author Stacie Ramey. You can read all the posts as part of the Mental Health in YA Lit Discussion here.
An experience hits me every time a celebrity admits they’ve been diagnosed with depression. I think. Wow. I had no idea. And then I get pissed at myself for being stupid.
Most illnesses are invisible. Mental health issues are no exception. People don’t go around with a sign around their necks saying they are battling depression. Depressed people don’t look alike, act alike, eat alike, hang out in the same places, any more than any other group of people do.
We wouldn’t expect people with shin splints to be an easily recognizable group, would we? Or people with asthma or that condition where your internal organs are in the wrong place in your body.
But we expect people with depression, social anxiety, addiction, OCD, anxiety attacks, all to have a similar look and life. We expect them to flock together and congregate in easily identifiable groups. Weird. And stupid. And also sort of a way to blame the victim.
We are made in all shapes and sizes. Some tall. Some small. Some big. Some little. All with the same desire. To live and be accepted for who we are, regardless of our unique biological make-up. If we can accept that some people will be NY Jets fans and some will be Pittsburgh Steelers fans, why can’t we decide that the specific things that each of us struggle with can be our private struggles? And all we need to do is accept that each one of us has a place in this world. Even Miami Dolphins fans.
So whenever we hear of a celebrity like John Saunders that suffers from depression, and we are surprised, we need to smack ourselves in the head. Snap a rubber band. Whatever it takes to stop being ignorant. Celebrities are people, like we are. They just have more friends on Facebook and more followers on Twitter. But the point is, since celebrities are actual people, they will inevitably suffer from the human experience. And sometimes that will include mental illness. Just the way the cards are dealt.
Demi Lovato. Selena Gomez. Howie Mandel. Jennifer Laurence. What does the face of mental illness look like? What does the life of someone who suffers from mental health issues look like? All different. Just like we are all different.
If we are compassionate and giving and understanding with every single person, no one would feel the need to declare they suffer from hemorrhoids or endometriosis or athlete’s foot in order to receive our understanding. Just like we don’t require people with hypothyroidism to testify, we shouldn’t require people with mental illness to.
If we, as a society learn to stop being amazed that people have physical make-ups that select them for specific diagnoses, then we will simply hand them the latte and ask them to pass the Scones (gluten free or not) and get on with our lives. Coffee tastes just as good with someone who has OCD as it does with people who have migraines. Or gallbladder disease. Or arthritis. Or high blood pressure.
We need to stop being amazed that people have mental health issues. We should be more amazed that there are New England Patriots fans and get on with our lives.
Meet Stacie Ramey
Stacie Ramey is a young adult author of THE SISTER PACT (Sourcebooks) and THE HOMECOMING (Sourcebooks). She is a life-long NY Jets fan who married a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and has a brother in law who is a rabid San Diego Chargers fan. All opinions about football are hers alone do not reflect those of TLT.
About The Sister Pact
A suicide pact was supposed to keep them together, but a broken promise tore them apart
Allie is devastated when her older sister commits suicide – and not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they’d always be together, in life, and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why.
Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief.
But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie’s not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister’s death or facing her new reality without her. (Sourcebooks, November 2015)
Filed under: #MHYALit
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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