Tag Archives: Mental health

Demi Lovato Scholarship

Mental illness and addiction are so often intertwined and seldom effectively treated together. One has to redesign one’s entire lifestyle to achieve mental health and serenity. Sometimes careers have to change. Often relationships have to change — negative individuals have to be weeded out.

Becoming a productive member of society and restoring one’s broken spirit is a process. Meaningful work and positive relationships are what keep someone fighting for their health.

Demi Lovato created The Lovato Scholarship, which covers holistic treatment and transitional living expenses for individuals struggling with mental health and/or addiction issues. CAST Recovery Services, one of the organizations who administers The Lovato Scholarship, offers:

  • Educational and career support including internships
  • Intensive outpatient services
  • Interventions
  • Legal assistance
  • Lifestyle coaching
  • Neurofeedback
  • Services for families
  • Sober companions

Twenty percent of the proceeds from Dream Walking will be donated to The Lovato Scholarship as the novel’s main character eventually overcomes her struggles with addiction and mental illness albeit with a lot of help.

 

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Writing Dream Walking: A Novel of Madness and Healing

In 1996, after eight years of writer’s block, I began writing my first novel, Dream Walking.  I had not written fiction since high school, yet fiction intimidated me far less than journalism, the career I had abandoned.

The first draft read like Nancy Drew without a plot, so I decided to turn it into a memoir.  The genre had exploded, and I loved reading them.  Ultimately, I felt uncomfortable writing a memoir and decided to turn it back into a novel.  However, my agent became uncomfortable with me and ditched me.

My favorite memoir (The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls) reads like a novel.  It was liberating to not have to rely on memory, condense characters, make up scenes, and take dramatic license.

The novel took me such a long time to write, because I kept putting it aside and working on short stories, screenplays, reality TV treatments, other novels, stand-up comedy, and eventually journalism features.

The novel’s main themes:

  • Mental health is a complex equation
  • Manic depression (aka bipolar disorder) is often braided with addiction, which complicates treatment of each
  • Addicts often trade addictions
  • Spirituality is a critical component of healing

Because of some of the reader feedback I received, I decided to recreate the two brief early teen chapters that my agent had me take out, because he thought they made the main character too unsympathetic.  I am almost done, and then will figure out the whole print book thing.

Aspiring novelists out there, you must buy a book I am almost done reading that would have saved me years of angst, Stephen King’s On Writing.  Quoting the Cleveland Dealer, “The best book on writing.  Ever.”

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Crash Course in Bipolar Disorder

What is it like to experience manic or depressive episodes?  Read on…

  1. BP magazine at www.bphope.com
  2. Dr. Jay Carter and Bobbi Dempsey’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder.
  3. Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison’s memoir An Unquiet Mind offers the unique perspective of a clinical psychologist, scholar, and author who has treated bipolar patients and who has been one herself.
  4. www.mcmanweb.com, “Recovery starts with knowledge… My name is John McManamy. I am an award-winning mental health journalist and author… Here, you will find 200 articles (plus videos) that will give you greater insight into your thoughts and feelings and behaviors and help you make your own choices in getting well and staying well.”
  5. Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar portrays the progressive negative thinking and alienation of a young woman slipping deeper and deeper into depression and eventually psychosis. At times darkly humorous, the protagonist’s case for attempting suicide seems almost logical.
  6. Dr. Sarah Russell’s A Lifelong Journey: Staying Well with Manic Depression / Bipolar Disorder, is authored by and contains interviews from healthy, productive individuals who have achieved long-term remission. Most pursue a holistic approach to treatment that encompasses physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual remedies.

Often those who experience chronic depression or bipolar disorder also struggle with addiction whether it is food, drugs, alcohol, sex, unhealthy relationships, electronics, or whatever. Although neither of the following memoirs of addiction discusses bipolar disorder, they offer tremendous insight into the mind and soul of an addict and into the recovery process.

Many of the tools of recovery can be applied to maintaining remission from bipolar disorder.

  1. Cupcake Brown’s A Piece of Cake. Sixth-grade dropout, drug addict, sometime prostitute, and graduate of juvenile hall and several gangs, Cupcake Brown begrudgingly finds recovery and eventually embraces the process and ever so slowly transforms herself into a prominent attorney.
  2. Mark Gavreau Judge’s Wasted:  Tales of A Gen X Drunk is a fun read that offers the wisdom of someone who has been through recovery and some solid research on the biochemistry of alcoholism (as does www.radiantrecovery.com).

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Filed under Mental Health and Addiction