Some Thoughts On Books and Mental Health and Podcasts

I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health lately. You can blame the crappy weather or the books I’ve been reading (apparently, a non-fiction book about suicide doesn’t exactly put one in the happiest headspace, but whatever.) So, I’m going to recommend some stuff while also talking a little bit about mental health. That’s all the structure I’ve got. Deal with it. 


WeNeedToTalkAboutKevin

I’ve never been into horror. As someone who suffers from the most anxiety, I’m scared literally 100% of the time about 100% of the things, and so I do not want to pay money to be even more scared. So, I don’t read much actual horror, but I just read We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver and I’ve never been so horrified in my entire life. There were times when I just had to stop reading because I wasn’t ready to know what happened next or because I needed some time to come to terms with what had just happened. I don’t know how people have time to worry about ghosts or vampires or werewolves when the actual world we live in actually exists and people just kill people and something could just fall on your head and kill you while you’re reading this and other people are capable of destroying your life with or without warning. That being said, you should read this book, unless you’re on the fence about having kids, and then you probably shouldn’t.


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For most of my adult life, I’ve had a hard time articulating what it is exactly about the way we “Support Our Troops” at sporting events that bothers me. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk pretty much nails it in 300 pages. For a book that tackles so many big ideas, it is a surprisingly quick read. Reading this in conjunction with Stay: A History of Suicide and Philosophies Against It did manage to make my blood boil, though. Here is some data from Stay:

Shocking new Pentagon data showed U.S. troops were killing themselves at the rate of nearly one a day in 2012; the final count for the year was 349—more than died in combat…Overall, since the war in Afghanistan began more members of the U.S. military have taken their own lives than have died in the fighting there.

It seems to me that there may be better ways to “support the troops” than to let them stand on the football field at halftime and grant them the honor of getting to be in the presence of rich people for a few hours. I’m not positive, but I bet they could probably use more support than an autographed football. Not that the gestures aren’t nice, but instead of exploiting the soldiers to make yourself look better and more patriotic, if you are in the position of having like a zillion dollars, maybe use some of it to support organizations that help soldiers deal with PTSD, or that help them acclimate to civilian life, or something. Ok, rant over. You should read the book, it does a way better job of making its points while also being very entertaining.


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“This site is not intended to replace the need for medical diagnosis. Please leave that to professionals. It’s not a doctor’s office. Think of it more as a waiting room that doesn’t suck.” http://mentalpod.com/

My last recommendation is that you listen to the Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our country has a MAJOR issue with the way we approach mental health. The mission of this show is to let people understand that they are not alone and that mental illness, while devastating, can be dealt with using humor. Comedian Paul Gilmartin interviews one person on every show, they range from (well-known) comedians and artists to listeners of the show and experts in the mental health field. He also reads anonymous surveys that listeners have filled out on his website. The show can be, at times, pretty vulgar, and in addition to being heart-wrenchingly sad, it has made me accidentally laugh out loud during work on more than one occasion. Pro Tip: every episode gives a brief synopsis, so you can always skip ahead to the ones that seem most relevant to you, though I wouldn’t suggest skipping all the episodes that might not seem relevant, because I bet they may surprise you. If nothing else, we need more people talking casually about having and seeking help for their mental health issues and this podcast is a pretty good start.

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10 thoughts on “Some Thoughts On Books and Mental Health and Podcasts

  1. I haven’t read We need to talk about Kevin yet, I’ve seen the movie. And what I found most interesting about this film is, that the title never happens. It is called ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ but they never actually talk about him. If the book is even more disturbing than the movie, I might not even be willing to read it.

    Thank you for this post, it is interesting to get a glimpse of the way other countries deal with mental health issues.

    1. I liked the book way better than the movie. Not sure if I would categorize it as more or less disturbing, but I definitely think it does a better job of describing the inner turmoil of the mother.

  2. “It seems to me that there may be better ways to “support the troops” than to let them stand on the football field at halftime and grant them the honor of getting to be in the presence of rich people for a few hours. I’m not positive, but I bet they could probably use more support than an autographed football.”

    When I’m queen for a day, I’m going to require that the phrase “I support the troops” be followed by a clause starting with “by.” “I support the troops by sending care packages.” “I support the troops by lobbying Congress for better health care.” Otherwise, it’s meaningless.

    And I totally agree: Billy Lynn was amazing. Glad I found your blog. 🙂

  3. I appreciate your comments. I’ve always felt that bumper stickers reading, “I support our troops” have a smugness about them, as though implying, “And you probably don’t.” I’ve also wanted to ask the drivers exactly what their deeds of support are. Thank you for expressing my thoughts so well.

  4. Love your blog and this post! Great recommendations and completely agree with the fact that our society needs a new compass when it comes to mental health. Much of the time it still feels like such a taboo to discuss, which is so wrong because I feel that it is equally, if not more important than our physical health. Definitely going to check out the podcast.

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