inspirational quote of positive pop psychology is the bane of my clinical existence

I do not write this in a spirit of sourness or personal disappointment of any kind, nor do I have any romantic attachment to suffering as a source of insight or virtue. On the contrary, I would like to see more smiles, more laughter, more hugs, more happiness and, better yet, joy. In my own vision of utopia, there is not only more comfort, and security for everyone — better jobs, health care, and so forth — there are also more parties, festivities, and opportunities for dancing in the streets. Once our basic material needs are met — in my utopia, anyway — life becomes a perpetual celebration in which everyone has a talent to contribute. But we cannot levitate ourselves into that blessed condition by wishing it. We need to brace ourselves for a struggle against terrifying obstacles, both of our own making and imposed by the natural world. And the first step is to recover from the mass delusion that is positive thinking.

― Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America

I love this book more than I love Sour Patch Kids

In addition to my ongoing project of reading very self-help book known to man and working my way through an assortment of treatment manuals, I’ve been tracking down autobiographies and memoirs of people who have mental illnesses. Part of that is due to my own curiosity as to what mental disorders that I don’t have are like, and part of me suspects that they may prove more useful to my clients than yet another skills workbook that they will complete three exercises in and then abandon because skills workbooks tend to be largely irrelevant. It doesn’t help that I primarily work with teenagers, who, by and large, refuse to do homework on principle.

my-body-is-a-book-of-rulesMy Body is a Book of Rules is Elissa Washuta’s account of coming to terms with adulthood, her racial identity, her experiences as a woman, and, of course, her diagnosis of Bipolar II. Told in a series of disjointed vignettes, IM conversations, poems, scripts, chart notes, online dating profiles, and research papers, the memoir tracks Washuta’s journey through college and grad school, numerous med changes, and a series of unfortunate relationships. I enjoyed it immensely; Washuta is an incredibly gifted writer and everything she wrote was so relatable that reading it was like having a conversation with a friend.

I’m definitely hanging on to this one.