Posted in reviews

Hinterland by L.M. Brown Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Trigger Warning: Themes revolving around mental illness are present in this novel. If you or someone you know suffers from illnesses such as schizophrenia and are easily triggered by these storylines, reader discretion is advised.

A husband and father trying to take care of his wife and child finds himself struggling as a childhood friend returns home, bringing complex feelings back to the surface and a dark secret threatens to tear apart his family in author LM. Brown’s “Hinterland”. 

The Synopsis

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was before Kate was born. When his childhood best friend, Ina, returns next door, tensions rise in the house. Already unstable, Kathleen suspicions of Ina and Nicholas grow until a day of violence ensues and Kathleen disappears.

Kate’s life is shattered by her mother’s disappearance. No-one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina helps to take care of Kate, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.

The Review

This was a well written, slow-burn style mix of family drama and thriller. The author explores two important themes in this narrative: the lengths a parent would go to in order to protect their child, and the hardships of trying to care for someone suffering from a severe mental illness. 

The protagonist Nicholas is a complex man, with both many faults and a desire to protect his daughter Kate from heartbreaking truths. From the return of his childhood friend Ina to the struggle he has with his wife Kathleen and her struggle with a serious mental illness, the author beautifully focuses on character development to highlight the story within this book. 

The Verdict

An emotionally charged, dramatic, and evenly paced read, author L.M. Brown’s “Hinterland” is a must-read thriller drama. The heartbreaking circumstances that push Nicholas and his family to the edge are truly engaging and keep the reader on the edge of their seat, and definitely felt like the delivery of the narrative was very reminiscent of a classic Hitchcock thriller. If you haven’t yet be sure to preorder your copy today or grab it on October 13th, 2020!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of novels Debris and Hinterland, and the linked short story collections Treading The Uneven Road and Were We Awake. Her award winning stories have been published in over a dozen magazines. She grew up in Ireland but lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters.

https://www.facebook.com/LornaBrownAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/l.m_brown/

Posted in reviews

Emotional Fossils: Mental Illness and Human Evolution by John V. Wylie Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A detailed and humanizing book takes readers on an emotional journey through the stigma of mental illness in author John V. Wylie’s book “Emotional Fossils: Mental Illness and Human Evolution.” 

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The Synopsis

This essay is the culmination of forty-five years as a psychiatrist investigating the relationship between severe mental illnesses and human evolution. I have concluded that the most important changes leading to our evolutionary success occurred inside the mind. Upright posture, large molar teeth, opposable thumbs, large brains, and the onset of culture were additive responses to the evolution of what MOTIVATED early humans.

The inner experiences of major depression, panic disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are shown to derive from the breakdown of normal emotions we all know intimately. These everyday feelings are ancient, have played a central role in our evolution, and thus can be viewed as “emotional fossils.” Stigmatized for centuries, mental illnesses are revealed to be the price we pay as a species for the extraordinary mental capacities that make us human.

Short and explicitly written to be accessible, this essay interprets the scientific findings of human evolution in accordance with an evolving mind.

The Review

At it’s core, this nonfiction, medical read takes readers into the heart of the painful stigma those who suffer from mental illness have to endure from those who don’t understand the illness itself. The book delves into how human evolution and the emotions we experience on a daily basis are closely involved with the development of these ailments, and the stigma has only increased the progression of these illnesses. 

This book is greatly detailed and creates a steady read for those who are interested in medicine, medical books and mental health awareness overall. The best way to review a book like this however is by relaying how it impacts readers, including myself. 

As a mental health advocate, this book truly spoke to me in a personal way. While detail oriented, the book creates a personal understanding in those involved in or even currently engaged in the mental health field. With two very close relatives having been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, the stigma of what that illness does to a person is everywhere, especially in pop culture, and this book does a great job of breaking down those stigmas and getting to the heart of the illness overall. 

The Verdict

This is a brilliant read that fans of nonfiction medical reads will thoroughly enjoy. The author speaks with an authority and expertise that will make readers feel more knowledgeable of the subject after reading this book, and in an age where mental health awareness is more important than ever before, this is the perfect read going into the new decade. Be sure to grab your copy of “Emotional Fossils” by John v. Wylie today!

 Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

John Wylie holds a BA in history from Yale, an MD from Columbia, and completed a psychiatric residency at Georgetown University. He began his career at a maximum-security prison in Maryland, followed by 35 years in the private practice of psychiatry in Washington, DC, where he served as chair of the department of psychiatry at Sibley Memorial Hospital. Dr. Wylie was a founding member of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, has had a longstanding interest in the relationship of mental illness and human evolution, and has given multiple lectures on the topic. He wrote Diagnosing and Treating Mental Illness: A Guide for Physicians, Nurses, Patients, and Their Families,published in 2010 (second edition, 2012), and Ape Mind, Old Mind, New Mind in 2018, which is a memoir of the development of his ideas. Dr. Wylie lives in Olney, Maryland with his wife Ann and their German shepherd Tulip.

https://amzn.to/3668ko0

Posted in Interviews, mental health awareness

Interview with Author Kenneth Richard Fox

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

There came a time almost twenty years ago that I felt I had actually been quite fortunate to have had so many experiences already during my lifetime that I wanted to share.  I had invented and patented some laser technology which could, if introduced deep inside the human body, remove even potentially lethal obstructions, as in clots in small blood vessels and otherwise.  I had practiced medicine and surgery around the world.  And more.

I focused first on a few of those and wrote short articles about some of them.  Mirage in the Desert was about my period of living and working in the Persian Gulf.  Here Today, Gone Tomorrow had to do with some of the tragic losses in my life when I lost loved ones under the most painful of circumstances.  Something From Nothing was about the strange process of inventing with all of its uncertainty– somehow, one day,  coming to believe you actually had stumbled upon something new and potentially important or valuable.  Monster in the Midst was about the tragedy of living with a loving spouse who is turned into a human monster by the emergence of violent, psychotic bipolar disorder. But then I felt there was more I could say and at the time, to me, the most efficient way to do that was using free verse.  That lead to my anthology of some 88 poems I wrote over the course of about one year.  In 2018, finally, I decided to write At the Point of a Knife, a narrative that encompassed a lot of the above in just one book.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

At the Point of a Knife is also the story of a lot of things that can go very wrong, with the backdrop of  a lot of others which are very right.  I was certain that there are so many people who struggle with living with severe untreated mental illness, even if that manifests itself in a partner or someone else very close.  It is tragic in its destruction, and with the stigmas about such things which run so strongly in society, there must be better ways.  First, though, something cried out for this tragic type of circumstance to be called out and exposed. Somehow society needs to not only recognize the enormous destruction that these severe mental illnesses cause to it, not only to the affected individuals directly, but it needs to open channels for proactively identifying these ill people who desperately need help, and force them to get it! The costs of not doing so are far too great.  Mental hospitals hardly exist any longer in the U.S., but if the stigmas are removed, their benefits are great and the costs of not having them are extreme.  Having these facilities is half the battle. Forcing their use in extreme situations is the rest-  proactively, not after people die and lives and livelihoods are ruined.

After my experience with losing fabulous children who were so horribly abused by their other, alienating parent, ruining our family and my relationship with them and theirs with me, I came to realize that there were many such circumstances, albeit with differing degrees of  adverse impact.  In the 90s when my children were so severely alienated and abused, Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was still being broadly challenged in society, in essence a cover up of an enormous problem which destroys families.  Since, through the hard work of many dedicated mental health, medical, social work, justice and other professionals, that has changed to a signficant extent, although the battle still rages in society about PAS.  But it turns out, quite conclusively so unfortunately, that if courts don’t both enforce custody and visitation by and with the non- alienating, normal parent and restrict and severely control the visitations with the alienating one, the problem will not only not be solved, it will become permanent.  When the abused, alienated children grew up, they retain that ‘blind spot’ in their brains inculcated by the abuse, and they can not re- form relationships with the non- alienating parent.  Again, as with severe mental illness, ignoring the problem is horribly destructive and futile, and proactivity, by society, in all such cases is imperative.  This is one situation for judicial pro- activity.  

My problems, as described in At the Point of a Knife, also included how horribly one rogue judge was able to piggyback on his own sordid past  to wield power from the bench which made a mockery of justice. While he turned a blind eye to  the above mentioned severe problems squarely before him, the system let him carry on his own psychopathic brand of jurisprudence unabated, while he slashed and burned everything in his sight.  Not satisfied with allowing a potential murderer to run loose, a beautiful family to be destroyed, he persisted in destroying a thriving start- up international business involving life- saving technology, a professional career and sought for as long as he could to put in jail his chosen victim.  For the judicial system to hide behind veils of opacity, while according no recourse in reality even in situations of gross abuses of power by a few who clearly have no business having been given the trust placed in them, is simply a wrong crying out for change. Juries of peers sit on crucial cases, both civil and criminal, in American jurisprudence.  There is no reason that peers, ordinary citizens, can not sit in courtrooms so that when the obvious, gross abuse of power and justice does occur, they are there to see it and have the authority to make those few perpetrators of these quasi- judicial horrors disappear into the oblivion they deserve.  Anyone sitting in that Virginia judge’s courtroom would have likely recognized in short order that he was an outlier who did not belong in that position.  There were lawyers sitting in the gallery at times, unrelated to these cases, who said as much openly– but they had no power to act.   No one deserves that kind of immunity from exhibiting even a minimum level of responsibility in society which places trust in their hands, or the impugnity to openly scorn that society while abjuring that trust.

Large companies are also given huge sway in our society.  Perhaps even like big government itself, they become too big to control.  Unrestrained, they continue to get bigger and more powerful yet.  But since there are, alas, too many flaws in societies, manifested by the underlying flaws in the individuals of which they are comprised.  Somehow the society must rein in not only the sickest individuals before they can harm themselves and others, they must control those who abuse their powerful positions for their own gain and to the detriment of so many others.  My small, but very successful start- up hi- tech company was robbed blind by a few in power in some large companies that knew they could just steal our patented technology and probably never have to pay for it.  By virtue of bonuses, stock options and the like, sometimes well deserved, othertimes not at all, those individuals could steal from us, not pay royalties and get away with millions.  Their companies benefitted financially as well, but inventing is thwarted and society several disadvantaged when the incentive to invent is stifled, particularly when that is done totally illegally.  We had fought for the international patents and we even managed to enforce them in courts.  But the losers in all of that simply went on to lie and cheat about their royalty- bearing revenues, having little to fear.  If, in the end, after almost endless litigation all over the world, we would win, time and again, they might have to pay, but no more really than what they owed in the first place.  That is not justice, it favors the greedy and the rich and discourages the honest and the inventive among us in this type of situation.  Patent cheating is theft and that is a crime, and societies should extend that type of control to patent infringement and to wanton breaches of patent royalty  license agreements. Those crooked executives who are in it only for their own aggrandizement and care not a wit about who might benefit from new and better technology, including in the life sciences, or even if they ever do, should risk being put in jail for patent crimes.  That might put some control in place on what, now, is their unfettered rampage over smaller inventors whose technology represents, collectively, the way forward for societies and stimulates the growth that they all need to stay healthy.  Furthermore, the companies that steal this technology, if found guilty of same in the courts, should pay treble, not just once for their crimes and defalcations, and that might get the proper attention of their shareholder- owners who are all too happy now to put their crooked managers in place and look the other way from their foibles.

My story, told in At the Point of a Knife, from my experiences, points to a lot of grotesque wrongs that exist quite openly today and which reap huge destruction on our society because they are not realized and even less addressed in meaningful ways.  It is death, injury, mental abuse and the collective pain and ravages of corruption, negligence and distrust.  That is what inspired my writing this book.

3) What drew you into the field of developing new technologies and inventions as mentioned in your novel?

My entrance into the field of innovation, via the basic medical science investigations and inventions ultimately happened by accident.  My late inventive partner asked me a seemingly simple question, having to do with laser energy, something I used in my clinical practice therapeutically, but the answers were anything but obvious.  We discovered that no one else seemed to know those answers either.  We experimented, with the laser energy, applying it in the laboratory to human and animal tissues, and we observed what happened.  Eventually, quite literally, we stumbled upon a way to control that laser energy which produced the desired results we sought, but avoided the damaging ones which had thwarted prior efforts.  We defined what we had done and that lead to patents being written, then prosecuted before patent offices around the world. As is often the case with innovation, it was happenstance.  In this case, things went well.

4) What is the biggest obstacle facing the legal field in regards to mental health and those afflicted from it (not to mention the families of those individuals)?

How to make societies more attentive to and focussed on real problems is very difficult.  The problems are complex and there are always seemingly forces of evil which miltate to take advantage of those problems rather than to ameliorate them.  It is in the end about the people.  If they want and can take responsibility, then that is hopeful.  But when and if they won’t, they are doomed.  Abdicating that responsibility is often disastrous, whether to those powerful in business or to those in even any branch of government too. After all, they are all made up of people, sometimes even the same people.  Blindly trusting all justice makes that justice blind.  When something is fundamentally wrong, someone has to be both motivated to, but also empowered to be able to do something about it.  Letting a judge like the rogue described in At the Point of a Knife to act unempeded is disastrous.  Letting a violent mentally ill individual, untreated, reak havoc on those nearest to her, and indirectly even those not so close, is calamitous.  Similarly letting those in high authority in private industry trade on their enormous advantages unchecked is extremely dangerous.  I believe we all need a much stronger fundamental level of responsibility and personal integrity, or else we are doomed.  Society can not  determine for any of us specifically what those things look like better than we  individually can by  deep personal searching within.  Education is crucial, since the more each of us  knows, the better chance we have.  

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

The lessons I perceive from my own extensive experiences which are chronicled to some extent in At the Point of a Knife, and in my other writings, are varied and cut a broad swath through society.  I have been very fortunate to have seen so much of that over many years.  It is, now, difficult to point to any social media which directly speaks to a lot of that.  Probably the answer may be that a lot of social media speaks to a little of what I write about and very little current social media speaks to a lot of it.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

People sometimes seem to say that writing a memoir or a narrative non- fictional story is cathartic.  Actually, I am not sure that is so because it is so painful to do, and the pain persists.  It is also a sacrifice, as such, but one I felt compelled to undertake in these ways, manifested by the written words.  Also, as before so often in my life, whether in Medicine or in inventing life- saving laser technologies, in trying to be a loving parent and spouse and son, I like to believe I cared enough to make the effort, to face the problem and to react to it, this time in words rather than in deeds.  Given how popular writing seems to be, that must be, in general, a good thing.

There are, of course, many genres of books, of stories, as there is variety in life itself.  I seem to be inspired by what I have seen and felt.  One can only encourage that sort of thing in others.

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

For me it is important to continue to confront challenges, which is, to live.  I continue to try to find what seems best, and to act on that as best I can.   I continue to learn since that, too, should never end.  I always want to find what motivates me most, and to act on that as much as I can.   I continue to be inspired by those around me most, who I love.   I continue to seek justice, even all too often in all too mediocre courts.  But I continue to seek harmony, compromise and peace.  I continue to try to support technology, inventiveness and innovation since, alas, it seems to me we continue to need those things.  I continue to tell tales, and to write, as I am doing now. 

About the Author

Kenneth R. Fox is the inventor of a great deal of laser medical technology and the patentee of many international patents. Dr. Fox has practiced Medicine in six countries on four continents and has lectured in many others. He has taught both Medicine and Business at several universities in a number of different countries. He is the author of many peer- reviewed medical and scientific articles, quite a few published poems and several short articles, mostly related to various aspects of health, but all based on his personal experiences over many years, as is At the Point of a Knife. 

Your can find more at http://www.kennethrfox.com

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Lynn Nanos

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing? ​

I never considered myself a writer until literally just a couple of days immediately preceding the start of creating Breakdown. Rather I considered myself a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric social worker. As I struggled to shake off the sense that something was missing within me professionally, the idea of writing a book about my profession came to me suddenly. I completed an online writing course, researched the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing, purchased writing software, learned how to cite research, and began researching marketing techniques for books. I felt intrinsically rewarded upon completion of every major milestone. Sure there were obstacles to overcome, such as when the interior formatting company sent me a 20-page sample ridden with mistakes they refused to fix. And when my requests for testimonials to publish at the beginning of Breakdown were ignored. And when the first illustrator I hired plagiarized her work before I quickly fired and didn’t pay her. Writing a book takes intense commitment to the finished product. The recognition I’ve received from people has been priceless. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I had done mental health advocacy work on a national scale for years before beginning to work on Breakdown and was very inspired by advocates’ tragic stories. Their stories motivated me to become a better social worker. I increasingly realized that there is no opportunity to influence legislators to change the system in the clinical setting. I didn’t feel that my employment was enough to make a difference in the world. Certain clinical cases were at the forefront of my memory because they were especially dramatic and shocking. All of a sudden it dawned on me that the world has to know these stories. Very few people are aware of the population I help and what they struggle with. Breakdown aims to close the gap between clinical and legislative settings. 

Breakdown Nanos

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The most common reason that approximately half of people with schizophrenia are unable to initiate treatment independently or adhere to treatment is anosognosia. This means they lack awareness of being ill. Anosognosia is a key factor contributing to the need for involuntary treatment. When schizophrenia goes untreated, the consequences can be deadly. I’ve detailed high profile cases based on media reports and my interviews with family members. These cases have involved people getting killed due to untreated mental illness. This statement is bound to make many people uncomfortable for fear of stigmatizing mental illness by suggesting that people with mental illness are violent. The majority of people with mental illness are not violent. Yet a small subset of the population with untreated serious mental illness, especially involving psychosis, is more violent than the general population. Truth does not enhance stigma. I make a strong case in favor of involuntary outpatient treatment, otherwise known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Just three states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland – do not allow this while all other states and Washington, D.C. allow this life-saving treatment. Not coincidentally, Massachusetts has a very strong antipsychiatry movement. Groups promoting the belief that mental illness doesn’t exist are funded by the government and supported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This is wrong.  

4) Your novel was expertly crafted and showcased just how expertly researched and utilized the statistics were for the mental health care profession and mental health stats overall in our nation. Based on your research, what was one statistic that shocked you or would shock the average reader who is unaware of the problems facing the mental health profession or those suffering with mental health struggles?

The extent of malingering on inpatient and emergency settings is astronomical. According to a study, 12% of those admitted for emergency psychiatric care lied about their symptoms to get admitted to inpatient. The reasons for malingering vary. Malingerers drain health care resources and literally take away precious and limited inpatient bed space from those who truly need it. 

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership? 

Facebook.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors or anyone working in your field of study out there?

Please read Breakdown to learn from example or learn about emergency psychiatry. 

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects/studies on the horizon?

I am still working as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric social worker. I will not write another book, though plan on resuming blogging about my profession in the next few months. 

When it comes to therapy, there is no better site to find relationship advice from a licensed therapist than Regain. Click the link https://www.regain.us/advice/therapist/ to learn more!

About the Author

Lynn Nanos is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in her twelfth year as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric clinician in Massachusetts. After graduating from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Social Work, she worked as an inpatient psychiatric social worker for approximately seven years. She is an active member of the National Shattering Silence Coalition that advocates for the seriously mentally ill population. She serves on its Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee committee and co-chairs its Blog committee. 

Posted in reviews

At the Point of a Knife by Kenneth Richard Fox Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Readers are given a glimpse into the tragic reality of a faulty mental health system that fosters and allows those suffering form the most severe cases to be untreated, and a man’s struggle to fight a losing battle against an unprecedented legal fight like no other in author Kenneth Richard Fox’s “At the Point of a Knife”. 

The Synopsis

A memoir about a life-saving invention, the hijacking of a hi-tech start- up, and the explosive meltdown of a nuclear family

At the Point of a Knife is a real life thriller about a doctor who invents life-saving laser technology, his wife’s destructive inheritance and the legal conspiracy to steal his successful hi-tech start-up. Dr. Kenneth Fox fights off predatory companies as he battles globally for his company’s rights. But he ignores the threats to his family. By day, he has a successful career. By night, he lives with an increasingly mentally ill spouse. Although she is physically abusive with him and their son, Fox is emotionally co-dependent. At the same time, he is helping his dying mother and his chronically ill father.

There is an attempted murder. After this explosive nuclear family meltdown, Fox learns of his wife’s secret fortune including several homes. He also discovers the true story about her dead father: a hereditary bipolar disorder and the scandal that drove her family from her childhood home. In a final twist of fate, manic depression, money and judicial corruption intersect. Fox’s company is wrested away in a plot that includes a crooked lawyer and a corrupt judge who owes his career to his former partner in crime. 

Dr. Kenneth Fox is a physician and surgeon, an inventor of patented medical laser technology and a medicine and business professor. 

The Review

This was a powerful non-fiction read that people will have a hard time putting down. The story was clear and concisely written, showcasing a multitude of incidents that contributed to the deterioration of a family, the personal and business losses of a man and the gross injustices that often plague our society. 

The author’s in-depth study of the law practices in relation to medical field lawsuits and divorce proceedings which favor one person over the other really brought the harm endured through this man’s life to the forefront. Each chapter has the reader shaking their head, unable to believe that one man would be forced to endure such hardships.

More than that however, the novel allows readers to see the grave injustice that comes with failing to treat those suffering with mental illnesses, and how the taboo of suffering from such a disease or the inaccurate assumptions about mental illness often lead to a lack of diagnosis or care for such individuals, who if given proper treatment and care could avoid the unfortunate damage and suffering endured by both the patient and those closest to them, in this instance the author himself. 

The Verdict

Although a short read, this was a powerful and great read that fans of law cases, medical practices and the struggles of mental health will thoroughly enjoy. A whirlwind case that will get readers emotions stirring, this was a heart-pounding story that draws the reader in and gets them invested immensely, so be sure to grab your copy of “At the Point of a Knife” by Kenneth Richard Fox today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Kenneth R. Fox is the inventor of a great deal of laser medical technology and the patentee of many international patents. Dr. Fox has practiced Medicine in six countries on four continents and has lectured in many others. He has taught both Medicine and Business at several universities in a number of different countries. He is the author of many peer- reviewed medical and scientific articles, quite a few published poems and several short articles, mostly related to various aspects of health, but all based on his personal experiences over many years, as is At the Point of a Knife. 

Your can find more at http://www.kennethrfox.com

Posted in reviews

Breakdown: A Clinician’s Experience in a Broken System of Emergency Psychiatry (serious mental illness, psychosis, reform) by Lynn Nanos Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An in depth look into the world of mental health care and the ways in which it can be improved take center stage in Author Lynn Nanos novel Breakdown.

The Synopsis 

When hospitals release seriously mentally ill patients too soon without outpatient follow-up, the patients can end up homeless, jailed, harming others, or even dead. When patients are deemed suitable for inpatient care, they can languish for weeks in hospital emergency departments before placements become available. Meanwhile, patients who fake the need for care are smoothly and swiftly moved to inpatient settings.

Breakdown opens a dialogue with anyone interested in improving the system of care for the seriously mentally ill population. This book helps to answer questions such as:

  • Is inpatient care too inaccessible to those who need it most?
  • Do mental health professionals discriminate against mentally ill patients?
  • Are more stringent measures needed to ensure that patients take their medication?
  • Is borderline personality disorder too serious to be classified as just a personality disorder?

Using vignettes based on real interactions with patients, their families, police officers, and other mental health providers, Lynn Nanos shares her passion for helping this population. With more than twenty years of professional experience in the mental health field, her deep interest in helping people who don’t know how to request help is evident to readers.

  • A woman travels from Maine to Massachusetts because she was ordered by her voice, a spirit called “Crystal,” to make the trip.
  • A foul-smelling and oddly dressed man strolls barefooted into the office, unable to stop talking.
  • A man delivers insects to his neighbors’ homes to minimize the effects of poisonous toxins that he says exist in their homes.

Breakdown uses objective and dramatic accounts from the psychiatric trenches to appeal for simple and common-sense solutions to reform our dysfunctional system. This book will benefit anyone interested in seeing a glimpse of the broken mental health system way beyond the classroom. It can guide legislative officials, family members, mental health professionals, and law enforcement officers toward a better understanding of the system.

The Review 

As someone who has advocated for mental health awareness and seeks to improve and see the mental health education and rehabilitation of this world improve, this was a book that spoke volumes to me. The author does a spectacular job of presenting the struggles and heartbreak of the profession. From the book’s opening pages readers are shown the levels of illness and sad state of affairs for both the patients and the doctors attempting to treat them.

What really stuck out to me reading this novel was how the author wrote it all out in a methodical and precise tone of voice, and yet was still written in a way that the average reader, someone who isn’t an expert in the field of mental health, will be able to understand and empathize with. Each chapter elevates the struggle by showing not only individual cases the author worked, but the journey to fight for the rights for all mentally ill patients to seek help or get help they need. The details given by the author and the statistics laid out for the mandates for mental health by state showcase a lack of cohesive treatment plans and emphasizes the need to expand and grow the mental health profession in this nation and the world at large. 

The Verdict

A well written, powerful and heartbreaking non-fiction read that everyone should try for themselves. Breakdown by Lynn Nanos is a detailed and meticulous book that gives readers the inside look into a very under appreciated field, and novels like this are the steps needed to take the United States and the world forward into the mental health profession for both patients and care providers alike. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Part of taking care of one’s mental health and overall health in their daily relationships has to be seeking advice from counselors or those well versed in the hardships of any relationship. If you are looking for such advice, visit our friends at Regain to learn more by following this link https://www.regain.us/advice/ .

About the Author

Lynn Nanos is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in her twelfth year as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric clinician in Massachusetts. After graduating from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Social Work, she worked as an inpatient psychiatric social worker for approximately seven years. She is an active member of the National Shattering Silence Coalition that advocates for the seriously mentally ill population. She serves on its Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee committee and co-chairs its Blog committee. 

Posted in Guest Post, mental health awareness

Guest Post: The Mental Health Struggles of Writers

This is Anthony Avina here. I’m happy to share with you guys this amazing guest post from the amazing people at BetterHelp and Regain about the mental health struggles of writers. I hope you guys will enjoy this post and gain some helpful insights into the life and mental health struggles writers go through.


Writing is a rich, rewarding profession; at least if you’re successful with it. However, even the most successful writers face mental health struggles. In this post, we will explain a few struggles a writer of any level may face.

Help for Your Struggles

Being a writer is hard, and sometimes you need to work on your own mental health to be a better writer. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, hopelessness, or need advice you should seek out the help you need. With so many writers busy at home, online therapy is becoming the new method of getting help. For more information, click this link: https://www.regain.us/advice/

The Fear of Rejection

Rejection is difficult for anyone to take, no matter your resistance to it. Rejection can come in many forms. If you’re a fiction author trying to publish the next great novel, getting dozens of rejection letters is a challenge. You just want to give up and keep your writing to yourself, or self-publish. Sure, you can hear inspiring stories about how the biggest authors got rejected hundreds of times, but it’s hard to stay motivated even then.

For a freelance writer, a potential client rejecting you and hiring someone else can be hurtful as well. You may wonder what you did wrong, and wonder if your work is any good at all. This especially applies if you don’t know why the rejection happened.

Getting past rejection is a challenge. While many say it gets better with time, others still struggle with it.

The Fear of Criticism

This is similar to the rejection fear. Your work gets out, and you want to hear what others are saying. Even if the reception is mostly positive, people tend to focus on the vocal minority of negative reviewers, and they may be upset or defensive over their work.

Even if you write the next great American novel, there is always going to be dissent. Handling criticism can be done in many ways. Some just ignore their critics, while others listen to the critics who have interesting points and see if they can make changes. With that said, don’t change your work just because you read a bad review.

The Struggle for Creativity

For some writers, creativity is always around the corner. For others, creativity comes in droplets. Writer’s block can affect a writer, and everyone fears it, especially if your income is dependent on your creativity.

Exercising creativity is a good way to get the juices flowing. Not overthinking your creativity is a good move too. Many people get their best ideas when they aren’t thinking too hard. However, this does not apply to everyone.

Staying Isolated

Many people dream of being writers because they like the idea of working from home, with no one watching you. However, many writers feel lonely or cooped up in their home, especially if they are single. However, even writers who have families may struggle with loneliness. If you have kids, teaching them the value of writing is a good way to get rid of that loneliness. For more information,   click here or look here.

That’s why some writers may go to coffee shops or other social gatherings. Alternatively, you can write in nature if you have a laptop and Internet access if your work requires that.

It’s a Rewarding, Yet Tough Career

If you can get past the mental health struggles of writing, it can be a rewarding career. When you have all the bumps bypassed, writing is great for the mind and can lead you down a path of creativity. Speak to other writers, or a therapist, if you’re having any struggles or doubts. People can help you, and you can succeed with your work.

Posted in reviews

In the Sun by Mixie Plum Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS NOVELLA DEALS WITH THEMES OF DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE, AMONG OTHER THINGS. IF THESE SUBJECTS ARE DIFFICULT TO READ OR TRIGGERING, BE ADVISED. 

A woman struggling with difficult news contemplates her future while looking at her past in author Mixie Plum’s novel, “In the Sun”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

A novella inspired from a life lived; almost lost, & lived again

The Review

This short novella is a beautifully written story expressing the hidden pain both physically and mentally many people suffer from, and the various ways that people cope or don’t cope with it. Whether it’s through a painful and heartbreaking decision or a wild and hilarious sense of humor that gets a person through each day, the story showcases the highs and lows of living with depression and through difficult circumstances in life. 

The author’s passion and emotional connection to the story are felt in every page. Written in a voice that speaks of honesty, humor and charm while delving into some of humanity’s darkest and most painful subjects and themes, the novella takes great strides to not only highlight the importance of mental health and being proactive about caring about the people in our lives who suffer from it, but about showcasing the very real circumstances in life that force our futures to be taken out of our own hands, no matter how desperately we try to retain control. As someone who suffers from depression myself and has advocated for mental health overall, I felt a deep connection to both the author’s own personal struggles and the story itself, and felt as invested as other readers will once they read this story.

The Verdict

Witty, charming and heartbreaking all at once, this is a must read novel that readers will not soon forget. It’s the kind of novel that leaves an impression long after it’s been read, and yet it’s something that everyone who can read it should read it. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of “In the Sun” by Mixie Plum today.

Rating: 8/10

https://www.instagram.com/abottleaplomb/

Posted in reviews

Losing Normal by Francis Moss Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

One young man finds himself thrust out of his comfort zone and sense of normality as the world around him begins to collapse in author Francis Moss’s novel, “Losing Normal”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

Everyone we love, everything we know, is going away… and only an autistic boy can stop it.


Alex knows exactly how many steps it takes to get from his home to Mason Middle School. This is normal.


Alex knows the answers in AP math before his teacher does, which is also normal.


Alex knows that something bad is coming out of the big screen in his special needs class. It’s pushing images into his head, hurting him, making him forget. Alex pushes back, the screen explodes, and nothing is normal any more.


Giant screen televisions appear all over the city. The programming is addictive. People have to watch, but Alex cannot.


Sophie, the sentient machine behind all this, sees the millions and millions of eyeballs glued to her and calls it love. To Sophie, kids like Alex are defective. Defectives are to be fixed…or eliminated.

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The Review

This was a truly unique, one of a kind YA dystopian novel. For me the way the author connected this sci-fi dystopian story with the real world themes of being considered an outsider by society, the struggle with mental health of various degrees and the way people view those with mental health struggles. As an advocate for mental health awareness, it was great to see someone like protagonist Alex fight to overcome his Autism to become the hero the world needed. 

The way the author created these unique characters suffering or living with various degrees of a mental illness or behavioral ailment and formed a group of fighters and survivors not only overcoming their own problems in life but the possible extinction of civilization as we knew it was the true heart of the story. The story managed to capture the elements of any good YA story, with a ragtag group of young heroes coming to save the day, an overbearing, all powerful foe that seems impossible to beat and an emotional core that brings these characters together. 

The Verdict

Losing Normal is the YA Dystopian novel you have to read now. One of my favorite reads of the genre in 2018, this story both entertained and brought light to the need to redefine what society deems “normal”. It had heart, adventure and shocking twists and turns that will keep fans on the edge of their seat until the book’s end. If you enjoy true YA dystopian reads, then grab your copy of Francis Moss’s “Losing Normal” in eBook or paperback format today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Francis Moss has written and story-edited hundreds of hours of scripts on many of the top animated shows of the 90s and 00s. Beginning his television work in live-action with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, he soon starting writing cartoons on She-Ra, Princess of Power, Iron Man, Ducktales, and a four-year stint on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, writing and story-editing more episodes than you can swing a nuchaku at. 

One of his TMNT scripts, “The Fifth Turtle,” was the top-rated script among all the 193 episodes in a fan poll on IGN.COM. A list of his television credits is at IMDB.COM.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Normal-Francis-Moss/dp/1732791023/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42746625

www.francismoss.com