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

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The Stigma Around Therapy and Why It Shouldn’t Exist

I am honored to be working with BetterHelp on this article.

One of the most difficult things that anyone suffering from mental health ailments or anyone wanting to take control of their mental health struggles has to deal with is the social stigma that has taken over our society for years. Much like the societal stigma that has been placed on sexual and gender identity over the decades, a person’s mental health journey has been marred by the constant ridicule and ignorance of others who believe seeking help for your mental health is nothing more than a sign of weakness.

Breaking this ignorance can be difficult. Many families and individuals have spent their entire lives being taught that certain things are “wrong”. Even those who grow and learn to see past the stigma of certain things will still find themselves ignorant of things they say or do. For instance, I have known people in both my own life and outside on social media who are great people, but still use terms like “crazy” to describe a person, or even using actual ailments to describe a person negatively, like someone saying a person is “bipolar” and indicating that anyone with the ailment is painted in the same negative light.

These societal stigmas can be incredibly difficult to ignore or overcome. When you have the whole world telling you there is something wrong with you when in reality you are just a human being who needs a little help, it can be hard to make the effort to seek out a therapist or consider therapy in general. The thing we as a society need to do is break the social stigma around mental health and seeking therapy in general. 

First of all, seeking out a therapist or asking for help with your mental health does not mean you are “crazy”. I personally don’t believe that term is accurate, as it brings a negative light to something that everyone should be a part of. The mind is a muscle, and a part of the human body. It needs to be looked after and taken care of just as much as the rest of your body, and seeking a doctor or therapist to help in that regard is nothing to be ashamed of.

Secondly, therapy and seeking out a therapist in general does not make you an outsider, nor should it make you feel ashamed or like there is something “wrong” with you. The stigma around mental health has led to severe consequences, with the loss of life due to some not seeking the help they need increasing and personal impacts on people’s relationships and work lives being affected as well. 

Mental health is a real thing, whether or not people want to believe it. Seeking help doesn’t not make you weak. In fact, getting help for your mental health is smart and the strongest thing you can do. Guys, it doesn’t make you less of a man to seek help and get in touch with your feelings. Women, never let men or anyone in your life make you feeling “crazy” just for finding a therapist and taking care of your own well being. Everyone in this world can benefit from seeking out therapy and getting the help they need. Ignore anyone who tells you differently, and take the steps to find the help you need today.

Learn more about how to find online therapy using BetterHelp at this link —> CLICK HERE (opens in a new tab)”>CLICK HERE

How Telehealth Can Transform The Mental Health Field

I am honored to be working with BetterHelp on this article.

For anyone such as myself who suffers from several physical disabilities or who don’t drive, one of the things that can be incredibly difficult is getting the right therapist and finding a way to get to them. Since I was sixteen years old I have suffered through several auto-immune diseases, and the pain gets so bad that I have a hard time going out into the world as often as I would like. 

The other thing that can be difficult is being subject to the therapists/doctors in your area or within driving distance, and not finding the right fit for you. Finding the right therapist is a crucial and important decision for anyone taking charge or getting help for their own mental health. From personal experience I can tell you that finding a therapist in your local area is not an easy thing. 

I have been with my sister when she goes to see a therapist for the first time, only to come away feeling frustrated, sad or angry because the therapist was rude, didn’t take her struggles seriously or dismissed her entirely. Between insurance and the local area we live in, there are very few choices for someone to find the right therapist to help you on your mental health journey. 

One of the things that can be a true help to those who struggle with issues like this in their mental health journey has to be telehealth/telemedicine. In this age of advanced technology and the internet bringing people together, one of the most innovative things to come to the health profession has to be online therapy. Rather than being forced to find a therapist in your local area or having to rearrange your schedule to include making trips out of the house (especially for those of us suffering from physical pain), online therapy is now available to those who can jump onto their computers or smartphones/tablets to connect with therapists via messaging, video calls or phone calls. 

The truly amazing thing about these services is that you have the ability to choose your therapist based on any mental ailments you may suffer from, as well as the therapists specific specialties (for instance, you can find therapists who deal with the LGBTQ community and the issues they face, or those suffering from family problems and more). In an era that has seen some truly devastating losses and the need for mental health care is far greater than ever before, having a therapist on hand to call or message with through the power of the internet is more helpful than ever. 

Choosing to find help for or taking control of your mental health is an important step that everyone should be taking. Whether you are suffering from a serious mental health illness or are having a difficult time with something personally or just want to maintain your health, therapy and working with the right doctor is crucial to your mental health journey. For me personally, having services like BetterHelp that allow me and my family to find therapists online that fit the journey we are on is important and helpful, and I highly encourage everyone to consider counseling and finding the councilor who will be the most help to you. 

Check out this link to learn more about finding the right councilor for you

CLICK HERE

How Depression Affects Relationships and What to Do About It

How you deal with your depression may very well decide whether your relationship will end before the depression does. One study showed how major depression leads to negative life events such as divorce. Not only that, but your spouse may become depressed, too, as they struggle to manage things you aren’t able to do because you’re mired in negativity.

Your spouse may be your greatest support. The best way to thank her or him for that is to deal with your depression as quickly and completely as possible.

Easier said than done, right? However, there are some things you can do for yourself to decrease the severity and length of your depression.

Avoid Ruminating

Ruminating means turning something over and over in your mind without solving the problem you’re thinking about. Some people call it wallowing. Think of it as dwelling on problems rather than solutions.

Research has shown that people who ruminate a lot when they’re depressed have more numerous and severe depressive symptoms. So, instead of thinking about how bad you feel and everything you feel has gone wrong, choose more positive thoughts.

Change the Way You Think

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment method used by therapists to teach you how to identify problem thoughts and replace them with more positive thoughts. Through cognitive restructuring, a key CBT technique, you learn to look at your situation differently.  You can work with a local therapist or an online psychiatrist to change your thinking through CBT.

Take Positive Action

People who are depressed often have a hard time taking positive action to improve their situation. Many do break through their feelings of being stuck though, and you can, too. Start with CBT. Then, go further by putting what you learn into practice every day.

Take action on your own, or talk to your partner about how you can work together to solve problems. The benefits for your relationship can start even before the depression lifts. Just the fact that you’re collaborating with each other on these issues can bring you closer together.

Confide in Your Spouse

Confiding in your spouse about your depressive thoughts and behaviors is a good way to check your perceptions and thought processes. Assuming your spouse isn’t depressed, too, she or he can help you develop a more balanced view and provide a more positive perspective.

Do Activities You Usually Enjoy Together

You might not feel like going hiking or taking an evening to go have dinner and see a play. If an activity has been a source of joy for the two of you in the past, though, your spouse may miss it. Honor the support your spouse offers you by doing what you can to support them, too.

Seek Help

The most important thing you can do for your relationship is to seek help for your depression as early as possible. With early intervention, you can overcome your depression faster and stay well longer. You can learn appropriate ways to deal with your depression within the marriage and when you’re on your own.

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie-Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

How I Cope With Depression & Anxiety

Hello there everyone! You guys have read a lot of different posts from me. I mostly post book reviews, author interviews and personal writing blog posts about my own work as an author. That’s what you’ve come to know about me over the years, but one thing you may have noticed as well is that I am very passionate about mental health awareness. There are many reasons for my increased passion for this topic, but today I’m going to tell you the personal connection I have to mental health awareness. You see…I suffer from depression and anxiety.

I’ve touched upon this briefly in old videos on my YouTube channel Avina Vlogs. However as I’ve had the pleasure of working with the amazing company BetterHelp on several guest blog posts, I thought I’d take a more hands on approach and work with the company to bring you my own personal mental health struggles.

You see, my depression struggles began when I was sixteen years old. At that time I was an active kid in high school, working hard in school and holding down a steady job, earning money for my future. I was studying, working, and gearing towards my future education in college. I was losing weight, hitting the gym hard and was living what society has deemed a typical high school life. Yet whether you want to call it fate or just a stroke of bad luck, the universe had other plans in store.

One night in November 2006, I was at the gym playing a pickup game of basketball when I landed on a slippery spot on the court. My legs gave out under me and I proceeded to tear a ligament in my ankle. That would be the night my life changed forever. To make a long story short my life got turned upside down. My ankle to this day after multiple surgeries never healed properly. After my injury, illnesses I inherited from my family began to crop up,. This stopped me from working out of the house, forced me to finish my high school career from home and set me on the course I’m on today.

Now while this string of bad luck allowed me to find my purpose in life, which was writing, it also set me up with a lifetime of health struggles that will never end. This has been the biggest contributing factor in my mental health struggles. Since then I have struggled with crippling depression and anxiety, especially and more specifically social anxiety. It’s a struggle to get out of bed each day and do what I’m capable of doing, knowing I’ll never be able to do what I once was able to. The struggle never stops, but there are ways I’ve learned over the years to cope. Some are more personal, while others may be able to help you as well.

  1. Talk to someone. This is the most important step you can take. Sitting alone with your thoughts in this state is dangerous, and if not for my amazing family I would have been alone. Speak to family, friends, or professional help. No matter what find someone to reach out to.
  2. Find a Creative Outlet. This for me has included various things, such as writing and reading, blogging, photography, videography, playing video games and so much more. Perhaps art or design is your outlet. Find something to occupy your mind.
  3. Health. Eat healthy food, exercising or moving in general can help with your depression.
  4. Seek Help. If the depression is overwhelming, seek help from a professional. Don’t let others tell you differently. Ignore those who support the stigma around mental health. Take control and find someone to help you. They can either prescribe the right medication for you, help you find natural ways of coping or talk you through the process. A great way to do this is to find a psychiatrist, which thanks to my friends at BetterHelp you can do by clicking the link here.    https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/psychologists/reasons-to-choose-an-online-psychiatrist/

Thanks so much everyone for listening. If you’d like to know more about my mental health journey or other’s who struggle with it and how they cope, leave a comment below and share this post on your social media sites. Thanks to my friends at BetterHelp for the link to this amazing resource, and I will talk to you all in the next post.

Guest Post: How to Keep Working When Experiencing a Depressive Episode

Can you continue to work when you have bipolar disorder and you are experiencing a depressive episode? Many people have proven that it’s possible. Yet, research shows that maintaining employment is a major challenge for people with bipolar disorder. To overcome this challenge, following these suggestions may help you in continuing with your career path.

Recognize Symptoms Early

Recognizing your symptoms as soon as they happen is crucial. If you’re not paying careful attention to, ignoring, or denying your symptoms, your condition could become severe before you even realize you need to do something to get better.

One study revealed that patient education on symptoms and treatment improves employment outcomes. Here are some of the symptoms of bipolar depression (which is very similar to unipolar depression, or major depressive disorder),

  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Decreased energy
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Problems concentrating
  • Unusual memory problems
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide

Prioritize Treatment

Work is important, of course. But there are times when you need to put your treatment and self-care above your attendance. If you can’t schedule appointments outside of work hours, you may worry that treatment will interfere with your job.

However, research shows that getting treatment early can help you not only save your job but thrive in it. Seeking treatment early helps with both work productivity and the social aspects of work.

Manage Your Thoughts

When you’re depressed, your mind tends to generate negative thoughts. While you can’t help what thoughts come into your mind, you can choose which thoughts to dwell on and act on.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you learn to identify negative thought patterns and change your responses to things that trigger these patterns. Meditation is a tool that you may learn in therapy to also help you focus on the here and now, rather than dwelling on intrusive thoughts that can distract you. Talking to a psychologist can be extremely helpful for staying on track in your career.

Keep Moving

It’s hard to stay active when you’re feeling the lethargy and indecisiveness of bipolar depression. When you allow yourself to become more sedentary, symptoms of depression usually become worse. You don’t have to start a rigorous exercise routine, but getting up and moving at various times during the day can release endorphins that can help improve your mood.

Stick to Your Schedule

Sticking to a schedule is important both outside of and during work. If you have a job with set hours, sleeping at a consistent time each night and preparing for bed with a nighttime routine can help. People who are self-employed, such as writers, independent graphic designers, personal trainers, and contractors usually have more leeway in how they set their schedule, but still need some kind of routine.

No matter what your occupation is, you need to talk to your doctor about sleep problems if they happen frequently. Get into a daily routine for all the important aspects of your life so that you are staying consistent with your physical self-care.

Manage Mania  

For people with bipolar disorder, one of the most difficult parts of dealing with the depressive part of the disorder is that when you sink too low, it becomes very easy to cycle back into mania. Some medications work better for bipolar depression than others. If your doctor suggests antidepressants, ask if they are likely to cause mania. The key to avoiding mania is to get proper treatment for your depression.

When you have bipolar disorder, your body has a hard time maintaining homeostasis of the chemicals in your brain that affect your mood, concentration, and other things that can affect your day-to-day at work. The best things you can do for your career if you’re bipolar are to learn more about your condition, and seek treatment as needed.

 

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie-Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

Guest Post: Redemption by Author Mike Schlossberg

Note From Anthony Avina: 

 

Hi there everyone! I am thrilled to share with you an amazing guest blog post from an author I will be working with in the months to come. Please read and enjoy this post from author Mike Schlossberg on how he came up with the title for his book Redemption and how others can learn from it. 

 

 

My book is called Redemptionand it’s about depression, anxiety and saving the world. From the blurb:

Twenty young people wake aboard the spaceship Redemption with no memory how they got there.

Asher Maddox went to sleep a college dropout with clinical depression and anxiety. He wakes one hundred sixty years in the future to assume the role as captain aboard a spaceship he knows nothing about, with a crew as in the dark as he is.

Yanked from their everyday lives, the crew learns that Earth has been ravaged by the Spades virus – a deadly disease planted by aliens. They are tasked with obtaining the vaccine that will save humanity, while forced to hide from an unidentified, but highly advanced enemy.

Half a galaxy away from Earth, the crew sets out to complete the quest against impossible odds. As the enemy draws closer, they learn to run the ship despite their own flaws and rivalries. But they have another enemy . . . time. And it’s running out.

Now, here’s the question I keep getting: Why is it called Redemption?

First is the obvious: It’s the name of the ship. But it’s the name of the ship in the book for a reason.

Okay. So I wrote this thing not just to tell a science fiction story, but to tell a story of mental illness and give those who suffer hope. That’s sort of been my driving force, as an elected official and advocate for the mentally ill. And to be perfectly honest, that permeates just about every facet of the book. Including the name of the ship.

I named it Redemption because I think the idea of guilt – and seeking Redemption – was and is a big part of my depression. Guilt is a common symptom of depression. It’s something I certainly got to know in a very personal way. And I spent most of my life searching for redemption. I desperately wanted to be redeemed from some unknown sin. And I think that’s something that’s relatively common among those who have suffered.

The entire plot is, at it’s core, a redemption story, but not from a sin: From mental illness, from depression and from anxiety. It’s a redemption that I think we all strive for. In my experience, it’s almost not complete obtainable. Personally, I know I will never be completely free from mental illness. It will always be there, running in the background like an iPhone app. Recovery isn’t an end state, it’s a journey. And that’s a lesson I that I have tried to learn all my life, and a journey I try to highlight in Redemption.

As always, I’d love to have your thoughts. Is this an experience you understand? No? Either way, let us know in the comments!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C7M8WT8

https://mikeschlossbergauthor.com

http://www.twitter.com/MikeSchlossberg

http://www.facebook.com/MikeSchlossbergAuthor

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39896276-redemption

Summary:

Redemption Cover from Amazon

Twenty young people wake aboard the spaceship Redemption with no memory how they got there.

Asher Maddox went to sleep a college dropout with clinical depression and anxiety. He wakes one hundred sixty years in the future to assume the role as captain aboard a spaceship he knows nothing about, with a crew as in the dark as he is.

Yanked from their everyday lives, the crew learns that Earth has been ravaged by the Spades virus – a deadly disease planted by aliens. They are tasked with obtaining the vaccine that will save humanity, while forced to hide from an unidentified, but highly advanced enemy.

Half a galaxy away from Earth, the crew sets out to complete the quest against impossible odds. As the enemy draws closer, they learn to run the ship despite their own flaws and rivalries. But they have another enemy . . . time. And it’s running out.

Author bio:

Michael Schlossberg

Mike Schlossberg has been a writer since he wrote his first short story in eighth grade, a Star Wars fanfiction. While he claims it was terrible, the creative passion followed him into adulthood.

Serving as a State Representative in Pennsylvania, Mike has had the chance to make a difference. The problem closest to his heart is mental health, where he strives to break the stigma surrounding those who suffer from mental illnesses and give them hope. For Mike, this issue is personal, as he has been treated for depression and anxiety related disorders since he was 18. It was this desire to help which drove him to write Redemption, his first novel, but not his first book. That honor goes to Tweets and Consequences, an anthology about the varied ways elected officials have destroyed their careers via social media.

When not writing, Mike plays video games (both modern and old school), watches anything related to the Muppets (specifically Fraggle Rock!), reads, attempts to get to the gym, and calls his constituents on their birthdays.

Mike lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with his wife Brenna and his two wonderful children: Auron, born in 2011, and Ayla, born in 2012.