Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Favorite Mental Health Blogs


If your main interest is staying ignorant and resentful and unwell forever, there are plenty of bloggers out there eager to help you stay the way you are. If you are actually interested in gaining insight into what makes you tick and in figuring out what treatments and recovery techniques work best for you, the list is much shorter.

Following are my blogging heroes, highly-intelligent and principled individuals whose mission is to enlighten and inform:

Beyond Blue. No one does it better than Therese Borchard. Her combination of wit and intelligence and practical advice, with a deeply personal dimension, is without equal. I recently had the privilege of reading an advance copy of her book of the same name, and this is part of the endorsement I sent to her publisher:

"Let me count the contradictions: perfectionist-screw-up, brilliant-confused, depressed-hilarious ... Therese is a saint in pursuit of a masterpiece, and BEYOND BLUE is Exhibit A. This is The Book of Job as Art Buchwald might have written it, had he been as talented as Therese. Wise, compassionate, and funny beyond measure, Therese ultimately offers up healing."

About.com - Bipolar. Kimberly Read and Marcia Purse are the equivalent of those NFL quarterbacks who neither rack up statistics nor personal glory - all they do is win football games. Kimberly and Marcia were blogging way back before the neologism, blog, was coined. Unlike virtually every blogger out there, this veteran tag team neither draws attention to themselves nor dazzles readers with seductive prose - and that is their strength.

Instead, for more than a decade, in their own quietly reliable fashion, Kimberly and Marcia have served up reports of new research, new insights, and new developments - information that facilitates us in making intelligent choices without the distortions of overweening egos.

Postpartum Progress. It is highly unusual to cite a blog as the best resource for any given subject. For instance, there may be some great cancer bloggers out there, but to find out what you need to know about cancer you would probably go the American Cancer Society website. Not so for postpartum mental illness. The place to go is Katherine Stone's Postpartum Progress.

Katherine achieves the rare trifecta in passionate advocacy, personal experience, and state-of-the-art information, with each component in service to the others and thus creating a sum much greater than its parts. If you are a woman, or know someone who is, this blog is essential reading.

ADHD Roller Coaster. Gina Pera puts a song in my heart every time she butts heads with antipsychiatry nutjobs and the idiots who legitimize them. Sample this attack on Bill Maher and a panel of dunces:

"They’re entitled to their own opinions, as they say, but not to their own facts. And when their deluded opinions target my friends with ADHD — on the airwaves, in print, or on the Internet — it leaves me at once angry and heartsick at their cold-hearted, mingy-minded meanness, never mind ignorance. ..."

Gina's focus is ADHD, and her blog is by far the best on the topic, but it is as a passionate advocate of reason that she truly shines. The opposite of antipsychiatry is not pro-psychiatry. It is pro-consumer, pro-patient, pro-family member. Pro-wisdom, pro-empathy, pro-science, pro-intelligence. No question about it - Gina is our leading spokesperson.

The Happiness Project. We're all experts in misery. But if we want to get unstuck and get to well, we need to acquaint ourselves with the concept of happy. Gretchen Rubin is a highly-regarded author who, in pursuit of a book, has spent a year "test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah."

From her latest offering: "The biggest challenge of a happiness project isn’t figuring out what resolutions I should make, but actually sticking to my resolutions. Somewhat to my surprise, I've found that I have quite a lot of trouble keeping my resolutions related to play ... "

Holy cow! I can really relate to that. My guess is all the rest of you are thinking the same thing.

Prozac Monologues. So far, I have singled out established authors, all of them very well-known in their respective fields. Willa Goodfellow's Prozac Monologues, which got started up in April, is my tribute to a new kid on the block. Don't be put off by her latest offering, which is highly complimentary of my work - that was how we met. Then I read her other pieces, and was floored by the homework she turned in.

Let's put it this way: Until I encountered Prozac Monologues, I thought I was the only one who had ever mentioned, anterior cingulate, in a blog. It can be very lonely blogging on topics ignored by everyone else, and suddenly I'm not alone. (The anterior cingulate modulates emotions in the brain.)

Promising bloggers have an unfortunate tendency to burn out, so I urge all of you to drop a comment on her blog site offering encouragement. To Willa: It's very easy for bloggers to get discouraged, particularly when dealing with depression. But clearly we need you. Stick with it ...

***

No doubt, I am leaving out dozens of worthy bloggers. If you have a favorite, please put your recommendation in the form of a comment below. Trust me, I will follow up.

18 comments:

Gina Pera said...

John, this is so wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to compile this list. It saves so much time and consternation in trying to find them myself. I'll share it on my blog.

And thanks for the kind words about my preoccupation with tilting at wingnuts, I mean, windmills. You're an inspiration -- and an ally.

The Internet is too valuable a resource to cede to the forces of unreason.

John McManamy said...

Hi, Gina. Tilting at wingnuts - love it! And I wholeheartedly agree that we can't afford to surrender to the forces of unreason. The internet at its best informs and enlightens and connects us. Unfortunately, there are unprincipled bloggers in abundance whose mission is to mislead and blame and alienate. Many thanks for declaring war on them and calling them out - and for giving me the courage to do the same.

Katherine Stone said...

Wow. I'm humbled and honored. Thanks John!

John McManamy said...

Thanks, Katherine. I'm one trimester away from being a grandfather, so you can guess how much your blog means to me.

Willa Goodfellow said...

Wow. Thank you, John. Suddenly I feel for real. And to think, the anterior cingulate brought us together! Who woulda thought it?

I am taking your happiness post to heart. Next week -- candy bars.

Gina Pera said...

Hi Katherine,

Congratulations for weathering the Mothers Act Reactionary Storm.

John McManamy said...

Hey, Willa. And don't forget the amygdala. Can't wait to have a heart to heart with you about the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. :)

Evan said...

A great blog is urbanmonk.com

John McManamy said...

Hi, Evan. I just paid the blog a visit and will be paying many more return visits. This one is a keeper. To readers: urbanmonk.net, not .com.

Kimberly Read said...

Wow, John. Thank goodness the football helmet hides the blushing! I’ve always admired your writing and consider you a role model. I am sincerely touched.

John McManamy said...

Hey, Kimberly. You and Marcia were there for me when I was first diagnosed and I didn't know squat about my illness. If there are any role models, it's you two. You were the ones I looked up to back in 1999 when I first got started - and I still do. Here's to great mutual respect in 2019. :)

John McManamy said...

Hey, Gina. Re Katherine weathering the reactionary storm - I was going to blog on that, but I was undergoing intense sciatic pain at the time. But a couple of weeks earlier I did single out Katherine for calling out an idiot political journalist who tried to attribute Sarah Palin's strange behavior to postpartum depression.

To readers: A quick background on the blog I didn't write. Time Magazine, the antipsychiatry movement, and their legitimizers whipped up a fear-mongering campaign that only made sense if you believe that postpartum mental illness doesn't exist and we are all being manipulated by a worldwide Pharma conspiracy.

The Mothers Act, which encourages screening for risk of postpartum and educating moms-to-be, represents a major advance in reducing risk.

Katherine not only wrote a brilliant blog debunking Time and their fellow travelers; she also organized an open letter to Time signed by leading postpartum spokespersons.

In a highly supportive blog piece, Therese Borchard applauded Katherine for not taking Time magazine's nonsense lying down.

Against ignorance and stupidity, we need to fight back. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but as Gina says, "not to their own facts."

Anonymous said...

Ooo! Now how about, "My Least Favorite Mental Health Blogs."

:)

John McManamy said...

Hi, Anonymous. Glad you brought that up. I have a few in mind, which I would be happy to write about, but with this reservation - merely thinking about the idiots who write these blogs and the harm they inflict on our population brings up strong negative feelings, which is not good for a person in my position facing the daily challenges of a mood disorder. So when I'm already in a bad mood - such as a girlfriend leaving me - then I'll get on it, but first I have to find a girlfriend. :)

What I enjoyed about doing this particular blog piece was I concentrated on the positive, and the effort lifted my mood enormously. I find it extremely therapeutic to associate myself with highly dedicated and intelligent and empathetic individuals who don't complain or blame others, but instead get off their ass and seek solutions and inspire others.

Doing the piece allowed me to reconnect with some of my favorite people. As for their polar opposites, don't get me started.

But please, don't let me stop you from recommending your own least favorites. :)

herb said...

Hi John,

Good piece.

Please continue to stick to the positives. There’s enough negative dogma and blogs to go around that even one not suffering from any mood disorder can easily be taken down by what’s written.

The mental health community needs individuals such as you to shine the light not only upon your proactive positive thoughts and efforts as well as those others similarly inclined to educate and encourage from a positive stance and viewpoint.

In my opinion, given the number of negative blogs and their condemnations as it relates to medications, treatments, physicians, institutions etc and given their druthers there would be none of the aforementioned.

Damn the others as long as “self” is appeased appears to be their mantra and the reason and need for the likes of you and your efforts to curb their mental septicemia.

Oh, least I forget please add “Dr Shock MD PhD” to your list:

http://www.shockmd.com/

Warmly,
Herb
VNSdepression.com

John McManamy said...

Hi, Herb. Just had a look at Dr Shock. Definitely a keeper. Many thanks -

thordora said...

So glad you recognized Katherine! She rules! And About.com-Bipolar has been a steadfast friend to me over the past few years.:)

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