This month, the Book Club read Dr. Birds Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos.
In this book, James Whitman finds himself overcome with suicidal ideation, anxiety, depression, mania, and family issues such as abuse and his sister’s self-injurious behavior.
The book is written for older teens, and it poses questions such as if you feel yourself struggling, would you feel comfortable reaching out?
In the book club discussion, there was talk about how the teens were seen as more resourceful than the adults, as James was able to find therapy on his own to deal with the issues he was experiencing. James also found himself in an investigation about his sister Jorie’s expulsion from school. You could see James’s getting stronger and more vocal as the story went on.
James finds inspiration from Walt Whitman, and sometimes uses the famous author's writing to sum up his own thoughts, such as,
Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sun-rise
Would kill me
If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of
Please join us for the next NAMI Ramsey Book Club! Find more information at https://www.namiramseycounty.org/bookclub.html
This month we returned to reading children’s books on mental health and our group really enjoyed the two books that were read to us and the stimulating discussion
following the readings.
The authors read and discussed two books with us relating to children’s mental health. The first book that was read to us was about childhood anxiety, called B is for Breathe, the ABCs of Coping with Fussy and Frustrating Feelings by Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd, PsyD, ABPP. The second book was about a child who is coping with his mother’s often confusing bipolar disorder called Good Day, Bad Day, Same Day – A Day with My Mommy, Who Has Bipolar Disorder by Sharon Henry.
Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd is a mother, a psychologist, and a published book author who has written several books relating to children’s mental health. Dr. Boyd shared an on-screen view of the pages of her book. In her book, every letter of the alphabet tells about a different coping strategy that can be used to help cope with “fussy and frustrating feelings.” The author shared with the group that she often has
children practice these coping techniques when she reads to groups of children. For example, Dr. Boyd has the children do some deep breathing exercises when she gets to the letter “B is for Breathe.” Some of the other coping strategies she discussed were: A is for Art, D is for Dancing, Q is for Quiet Time, R is for Read, S is for Positive Self-Statements, and T is for Talking About Feelings (talk about your feelings with a trusted family member).
Dr. Boyd asked group members about their favorite coping skills. The group discussed the different coping skills that several of us use. One attendee said that she likes to go on nature walks and Zumba. Another attendee likes crocheting.
Dr. Boyd was motivated to write her book to provide a resource for children to use when they are having trouble coping with school or with life in general. She said that this book has helped her own children, and she often reads this book to groups of children in libraries so that these children can learn coping skills. Currently, she is writing a book called, Better Together, the ABCs of Social Skills. It will be an alphabet book with suggestions like, “A is for Apologize.”
The group thanked Dr. Boyd for sharing her book with us. We especially appreciated the diversity of the children in the illustrations.
We then turned to our second author for another reading. Sharon Henry read her book, Good Day, Bad Day, Same Day – A Day with My Mommy Who Has Bipolar Disorder, to us and showed us her own illustrations via Zoom. Sharon has an art degree in illustrating, so she decided to write and illustrate her own book. She has an adult child who lives with Bipolar Disorder. She self-published the book to help families who are coping with a family member who lives with a mental illness.
This book is written from a child’s perspective whose mom lives with Bipolar Disorder. The little boy in the book is disappointed when his mother is too tired to play, and doesn’t understand when his mother does different kinds of things related to the manic behaviors associated with Bipolar Disorder. At the end of the book, the little boy realizes that his mother really, really loves him even though his father has to take care of him.
Sharon said that both writing and illustrating this book was therapeutic for herself.
Join us on Thursday, October 21 from 7-8 pm for our next Book Club Meeting when
we look at the issues of childhood trauma and self-injury in the book Scars by Cheryl
Author: Ann Resemius
Ann Resemius is an advisor on the NAMI Ramsey County board and has earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota.
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