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  • Kristen Balisi

Book Review: (Don’t) Call Me Crazy

Over the past few decades, we as a society have made many great strides in bringing awareness to mental health, recognizing its importance to an individual's overall well-being, and fighting the stigma too often surrounding mental illness. Bearing that in mind, one factor that has played a significant role in increasing the public's understanding of mental health is inclusive media representation. Positive media representation, whether it be in the form of television, films, books, or digital media, matters a lot because it has the power to shape how we view others, and by extension, how we view ourselves.

On that note, I recently had the pleasure of reading the anthology (Don’t) Call Me Crazy. In this eye-opening book, 33 individuals, all from different walks of life, collaborated and acknowledged the realities of mental illness using essays, lists, comics, and illustrations. This book acts as an excellent example of positive media representation, and here’s why.

Firstly, regarding what you can expect going into this book, you’ll find stories about people’s personal experiences with mental illness, pieces that discuss how to go about having discussions surrounding mental health effectively, and words of guidance for those embarking on their own journeys of recovery or self-acceptance. Catered for teens and young readers, (Don’t) Call Me Crazy is, in my opinion, an impactful and uplifting anthology because it starts a much-needed conversation about mental health. After all, in addition to reducing stigma, talking about mental health in thoughtful ways can help those with mental illness open up, put a name to what they are going through, seek help, and begin healing.

As for some of the aspects in the book that I personally enjoyed, I loved that (Don’t) Call Me Crazy featured such a diverse variety of perspectives and voices. What I mean is, on top of approaching mental health from different standpoints, a wide range of mental health issues and illnesses, such as body dysmorphia, dermatillomania, PTSD, and anxiety, were included. For that reason, after reading, I felt like my perspective on mental health, illness, and recovery expanded, and my understanding of these topics increased tenfold.

In saying all that, I honestly find it super inspiring that so many talented individuals came together to craft this insightful, enlightening, and illuminating book. Moreover, I’m beyond happy that various people will be able to read this anthology and hopefully see their experiences, and maybe even themselves, reflected in the stories they read.

In closing, (Don’t) Call Me Crazy shines an incredibly important spotlight on mental health. I highly encourage you to give this book a read, as it imparts countless valuable lessons, and perhaps most importantly of all, reminds readers that they are not alone.

Below is a list of representations found in this book, listed by author, in order of appearance.

Ashley Holstrom: trichotillomania, dermatillomania

Dior Vargas: imposter syndrome, borderline personality disorder (BPD) Sarah Hannah Gomez: OCD, bipolar II

Stephanie Kuehn: misophonia

Mike Jung: autism

Christine Heppermann: phobias, abuse

S. Jae-Jones: bipolar

Monique Bedard (Aura): erasure of MI in Native communities

Heidi Heilig: bipolar

Emily Mayberry: PTSD

Amy Reed: addictions, abuse

Jessica Tremaine: anorexia, bulimia

Reid Ewing: body dysmorphia

Susan Juby: alcoholism

MILCK: anorexia, depression

Libba Bray: OCD, anxiety

Emery Lord: depression, suicidal ideation

Gemma Correll: anxiety (multiple comics)

Clint Van Winkle: PTSD/PTS

Esme Weijun Wang: anxiety

Victoria/V. E. Schwab: obsessive thoughts

Kristen Bell: depression

Mary Isabel: PTSD, abuse

Lisa Jakub: anxiety

Meredith Russo: depression, suicidal ideation, attempted suicide, body dysmorphia, experiencing transphobia

Yumi Sakugawa: self harm (comic)

Kelly Jensen: depression, anxiety

Adam Silvera: depression, suicidal ideation

Hannah Bae: paranoia

S. Zainab Williams: depression (comic)

Nancy Kerrigan: disordered eating

S.E. smith: depression, misdiagnosed BPD


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