Show Me Your Scars: True Stories of Living With Mental Illness
by Lee Gutkind
In Fact Books, 2016
Review by Tijuana L. Canders
Apr 27, 2017
Mental Illness is often kept secret, or hidden in the ‘closet’ because of stereotypes and stigmas the world protrudes on the sufferer. Mental illness is also misunderstood which leaves the sufferer not only to battle the effects of their illness but also to feel the need to rid themselves from the mind-sets of others who aren’t educated to know that individuals living with mental illness can be valuable, viable, and productive citizens in the world along with the rest of the society.
Lee Gutkind a licensed child and adolescent therapist who also works with adults compiles stories from others dealing with mental illness in the book, Show Me All Your Scars: True Stories of Living with Mental Illness, in hopes to bring awareness and alleviate the painful reality of discrimination, and emotional sufferings from stigmas. As former US Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy writes in his introduction: “The only way for this to change is for people to share their truth. Total honesty is essential not only for recovery, but also for changing societal attitudes and enacting public policies.”
Each writer provides the reader with a different story, a different illness, a different perspective, and a different battle of the mind. The deeply personal essays are full of courage, resilience, and recovery shred the stigma of mental illness and challenge our indifference toward the ‘mentally ill.’ Show Me All Your Scars is an intense human exploration of the lived experience of mental illness. The book is beautifully written and displays hope to encourage others to dare to tell their story for the soul purpose of standing against their silence within themselves, in return changing the culture around them.
Trying to understand what it is like to be mentally ill or what it’s like to live with someone who is mentally ill is a challenge for all of us. After all, if one hasn’t “been there,” the behaviors of those living with mental illness can sometimes be annoying, scary, or embarrassing.
As a free-lance writer for the mental health and wellness professions I am a firm believer that we need to bring mental illness out of the closet. Once society starts to accept that it is truly part of daily life, maybe then we will begin to see the necessary changes needed to take place not just in research or medicine but also in our relational boundaries, holistic views and stigmas that will make it easier for the sufferer to live with some of these issues. My personal hope is that one day individuals who suffer from a mental illness can not only “show others our scars” as part of the process of living with mental illness, but that we will also “live with mental wellness.”
Show Me All Your Scars is well-written, brave, and honest with unique stories to impart healing, encouragement, and stark realities of mental illness for the soul. The book is a poignant read for those who suffer from mental illness and for those who want to understand mental illness.
© 2017 Tijuana L. Canders