book reviews, nonfiction, reviews

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy by Kelly Jensen – Book Review

don't call me crazyI was extremely excited to receive this book for review from Algonquin Young Readers. When I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. Mental health is such an important topic, especially for young adults, and I knew I had to get my hands on it! Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

“Who’s Crazy?

What does it mean to be crazy? Is using the word crazy offensive? What happens when such a label gets attached to your everyday experiences?

In order to understand mental health, we need to talk openly about it. Because there’s no single definition of crazy, there’s no single experience that embodies it, and the word itself means different things—wild? extreme? disturbed? passionate?—to different people.

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy is a conversation starter and guide to better understanding how our mental health affects us every day. Thirty-three writers, athletes, and artists offer essays, lists, comics, and illustrations that explore their personal experiences with mental illness, how we do and do not talk about mental health, help for better understanding how every person’s brain is wired differently, and what, exactly, might make someone crazy.

If you’ve ever struggled with your mental health, or know someone who has, come on in, turn the pages, and let’s get talking.” – Goodreads

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy is a collection of essays from various authors, all surrounding the topic of mental health. I thoroughly enjoyed reading each author’s perspective on mental health, learning what they struggle with and how they handle and overcome their mental illness. While primarily about mental illness, the book also covers topics such as gender differences and patriarchy, the importance of being open about your feelings and mental illness, self acceptance, and separating the person from the mental illness.

Any topic regarding mental health is incredibly important to me. I struggle with mental illness myself – I have BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), Bipolar 2, PTSD, and an anxiety disorder. I was mostly excited to read this book because I wanted to read different perspectives from people like me. People who live with the same struggles I do. I read it with complete interest and anticipation of finding hope of overcoming and living a positive and productive life despite my mental health.

And this is primarily what I found. Many positive stories on mental health, giving hope to readers that it will, in fact, be okay eventually. Teaching the dangers of holding these feelings inside and bottling them up, and the positives of finding help and opening up, and not being afraid to admit you have these feelings. I feel like this is a very important book that should be read by all young adults, whether they struggle with mental health or not.

My only gripe with the book is the way BPD was talked about. I felt as if it came across as saying BPD was an undesirable diagnosis, or a fake one. Something no one is happy about being diagnosed with. And while I admit living with BPD is hard, I survive as a relatively normal (how normal can we be, anyway?) human being with positive relationships and friends and accomplishments. I wish the disorder had been explored in a more positive way, especially considering the stigma it already carries.

Overall, I truly enjoyed reading this collection of essays, and I would recommend it to anyone, especially those struggling with mental health, or those who know someone struggling. This is such an important conversation to have, and I hope we can continue to keep the conversation going and eventually end the stigma of mental health overall.

My Rating: ★★★★1/2

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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