Right out of the gate, I’m hooked on Dr. Faith G. Harper’s informal writing style and down-to-earth, DIY solutions to overwhelming brain snafus. She sums up her radical mental health philosophy when she writes, “This book is for the people who are fucking tired of hearing or thinking that they are just crazy.” Fuck yeah, Dr. Harper!
In regards to mental health, many us are frequently gaslit. We’re told by people who claim to love us, “Your problems aren’t as big as you think,” “You would be fine if you would just get over it,” and “You’re the crazy one, not the manipulative, toxic folks putting you through the wringer.” Dr. Harper debunks this nonsense and empowers the individual by simply providing the desperately needed facts and science—“not complex, dry, boring-as-a-box-rocks science”—to handle our shit.
Dr. Harper begins with the most common source of mindfuckery: trauma. She outlines the science behind traumatic responses (the brain isn’t inherently a vindictive dick, it’s simply trying to cope) and lays out a clear plan of attack, so you can control trauma and not let it control you. For example, the correlation between physical health and mental heath is often deemphasized, but as she points out, a healthy body is a healthier brain. Furthermore, the brain, although a stubborn bastard at times, can be retrained with grounding techniques and a whole lot of determination.
For Dr. Harper, it comes down to locating the origin of the problem, not merely treating the symptoms. Makes sense. She argues, in her own profanity-laden way, that by treating the source and understanding triggers, one can get their brain back on track and alleviate the big, bad nasties: anxiety, depression, PTSD, anger, addiction, and grief. But if I gleaned one thing from this book, it’s this: “[Y]our experiences and reactions are valid and real and you are worthy of care and the opportunity to heal.” Words to live by. Trust me, buy this book for yourself and for a loved one. –Sean Arenas (Microcosm, $15, microcosmpublishing.com)