Wacky and Wonderful Mental Health Library: Call for Submissions

person holding blue clip board

By Kim Rosenthal, MD

Creatives wanted.

This is the beginning, and beginnings are often awkward, wobbly steps.  Each day there’s movement.  Most of the time it’s in the right direction.  We hope.

So we have this idea, something that’s been growing for some time.  A Wacky and Wonderful Mental Health Library (WW)… What?  Why?  (That’s what most people ask, anyway.)

person holding black card

Don’t let the name fool you.  We’re a place of healing.  We’re also a place of joy.  People with psychiatric problems need more strength and charisma to survive than the average person.  They must seek beauty in places the average person would never think of looking.  They must also, amidst life’s heartaches, find room for laughter.

The WW Library celebrates just that: the strength, resilience, inspiration, humor, and creativity that come along with mental illness.  We’re not making fun of psychiatric conditions.  We’re doing the very opposite. We’re plowing past stigma, opening up room for conversation, and showing the world that a mental health diagnosis can coincide with incredible success.  

But the author needs your help. We’re seeking inspiring, positive, humorous, or [insert  upbeat adjective here] words about mental illness.  Perhaps you have an interesting way to deal with tough situations?  Do you appreciate people’s negative coping skills in ways most wouldn’t (or shouldn’t)?  Would you like to share your observations about the benefits of Asperger’s?  How about a humor piece about being in the hospital, or an article about overcoming nightmares?  Whether you’re a consumer, family member, friend, or provider, if you’ve got something to share, please send it our way. (Yes, we’re talking to you!)  Check out the submission page. 

We’re particularly interested in art, comics, puzzles, quizzes, and all things unusual, but poetry and short stories also delight us.  Unfortunately we aren’t in a position to pay.  


P.S. Yes, there is only one editor (Rosenthal), and yes she refers to herself in the plural.  We’re working on it.

The Weird & Wacky plan to avoid relapse

brain maze PSYCHEDELIC 6Need rescue from cravings?  This two-page worksheet is aimed at helping people in recovery get through the hard times.

The handout is from the WACKY AND WONDERFUL RECOVERY WORKBOOK.  Since this website is to promote the book, we’ve gotta say it: the workbook features multiple resources for urge management apart from the worksheet below.  That includes:

  • An emergency “deal with cravings” card
  • Worksheet on handling triggers
  • A five-page toolkit to help avoid relapse
  • A six-page toolkit to deal with relapse should it happen
  • An appendix section listing hundreds of calming, fun, and survival ideas
  • Jokes and cartoons that keep things… interesting

You’ll find the two-page worksheet below.  Consider magnifying your screen to see it clearly.

relapse prevention jpeg

Return to List of everything


When someone needs help

man s hand in shallow focus and grayscale photography

Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is! – Anne Frank

Someone who is very important to me is struggling with addiction.  It’s a horrible situation, but I see so much potential and accomplishment in the kid — if only he could get out of his own way.  I’m not a religious person, but if you pray, please pray for him.  Thanks.


Random yes/no question: please answer

Every now and then the Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery comes up with a random question.  Here is this week’s allotment.

Do you like random “yes/no” questions?  Please choose from options below.*

(a) True.  I mean absolutely yes.
(b) Nope.
(c) Frankly, I’d prefer you ask my permission before using a yes/no question.
(d) Anyway, what do you get out of asking these questions?  You can’t hear my answer.  What’s the point?
(e) And what does this question have to do with your website, the Weird and Wacky Workbook for Addiction?
(f) In fact, I hate multiple choice questions.  They bring back bad memories.  That’s it.  I’m not reading any more.  Nope.  Nothing else.
(g) Yep, I’m gone.
(h) Please act like I’m not here.
(h) Okay.  I’m still here.  And yes, I (secretly) do like yes/no questions.  Thanks for asking.  Please don’t tell anyone.

*The website’s and book’s author, psychiatrist Dr. Rosenthal, apologizes.  This post has nothing to do with the book, and we’re sorry for the confusion.  It appears the website is authoring these extra articles.  At this time, it seeks to be recognized as a separate and living entity, but no worries, it represents no fluff or gruff to the public.  We don’t think there’s any reason for concer…

Here’s another random question.  Do you think websites are capable of eating psychiatrists?

(a) Yes
(b) Absolutely
(c) No doubt
(d) Yum

Thanks for visiting.  Stay tuned for our upcoming post, “What does it mean to represent no fluff or gruff to the public?”  The post will feature our next yes/no question: should websites have psychiatrists?  




How to make friends

“You cuss too much. You have questionable morals. You’re everything I ever wanted in a friend.” – From a greeting card by Skel Design

new doc 2017-12-15 11.54.22_1Sometimes there’s a wall between you and the rest of the world.  It’s hard to meet people, never mind find friends.  People emerging from addiction are no exception.  Isolation can be painful.  But finding hang-out buddies and best friends doesn’t have to be reserved for the lucky.  Here are some tips on how to meet people and make friends.

Start with long lost buddies.

Past friends. Most of us have friends we haven’t talked to in years.  Look up that elementary school peer, college roommate, or aunt you haven’t talked to for years.  Think of all the people you’ve known.  Text them out of the blue: “What up?”  If it’s more formal, tell them someone you saw reminded you of them.  Ask them to meet up for old time’s sake.  Even if you find you have nothing in common, that “having nothing in common” might spark a new kinship.

Familiarity breeds friendship.

Pick a place that appeals to you, and visit it often.  Don’t obsess all day long, but go there a few times a week.  You don’t have to talk to anyone, not in the beginning, but once you’ve spent enough time at this place you’ll start to recognize the “locals,” and they’ll start recognizing you.

Are the owners of the tiny street café friendly?  Do other coffee-lovers grin approvingly as you buy a super-sized triple-shot vanilla and pumpkin spice latte with skim milk?  What about the museum?  Is there another patron who frequents the Dali room every Monday night like you do?  What about the library?  Are there other students who, like you, prefer to study at 3 in the AM?  If so, greet them and smile.  Next time, ask about the weather or comment on how good the coffee is/good the painting is/hard the exam is.

Apart from cafes, museums, and libraries, other places to consider frequenting include:

  • Restaurantsnew doc 2017-12-12 07.56.17_2
  • Bookstoresnew doc 2017-12-12 07.56.17_1
  • Sunday school
  • Churches, synagogues, or temples
  • Community pools
  • Gyms
  • Pet stores or zoos
  • Saunas
  • Casino
  • Senior citizen centers (if you’re a senior citizen)
  • Student centers (if you’re a student)

Consider visiting different places: a bookstore on Saturdays, the café on Sundays.  Remember, you don’t have to talk to anyone until you feel comfortable. Just get to know the faces and personalities. In time hi-bye conversations turn into talks about the weather or sports (or coffee and exams), which turn into deeper connections.  Go at your own pace.

Join a club, any club.

Be part of a club.  Pick an interest, and join a group of like-minded people.  This interest can range from hobbies or sports to getting help for a challenge you’re dealing with.  For many people, this means 12-step meetings, but there are other clubs.  Check online or your community paper for information about local groups, meetings, events, and workshops.  Many communities have groups that meet regularly or have guest speakers  lecturing about different subjects.  Here are some ideas:

  • Hiking, book, knitting, art, stamp-collecting, or movie groups
  • Sports groups, like rowing, sailing, or soccer clubs
  • Depression or anxiety support groups
  • Cancer-survivor, diabetes, or chronic pain support groups
  • Alzheimer caregiver support groups
  • Ping pong, bowling, or card-playing leagues
  • Writer’s or artist’s workshops
  • Symphony or rock bands
  • Lectures about politics, philosophy, reaching your dreams, or making money
  • Weight-watchers
  • Theater or musicals

Sign up and go!  The more you show up, the quicker you’ll get to know people.  You don’t have to talk to anyone until you feel comfortable, but little by little you’ll make friends.

Take classes.

Friendship 101School for adults is an excellent way to meet people in a structured environment, where there’s no pressure to carry on a conversation unless you want to.

Local college.  Ask your local college for a list of their community classes.  Usually these are low-priced and available to everyone.  Some colleges also offer OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute).  These classes are officially for people over 55, but they do accept younger folks when there’s availability.  Community classes vary widely in subject, ranging from Getting to Know Shakespeare to Russian, GED, and English as a Second Language.   Some schools offer career enrichment courses like construction technology, Notary Public, or  continuing education for nurses.

Community stuff.  No college or university nearby?  Don’t forget community resources!  Look into arts and crafts, music, and other specialty stores to see what classes they’re offering. Often you’ll find gems like cooking lessons  and jewelry-making instruction.  Consider local specialty schools too, where you can find lessons in dancing, yoga, tai chi, karate, the instrument of your choice, and probably much more.

Become a volunteer.

Want to meet kind-hearted people with a cause?  Volunteering gives you a chance to spread compassion while reaching out to others for friendship.  Places that often need volunteers include:

  • Hospitals and emergency rooms
  • Nursing homes
  • Humane Society
  • Museums and historical sites
  • Soup kitchens
  • Shelters for the homeless
  • Red Cross
  • Salvation Army
  • Tutoring students at schools and university
  • Local organizations with special causes, like helping illegal immigrants, victims of domestic violence, children with cancer, or people with illiteracy
  • International organizations like the Peace Corp or Doctors Without Borders

Alternatively, call a business where you’d like to spend time and offer to help out for free.

Surf the web.

Frankly, going online is a great way to avoid being alone.

new doc 2017-12-15 07.45.34_4Meetup.com is a social networking site that helps get people together.  There’s something here for everyone, from stuff for business-owners, writers, and vegetarians to support groups for Star Trek lovers, soccer enthusiasts, and people with bipolar disorder.  Just plug in your location and your interest, then peruse the groups that come up.  Meetups usually meet in person once a month, but members of each club can keep in touch online.

Online forums are conversation threads touching just about anything.  This resource allows you to engage with others in a controlled, semi-anonymous manner, where you don’t have to worry about the “complexities of real conversation” while establishing connection with others.  Forums let you answer at your own pace and consider your words carefully before submitting them to the world.  They’re a good way of befriending interesting people who live far away, people you’d never meet locally.

Online support groups are a type of forum; they’re a wonderful resource for people to get extra support for a problem they’re having, without having to give away their personal information or make their problem public.

Friendship sites are a third option.  They’re like dating sites but used primarily to help people find friends.  Interactions include chats, small social groups, and big group get-together’s.  Information can be exchanged, like favorite songs, business information, exercise records, or most recent drawings.  Friendship websites vary according to desired age group, gender, sexual orientation, interests, etc.  Some help couples find friends.  Others are geared towards young career women.  Still others are only for people trying to get in shape.  Examples include Girlfriend Social, Social Jane, Active, My Social Passport, Couples List, and Cupple.  Most are free.

Be smart when using these options.  Don’t offer personal information to strangers.  If you decide to get together with someone you’ve only known online, meet in a safe, public place.


So you’ve figured out a way to meet thousands of potentially interesting people?  The next step is to talk to them.  Be open-minded.  Be kind.  Be interested.  And make sure to keep in touch.

Friendship is so weird… you just pick a human you’ve met and you’re like “yep, I like this one” and you just do stuff with them. – Bill Murray


Booklet for hire

* Handouts range from educational reviews and homework to guided journaling, artwork, and essay-writing.  Each booklet is illustrated, humored, and makes some random references to the meaning of life.  On a good day there’s enough substance to change the world as we know it.  But we’re happy with meaning of life.  You had us at meaning of life.

T or F: German reality TV show follows alcoholic as he chooses sobriety vs bottle

From page 32, the Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery (www.weirdandwackyworkbook.com)

true or false trivia

True/false question #1.  Is there really a German reality TV-show that show-cases a person battling addiction, with the public cheering them on for sobriety?

Weird and Wacky hasn’t hit the market yet, so Appendix C isn’t commercially available.  No worries.  We won’t leave you hanging.  You have a question, at least the one, and we promised an answer.

The scene

A crew of TV-show producers, film-makers, prompt-writers, and the make-up artists shadow 63-year-old Adelbert, a gentleman with yellow eyes and a kind smile.  Adelbert has stopped at the bar.  He pulls aside a stool.  He sits with nobility and reflects on life.  It is early.  He is still sober.  “Do I quit?  Do I not quit?  Perhaps it’s time to quit.  Why, yes, thank you, I will.”

He says this is German, of course, but the statement is momentous, and a roar of delight is heard from1,324,000 living rooms from all over the country.  That same roar is matched in 2263 living rooms in Spain and a dozen sofas in the United States, Italy, and South Africa.

Why does Adelbert quit drinking?  Is it the public support that drives him to save his own life, knowing the world cheers each time he makes a good decision?   (What if he relapses?  Does this German reality show have a take two?)  Whatever the case, the episode ends with Adelbert stepping into rehab.  He waves good bye, his skin icteric in the light and his smile a gracious thing of beauty.  The camera zooms out.  Then “cut!” and it’s over.

True or false?

Is this reality TV show real?  A google search for Adelbert — or a German reality TV-show centered around people with alcoholism — reveals nothing.    This statement is false.

We like Adelbert’s tale, though.  Although he never existed, in our book he never drinks again.  He becomes the Face of Recovery, a powerful force in the universe, and he earns millions of dollars by his smile alone.  He devotes his life to helping other alcoholics, talking them through the most important decision in their lives:  “Do you quit?  Do you not quit?  Perhaps it’s time to quit.  Why, yes, thank you… you will?”

Are you curious about the other questions?  About the CIA, laced cocaine, and infested tobacco?  Appendix A will eventually be available, we promise.

If you are a dreamer, come in

This article is wacky enough to belong to this website.  Take a deep breath and keep reading.  Good luck.

You have a burning question.

There’s something painful in your life, and you stay awake long into the night looking for an answer. It’s urgent, and the emotion is killing you.

Maybe it’s a daughter who uses drugs.  Or you’re coping with an illness, stuck with out-of-control anger, or trying to decide whether to drop out of school.  Sometimes it’s just an emotional jumble of noise in your head, indecisive and hurting.  Whatever the case, today you’ve agreed to use imagery to make sense out of it.

The Feeling.

new-doc-2018-01-21-11-30-27_1.jpgImagine you’re sitting in a comfortable chair.  At your elbows stands a smoothed-over, mahogany table.  Across from you, an empty seat.  The walls are a gentle cream color, the windows reveal vast fields of flowers, and perhaps there’s music tickling at your ear, a gentle melody that relaxes your muscles and allows you a chance to rest.

The painful emotion is still there.  You study it indifferently, examining it from different angles, noting the color and texture and size.  What does it look like?  How does it feel?  Does it have a sound or scent?  Ask yourself: where did this emotion come from?  Think, and think more.  The answer to that question is the Problem.

The Problem & the Question.

The music is a delight at the ear, and sunlight plays lacework shadows across the floor.  This is a safe place — but the emotion remains all-encompassing.

You’ve identified the Problem.  Now consider it objectively, examining it from different angles, noting the color and texture and size.  What does it look like?  How does it feel?  Does it have a sound or scent?  Ask yourself: what is this problem?  What is it I want to know?  What question do I have about this problem?

What is your question?  Perhaps it’s “How do I get through this?” or “What can I do to improve my situation?”  Maybe it’s more specific: “Do I want to keep this baby?”  “How do I get over this depression?”  or “What can I do to stop these intrusive memories?”  Take a deep breath and ask yourself: what is the basic question here?

The Visitor

You hear the rustle of cloth and soft steps as someone enters the room.  They take a seat, and wise eyes fall upon you from across the table.

Perhaps the visitor is someone who knows you well.  It might be someone you recognize or a kind stranger who lends you comfort and solace.  Stranger or not, you see a person you trust.

“Talk to me,” they say.  Their words are enough, and you speak, and you speak genuinely.

Your words

Perhaps you complain.  We all need to complain sometimes.  You scream and cry and pace and cry some more, because that’s what you need to do.  Or maybe your words are a whisper, a confession, monotone and unfeeling, because that’s what you need to do.  Fellow with lots of problemsThe explanation is a personal one and you say all that needs to be said.  The visitor listens closely, nodding from time to time, chuckling at your jokes, handing you a Kleenex during the rough moments, curious and interested, because that’s what they want to do.

You tell your story until every word, every emotion and problem and question is spread out clearly across the table before you.

Visitor’s help

As you fall silent, your story coming to a close, the visitor leans forward and speaks.  Their voice is a song of hope, a fulfillment of answers, the words you seek and need and so desperately long to hear.

But what does the visitor say?

(1) Imagine the listener is someone you admire.  Knowing all they know about life, what would they recommend, what would they do in your situation?  Think!  Who do you admire?  Why?  Is it their integrity, taking a stand, flexibility, humility, strong opinions, computer savvy, or music?  Would taking on their ability help you approach your dilemma in a new way?  Ask the person you admire, and listen to what they have to say.

(2) The stranger cares about you, a confidant and soul-friend.  They know you well, both your weaknesses and strengths, and they admire you for them.  How would a soul-friend respond to your plight?  What would they encourage you to do?  Again, think!  The luxury of a soul-friend is a rare find.  They lend you their eyes to help see the world from a different perspective.

Think of the thousand ways to get past a wall: climb over, dig a hole under, walk around, break through, imagine it gone, fly over in a helicopter…

There are a thousand ways to solve a problem too, and your friend knows this.  They grant you ideas you’ve never considered.  What are those ideas.  Ask, and listen!

We have questions and answers(3) The visitor isn’t a stranger. Their face is like yours, their hands too, a familiar soul, far too familiar.  In their eyes you see yourself, a distant “future you” who knows your feelings, who’s lived through your experiences, and, yes, who knows your future.  A well-lived, contented sage sits before you.  That might be surprising, but that’s where you’re going, and this person is proof that it’s true.  This “future you” knows how to deal with your dilemma, and they offer ready advice.  Ask, and listen.  Think: in ten years from now, looking back, what would you have liked to see yourself do?


Your visitor congratulates you, reminds you of your worth, and lends you a sense of life you haven’t felt for a while.

They step out of the room.

A sigh, a happy sigh, before you stand up and leave that chair and table behind, all feelings, problems, and questions left sitting firmly on that table.  A doorway gives way to a spiral stairway leading up, up, up, and as you reach the top floor, your reality kicks back in, the REAL reality, a place you’re ready to handle and apt to conquer.

You have your answers.

“If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hoper a pray-er a magic-bean-buyer
If youre [sic] a pretender com [sic] sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin
Come in!
Come in!”

Shel Silverstein

For more imagery readings, check out Imagery: the man who reads part one and Imagery: the man who reads part two.

Puzzle: 12-step inspiration, oddlike

The following is Handout 87 from the Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery. Remember that inner kid, the one who loves life and imagines a brilliant future?  Okay, now imagine that same child in school learning consonants & vowels, and have a go at the following homework.

website 12 step program jpeg

* The Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery has more than 40 activity pages, some more cerebral than others.  Why have activities like this in a manual for recovery?

As mentioned, recovery is more than quitting drugs and alcohol.  It’s about surviving cravings, painful emotion, broken bridges, scattered thoughts, and stress.  It also marks the start of a new life narrative as a person in recovery.  The painful and the amazing.  Weird and Wacky‘s activity section offers mindless tasks and distraction for the bad times, plus a conduit for creativity, playfulness, and (hopefully) joy for the “new.”

Cravings aren’t all or nothing

Put cravings into context.

Urges aren’t all or nothing.  You might feel like an urge is all-encompassing, but if you stop to think about it, there are a thousand levels of desire between zero and 100.  Put the craving into context.  Do you feel it come in waves?  There will be good days and bad days.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of surviving the moment.  If you’ve been clean a while, are the cravings better and less frequent than they were earlier in your recovery?  You’ll likely find the answer is “yes.”  Maybe the craving oscillate between 100% and 40%, and 40% is more tolerable.  Knowing that will help get you through the 100% days.  Hold onto that.  Recognizing that cravings aren’t black and white make them easier to deal with.