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.

Wacky & Wonderful MH Library: the case of the manic medical student

Image result for bipolar artworkA fiction piece about the beauty and tragedy of mental illness. 

My mornings usually begin with a glimpse of the rising sun. These are special moments, and I greet the day as she first gazes across the deep earth. The world is alive. My friends complain these early morning wanderings might be better spent studying my books and learning my trade, that I might get higher grades if I stopped gloating at the sun like some idiot who wants to go blind. But they say this half-jestingly. They understand I am different.

Today I get up late. The psychiatric unit is on the second floor. There isn’t enough time to see my patients before morning report. But it doesn’t matter. It never does when I’m happy. Things work themselves out.

“Good morning, Doctor,” whispers a voice from the distance.

I smile and nod. I am not a doctor yet. But this time I am not the patient either. It’s a strange freedom. Fingertips of enlightened emotion brush my cheeks in a flipflappity manner. Christ, I’m even making up words.

The psychiatric ward is filled with a dozen people like me. Their faces shine with meaning. I understand them: how do I explain it, the colors? The very splendor of life and light and emotion that my books call a false impression of reality. What is mental illness? Why is reality defined by the norm, while my realities, with the swirls of bipolar sensation, are swept aside with the diagnosis of “disease?”

“Doctor, Mr. Fernandez is looking for you.”

“Absolutely,” I say, not bothering to correct. “My dear, dear nurse, I’ll be there as fast as a horse winning the races. He’s a character, Mr. Fernandez, a character fit for a novel of many pages…” It doesn’t stop there. I recite a few phrases from the Iliad and end the statement with a joke.

The nurse raises an eyebrow. “Lots of energy, ya think?”

I’ve said too much. In books this is called pressured speech. That makes sense. I am pressed, pressured, properly improper. I am theatrical. My ideas flap and fly across the film. My mind is filled with a thousand pages of ideas and philosophies and early morning wanderings with tea and a wondering plea of glee. I discuss my stories with the likes of Aristotle and Descartes. I share an understanding with the gods (like most young and idealistic people), and someday my efforts shall improve the world. Sorry for the mouthful. It had to be said.

Anyway, I am almost a doctor.

Mr. Fernandez is a tall man. “The worms are still inside me.”

“Sometimes the only difference between the doctor and patient is a name tag.” It’s a random statement. It seems right.

“Yeah.” He isn’t impressed, but my mind is aflame. I see symbolism. I see meaning. I am struggling to keep my words under control.

“My brain went weird,” he says. “They tell me it’s a disease.”

“Is it really a disease?”

“I rack my brain thinking about it.”

Ha! Welcome, oh lively Lilypad, welcome to the world of mental disease! I bite my tongue and listen.

Mr. Fernandez isn’t embarrassed by his oddities. Nor does he see them as odd. He describes an entourage of voices that plays at his ears and lunges at his brain with a frightening power. “And there’s a demon. Lives behind the fridge. It’s there all the time. I don’t know why my brain would make me see things like that. I’m not sick. I got worms, and I see things from other dimensions. So what?”

Dimensions, dimensions, the gaze of a million dimensions.

Okay. I’m a medical student. I should redirect him. I should talk medications. Thorazine, Thioridazine, Trileptal, Trazodone… I should talk the usual talk-talk of a doctor-doctor. I need to do these things: this is a sick man, and I am his student-doctor. But in that moment we’re comrades, each trying to make sense of our own realities. What tragedy! What a magnificent gift! We share a silent handshake.

There’s an announcement overhead. Medications are available, and I get in line.

“Here are your pills, Doctor,” the nurse says.

I don’t correct her. Instead I take the pills and offer a theatrical bow. It’s what I do. Life is grand. Everyone needs to know this. Among these people reality makes sense.

A seaforth, silly, soppy sense.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be a doctor again.



“Which of my feelings are me?  Which of the me’s is  me?
The wild, impulsive, chaotic, energetic, and crazy one?
Or the shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed, and tired one?
Probably a bit of both, hopefully much that is neither.”

-Kay Redfield Jamison


Image result for bipolar artwork

Interested in submitting a story, picture, poem, humor piece, comic, or brief article to the Weird & Wacky Library of Mental Health?  We’re looking for inspiring, positive, resilient, humorous, or [insert  upbeat adjective here] pieces about mental illness and anything related.  Here are the guidelines:

1- Try to limit your work to 500 words
2- No obscenities, triggers (self-harm, trauma), nastiness, offensiveness, or excessive negativity.  A certain amount of tragedy and struggle is normal and certainly accepted, but make sure the piece has a positive outcome.
3-Send work to kimrosenthalmd@gmail.com in the body of the email (no attachments please!).  Label the email as “Submission.” Alternatively, you can send your work through the contact form.  There’s no fee to submit. All submissions will be considered.
4-Rosenthal reserves the right to adjust work as needed (to clarify things or make shorter, etc) but will consult you before publishing it online
5-Further instructions coming soon.



Getting to know yourself after recovery

weird art - telephone on wheels - used intro
From the Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery

You’ve just quit, or did so recently, and the big question comes flooding at you: who are you without drugs and alcohol?    Use the handout below to create and celebrate a drug-free identity.

getting to know yourself after recovery p1getting to know yourself aftr recovery p2

That’s a beginning.  Stay tuned for more.


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The random & the odd

red and multicolored figure

Welcome to the Weird & Wacky Workbook‘s “Random & Odd” section.  That first sentence was a mouthful.  The authors apologize for any discomfort and encourage you to keep reading.

This website represents the Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery, a self-help manual for addiction that’ll hopefully be available in 2020.  If you appreciate the random and the odd, whether you have an addiction or not, then you’re in the right place.  You’ll find a list of random and odd articles below.

You’re still here?  Oh so cool.  Here’s that list.

This book does not include ostriches.
Flying cash registers and you
If you are a dreamer, come in
T or F: German reality TV show follows alcoholic as he chooses sobriety vs bottle

freud - note to self - list too short

(Ooop, only four articles.  As you can tell, we’re under construction — this website just launched a month ago.  Please standby while we enhance our selection.  Thanks)


Recovery goes to the movies!

woman sitting inside a theater

For those of you just joining us: you’ve reached the Journey into Recovery: a Weird and Wacky Addiction Workbook for Recovery, or the book’s website at least.  Welcome, and hang out a while.  You don’t have to have an addiction to laugh at our bad jokes.  Below is a sample worksheet.

Based on narrative therapy, this worksheet gives the reader a chance to stand back and observe their relationship with addiction from a distance

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