Whether you need to recharge yourself every once in a while during a bumpy patch or have a chronic mental health condition, Mental Health Recovery Boosters has just the right dose of inspiration and encouragement for just about any situation. And if, somehow, you have not yet experienced a challenging, emotionally draining situation, “just keep on living,” as my grandmother used to say. Live through it, and let Carol Kivler’s book be your counselor, minister, and wisest friend all in one.
In her thoughtful self-published book, Kivler courageously shares her personal experience of making the transition from “mental illness to mental wellness.” Don’t be deceived by the size of the book. Though it’s small, it is a powerful little text that has the ability to heal and uplift minds, hearts, and spirits. Its simple approach to mental wellness will be especially beneficial to those with low concentration levels — or those who are grief-stricken, who can barely muster the energy to read a book, let alone process and apply its principles.
Each short section starts with a quotation and ends with a reflection question, with blank space below to write your response. And each question also acts undercover as an attainable, self-prescribed action plan.
Kivler recommends that, rather than read her book cover to cover, you first ask God for guidance and direction on what area of support you need, then “thumb through the pages until you feel an urge to stop and read.’’
The intersection of psychological healing and religion is one that works for many people: Alcoholics Anonymous is another successful model that teaches its members to believe, trust, and rely on a higher power as they heal. As a Christian, I respect and admire Kivler for asking readers to connect with God before selecting a topic. I know there have been times where I have needed spiritual help to tackle problems and obstacles, especially those that seemed insurmountable.
Kivler writes in a realistic “been there, done that” voice about her journey through mental illness. She endorses the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s recovery model, which is based on self-advocacy, self-awareness, and self-sufficiency. However, she frequently instructs her readers to know the warning signs of abnormal mental distress and when they need to seek critical and urgent medical care. Sometimes self-help is not enough.
In fact, the book stresses safety as its number one priority. It recommends that readers develop a support system that will be available to them in times of need.
I often recall the blunt advice of my beloved former superintendent as he addressed the group of neophyte educators I was once part of. “For goodness sake,” he said to us, “get some help if you need it.”
It was simple, wise advice, and I agree that having a support system in place is important — before crisis hits and it’s too late.
To that end, this pint-sized book is a keeper. Keep it close at hand on your nightstand for ready access and reference. It deserves the marks of heavy use: dog-eared pages, underlines, and highlights.
We need to shed the shame and stigma attached to mental illness, and to offer hope, words of encouragement, and healing to those trying to battle mental health issues. To start the process, it takes a special and dedicated group of villagers. And Kivler is certainly one of them.
Mental Health Recovery Boosters: How To Sustain Your Mental Wellness
Three Gem Publishing/Kivler Communications, May 2013
Paperback, 126 pages