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  • Personal Mental Health Article

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    June 29, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    This article was also submitted to the same place I had sent my other article, and…. yes – got rejected.

    What do people think of this one? (Gentle feedback, please:))

    Caring for an Invisible Illness

    I once had an ingrown toenail which got removed and kept coming back.
    So, I went to my foot doctor to treat it. As I was sitting on the reclined chair,
    he sprayed a saline solution which numbed my toe and allowed him to work
    on it, pain free. He finished his job, but I couldn’t wear my regular shoe as
    my toe was swollen from the injection. And so, I was given a boot to wear
    for two days.

    I was a bit embarrassed to wear such a clunky shoe and was feeling quite
    apprehensive in anticipation for the comments that I would inevitably get,
    but I prepared myself mentally and felt like I could “greet” the many well-
    wishes I would receive.

    As predicted, I came into work feeling slightly embarrassed and anxious; I
    knew the comments were coming. And come they did!

    Now, you see, I probably wouldn’t inwardly groan from the care and
    concern, but this experience was very different. It touched on a very raw
    and sensitive nerve that I wish I can directly express to them. I wish I can
    freely talk to my colleagues about my mental health struggles. I wish I can
    express myself without fear of being judged or stigmatized. I wish I would
    get the same non-judgmental care as physical conditions get. I wish mental
    disorders would be regarded as naturally as my boot and swollen toe.

    I fervently hope that one day we will be talking about mental illness like
    any other physical health condition. It will be treated with the same care
    and respect that physical conditions such as high blood pressure or
    diabetes get. And, lastly, I look forward to the day where we find the
    courage to talk and share about our journey with mental illness and get the
    support, encouragement and care that we deserve.

  • Elisheva Halle

    Member
    June 30, 2020 at 5:05 am

    Hi Passion for Writing! I feel your pain; it’s hard to be going through something big in your life and not to be able to share it with others. I recall that when I had a very difficult pregnancy many years ago, I had to say ‘no’ to a request from a neighbor (it was not obvious that I was pregnant) and it was so hard not to be able to tell anyone about it, plus it really taught me that you never know what someone is going through behind closed doors.

    I’m wondering which magazine you submitted this to. It could be it got rejected since the topic you brought up is a heated one; many people will say it’s better to keep mental illness hush hush not to reflect badly on the family (although personally, I think it’s crucial to have friends or mentors to talk to about mental illness, otherwise a person could go crazy keeping everything bottled up). Happens to be, I also know families who prefer not to talk about physical conditions either, probably for the same reason.  But I hear the message you are conveying 100%- that it’s time to destigmatize mental illness and for people to realize that having it doesn’t mean someone is crazy- it happens to the sweetest, most normal people, just like a physical condition could.

    In terms of the writing, when I read this, I am curious to know more (maybe it’s just me since I enjoy talking to people about their internal struggles). I want to hear more about your mental health struggles. I would love to see this piece written more in short story form, or in a short reflection that involves more scenes showing what you mean rather than telling it.

    For example, you can portray the scene of you talking to your coworkers through dialogue, and then create a sentence describing your feelings. Then, you can write something like (a suggestion)

    After everyone’s well wishes, I noticed my heart sinking. My mind traveled back to the day before when I couldn’t make it out of bed to come to work and had no one to confide in…

    and then continue to talk about your mental health challenge, and lastly end off with a sentence that shows how your feelings are still, as of yet, unresolved, since you cannot talk to your co workers, or anybody, about your mental health struggles.

    I hope this was helpful! Hatzlacha! I hope you are able to publish this and continue to fight the war on destigmatizing mental illness!

  • Fayge Y.

    Member
    June 30, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    There are some technical issues too:

    I was a bit embarrassed to wear such a clunky shoe and was feeling quite
    apprehensive in anticipation for the comments that I would inevitably get,
    but I prepared myself mentally and felt like I could “greet” the many well-
    wishes I would receive.

    Every writing expert I’ve heard says use fewer words if possible. So you might want to say, “Wearing such a clunky shoe was embarrassing. And I was apprehensive about the comments that etc.” You might find other ways to tighten it up.

    And while you’re doing that, did anything Elisheva said resonate? (You don’t have to answer for us, but do for yourself.) You might add a few lines, restructure, etc. It’s an important message and your physical experience is a good metaphor. (Or whatever.)

     

    Now, you see, I probably wouldn’t inwardly groan from the care and
    concern, but this experience was very different. It touched on a very raw
    and sensitive nerve that I wish I can directly express to them. I wish I can
    freely talk to my colleagues about my mental health struggles. I wish I can
    express myself without fear of being judged or stigmatized.

    In this paragraph you switch off between can and would. I personally would change all the “can”s to “could”s.

    OK, once you’ve done the best writing,

     

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    June 30, 2020 at 11:45 pm

    Thank you both to Elisheva and Fayge!

    I really appreciate your (gentle) feedback and I do agree with switching it to “could”s and that less words make it sound solid and better.

    I also really liked both suggestions of making it into a short story or using dialogue. I’m not so familiar with writing short stories, so I’m wondering how long you would say it should be.

    And yes, Elisheva, your words really resonate with me. I actually did tell one colleague about my experiences, and she took it so well; so nonjudgmental and so warm! I felt so cared for (because my tears were threatening to come out). If I remember correctly, I submitted it to the Ami magazine.

    While we’re at it, I’m noticing (for a while already) that I confuse my verb tenses and am often not sure which tense to use. Like for example, on the second line, I wrote “I really appreciated your (gentle) feedback..”, should appreciate be in past tense as in ‘appreciated’ or ‘appreciate’ as in present tense? And the same with the 2nd line – I also really liked...

    Thank you so much!

  • Fayge Y.

    Member
    July 1, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    [quote quote=19646]Thank you both to Elisheva and Fayge! I really appreciate your (gentle) feedback and I do agree with switching it to “could”s and that less words make it sound solid and better. I also really liked both suggestions of making it into a short story or using dialogue. I’m not so familiar with writing short stories, so I’m wondering how long you would say it should be. And yes, Elisheva, your words really resonate with me. I actually did tell one colleague about my experiences, and she took it so well; so nonjudgmental and so warm! I felt so cared for (because my tears were threatening to come out). If I remember correctly, I submitted it to the Ami magazine. While we’re at it, I’m noticing (for a while already) that I confuse my verb tenses and am often not sure which tense to use. Like for example, on the second line, I wrote “I really appreciated your (gentle) feedback..”, should appreciate be in past tense as in ‘appreciated’ or ‘appreciate’ as in present tense? And the same with the 2nd line – I also really liked... Thank you so much![/quote]

    This was informal devorim hayotzim min halev; any way is fine.

    Though I do notice that if I’m writing in a forum for writers, I am often more careful about writing clearly (I can be oblique; I type too fast and hit send faster) and about stuff like grammar, etc.

  • Ellie

    Member
    July 12, 2020 at 6:32 am

    I like how your story of an ingrown toenail connected to your point about de-stigmatizing mental health. It was a raw and painful read.

    I personally enjoy  (the writing anyways, I’m sorry about the toenail!) hearing more of a story analogy over physical comparisons to mental illness,  so this was a refreshing angle to hear it from, and caught my interest quicker. Sometimes I compare going through a mental illness to having cancer or an emotional version of it. Although I have not suffered from C BH, so I don’t know if I can truthfully compare it.

    I’m working on a story now called “I didn’t plan for this”, which tackles this comparison to cancer in a way but not addressing stigma necessarily, more about the suicide and death angle to bring a strong parallel. If that sounds confusing, it is:) The story line only came into my head yesterday, so now I need to write it out.

  • Ellie

    Member
    July 12, 2020 at 6:38 am

    PS-I have found that Mishpacha Family First is more receptive than other magazines to controversial topics, including mental health. It may be your best bet if you are considering submitting articles in this area. I was pleasantly shocked when they accepted an article on it, and it encouraged me to submit more work.

  • Esther

    Member
    July 12, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    Hey Ellie, sounds like such a great topic!  Can’t wait to read it…

    And thanks for letting us know.  I get the feeling that Ami is also more open to those things.

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 13, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    Sorry, it’s been a few days since I looked at this. Yes, the Mishpacha is open for controversy and I think the Binah is open as well. They’re (the Binah) actually serializing someone’s experience with Mental illness, namely Bipolar, and I’m loving it!

    Your idea sounds great!

  • Esther

    Member
    July 13, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    Right.  I think that Binah likes to give a more filtered, conservative take on those topics, compared to other publications.  So I guess it’s about figuring out how you want to write your piece and then seeing which mag it will work for…

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 13, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    Yeah.

    I don’t know if you read my article, but I’m wondering which magazine (mishpacha or binah) it would fit into.

  • Esther

    Member
    July 13, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    It’s very neutral, I think it could work for either.  Maybe try Binah first?

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 13, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    Yeah, maybe. The thing is that it was published in the Jewish Press, so I don’t know if that would work… err!

  • Esther

    Member
    July 13, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    Maybe write it in a dif genre but the same idea, like fiction/non-fiction short story, diary, poetry…

  • PassionforWriting

    Member
    July 14, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    That’s true, though I think I might just call them and ask them if I can change it around and then send it. Thanks!

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