In any given year, one in four Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental illness-and yet there is still a significant stigma attached to being labeled as "mentally ill." We hear about worst-case scenarios, but in many-maybe even most-cases, there is much room for hope. These frank, often intimate stories reflect the writers' struggles to overcome-both as professionals and as individuals, as current therapists and as former patients-the challengespresented by depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, and other mental disorders. These dramatic narratives communicate clearly the rewards of helping patients move forward with their lives, often through a combination of medication, talk therapy, and common sense. Collectively, these true stories highlight the need for empathy and compassion between therapist and patient, and argue for a system that encourages human connection rather than diagnosis by checklist.
Lee Gutkind is the author or editor of numerous books and nonfiction anthologies about the medical and mental health communities, including Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation; Stuck in Time: The Tragedy of Childhood Mental Illness; At the End of Life: True Stories About How We Die; I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse ; and Writing Away the Stigma: Ten Courageous Writers Tell True Stories About Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Addiction, ADHD, OCD, PTSD, and More. His stories and op-ed pieces about mental illness and related issues have appeared in The New York Times and National Public Radio. He is the founding editor of Creative Nonfiction magazine and the Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University.