Practicing Mental Illness
Practices to manage crazy in a crazy world.
Practicing Mental Illness is a guide to using meditation, movement and meaningful work to help manage affective disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety.
Not a typical book on mindfulness, it acknowledges where mindfulness practices as taught today can be helpful, and where methods and teachings in popular mindfulness can be very damaging to people with mental illness. George Hofmann has written a subversive self-help book, which acknowledges that our society’s low expectations of people with behavioral challenges contribute to the development of mental illness. He gives the reader the necessary tools to take responsibility to get well and stay well. In the end, Practicing Mental Illness presents a method that can help people with affective disorders predict oncoming mood changes and intervene to head off damaging emotions and maintain a balance of positive mental, and physical, health.
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Practicing Mental Illness is a riveting account of the author's struggles with bipolar disorder and the incredible steps he took to manage the symptoms. By candidly sharing his story, George Hofmann takes the reader on a roller coaster ride through the extreme emotional highs and lows of the disease. Despite many setbacks, and the devastating toll it had on his personal and professional relationships, Hofmann didn't give up. He kept taking small and specific actions to move forward and ultimately change the trajectory of his life. Beautifully written, this inspirational book has the power to help so many who are suffering alone to find hope and build a life of meaning, resilience and connection during the toughest of times. ~ Suzie Pileggi Pawelski, MAPP, coauthor of "Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts"
Practicing Mental Illness is a remarkable work. A real, honest, and positively inspiring life guide. It not only helps us to better understand how various forms of mental illness truly affect us, but is a practical workbook filled with effective techniques and habits that we can use to better manage our moods, behaviors, and finally live free. As someone who has personally struggled with depression and PTSD for years, George’s book is a sobering, refreshing, and hope-filled reality check that makes it clear that we not only need to accept responsibility for getting better, but put in the work. Practicing Mental Illness is a comforting reassurance and everyday handbook that we can use to not only be well but live a full and thriving life. I highly recommend it to anyone that has, or has a loved one struggling with mental illness. This book can help when applied. I know this because it has helped me. ~ David Pasqualone, Host, The Remarkable People Podcast
George Hofmann does a masterful job in integrating many tools for peace of mind and heart. Including mindfulness and meditation practice he dives deeply into the causes of stress and how to dissolve them. The book is filled with practical tools to apply as well as theory and discussion of many important points. I highly recommend this wonderful work. ~ Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D., Psychologist. long term Zen practitioner - New Moon Zendo
George Hofmann has written a powerful book. Who’s it for? He tells us right up front: “anyone with an affective disorder like anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.” (That’s an audience that is far greater than we might commonly realize. His title announces the three elements in his strategy. To meditation he adds “movement,” which means doing regular exercise (even including kick-boxing and Japanese fencing) along with., no surprise, finding meaningful work. Hofmann knows whereof he speaks. He is frank and candid in his listing of various moments of mental illness with which he has struggled, including suicide attempts. He admits to having done “reprehensible things”. And he reminds us early on that “I still take my meds and probably always will.” In a good first step, he recognizes that psychology can play a crucial part in one’s healing. George learned with time to distinguish what he was from what he had. He had a bi-polar disorder, but that disease didn’t define him. He retained his sense of himself as an individual. Another sign of Hofmann’s good sense is that he labels his approach to meditation as a form of “secular mindfulness.” He has a refreshingly iconoclastic view of current practice of mindfulness. This first-hand expert objects to it for, “It’s too self-oriented.” He condemns current practice an as “elevation of the self,” which simply serves to “[reinforce] our ideal of the individual as the agent of their own well-being.” That’s what “predominates our culture” and may in fact “be a prime cause of suffering. Self-absorption only drowns us in more pain. His view of meditation is far more flexible. Playing a role in that long-term commitment can be a “meditation journal”. It can be used to record not just the ideas that spring up, but also one’s bodily responses to those insights. Making use of such a journal, he assures us, that “won’t disturb the meditative process,” and it can be productive “to write down [a revelatory] moment.” What Hofmann offers is a thorough introduction to some truly life-enhancing procedures and attitudes. ~ Jamieson Spencer, author, "Fictional Religion"; "Modified Raptures"