Daily WTF: Get Me Out of Here by Rachel Reiland

This photo is property of Hazelden.

This photo is property of Hazelden.

Someone close to me has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is having a particularly hard downward cycle. I’ve been doing what I can to help them but am running out of ideas, so I decided to actually do some research instead of relying on my haphazard and firsthand knowledge of mental illness. I pulled all the books I could find from my library, and the first one that came in was Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder by Rachel Reiland. Thus, I read it first.

This book is horrific.

Books can be horrific. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov both come to mind, but they’re horrific in different ways. Get Me Out of Here is horrific because it presents an entirely false account of Borderline Personality Disorder while simultaneously promising that there is a cure and that cure is being wholly dependent on a psychiatrist/therapist and surrendering yourself to God.

During the course of the book, Rachel (not her real name) suddenly and sharply spirals into classic BPD symptoms including a love-hate relationship with her family, self-harm, and anger episodes. She ends up being hospitalized and while there meets Dr. Padgett (not his real name), a psychiatrist who, after a 10 minute conversation with her, immediately diagnoses all of her problems and wins her trust. Thus begins a 449-page journey towards recovery.

While this book was written in 2002 and Rachel supposedly began her recovery process in 1992, that doesn’t excuse the fact that nothing in this book sounds like BPD or realistic therapy and recovery. Rachel exhibits every single symptom of someone with BPD and develops every single side effect of the medication she tries. She apparently remembers verbatim what Dr. Padgett says to her and how she behaves on any given day – ten years later. Despite how extremely embarrassing it would be to relate, she has no problem telling us about the time she essentially masturbated in front of her therapist and goes into graphic detail about her sex dream about him. She spends the entire book idolizing Dr. Padgett, fantasizing that he’s her father, and he goes to great lengths to tell her that he is. He conveniently has a son and daughter just like she does so that he can directly relate to her troubles. She never discusses her physical ailments or how taxing and frustrating and painful it is to figure out what cocktail of medications work for her. In fact, after about three years of therapy, she is able to get off her medications entirely without any complications (including withdrawal). She conveniently finds God just as she’s reaching a turning point in her therapy. Everything about her story is oh-so-convenient. It’s unbelievable. She’s unbelievable. This story is unbelievable.

As I read it, I kept trying to see the person I know with BPD in this book. I tried to insert their symptoms, their history, and their problems. I couldn’t find them. The only thing that even remotely seemed like them was the BPD criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that Rachel inserted on page 119 – 121. But, given that they have BPD, that’s not surprising.

I am wholly convinced that this book was either partially or completely fabricated by someone in the psychiatric field. It is too pat, too convenient, too nuanced in the disease, and too blank in the supposed author’s personality. It smacks of insincerity and artificiality.

You have no idea how angry this book makes me. According to the back, it is “A lifeline if you suffer from borderline personality disorder; A godsend for your loved ones.” And yet it doesn’t portray someone with BPD as a real person with real problems. It offers nothing concrete with how someone should deal with BPD. It is sensationalism at its best, and it’s offering false hope. Worst of all, it’s portraying people with BPD as some kind of uncontrollable, ugly monster. It makes me sick.

So I do not recommend this book. I don’t recommend it to anyone with BPD or a loved one with BPD or even someone that wants to read a mental illness memoir. My only recommendation is if you find this book, throw it in the trash and set it on fire. Kindling is all it’s good for.


Daily WTF: Elegy for a Dead World

elegyforadeadworldlogoOver the past six months, I’ve been getting back into computer games through Steam, an online game platform. It’s pretty cool. It has thousands of different games to play, including many indie ones and ones that are just so outside the main stream that there’s no reason for almost anyone to buy it. One such game is Elegy for a Dead World. According to the description, “In Elegy, you’ll travel to three worlds and write stories about their long-dead societies. You’ll lose yourself in settings inspired by the works of poets Keats, Byron, and Shelley, and use the game’s system of writing prompts to help create your own masterpieces.”

As a writer and overall lover of the classics, I was instantly excited about this game. I love incorporating writing into video and computing games, and I’ve long wanted a game based on a poet (I’ve been joking about creating ones for Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare for years.). One of my favorite online games is a typing game that has you type excerpts from famous writers, most notably H.P. Lovecraft. As you increase in speed and accuracy, the words scroll by faster and are placed more dynamically around the screen, adding difficulty. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what the game is called and haven’t been able to find it for some time. I was hopeful that Elegy would be similar or would at least stimulate and engage me in similar ways.

elegy-441.4055Unfortunately, Elegy is the kind of game a 14-year-old girl with a LiveJournal account would enjoy – and I mean that in the least flattering way possible. The graphics are stunning with an arresting color palette and smooth game play, but there’s not actually any game play. There are three worlds to choose from and each world has multiple writing prompts. You choose one and then go into the world and walk or fly right. Whenever you chance upon a feather, you click Tab and get a prompt. Then you publish it. That’s it. You don’t fight anyone while writing. Your writing doesn’t influence the world in any way. You aren’t penalized if you miss a writing prompt. You aren’t competing with other players to create more dynamic pieces. The prompts don’t create new landscapes (So you’re in the exact same landscape for every prompt – it’s just a new prompt.). You write one story and you’ve pretty much “beaten” the game.

There was a time when I could have loved this game, but that time was 15 years ago when I didn’t know how to write, what to write, or where to find inspiration. That’s what I mean when I say Elegy would be good for a teenage girl with a LiveJournal. It would give her something to focus on and channel her writing urges. It would encourage her to publish her work for others to see. It would get her to practice writing and become better in the process. But for a late twenty-something with more than enough on her plate, it’s boring, time-consuming, and a bit juvenile. Pass.

* All images copyright Dejobaan.

Finding My Place at PRIDE

20150627_124100_resizedRecently, I attended my first PRIDE event, the local PRIDE Festival that is now in its eighth year. I’d been thinking about attending all week, but with the Supreme Court’s historic decision to legalize same-sex marriage across the US, I knew I had to attend. I wanted to do something to show my support for the community, to try to actually be a part of the community, and to celebrate SCOTUS’ decision with the community.

Although I’ve dated and been in love with my girlfriend for about seven years now, I still have trouble reconciling myself as a member of the queer community. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never liked labels and prefer to just be myself, whatever that may be. Perhaps it’s because for most of my life I’ve “passed” as heteronormative/thought of myself as heteronormative. Perhaps it’s because I never grew up feeling persecuted for my orientation and don’t have the common experiences that bind together the queer community. Perhaps it’s because I still feel as though I’m straight and have simply fallen in love with a girl. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never dated much (read: “at all). Perhaps it’s because I grew up in Texas, which to this day does not have the most friendly or accepting attitude towards members of the queer community. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the ‘90s and early thousands when the queer community was in hiding and a joke and to be queer was a fate worse than death. There are so many “perhap’s.”

Whatever the reason (and I’m sure it’s variegated and psychologically interesting), the fact is that I don’t necessarily think of myself as part of the visual queer community. Individuals and issues, sure, I’m right in line, but the more visual section that includes PRIDE festivals and parades, alternative hairstyles and make-up choices, and pageantry and pomp just aren’t my thing. Part of it is that I just don’t like attention. I enjoy praise and want to make my opinions and creations known (you are reading my blog), but I don’t want attention. Another part is that for many years I didn’t understand the need for parts of the queer community to want to develop their own sub-culture with their own speech patterns, dress, and actions. I’ve never understood the stereotypes that depict gay men as a certain way, lesbians as another way, and transgenders as a third. As I’ve grown and learned more about the community and other marginalized ones, I’ve come to realize that this pushback is important for oppressed groups. It’s a way of creating a safe, inviolable space that can help people relax, be themselves, share their past traumas, and find supportive networks. Since being queer isn’t as visible as being black or a little person or an immigrant (or etc., etc., etc.), the queer community needed to develop something visible to show the world they existed, they loved themselves, they will support themselves, and that others are welcome. It’s an important movement, and one that I’m glad exists, but I’m still not sure if I have a place in it.

As what it means to be queer has grown and changed, I’ve begun to find my place in the community. Comics like these two from cartoonist Erika Moen have helped me understand how okay it is to question your sexuality and place in the community. Web sites like this one from the Asexual Visibility & Education Network (AVEN) have helped me find a community of my own. Even Tumblr, despite its histrionic and toxic elements, has been invaluable in learning who I am and how I express myself. I try to take minor risks like speaking openly about my support of the community and my girlfriend, even to the kids and elderly that I work with. It is a slow, sometimes embarrassing process, but I am getting there.

Photo taken from: http://bmages.com

Photo taken from:

However, I’d never attended a PRIDE event before. Yes, I’d gone to drag shows and queer bars, but I’d never attended a festival or parade. I’ve seen pictures, usually of people energetically waving rainbow flags and drag kings and queens dancing in the street. I’ve seen this amazing picture of Sir Ian McKellan going under the name “Serena McKellen.” But I’ve never gone and I wanted to. So with girlfriend and friend in tow, I went.

The event was both disappointing and a relief. The disappointing aspect was that there wasn’t much to do at it, there wasn’t a parade, and the organizers weren’t as energetic, upbeat, and hands-on as they really should have been. It was pretty much like any other street fair I’d been to but with a lot more rainbow flags and a few more drag queens. Arguably the best part of the day was when one of the organizers, a very energetic and vocal man, got up to announce the Adult Prom they were doing for, “All of you who, ten years ago, didn’t know they could take whoever they wanted to prom and celebrate who they love, this is for you!” He also went on to talk about the Supreme Court’s decision and what it meant, and the crowd cheered and cheered and cheered. It was wonderful.

The flip side is how comfortable I and hundreds of other people felt being with our partners and being ourselves. Recently, I’ve begun to pay attention to the couples I see when my girlfriend and I are out. I scour the many clasped hands, giddy kisses, and small touches to find same-sex couples, but I almost never do. At the PRIDE Festival, that was almost all I saw. Overwhelmingly, the couples were either same-sex or queer. I loved getting to see the two men with matching man-buns leaning against each other. I loved seeing the elderly transgender couple in bright lipstick and hair dye laughing and touching each other. I loved the black gay couple that protected a shivering puppy in their coat and took pictures. I loved the casual assurance of the two girls holding hands as they walked down the street. I loved the young transwoman who had gotten all dressed up today, perhaps for the first time ever, and looked so beautiful. It was so nice to see, and it filled and soothed a part of me I hadn’t known was aching.

Given the relative disappointment of the event itself, I don’t know if I’ll attend it again next year (I just don’t see the point in attending boring events.). But I’d like to begin exploring more queer-friendly spaces. I’d like to tap into that community more. I’d like to see people relaxed in a safe space. And I’d like to get more comfortable with myself as a queer person. After more than seven years struggling to figure out who and what I am, I’m finally ready to go out and explore. It’s a relief.


To quote Abed from Community, I often think that we live in “the darkest timeline.” Racism is turned into an academic discussion in order to avoid real change and soul-searching. Dead children are held up as reasons why we should issue everyone a gun. People are called leeches for wanting health care and birth control. Hundreds of girls can be sold into sexual slavery, and we’ll ignore it to argue about a dress color. Hate is seen as common sense. The world can be a dark and terrifying place, and it usually seems like things are just going to get worse.

Until today. For the first time in a very long time, the future seems brighter, and it’s all because today, Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the ban on same-sex marriage, making same sex marriage legal in the United States. Same sex couples can now marry in the United States.

11430384_862214720522126_1495652013061409004_oIf you could see my Facebook feed right now, you’d see nothing but a sea of exuberance and rainbows. You’d see this cartoon by Dr. James MacLeod. You’d see news stories of the first gay couples to get their marriage license in Texas, South Dakota, and Kentucky. You’d seen prospective brides telling you how happy they are that they can marry their fiancée legally on their wedding day. You’d see my co-worker holding up a sign to her wife that reads, “Will you legally marry me?” You’d see pictures of President Obama quoted as saying, “Today we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect.” You’d see pictures of Korra and Asami from Legends of Korra with the hashtag #LoveWins under them. You’d see people advertising their services for weddings and events. You’d see people joking about how they need to come up with excuses to miss twice as many weddings now. In a word, you would see people celebrating.

Same Sex in USI cannot tell you how happy I am with this ruling, not just as a member of the queer community and a supporter of equal rights, but also as an American citizen. I am so proud of my country for choosing to do the right thing and extend equal rights to all of its citizens. I am so excited about what this means for us as a nation. I have never in my life been this proud to be American.

But I have to remind everyone that the work is not yet over. Some courts in some states may still try to uphold bans on same-sex marriages, necessitating lengthy and costly lawsuits. Most states still do not have comprehensive non-discriminatory laws, which mean some queer people can be fired or evicted Monday for celebrating this landmark decision. Bathroom bills attempting to limit transgender people are still being introduced in numerous states. Perhaps this particular battle has been won, but there are still many others left to tackle. So celebrate today, and go to the PRIDE events that are everywhere this weekend, but remember that on Monday we have to roll up our sleeves and get back to work. There is still much to do.

Adventures in Links June 26, 2015

Photo taken from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/100416266668292776/

Photo taken from:
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/ 100416266668292776/

A few fun links that I stumbled across this week. Enjoy!

I really enjoyed this article from Salon entitled, “Fox News Must Be Stopped: Why Its Charleston Coverage Has Finally Gone Too Far.” It does an excellent job of elucidating why Fox News is harmful and why we need to continually, systematically, calmly, and loudly call out and rebut them.

This is another great article, “Jurassic World Is a Huge Mega-Hit, and That’s Terrible News for Movies.” It discusses a lot of my fears and dissatisfactions with Jurassic World and many of the big blockbuster films that have been coming out with increasing frequency.

Bless you, How It Should Have Ended, for making Avengers: Age of Ultron tolerable by telling us how it should have ended. Click here to see parts one and two.

And for those of you that always shipped Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, guess what?

Daily WTF: J.K. Rowling Refusing to Let Harry Potter Speak for Itself

In July 2007, J.K. Rowling published the final book in her Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was a highly anticipated book that had people wondering what the hell the Horcruxes were, what a Deathly Hallow was, whether or not Snape was actually a decent guy, how Harry would defeat Voldemort, and if old J.K. would live up to the promises in her series. It was also, some of us naively thought, the signal that we could finally, finally move past Harry Potter and on with our lives. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

While I could get into the seventh book’s manifold problems and the numerous issues people had with it, what I really want to talk about is J.K.’s weird need to rewrite her own series and keep herself in the spotlight. She started doing this almost immediately upon the series’ conclusion, starting with her bombshell that Dumbledore was actually gay through her weird announcement that she wished she’d paired up Harry and Hermione to the most recent development that the Dursleys were abusive to Harry because James once teased Vernon. And don’t forget that she’s writing a new screenplay based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and that Pottermore, the online Harry Potter world simulation, is still chugging along.

I know that millions of people loved and still love Harry Potter, but J.K. really needs to stop. I cannot think of a single other modern author (or past author) who spends so much time publically revising her work – especially since it’s been published. It feels desperate and grasping and is doing very little to help the canon. Hardcore fans on Tumblr and FanFiction.net are wondering why she has to ruin the most solidly balanced relationship in the franchise, why she’s depicting Ron as a chubby loser, why she couldn’t include some of this information in her actual books, and why she just won’t let them enjoy her work. It’s starting to seem as though she resents the thousands of works of fanfiction out there and wants to be the only person who can talk about, write about, or theorize about her work. It seems selfish.

As a writer, we’re taught that at some point you have to let your work go. You have to stop tinkering with it because you’re eventually going to start messing it up. You have to sit back and let it speak for itself because if it can’t, it simply isn’t a good piece. For a decade, Harry Potter spoke for itself, and while the series may have developed more and more problems with each subsequent book, the world was still intact and still magical. J.K. needs to let it be magical. She needs to let the books speak more than she is. And if she’s not happy, why doesn’t she just write a new book? Fans would love that and it would re-cement her status as a writer and not someone constantly demanding attention. I know I’d appreciate it.

Daily WTF: Confederate Flag Pride

One of the first issues people pressed following the murder of Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurt, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Reverend Dr. Daniel L. Simmons Sr., Ethel Lance, Myra Thompson, and Susie Jackson on June 17 was the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse. This was especially important as Dylann Roof, the man who murdered the Mother Emanuel Nine, attached several pictures of himself with a Confederate flag when he posted his racist manifesto.

The Confederate flag can be seen in two ways: first, as a symbol of racism and hatred and, second, as a symbol of history. However, it’s undeniable that there is a correlation between racism and the Confederate flag. Although it was not the official flag of the Confederacy, it was the battle flag of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, it was the flag Civil War veterans used most often, it was the flag the segregationist Dixiecrat party adopted, it was incorporated as part of Georgia’s state flag in response to the Supreme Court’s ban on segregation, it is commonly used by several chapters of the Ku Klux Klan, and it is often flown or worn by those that commit racist and hateful acts. It has also been burned into African-Americans’ consciousness that this is a symbol of hate and oppression.

However, it doesn’t really hold up as a piece of history. One man, Ben Jones of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, says, “When you ask me what it symbolizes, it symbolizes, in a personal way, the courage and the valor of my ancestors, who in their time did what they believed was the right thing to do.” However, seceding from the Union because you wanted to keep slavery was not the right thing to do. Slavery was (and in many places, still is) a horrible, horrible practice that can never be redeemed no matter how often you watch Gone with the Wind or fantasize about crinoline-rich dresses. If it is wrong to idealize our ancestors who were part of the Nazi Party or the KGB, it should be wrong to idealize those that fought for the Confederacy (And it is.).

Americans are proud and stubborn, and we want to keep doing what we do without any outside interference even if our actions are despicable. However, we need to come to terms with our past and present and start looking beyond our personal wants and desires. The Civil War was bloody and vicious, slavery was the worst action our country has ever committed, and the Confederate flag is a symbol of both. We need to accept that, and we need to start making amends. I’m not suggesting reparations (which is a topic for a different day), but I do suggest that we stop romanticizing the antebellum South and what Confederate soldiers fought for. I for one am glad that lawmakers all across the US are calling for the removal of the Confederate flag and other Confederacy symbols from government places, but I also hope that this will get people talking and thinking about them in more critical, empathetic ways because if we don’t, we’re never going to change the racial climate in this country and more Charleston Massacres will happen.

Guest Post: On Publishing Journal Articles

Quite a good article about publishing journal articles — very thorough.

The Junto

Guest Poster C. Dallett Hemphill is Professor of History at Ursinus College. She is also Editor of Early American Studies, which is published by the University of Pennsylvania Press for the McNeil Center for Early American Studies.

275_dallettI’m grateful to The Junto blog for inviting me to discuss how to publish a journal article. Although the views that follow are my own and the details of the process vary somewhat from journal to journal, I know from conversations with other editors that there is consensus on the essentials.

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