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Disorder or superhero?

How do you talk to yourself about yourself?

Out in the world, you might be someone with a disorder. But what do you tell yourself about your brain and who you are? How do we navigate a world in which it’s sometimes useful and necessary to think our ourselves as having a disorder — and then drop that label when it’s not empowering?

I was lucky in some ways because I got labeled “gifted” when I was a kid. Some of my ADHD behaviors were (accurately) attributed to the fact that I was bored in school. But being a gifted kid didn’t explain why I was being bullied or why I struggled with simple tasks. It was a good label for making me feel powerful but it was a poor map for navigating the reality of my life.READ MORE

Why is this novel about mental health?

If you read the interview over at GayYA, you’ll know I wrote My Year Zero in honor of my first girlfriend. (If you haven’t read the interview, feel free, I’ll wait.) When I met her we were both 16, both Scorpios (born nine days apart), both dark-haired and bright-eyed. And both struggling with our mental health.

She was the first person I’d met who was forthright about having a diagnosis. From my perspective, she was totally cool about it. (From her perspective, I’m sure it felt a lot less cool.) She had bipolar disorder and was on meds for it and would talk about it openly. She was also great at listening to me without judgment and without a lot of advice.

To understand how important this was to me, let me tell you a bit of my story. Bipolar’s not my disorder — ADHD is (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Despite the name, ADHD isn’t just about paying attention. It’s a change in how the brain’s executive functions work that pervades areas of focus, engagement, social cues, emotional regulation, impulsivity and hyperactivity.READ MORE

My next book’s cover has been revealed

The header at the top of the site gives a hint of it, but for the whole cover for My Year Zero, head over to GayYA. (There’s also an interview with all kinds of info about the new book.)

If you want to kept in the loop, sign up for my newsletter (over on the right-hand side of the page) or bookmark the My Year Zero page on this site. I’ll be updating that with new info periodically.

Also for fans of Just Girls and Being Emily, there is a sequel in the works but this isn’t it. In 2017 we’ll return to the stories of Tucker and Nico. In the mean time, I think you’ll find a lot to like in My Year Zero.

 

Being Emily discussion questions and resources

Thanks to the wonderful people over at RECLAIM for coming up with these questions and providing a training for their book circle facilitators. Please check out RECLAIM’s website and don’t hesitate to contact them with questions or support if you want to host a book circle in your community. RECLAIM works to increase access to mental health support so that queer and trans youth may reclaim their lives from oppression in all its forms.READ MORE

Just Girls wins Goldie Award (and that’s not even the best part!)

I had a wonderful time at this year’s Golden Crown Literary Society conference — even before the awards ceremony. Meeting Dorothy Allison and Rita Mae Brown was fantastic! I first read both of them at 16-19 when I was coming out and starting college. They both impacted my writing and seeing them speak reminded me of all the reasons they’re amazing and I should keep aspiring to follow the paths they blazed.READ MORE

144 trans people we should talk about more than we talk about Caitlyn Jenner

Media stars and public figures coming out can be great for trans visibility, and I suspect it takes boatloads of courage to come out in a hugely public way no matter who you are. But I’m getting tired of seeing a news feed that’s all pics of Caitlyn Jenner, so here are some alternatives:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nongthoomfairtex.jpg

Parinya Charoenpho on whose life the film “Beautiful Boxer” is based — go watch the film!

 

This wonderful list of 10 trans icons from around the world, including Parinya Charoenphol (and if you have not seen the film about her life, “Beautiful Boxer,” run to Netflix and watch it): http://www.towleroad.com/2015/06/10-trans-icons.html

Deva Ozenen who is running for a parliament seat in Turkey: http://www.naijapromo.net/2015/06/meet-transgender-woman-who-wants-to.html

Manabi Banerjee, India’s first trans college principal: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/india-transgender-college-principal-150527080214140.htmlREAD MORE

Gaming, writing & mental health – I’m teaching at The Loft!

In August, I get to play games and talk about brains while teaching* teens at The Loft.  (* and by “teaching” I mean tossing out really cool ideas and watching the class make them more awesome.)

shinybrain_writingwithADHD

My shiny ADD/Anxiety brain is so like this … except when it isn’t. How’s your brain?

I’m deeply excited about this for a few reasons:

  • Gaming + writing = super fun writing
  • Gaming with teens = radical creativity at play
  • I haven’t taught teens before, but I have taught lawyers and teens have to be immeasurably more fun (with apologies to my lawyer friends)
  • My next YA novel (out spring of 2016) includes radical ideas about mental health (like the fact that sometimes the person with the disorder is the perfect person for you to date)
  • It took me at least 10 years to figure out how to work with my brain to get novels written and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned and hear what works for other people

READ MORE

Kimchi for the innocent, the timid and the neurotic

Adapted from the Yummy Kimchi recipe suggested to me by Allison Moon and the recipe in “Brain Maker” by Dr. David Perlmutter. Altered to be more digestible to people who can’t tolerate FODMAP foods (like me) by removing all onions, leeks, scallions, garlic and the like. If you’re on a very strict FODMAP-avoidant diet, do not use the jicama either. (If you don’t know what that means, you probably don’t have to worry about it.)READ MORE