Our author Rebecca Chamaa, who has been featured in major national media outlets such as People, Teen Vogue, Good Housekeeping The Fix, Ravishly: Byrdie, OC87RecoveryDiaries, and The Mighty released a highly anticipated new book titled “A Guided Mental Illness Journal & Workbook: Build Confidence and Coping Skills” this week. Following her previous book “PILLS, POETRY & PROSE: Life with Schizophrenia,” our author Rebecca Chamaa wrote this workbook with the aim to help people who live with mental illness find a better quality of life. Rebecca is here today to tell us more about herself and this amazing workbook!
1. Tell us about your workbook.
I created the workbook with people like me in mind. People who have symptoms like a lack of motivation, or have shaky self-confidence from dealing with the stigma of severe mental illness. The people who have seen it though, and who don’t have a mental illness, tell me it is good for them as well. I guess everyone could benefit from some writing prompts, creative exercises, and tasks to build self-esteem.
2. How did you get diagnosed with schizophrenia?
My diagnosis story spans a couple of decades. At twenty-seven or eight years old, I had a psychotic episode and doctors diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. Over ten years later, (after several more psychotic episodes) doctors change the diagnosis to paranoid schizophrenia. Severe mental illnesses can be similar in a lot of ways. But, I am confident, my doctors are treating me for the correct illness now.
3. Why do write about schizophrenia?
I write about schizophrenia because we (those of us with schizophrenia) have so few everyday examples of people living their best lives with the disease. In the media, we so often see the stereotypes of a genius, a mass killer, or a lovable clown. Those stereotypes are worn out, and many people are tired of never seeing people like them portrayed accurately in books or on screen. I am a regular woman, with real hopes, dreams, relationships, and challenges. I know many people with schizophrenia, and we are as unremarkable as the person standing next to you at a concert or the grocery store.
4. What is important about supporting other writers?
I love supporting other writers and artists. I am particularly passionate about supporting artists with a mental illness. Frequently we are overlooked, and our stories are often told by parents or children who lived with a parent with a mental illness. I want to see our personal stories. I want to see more and more voices and faces of the severely mentally ill. We are capable of defining our own stories. Our voices are important.
5. What can we expect in the workbook?
The workbook has sixty days (enough time to build a habit) of writing exercises, and tasks to complete. I struggle with motivation and self-confidence, so I thought about how on a daily basis I try to trick my mind into overcoming these obstacles. Of course, anyone can buy and work through the guided journal/workbook, but I thought about the things that help me, and I wanted to share those with people who may have the same challenges I do.
6. How has your experience been with ETP?
My experience with ETP is something that is unfolding. We work as a team to get the book ready for print, printed, and then there is the ongoing marketing and cheerleading that goes on. They support me as a writer and constantly look for opportunities to promote my book, and I work with them in this effort. It is fun, exciting and rewarding to watch this process and relationship develop. If you want to know if I would recommend them, the answer is, yes.