How to Weep in Public – Jacqueline Novak

How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows – Jacqueline Novak

How to Weep in Public book review - In this snarky tongue-in-cheek guide on how to be 'properly' depressed, you'll be laughing at some points and shaking your head at others .. because you know what Novak is talking about. As you read, it's almost like Novak is reading to you because this book is so full of personality.


Where to start? On pg 2 Novak is already telling us,

“I definitely won’t try to cure you… No false promises of a life free of depression here …”

Isn’t that refreshing?

This memoir? guide is so sarcastically witty that it’s difficult to put down. Be warned, there are plenty of sexual references as well as some cursing, so this book is not for the faint of heart (or the easily offended).

The chapter names and section titles are very creative, as well. Instead of just introducing ‘chapter 1’, ‘chapter 2’, and so forth, we see them instead labeled as things like: “Babyhood: Early Practice in Crying While Making Eye Contact with Strangers”. 

Story time:

There were times in this book when I laughed out loud, and then barged in on my husband (or caught his attention) to read the section to him. Other times, How to Weep in Public was painfully easy to relate to. Stories – about an awful therapist and strange experiments to lose weight, ‘tips’ on how to make things easier to handle and thus be a better ‘depresso’ – flooded the pages. We can’t forget the lists, either. There are lists in this book on everything from: “A Few Good Books for the Depressed” to the “Top Five Tips for Crying in the Shower”. 

Novak’s writing is so intensely satirical that you can practically hear the words in her voice – even without having heard her speak before. There’s just so much personality in this book.

If you like a humorous read that still keeps things real, pick up How to Weep in Public. You will be glad you did!

** I feel like I need to address the issue of me being a Christian and reading (much less enjoying!) this book. Yes, I am a Christian. No, I am not easily offended. There are questionable (and even potentially blasphemous, depending on your perspective) sections of this book, but they are few. As far as I am concerned, we hear (and read) cursing pretty much every day. Since this book is not overloaded with cursing, it is not a problem for me. As previously stated, I do not recommend this book to the easily offended. **


Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

What Is Mental Illness?

Talking about mental illness is great (we need more awareness) but talking will do nothing if the people hearing don’t know what mental illness is. Thus, a simple breakdown of the problem people are talking about.

Does someone you know have a mental illness? Maybe you've been meaning to learn more about what that actually means, but haven't gotten around to it? Well, now's your chance to read a simple but informative breakdown of what that term you've been hearing so much lately actually means.

To avoid confusion, let me define what I will be talking about when discussing mental illness. As defined by NAMI (“Mental Health,” n.d.). :

“A mental illness is a condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.”

Even though symptoms differ between people and different illnesses, here are some common symptoms (“Mental Illness,” n.d.). :

In Adults, Young Adults and Adolescents:
  • Confused thinking
  • Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Strange thoughts (delusions)
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Substance abuse

(You can find symptoms as related to other age groups on their website.)

Even though yourself or someone you know may be displaying some of these symptoms, that doesn’t automatically mean you or that person has a mental illness. Only a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist can make that diagnosis. If seeing a counselor, they can refer patients to one or the other.

Hope to see you here again soon!


Mental Health Conditions. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2016, from

Mental Illness and the Family: Recognizing Warning Signs and How to Cope. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2016, from

Improving Focus: First Attempt, Canning

With the symptoms of mental illness and the side effects of the medicines supposed to treat it, it can be very difficult to focus on anything long enough to get work done. That’s why, if we want to accomplish anything, we should work on improving our focus. Hence, learning to can! Canning can be really stressful, especially if you have no experience with it. Don’t worry, though – it will get better with practice. Trying to keep everything going the way it’s supposed to will help improve your focus over time.

Have you ever canned anything? There’s only so much reading and research you can do before you just have to try canning for yourself.

Have you ever tried canning? It's a pretty daunting task, especially with no one to show you the ropes. Here's how my first time went for me - maybe you can relate?


1st Attempt Canning:

I recently tried my hand at canning. Other than online, I had never seen anyone can, nor tried it before, so it was entirely new. A jelly was to be my first attempt – it looked pretty easy. Just remember what to do, and at what time, and you’ll be fine … or so I thought.


It started out fine. The jelly mixed up easily and with little effort. There was no problem until it came time to heat the jelly to boiling. I left to check the recipe; boil for one minute, it said. When I returned, the pot was boiling crazily. Okay, that’s fine, it’s supposed to boil for a minute. I’ll time it. It wasn’t even close to a minute when I noticed the jelly rising higher and higher. No, no, no, no …. I kept saying ‘no’, but that wasn’t stopping the ever rising jelly. I turned off the heat, but it was too late. All over the stove, the burner, the sides of the pan .. crap. It wasn’t finished, either. If not for my husband coming to the rescue, it would’ve boiled over again. As it was, I lost about half of it.

What now?

At that point, I tried to take a jar out of the water bath to fill it. Unfortunately, the jar was full of water (it floats unless you fill it) and none of the tutorials I’d read had told me the best way for dealing with this. Carry the jar (in the jar lifter) to the sink? Attempt to dump it out over the other jars? Should I not have filled it to begin with?

Again, husband to the rescue. He helped me dumped the jar without breaking anything.. but the jar wasn’t hot. It wasn’t even warm. It hadn’t been in the canner long enough! So I filled it back up with water, and put it back in the water to heat. Once it was finally hot enough, I filled the jar and went for the lids. Wait .. none of the tutorials had mentioned that you should put the lids seal-side down.. Since I had not done that, I had to flip the hot lid so that the correct side was down. It would’ve been a lot easier if I’d known to start it like that!

Since most of the jelly had boiled over, there were too many jars for how much jelly I had. Which meant that I had two jars with more than enough headspace, and one jar only half full.

Processing Time …

Then came the processing. It took about 40 minutes for the water in the canner to come to a boil so the processing could start. Much longer than I’d planned for. So now I had a burner covered in jelly, a huge canner taking up most of the stove space that wasn’t goo-covered, and dinner to make. Boy was it a relief to finish the canning process! Currently, the jars are sitting on a towel on the island, randomly popping and waiting for the 24 hr wait to be over. Tomorrow I find out if the jars sealed … and hopefully the jelly actually set!

The jelly I canned (that was the consistency of syrup ...)

All of this is proof that even if you do as much research as you can before, lots of things can still go wrong. Next time I’ll use a bigger pan!

Update: As far as I can tell, all of the jars sealed properly. Yay!

Update #2: Don’t make coffee jelly. Just … don’t.

Energizing: Strawberries & Cream Green Smoothie

Certain mental illnesses come with feeling lethargic – which is definitely undesirable. With the right medicine(s) and proper nutrition, you can have more energy to help you through the day. Smoothies can be really healthy (and really yummy) with the right ingredients – especially green smoothies. (Don’t go too crazy with fruit based smoothies). Strawberries & cream green smoothie is a delicious addition to a healthy diet. As a bonus, it also helps keep you full for longer than most basic breakfasts (i.e. a bowl of cereal).

This one is also loosely based on another (Lava Flow Green Smoothie from, but this is the version tweaked to fit my pantry and taste buds. Definitely check out the original, though!

Does your smoothie routine need a reboot? It's really easy to fall into the same old routine, and stick with the same smoothie every morning. That gets boring, though! Not only is this smoothie pretty - check out those layers! - but it would make a great breakfast. It has the good parts from a green smoothie and the deliciousness from a fruit smoothie!


For the bottom (green) layer:
  • a handful of spinach
  • a peeled, cored apple
  • a frozen banana
  • *two scoops of protein powder (optional but recommended)
  • Enough milk to blend
For the top (strawberries & cream) layer:
  • A small handful of frozen strawberries
  • An equal amount of Greek vanilla yogurt
  • Enough milk to blend

Pour the green layer into two glasses. Then rinse out your blender, and blend the second layer. Pour (slowly) or scoop the strawberries and cream layer onto the green layer. My top layer was thicker than the bottom layer, so it sunk. Either way, though, it’s kind of pretty 🙂

Does your smoothie routine need a reboot? It's really easy to fall into the same old routine, and stick with the same smoothie every morning. That gets boring, though! Not only is this smoothie pretty - check out those layers! - but it would make a great breakfast. It has the good parts from a green smoothie and the deliciousness from a fruit smoothie!

*two scoops because this is enough to serve TWO people. It’s so good, though, you might not want to share!

** Protein helps fill you up and keep you full longer. If you need another reason to use protein powder, it also affects the flavor and texture of the smoothie.

Update: If you pour the Strawberries & Cream layer in the bottom of the glass with the Green layer on top, it will make a double layer smoothie.

Being Productive: Wedding Snow Globe

With small, forgotten items lying around doing nothing, it’s certainly productive to put them to good use. Even if you haven’t been in a wedding, there may be something else you could make use of. Being productive helps improve a person’s sense of self value – haven’t you noticed that when you do something worthwhile, you feel good about yourself? Having a mental illness can take a toll on our self value, so it’s good to be as productive as we can to help counteract it.

Do you still have items from your wedding lying around? Maybe you don’t know what to do with them … but if they are small, they could be put to good use.We've all seen the wine glass turned snow globe images on Pinterest. Most of us have probably considered making one - they look so good! Though I wanted to make one, I didn't know what to use. That is when some leftover items from my wedding caught my eye.


Big event over:

After my wedding in August, I had boutonnieres from the groomsmen and my husband. They were just sitting around, doing nothing. All over pinterest, I’d been seeing wine glass snow globes. They looked really interesting – I wanted to make one.

We picked up a couple of wineglasses at the dollar store, bought some fake snow online (fake snow is actually really hard to find in-store), and stocked up on glue sticks for the hot glue gun. Even the bottom of the globe was taken care of (no water involved) because we had some cardboard from inside a calendar my husband got for Christmas. The only thing left was, what in the world were we going to put inside the globe?

What to use?

A quick search of the house revealed no possibilities. Nothing interesting. Wait .. on the bookshelf. Boutonnieres (that I had to google the spelling of, BTW) from our wedding. Perfect! I put my husband’s boutonniere inside the snow globe, and decorated the outside with some fabric and two of our groomsmen’s boutonnieres. After picking up a candle in the clearance section, we were good to go!

We've all seen the wine glass turned snow globe images on Pinterest. Most of us have probably considered making one - they look so good! Though I wanted to make one, I didn't know what to use. That is when some leftover items from my wedding caught my eye.

It was fun, super easy, and came out great! Make your own, and get creative with the decorations! I’d love to see what you come up with!

Self Therapy: All Behind A Smile Poem

When you are constantly dealing with symptoms and side effects, therapy is typically beneficial. Sometimes we can’t afford a therapist, though, or don’t want to go. Maybe you are really introverted, or simply don’t want to let anyone in. No matter the reason, letting out (in a healthy way) what is eating at you is a form of therapy.

*Note* If you have a therapist, it is best to discuss problems with him or her. Please do not discontinue sessions with your therapist without consulting with him or her. I am not a doctor and have no medical expertise. 

The poem that has been read to every hurting person my family knows… All Behind A Smile.

We probably all wrote poetry or short stories when we were young - that's the kind of thing parents and teachers encouraged, right? I wrote this poem when I was twelve, and it's still a go-to for people who are hurting - and we've all been hurting at some point. We can all relate somehow.


As you may wonder, ‘Where did the title come from’? It’s actually the title of a poem I wrote when I was twelve. Since it has been granted the honor of naming this blog, here it is for you to read:

All Behind A Smile Poem:


You cry the tears,

Behind those eyes,

The red nose never shows.

Behind your laugh,

You hide a pain,

So deep it never goes.

Nobody seems to notice,

A watery eye or runny nose,

You can laugh all you want,

Nobody notices your pain.

Nobody hears the tears,

You cry at night,

Nobody can comfort you,

From what they don’t know.

A laugh may hide it,

During the day,

But at night you’ll face it again.

What can you do,

To make it go away,

You wish the day would say.

Rooted – Banning Liebscher


Banning Liebscher

Rooted book review - Liebscher is honest in his writing, and includes personal examples throughout Rooted. He also includes plenty of Scriptural backing. This is a good read for a Christian, or someone who is interested in learning more about Christianity.


By: Banning Liebscher

Banning is revealing in his writing of this book, writing at one point that, “Maybe it’s because my top love language is words of affirmation, but it kind of irritated me when Jesus said, ‘Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him?’” (pg. 148) Notice how Banning admitted he was irritated with the words of Jesus? Most would be ashamed to admit that they were irritated with Jesus, but Banning admits it anyways. It makes his story easier to relate to, more real.

Throughout this book, we read personal examples from Banning’s own life that contribute to what he’s trying to tell us. Instead of expecting us to read what would amount to little more than a Christian textbook, Banning explains in a simple, understandable way. The simplicity is not so much as to be insulting, but just enough that it can contribute to the newly-saved’s walk with Christ, or to someone who has been saved for a long time.

Biblical References:

Banning included many Biblical references; nearly every page has at least one reference. I really appreciated that, because then I could read the passage for myself if I had any questions about his interpretation.

The only thing I did not like about this book was that when Banning references the Bible, he tends to use several translations; you could read three different references and each would be a different translation. It would be better if Banning stuck with one translation – switching translations each time says to me that he’s looking for the verse to say what he wants it to say, rather than a more direct (trustworthy) translation that may not say it the way he wants.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in encouragement in their walk with Christ. There were several instances where I personally found encouragement reading this. In one section, God used this book to speak to me about something I had been praying about and give me assurance about His will. I think there’s something written in here for every Christian – or even for someone considering Christianity.


Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Impossible Knife of Memory – Anderson

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Laurie Halse Anderson

In an intense novel about PTSD, Anderson drags you into the characters worlds, made to feel what they feel and see what they see. This is no lighthearted read, but more of a deep and telling introduction to just some of what might be seen by living with someone with PTSD. A review.

All of the books I’ve read by this author are intense, and this one is no different.

Hayley and her father, Andy, are trapped in the past. Andy because of the war, and Hayley cowering from memories. From her father’s reactions to his own memories.

Finn and Gracie both have their own minced families, their own troubles. The families in this book aren’t fairy-tale material. They are real-life material.

This is one of those books that drags you in, makes you live the story. At the scary/sad/intense parts you cry, or throw the book. You feel the story.

A word of warning:

As PTSD is increasingly more common, I would say avoid this book if you have any experience with the disorder. IT IS TRIGGERING. If you don’t have concerns about being triggered, this is a really good book. I definitely recommend it.

Other books by Anderson:

If you like this book, I highly recommend Speak or Wintergirls. Both are by this author. Just be warned, both books are triggering. Especially for people who have suffered from or been involved in similar situations. Enjoy the books, but tread carefully while reading them.

Liar – Rob Roberge


by Rob Roberge

Liar book review - In a unique second-person memoir, Roberge jumps from event to event - time being an after thought and having no bearing on the order. This lack of order is initially refreshing, and does help you to better see through Roberge's eyes.

Dates. Memories. Snippets of time. That’s how this book starts out.

Instead of using the first person approach, as most memoirs do, Roberge uses second person. You are the story. You are living Roberge’s life. In one memory, you’re in 2009 – the next you’re in 1912. The jumps in memory read naturally, like they’d play out in your head.

Due to the jumps, it is difficult to pinpoint the timeline of the story. Events occur, but they are so randomly organized that there doesn’t seem to be much – if any – connection. While at first the random un-story-like telling is refreshing, it gets annoying after the first hundred or so pages. After awhile, it makes more sense to read it like individual stories rather than a cohesive whole.

He’s obsessed with death, including his own suicide. In a noteworthy quote at the end of the book Roberge writes, “This is what the world will sound like without you.”

This was a good book, very interesting. It’s definitely a look through Roberge’s eyes – as a memoir goes, this was a successful one.


Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from Blogging for Books for my honest review.