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Middle-Grade Books Featuring Protagonists with Mental Health Struggles

Mental health is a difficult topic even for adults, so it can be hard to explain to middle-age kids. However, there are a few middle-grade books that have very relatable protagonists who struggle with mental health:

1.”Better With Butter” by Victoria Piontek
A girl with anxiety disorder finds an unlikely friend—and emotional support animal —in the form of an adorable fainting goat. Twelve-year-old Marvel is afraid of absolutely everything—amusement park rides, food poisoning, earthquakes, and that big island of plastic floating through the ocean. She also obsesses about smaller worries like making friends, getting called on by the teacher, and walking home alone. Her parents and the school therapist call her worries an anxiety disorder, but Marvel calls them armor. If something can happen, it will. She needs to be prepared. But when Marvel stumbles on a group of older kids teasing a baby goat that has mysteriously shown up on the soccer field, she momentarily forgets to be afraid and rescues the frightened animal. Only Butter isn't any old goat. She's a fainting goat. When Butter feels panic, she freezes up and falls over. Marvel knows exactly how Butter feels and precisely what Butter needs—her. Soon, Butter and Marvel are going everywhere together, and Butter thrives under Marvel's support. Butter also helps Marvel. Everything is easier for her with Butter by her side. But just when Marvel starts to imagine a life in which she can manage her anxiety, instead of letting it control her, Butter's owner shows up to claim her. Will Marvel find a way to keep her friend? Or will she revert back to the anxious, lonely person she used to be?

2.”Kissing Doorknobs” by Terry Spencer Hesser
During her preschool years, Tara Sullivan lived in terror that something bad would happen to her mother while they were apart. In grade school, she panicked during the practice fire drills. Then, at the age of 11, it happened. Tara heard the phrase that changed her: “Step on a crack, break your mother's back.” Before Tara knew it, she was counting every crack in the sidewalk. Over time, Tara's "quirks" grew and arranging her meals on plates, nonstop prayer rituals, until she developed a new ritual wherin she kissed her fingers and touched doorknobs....

3. “OCDaniel” by Wesley King
Daniel is the back-up punter for the Erie Hills Elephants. Which really means he’s the water boy. He spends football practice perfectly arranging water cups—and hoping no one notices. Actually, he spends most of his time hoping no one notices his strange habits—he calls them Zaps: avoiding writing the number four, for example, or flipping a light switch on and off dozens of times over. He hopes no one notices that he’s crazy, especially his best friend Max, and Raya, the prettiest girl in school. His life gets weirder when another girl at school, who is unkindly nicknamed Psycho Sara, notices him for the first time. She doesn’t just notice him: she seems to peer through him. Then Daniel gets a note: “I need your help,” it says, signed, Fellow Star Child—whatever that means. And suddenly Daniel, a total no one at school, is swept up in a mystery that might change everything for him. With great voice and grand adventure, this book is about feeling different and finding those who understand.

4. “The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl” by Stacey McAnulty
Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn't remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she's technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test—middle school! Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that's not a math textbook!). Lucy's not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy's life has already been solved. Unless there's been a miscalculation?

5. “Counting By 7s” by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life...until now. Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief.

6. “Finding Perfect” by Elly Swartz
To Molly Nathans, perfect is:
• The number four
• The tip of a newly sharpened number two pencil
• A crisp, white pad of paper
• Her neatly aligned glass animal figurines
What’s not perfect is Molly’s mother leaving the family to take a faraway job with the promise to return in one year. Molly knows that promises are often broken, so she hatches a plan to bring her mother home: Win the Lakeville Middle School Slam Poetry Contest. The winner is honored at a fancy banquet with table cloths. Molly’s sure her mother would never miss that. Right…? But as time goes on, writing and reciting slam poetry become harder. Actually, everything becomes harder as new habits appear, and counting, cleaning, and organizing are not enough to keep Molly’s world from spinning out of control.

7. “Give And Take” by Elly Swartz
Twelve-year-old Maggie knows her new baby sister who smells like powder isn’t her sister for keeps. Izzie is a foster baby awaiting adoption. So in a day or a week, she’ll go to her forever family and all that sweetness will be gone. Except for those things Maggie’s secretly saving in the cardboard boxes in her closet and under her bed. Baby socks, binkies, and a button from Bud the Bear. Rocks, sticks, and candy wrappers. Maggie holds on tight. To her things. Her pet turtle. Her memories of Nana. And her friends. But when Maggie has to say goodbye to Izzie, and her friend gets bumped from their all-girl trapshooting squad to make room for a boy, Maggie’s hoarding grows far beyond her control and she needs to find the courage to let go.

📚 Happy reading! ❤️‍🩹

#themightyreaders #MentalHealth #Anxiety #GeneralizedAnxietyDisorder #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder #HoardingDisorder

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December - One Hell of A Month

#Autism #AutismSpectrumDisorder #Depression #Anxiety #MentalHealth

This December and the last couple of months have been a soul sucking hell of a month for me.

In October, I was in a job interview for a library role that I wanted to have since I started work. I did not get the job. The person who got it is now getting their Library Science Masters Degree while I had mine for almost ten years now. They told me that I did not get the job because I have such a tender heart and I would not be able to handle really difficult patrons (it is amazing how many homeless people and drug addicts come into the library.)

Then Christmas comes around and I have felt like my routine is out of whack and the seasonal depression is getting to me. A couple of years ago my grandmother who I was really close to died in December so I have been upset about that. Also, as it gets dark early now it has not helped at all.

I am going to be moving back in with my parents, but it is a slow move since my Mom has been hoarding stuff in my old room since I left for college. She grew up in poverty so it is hard for her to get rid of things.

Also, (as I have mentioned in my previous posts) I do not have many friends or even close friends. The ones in high school who talk to me want to know about my parents since they were teachers in the school I went to and never ask anything about me. The town is also an ultra conservative Christian based who do not like outsiders. My family moved there in the 1950s and they are still treated like outsiders. Especially with me since I went to a different school system in a town thirty minutes away. I do not have the money to move out since I have a part time job as a library assistant.

I feel alone, depressed, confused, and fed up. I wish there was a good solution that would solve all this.

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To fit, to shrink, to fold, to blossom

There is at least a 100 pound difference between my weight today and the weight I used to be. But the biggest difference is my level of satisfaction in my life, my acceptance of myself, and my ability to feel and find joy.
I think back to all the times I bribed myself with dresses that were too small, that if I could lose weight I'd fit into them and feel happy.
Maybe it worked, making myself feel awful, and starving myself just to fit into a dress that was a size I thought meant acceptance and beauty and happiness. But it was unsustainable. And it would never actually bring me those things I'd hoped for.
I feel way more beautiful, accepted, and happy now at this weight than I could have ever imagined when I was thin. I'm okay with my body for probably the first time in adulthood.
I thought I felt it even then, a sense of happiness, when I reached my goals to be thinner, when I fit into all those dresses, when I kept getting smaller. I thought that was self acceptance.
But the joy of getting there never stuck and I just wanted more. My body dysmorphia was so intense. I just kept believing I was so much heavier than I was, and hating myself for that and wanting to shrink.
It was such a conditional love I gave to myself, if you could even call it love at all. I punished myself for being me, and rewarded myself for being who I thought I needed to be in order to fit. I never would have dreamed that I could feel so comfortable in my body, but particularly at the weight I am now.
I have learned to accept myself and care about more important things in my life.
An eating disorder is about control and coping, but it's also about how you look and your fear of stepping out of that approved version of yourself into something unknown.
I'm so proud of myself for getting rid of all those clothes I was hoarding thinking one day I will fit into them again. Clothes that to fit into again I would have to be unhealthy. Clothes that I was associating with this version of myself I knew I could never be again but longed for because I felt inadequate compared to her.
#eatingdisorder #bulimianervosa #bodydysmorphia #eatingdisorders #mentalhealth #eatingdisorderrecovery #anxiety #bodydysmorphicdisorder


Lonely won’t leave me alone

I’ve lived alone for 26 years, married twice and caught my second husband in an affair. I don’t choose men well, so I’ve chosen to not enter another relationship. Of course, there’s a long story behind this decision. I’ve been fine being alone, until recently a trigger allowed loneliness to enter my psyche. I go to work, I take care of my cats, take care of my house etc. I go to a bar after work, I’m lonely. I go home after work, I’m lonely. Tears come to my eyes at the drop of a hat, I find myself more and more seeking comfort in alcohol. I’m not an alcoholic, but I seek its comfort in my loneliness, in the ritual of mixing a drink, releasing stress in my first sip, and finally finding peace in sleep. Everyday the cycle repeats itself.
I long to have someone in my life who I can care about, but the thought of letting another person in is terrifying.
I went through several years of hoarding cats, at one point I had 22 cats, but I cared for all of them, provided veterinary care when needed, kept them safe and loved them. Through sheer will power, I have 5 cats now. Three are from my original hoard, and are in their late teens, two are less than 18 months old. At work today a client brought in a litter of 5 absolutely amazing calico kittens, she said she was looking for homes for them. I want so badly to, not just one, I WANT them all. At least they’ll keep me busy enough to push the loneliness away, even if only for a little while.


Ten Signs Your Parent Has Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

When we think of the word parent, more specifically mothers, what image do you conjure up?

I envision someone who is unconditionally supportive, warm, compassionate, understanding, nurtering, curious, gives a lot of praise, is fun. empathetic, open to new ideas, flexible, have good boundaries, and values their children for who they are and not specifically for what they do. They value their chidlren’s authenticiy and personality.

mothers with OCPD are: detached, cold, rigid, strict, dismissive, abrasive, hard, critical, judgemental, find it hard ot have fun. have little to no empathy, give little praise, and are controlling/domineering. They see the child to be valued only on how successful they are or how much they achieve. The child is a carbon copy, .the next gen of whoever their parents are. Autonomy and independence of the self or self expression is frowned upon.

So often these childre think they’re not good enough and aren’t valued for who they are. The children of said parents often feel like a burden on their parents. They are often subtly told as chidlren, to shut up and go play in the corner, or to go away because ‘mommy’s busy’.

These adult children are then compelled to subconsciously prove theselves in life: i pursuing top level positions in careers ie. CEO, becoming famous in some way and becoming high earners. *Often at the cost to health, relationships, mental welll being, and over-all life satisfaction

The cause of OCPD is a mix of gentics and traumatic environments that the person with OCPD grew up in.

Children who have OCPD parents can relate to these ten things

1. dinner table talk is all about work, work work. How much work they have t odo. What work plans they have. What their coworkers are doing at work. How said coworkers aren’t pulling their weight. Politics, the weather, the eocnomy, technology, and other big mind topics are good and fine too.

But Art? celebrities? pop culture? fashion? creatiivty/imagination? Humanitarian efforts/ eco-consious ideas? that’s so boring.

2. Vacation is like the above. Work may be brought on vacation. Work related stuff like workshops or conferecnes may be part of the vacation journey itsefl. Work mau be the pinnacle of car ride conversaitons. The worries aren’t about flat tires or the price of gas so much as the back to work stress. They worry how much work they’re missing out on, isntead of focussing on enjoying themselves and the people. they’re with.

3.. Rigid ways of doing tasks (things have to be done with certain steps, things have to be folded a certain way, etc). The end goal of just cleaning up or putting things away is lost in the process. They do not like to delegate tasks to others, because they want it done the way they do it. Often they over burden theselves by doing this!

4. hoarding stuff/stocking up on stuff like it’s the year 2000 and everyone thinks everything’s going to shut down completely.

But nothing did and now they have all this stuff and spent all that hard earned money on stuff that will be kept in storage or thrown out…

5.They ‘love’ working

6. Cheap presents for brithday/Christmas. If you want an expensive item, they’ll get you something cheaper. or something you didn’t want If you’re a little older and want a gift card to a store you freqeunt, they’ll give you cash. It’s never what you exactly want, it’s always what they are willing to give.

7. Money is treated like a sacrilige. There’s hardly any quality indulgence. Goods and services are bought for the cheapest price possible. Often

8. Resting or taking time for self care is seen as being ‘lazy’ or ‘unproductive’. People with OCPD view others who don’t do as mcuh as they do in this way.

9. They’re always stressed/anxious because they’re doing so much at once. Children feel like they’re walking on eggshells around these parents. They re waiitng for the other shoe to drop. ‘Just one more thing I have to do!’ is often the motto for these parents. Often these chidlren grow up to have chornic illnesses because their nervous systems are on high alert, jsut waiting or the boiler to break or the car to break down and mom and dad to over react/rage.

10. They’re always unsatfied with the status qou. You have to go higher, aim bigger, do more. There’s no room to be ‘average’. Perfectionism sets in and these adult children are trained to never be satsified with their life. They go to extremes, often times resulting in burn out or chronic illnesses.

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Binge eating


A severe and life-threatening disorder, Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by recurring episodes of excessive food consumption. A recent but important addition to the officially recognised list of disorders, binge eating is capable of immense harm to the body and mind.

Basics of Binge Eating:

Warning Signs:

Binge eating is an insidious disorder, it gradually develops over a period of time. Be wary of these warning signs:

-Stealing or hoarding of food in strange places

-Withdrawing from friends and usual activities

-Going on-and-off on diets

-Uncomfortable while eating around others


Binge eating directly impacts your physiology and psychology, it comes with a plethora of symptoms. They include

-Fluctuations of weight, both increase and decrease.

-Stomach cramps


-Acid Reflux

-Difficulty in concentration


The prominent health risks associated with Binge Eating Disorder are clinical obesity, weight stigma and weight cycling. Yo-yo dieting is common among those with BED. Not all people who are clinically obese have BED, but two-thirds of people with BED are clinically obese. Similarly, while most people with BED have higher-than-average weight, it can be diagnosed at any weight.

More severe cases of BED lead to Bulimia Nervosa: a life-threatening eating disorder involving cycles of binge eating and behaviors like self-induced vomiting.

You can refer to this:


Overcoming Disordered Eating | Blog

A platform built on evidence-based principles, delivered by licensed clinicians, coaches making care accessible, effective and scalable.
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What is OCD?


The ways in which symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are experienced varies widely from person to person. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides a broad definition of obsessive-compulsive disorder that includes the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions that cause major distress or disruption to daily living.

Contamination Obsessions With Washing/Cleaning Compulsion

If you are affected by this symptom subtype, you will usually focus on feelings of discomfort associated with contamination. You may wash or clean excessively to reduce these feelings of distress.

For example, you might feel that your hands are dirty or contaminated after touching a doorknob or worry that you will contaminate others with your germs. To get rid of these feelings, you might wash your hands repeatedly for hours at a time.

Harm Obsessions With Checking Compulsions

If you experience this symptom subtype, you will often have intense thoughts related to possible harm to yourself or others. You use checking rituals to relieve your distress.

For example, you might imagine your house burning down and then repeatedly drive by your house to make sure that there is no fire. Or, you may feel that by simply thinking about a disastrous event, you are increasing the likelihood of such an event actually happening.

Obsessions Without Visible Compulsions

This symptom subtype often relates to unwanted obsessions surrounding sexual, religious, or aggressive themes. For example, you could experience intrusive thoughts about being a rapist or that you will attack someone.

You may often use mental rituals such as reciting particular words, counting in your head, or praying to relieve the anxiety you experience when you have these involuntary thoughts. You will usually avoid riggers related to obsessions at all costs.

Symmetry Obsessions With Ordering, Arranging, and Counting Compulsions

When experiencing this subtype, you feel a strong need to arrange and rearrange objects until they are "just right." For example, you might feel the need to constantly arrange your shirts so that they are ordered precisely by color.

This symptom subtype can also involve thinking or saying sentences or words over and over again until the task is accomplished perfectly. Sometimes these ordering, arranging, and counting compulsions are carried out to ward off potential danger. For example, you might think, "If I arrange my desk perfectly, my husband won’t die in a car accident." However, this is not always the case.


Hoarding is now recognized as a distinct diagnosis in the DSM-5. Hoarding involves the collection of items that are judged to be of limited value by others, such as old magazines, clothes, receipts, junk mail, notes, or containers. Often your living space becomes so consumed with clutter that it becomes impossible to live in.

You can refer to this:


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Becoming a grandmother

I thought becoming a grandmother would be the most exciting thing in the world. Instead it’s made me extremely depressed because I don’t get to see him. I don’t even get a FaceTime with him. My heart is broken by the way I was treated after he was born. It was during the pandemic. I found out later her Mother was able to hold him. I was not able to hold him until he was 8 weeks old and I had to wear a hazmat suit. Her mother did not. She was able to hold him from day one. My husband and I are a lot older than her parents and we are not as well off financially. My son aloud this to happen and did nothing to stop it. I do not feel anything anymore. I have a brain injury that has gotten worse due to the depression and hurt I suffer with everyday. I don’t feel like a grandmother nor am I treated as one. On my birthday this past October I got a call from both my sons thats it. I waited for a FaceTime from my grandson that never came. I was devastated. They live close by it’s not like it’s out of state. We are not aloud to babysit him. We have offered and they make an excuse. Christmas with Santa Claus not us. Easter bunny not us. Valentine’s Day came and I finally had to say I had a gift and it would not reach him in time. She told me they would plan sometime to come out. They stopped in for 90 minutes sat and looked at their phones. He got his gift and they left. Everytime they leave I am crying and depressed. I hurt my back lifting him to get the mail. I’m still trying to heal my back. That was the last time we have seen or heard from them. We don’t seem to matter to them. I wanted to do something with Santa last year. My son says make it happen!!! I don’t know what he means by that. Then I see they took the train ride with Santa and we were not asked to come along. So if they already did it then why tell us to make it happen. I really have nothing to live for anymore. It’s getting worse and my son is now a stranger to me. The only way to protect my heart from more damage is to pull away. I really don’t know what else to do. I’m not rich Lyme disease took all my money. These last 3 years have been a living hell. Lost my mother , my brother and 6 others to suicide. Plus 22 more. I can’t even work anymore on line.

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