May is Mental Health Awareness Month. My cohort/friend KJ Joseph reminded me of this a few weeks ago while on our coffee date. I hadn’t seen her in person for over a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Much had changed for both of us. We both birthed babies of different kinds. While she asked about my little girl, I was more curious about her book. In comparison, both were labors of love. KJ had by far the more prolonged work than I did.
I first met KJ through Augsburg University’s MFA program, and we bonded over much more than our love of writing. The topic we came back to many times was mental health. We both have clinical depression and talk openly about it. I remember reading chapters from KJ’s early drafts and loving the concept of her book. Soon her book turned into an award-winning screenplay; then, soon after graduation, the book was published by Wise Ink.
KJ takes her reader on a journey to break the stigma of mental illness. Much like the mission of Other Worldly Women Press, she aims to create a safe place to talk about an issue viewed as taboo. Being a young woman battling mental illness is hard enough; in addition, KJ takes us on her journey running track (competing against older boys). The movement throughout the book makes you feel like you’re running in her shoes.
I implore you to peek between the pages of “Simply Because We are Human,” a memoir by KJ Joseph. As we continue to breathe and live through the last few weeks of May, think about how to break the stigma of mental illness. Learn more about KJ Joseph here.