Things I Never Told My Doctor

Recovery from mental illness is no easy feat, and it can be particularly overwhelming when your doctor tells you to abandon certain parts of your life that you want to hold on to. So, let’s face it—there are some doctor’s orders you simply don’t follow, and some things about your personal life you just don’t share with your doctor. In Things I Never Told My Doctor, author John P. Gallagher acknowledges, embraces, and describes this reality as it manifested in his own life. He tells tales of his own experiences in and out of the doctor’s office to show how he forged his own path to recovery while still holding on to those things in his life that were his. Gallagher decided that he didn’t have to tell his doctor everything, and with this decision he found freedom from the feelings of guilt that many mental health consumers suffer when they withhold information from their providers for fear of disapproval, judgment, or diagnosis. Gallagher suggests that there need not be such guilt, for it is that guilt that encumbers recovery. Things I Never Told My Doctor invites the reader to find a common, comfortable ground with the author. Written from a unique peer-to-peer perspective, it pulls together Gallagher’s experiences to take a very relatable, remarkably real look at recovery with and beyond the mental health industry. From hospitalizations and trial drugs to partying, getting high, and enjoying casual sex, Gallagher describes how he orchestrated his own recovery in ways that allowed him to utilize the tools gleaned from mental health services while also allowing him to remain true to himself. All the while depicting the trials and tribulations of a mental health consumer, the messages in Things I Never Told My Doctor are delivered against the backdrop of a sentimental, amusing, coming-of-age tale that carries readers from Gallagher’s childhood in Illinois and Pennsylvania to his adult life in Wisconsin, and chronicles his personal evolution from a wild child to a self-integrated adult who not only encounters mental health services as a consumer but is also an advocate representing the interests and rights of other similarly seated persons. As an advocate for mental health consumers, Gallagher has volunteered with PREVAIL, the Wisconsin Consumer/Survivor Work Group, and served as a consumer representative on the State of Wisconsin Community Options Program Advisory Board. When he left PREVAIL, he started his own grassroots nonprofit organization, Cordial Unlimited, through which he received funding from the state of Wisconsin to write and publish four books over the course of three years. During his advocacy career, he has also published many other books and materials for mental health consumers, their families, and providers of services. These posts and achievements make Gallagher’s peer-to-peer perspective very well-rounded, giving him a professional understanding of the system through which he navigated as a consumer. In other words, he’s been on both sides of the equation, and he knows what it takes to solve it.

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