The Compendium of #LISMentalHealth Blog Posts

Many, many thanks to everyone who contributed blog posts in support of #LISMentalHealth Week. I know it isn’t easy to disclose mental illness or to talk openly about our mental health struggles, so I don’t take your participation lightly. The week was successful because of your contributions, and though you may never know it, you’ve helped so many people by being willing to come forward.

The posts here are in no particular order.

So if burnout is a response to an absence of meaning, meaning-making seems like the solution. I was asked recently to give three! top! tips! for new librarians (always this field with the top tips!), and that was my first one: find something inside the field that matters, and then do your best to set your watch by it. Mine could do with a little rewinding right now. How about yours?

To those who aren’t depressed, you should know that people manifest depression in many different ways. Not everyone fits the stereotype of the weepy zombie who can’t get out of bed. Depression can look like anger, insecurity, numbness, overcompensation, extreme sadness, etc. We all cope (or try to cope) with it in our own ways.

I am an atheist, but there is one thing that I read almost daily as though it were doctrine, and that is Desiderata. I have a very old framed copy of it that I inherited from my Aunt Jane. She obtained it on one of her adventures through North Africa in the ’60s. It’s hung in my hall and I read it while I brush my teeth. While I find solace in most of it, there are some passages that help me in my professional life, and I share these now for #lismentalhealth week.

We get way high on what we do in libraries, and libraries are way cool, but ten people being annoyed because I forgot to change a font colour is not the town mob that my anxiety is making it out to be. Sometimes, when I’m stressed out over a new project and feel like a fraud or whatever, I like to sit and imagine a world where no one did my job. Things would be worse, granted, but… the world would keep going. My university would keep going. My library would keep going. And that’s ultimately super friggin freeing. Because the worst case scenario is that someone does nothing, and even then nobody’s going to die or truly suffer for it. And even at my super depressed-est, even I have to acknowledge that I can totally do better than a non-existent person doing nothing.

Everything changes. Nothing changes. I will deal with this for the rest of my life.

Scene From a Workplace: Hair Apparent

It’s been a rough morning. My joints are especially painful today, and every mucous membrane in my body is desert-dry. I haven’t slept enough, so that on top of the fatigue has me feeling more dull-witted and slower than usual. When the elevator arrives, I step in and gently lean against the rear wall for support.

One of my colleagues gets on at the next floor. After exchanging pleasantries, he looks at me and says “I hope you don’t mind me saying, but I notice you change your hair every day.” He went on to describe my hair, how sometimes it’s curly1, and sometimes it’s longer. “Well, you have to keep things interesting!” I answer, sounding more jovial than I actually felt. “You’re very large, and your hair takes up space!” He laughs. The doors open on our floor, and we go our separate ways.


  1. Because of my Toni Daley wigs. 

LIS Mental Health Week Twitter Chat – Monday 18 January

Just a quick note to let you know that the Twitter chat for LIS Mental Health Week has been scheduled. We’ll gather on Monday, 18 January, 2016 at 4:00pm PST. You can participate or follow the chat by using the #LISMentalHealth hashtag.

I know disclosure around mental health issues can be tricky, but because I want as many people to participate as possible, I’ve created a form that accepts anonymous questions. If there’s a question you’d like Kelly or I to ask during the chat on your behalf, use the form below.

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I hope to see you on the 18th.

Announcing LIS Mental Health Week 2016

In October, 2014 I wrote about the possibility of starting a Library and Information Studies (LIS) Mental Help Week. You can find out more by reading my original post, or by reading about Geek Mental Help Week (2014), the source of the original idea.

Almost immediately after writing that post, Kelly McElroy reached out and asked me if I wanted help organizing events around the week. Like so many other people who live with mental health challenges, I was so overwhelmed with managing my own depression and anxiety that I couldn’t get it together to organize anything, even with Kelly’s help. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m pleased to announce that we’re ready to kick things off.

LIS Mental Health Week, starting January 18, 2016

LIS Mental Health Week will be a week-long series of posts, Twitter chats, podcasts, and resource sharing about mental health issues for people who suffer and for their loved ones.

Plans For The Week

So far our plans include building a shared list of resources and moderating a Twitter chat with the hashtag #LISMentalHealth. Because this is such an important issue, we’d like to broaden the scope and level of involvement. You can get involved by:

  • Writing an article for an online LIS journal or magazine
  • Publishing an article or blog post about mental health issues
  • Adding to our resource list
  • Talking about mental health issues on your podcast
  • Organizing a local event at your library or with your professional organization
  • Promote LIS Mental Health Week across your social networks

Getting Involved

If you’d like to help with planning the week’s events, contact me (@skeskali) or Kelly (@kellymce) via Twitter. If you want to publish a blog post or dedicate a podcast to the issue, thank you, and go right ahead! Just let us know where we can find your post/podcast so we can promote it.