‘Hope Street’: The Mental Illness Greetings Cards Offering Support To Those Who Need It Most


I think this is a terrible idea.  Cutsie cards for someone who has just survived a suicide attempt?  Gaaaah!   Makes me want to…to…I don’t know what.

Everybody’s different.  Some people might welcome the “I don’t know what to say because I’ve never been there, so I’ll make this well-intentioned gesture” type of thing.

Seriously, maybe it’s just my general recluse Boo Radley personality, that I don’t love the idea of “mental health cards.”

By the way, do you know how the switch from saying someone has a mental illness to saying they have “mental health” came about?

Me neither.  It galls me worse than seeing glaring typos show up in publications that were supposedly edited and proofread.  (Oops, now watch me make a copy blooper๐Ÿ˜œ)  Mental illness is not mental health: it’s the opposite.

Who the hell would send someone who had just survived a car crash, spent a month in ICU, and lost half their brain function, a card that read, “If I covered a dozen pink fairies in milk chocolate and fed them to you one by one in a bower of bright red roses while listening to soothing hip-hop music, would that help?”  (Bet you didn’t know I once tried to make a living writing crappy ad copy for crappy gift catalogs at 50ยข a line….)

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy, but I would much prefer the buckets and buckets of delicious chicken soup prepared for me by my neighbors in Jerusalem whenever I got sick with anything at all.  Once, I came home from the hospital after a bout of intestinal badness to find that my rabbi’s wife, who had a million children, no time, and no money, had made me a huge thing of homemade almond milk.  I cried and cried, because I had lost 30 pounds from shitting out everything that I tried to put in, and her heavenly nectar actually absorbed!  I could feel the love and life flowing into my blood as I sipped it.

So yes to the chicken soup, and hold the cutsie cards, please.  But that’s me.  Call me Grumpy.

How about you?  Check out the article and let me know your thoughts!

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  1. Midwestern Plant Girl

     /  August 14, 2016

    Mmm. Totally agree with you there. I think a nice “thinking of you” card is a much better idea.
    Soup and meals? Even better!
    Could you imagine other companies competing with even worse.. “Sorry you didn’t succeed in your suicide attempt and are now on lock down”.
    Terrible idea!! ๐Ÿ˜›

  2. What a great post Laura
    I can remember all those cards
    I would get
    I just came across a lot of them when I clean out my storage locker
    What a revelation
    Hope you get better soon
    Sooner than what
    I’ve been there
    Like I said
    Excellent work
    The Provoker

    • Thank you! I have to thank a friend who wrote a post containing a link to a different Huff Post article, and this one was a bit further down the same rabbit hole….what, people sent you get well “mental health” cards????!!!

      • Just rethought my answer…obviously we don’t get cured, but we can get “better” than we were when we were hospitalized. To that extent, wellness is relative.

  3. I think the sentiment is nice but isn’t going to fly with all the stigma surrounding mental illness. This isn’t a cassarole illness as they say. Now if we died or were close to it we might get that cassarole for physical illness. I could go on but I am ranting….

    • No, you’re right on target. I think these people are making a stab at trying to mainstream mental illness, by acknowledging that it’s nothing anyone would want, and perhaps a person might welcome some TLC at that point. Yay for them, but getting into the nitty gritty doesn’t seem helpful to me. It’s like, oh, tell me about the mental ward. Was it well-lit? Did you meet any, you know, nut cases-OMG I’M SORRY, I DIDN’T MEAN TO MAKE YOU—that’s you know, how this concept makes me feel.

      • I know. I think the reason they are trying to promote it as “mental health” is to try and decrease the stigma. But it’s not going to work. It is an illness after all that needs to be taken seriously as cancer. I still find it funny that a hundred years ago we weren’t allowed to say the “C” word for fear of spreading it or dashing the prognosis of the patients. Now there is more awareness and less stigma surrounding it because people die. But they don’t take suicide from mental illness as seriously. Just fucked up

        • Maybe we need ads on TV showing people coming home from the hospital to a compassionate and enthusiastic greeting from their loving families….but wait, that doesn’t cure mental illness either! An illness that doesn’t usually get cured is discouraging to everyone, especially its sufferers….

  4. Hmmmm. Neep. I’d like a refrigerator sized box of wine instead. Yeah, I said box! Desperate times. ๐Ÿ˜ต

    I don’t recall getting cards for that sort of thing, unless it was a blister pack of pills. Good enough for me. Ugh.

    • Oh, pill cards! What was in them? Ativan? Seconal? Mescaline? (Just kidding)

      No one except my therapist and shrink would dare come near me during those fits. My therapist finally said look, save yourself a lot of grief and rent a hotel room for a few days. Take your emergency meds with you. So that is what I started doing. Spent much less time on the locked ward.

      • Well, first it started with wellbutrin, then I complained that it made me extremely agitated. Instead of reducing or dropping it, he increased the dosage and added klonopin to take with it. Still feeling like I wanted to murder every single one of the rescue parrots, my boss, my family, and Goldilocks with bears, I told him as much. He said, “here, take Lexapro before bed along with the clonazepam, then continue the wellbutrin during the day.” ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I said ‘fuck that, I’m going to start smoking weed again instead.’

          • Personally I like those bitchen candy dots on paper that come in a roll that you get at the penny candy counter. Those, with Lik-um-ade, and little root beer flavored liquid inside tiny wax soda bottles and big red wax lips that you can chew on as you wear them…OMG, who needs antidepressants??? If I could just be a candy store owner and dispense happiness all day (and eat up half my inventory), maybe I’d forget about my brain for 12 hours a day. Fuck a bunch of teeth, unless they’re the sweet ones made out of edible wax!

            • LOL ๐Ÿ˜„ I find eating 10 million grams of sugar before bed is a fantastic sleep aid!

      • I had a therapist recommend staying in a hotel over the weekend as an alternative to hospitalization. I had a lovely time staying in bed, ordering room service and watching romantic comedies.

  5. I am sooo laughing at your words grumpy fuddy-duddy, because I’m one tooo!!! It just seems in poor taste to me. I think a feel better or thinking of you card would seem better, but times be a changing even if we aren’t. Hope you are feeling better Laura.

  6. and they say we are crazy?

    • Hah! I think most of us who suffer with MI have a much better grip on REALITY than the “normals” who get to go to work every day and come home, watch sitcoms, and go to bed knowing that the alarm clock will wake them from their undrugged sleep (they won’t KNOW that, of course, because why would they?), and they will rush back to work where they have normal, productive lives, recreation, sports, barbecues, relationships, normal troubles, hassles, etc etc but still functioning on all cylinders….they will never understand.

  7. The messages on those particular cards was trite and trivialized someone who’s been hospitalized. Do we find postcards rejecting specific diagnoses when someone is hospitalized for a heart attack or cancer? No. The card says get well. Generic get well cards personalized by the sender is more appropriate. Chicken soup sounds like an excellent adjunct for anyone suffering from any illness. I have a mental illness. I work towards mental health. I see myself as a patient of my psychiatrist, just as I am my internist’s patient.

  8. Get some of the home cookin, listen to Bob Marley, 3 Little Birds about Wooryin, or Ray Charles, Busted. We have the Ytzer Tov and the Ytzer Horah, Gottah keep pushin back against the Ytzer Horah.

  9. Being sick is being sick. We don’t have special cards for those who have kidney stones, or for getting a hip replacement. I would appreciate cards, but a simple “I’m thinking of you.” Would be enough for me. I find the cards in the article absurd

  10. Oh, well….um, I can’t say that I’d a/ppreciate those cards. I mean, one of them was funny (the list of if you’d done certain things today) but I’m not sure I’d want to receive a card like that. I mean, most people don’t know where you are in your healing, etc, so that’s a bit risky in my book. And I can laugh in retrospect, but not so sure I would have when I was there. I like the idea of cards that are supportive, but there is a much better way to do it than that. (coming from a psychotherapist). Regular card companies have made some great “encouragement” cards over the years and that’s the kind of thing I’d come up with if I were writing them. I’m not as creative as you are, Laura. LOL Yes, I would call those cards “hokey” and mostly inappropriate. I’m quite sure you’ve been waiting for my opinion on the matter ๐Ÿ˜‰ LOL
    We’re in WA and so grateful to be! We’re staying in my hubby’s sister’s very nice and big 5th wheel camper here in the woods behind her house….it’s just like camping but w/ all teh amenities! Yes, a bed, tv, shower/toilet, laundry, kitchen w/ propane stove and microwave and refrigerator; plus, a little desk area and a nice sized living room w/ two couches and an electric fireplace! Not to make you jealous or anything ๐Ÿ˜‰ At my age w/ my body (same for my hubby) and w/ our special needs adult son this is the way to go! Oh, and our two dogs. Our kitties never made it out of the driveway ๐Ÿ˜ฆ It was so hard to leave them behind, but we ran out of time since my son and I had to catch a plane. Our neighbors are caring for them and I’m working on finding a new home for them.
    We are having problems here and there that seem ever so unnecessary, but they’re there nonetheless. Thank God for all the blessings!!!! They, and He, keep us going. We’re still working on getting things settled and such, but I’ll do some catching up on your life over time. Until then, much love, peace and blessings, Sara

    • Yay, Sara, I’m so glad to hear from you, as always! Great comment.

      I’m happy that you are at last in WA and enjoying the camping life. Sorry about your kitties….hope they find good homes with all the things that kitties like.

      Guess what, I may be heading to the PNW myself, at least for a while. I want to check out a few places.

      Keep in touch, gentle hugs!

      • Oh, my gosh, Laura! How great would it be to meet finally?! Please do keep in touch when you are getting close to this area and we can arrange to get together. If I didn’t tell you, we are living in a town called Yelm right now; it’s just southeast of Olympia. Our daughter lives in Shelton, which is north of Olympia about 25 minutes on the peninsula side….and the drive between Oly and Shelton is gorgeous! Through the National Forest lands, surrounded by trees and mountains in view ๐Ÿ™‚ We can meet either place or anywhere fairly near that you would like.
        About the kitties: today I had a response from a couple that want to adopt our kitties! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ™‚ They will be living on a 40 acre farm, which they will love since their favorite place to be is outside. There are barns and outbuildings for when the weather is cold or rainy. We are so grateful!! Our son will take care of getting the kitties to their new family on his day off ๐Ÿ™‚
        So, do keep me updated and I’ll do the best I can to keep up w/ your blog. I think I’ve given you my email addy before? I’ll check to see if I have yours, and if not I’ll come back and leave mine for you. Love, peace and blessings (and thanks for the gentle hugs…right back at you)

        • Oh wow, you’re in some gorgeous country there! Can hardly call it “country” even…it’s so magical! I got to hike most of the Ho River Trail when I was doing my mini-fellowship in the ER at Children’s in ’89. Later, in 2004 I think, I got to fly over the Peninsula, and Mount Olympus, in a private plane! What a trip that was…especially since I was the one flying the plane!!! (Bucket list itemโœ”)

          I so very much hope to get out that way. My nervous system is not holding up too well, not a good thing at all. I’ll write a post about it tomorrow if I can, but briefly, Cleveland Clinic Neurology attending is strongly suspicious of thoracic involvement, so next week I get to spend two hours in the scanner. The only part of my CNS they’re not scanning is lumbar because, who cares? Bwahahahaha! Just kidding.

          I’m so very glad your kitties have found a good home. Great to be able to feel good with all the critters accounted for!

          Talk soon (email anyway)! โค

          • Ah, then you know the beauty of this area ๐Ÿ™‚ Wow, flying a plane over the Peninsula….a great bucket list item!
            I’m am sad to know about you having issues with your nervous system…that is scary stuff, Laura! I do hope you get some answers soon, and a solution/intervention. I don’t think I could take 2hrs in a scanner…if it’s MRI or something enclosed anyway. I had a bad experience once in a mobile one and panicked, a true panic attack…the only one I’ve ever had. Now I tend to be claustrophobic and the one time since then I’ve needed an mri they arranged it so that if I tipped my head back I could see the room/ceiling so I was able to do it. I will look forward to hearing from you with more details and eventually results.
            Do take care of you and whenever you are able to make it out here I will be here to give you a gentle hug xoxo Love, Peace and Blessings

  11. I think I’d feel a bit odd if someone sent me one of those! They seem a little patronising to me, but perhaps I’m just being a bit sensitive. I think I’d much prefer a generic ‘get well’ card and a bit ol’ tub of ice-cream! ๐Ÿ˜›

  12. I think the idea is about this whole getting mental illnesses out of the closet thing. Which can definitely be done in a better, less icky sort of way. I mean, how cringeworthy would it be to be in hospital and get a card from someone which offers to build you a blanket fort? A “thinking of you” card works better. As does actually turning up and doing practical stuff. And this works just as well for the chronic pain illnesses, I would guess.

    Or text messages. Sending a message saying “how are you doing? Have you eaten today? If not, I’m bringing you a pizza* and if you want me to go away straight away, that’s fine” is way more practical.

    * or favourite foodstuff of the person receiving the message.

    • I agree. Trying to force “happy happy joy joy” on someone who is struggling just to keep breathing heaps stress upon stress.

      If someone knows the ill person well enough to visit and bring flowers or a thoughtful gift (chocolate!!!), or if they’re at home, send over food, I think that’s great. “Thinking of you” cards are also good.

      What I find offensive about these cards is that they operate under the assumption that putting a bandaid (plaster) over the wound will make the wound feel better. This doesn’t make us feel better; it just covers the ugliness so that the outer world, which is made uncomfortable by ugly wounds, can’t see it.

  13. Oh no! Don’t like those cards! They make it sound silly, mental health illness isn’t silly. I would definately prefer a normal thinking of you card, and someone dropping off food!


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