Our Human Library Book of the Month series is a way to offer our readers a unique glimpse into the tremendous diversity within our bookshelves around the world. And at the same time, it is also an opportunity for our books to highlight what it is about the Human Library that they find most important in their work as Human Books. This month’s book is truly inspirational and the reasons why she shares her story is amazing.
This month’s book is Syrine, who is 25 years old and born in Bizerte, Tunisia. She is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Quite often in the Human Library we highlight what the readers gain from engaging in a dialogue with one of our human books, but Syrine empathizes how much value being a part of the Human Library Bookshelf has had for her. And for the way she sees her illness. When first diagnosed she experienced what she describes as, “auto-stigmatization” by comparing herself to others and viewing her illness as a total handicap. She feared that this diagnosis would limit her in a serious manner and that it “would be the end of a journey”. Instead she decided to accept the illness and become in control of it.
For Syrine, being a book is an opportunity for “self-grow” and as she says, “Shame can no longer survive once one opens up about his story and his vulnerabilities and reader’s eyes says ‘me too’. Sharing with strangers your insecurities, your fears and your journey can teach others empathy and compassion and you are no longer alone in this”.
For Syrine, sharing her story with her readers is a way for her to accept her condition and to not feel alone. It helps her to see, that every human being has been through hardship and have experienced pain in some way or another. As she states herself, through a reading you get a chance “to connect on a deeper level with others and understand that each one of us has his own battle in this life”.
When asked about her most frequent questions it becomes obvious that many readers borrow her out of a personal interest in her topic, either because the readers themselves have been diagnosed with similar disorders, has a person close by them who is having the condition or just wants to know more about the topic from someone who is affected by the illness. Readers often ask, “How can we help someone with a mental illness? / Did your illness had an impact on your family and relationships? / What is the difference between bipolar and schizophrenia?”
As a book, Syrine helps her readers to gain insight into living a life with bipolar disorder. How it affects your life and how knowing her triggers has put her back in control regarding her illness. She teaches her readers how to express love and understanding towards mentally ill people, as Syrine puts it herself, “[..] replace the tap on the shoulder with a hug and ‘why are you overreacting’ with ‘I understand you, I am here for you’”
Syrine stresses that it’s important for people to accept their vulnerability and illness, because out of those comes strength. Finally, we will leave you with these inspirational words from Syrine: “There’s always hope and as long as you are trying, you can do it. Chase your dreams and go after what awakens your soul, and when you feel lost just look at the long road you have walked.”