Taking care of yourself and your mental health can mean anything from maintaining an array of routine habits and coping tools, to navigating a disarray of crises, unpredictible setbacks, and inevitable stumbles.
I emphasize an action-oriented, integrated personal care system, detailed in my mental health handbook, Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life. I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 in 1998, and have been stable for over 17 years.
Let me help you figure out your own path to a stable life.
Please contact me me for more information!
“Ellen has been a great coach for me. She is an inspiration as an artist and as a human being!” Maria Bamford
“Rock Steady is truly a must-read for anyone who struggles with a mental disorder or someone who finds comfort in daily structure. Forney addresses readers with the tone of a caring friend, and her approach will likely make her fans eager for more grounding advice.” Booklist
“Forney's second book [Rock Steady] is packed with strategies, tools, and tips for living with mental illness—all presented in the same relatable, comic form that made her first book [Marbles] so beloved.” Health Magazine
“This nuts-and-bolts coping book manages to transcend its category and become something even non-depressed readers will enjoy.” NPR Books
“Rock Steady is part graphic memoir, part bipolar survival manual, and 100-percent Ellen Forney: creative, smart, funny, and insightful.” Bipolar Magazine
I’m an award-winning author, teacher, speaker, and mental health advocate. [Watch my TED talk, “Finding balance in bipolar”.]
Diagnosed with Bipolar I shortly before I turned 30, I recount my four-year struggle to find stability in my award-winning graphic memoir, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me. Marbles became a New York Times bestseller, and has been translated into six foreign languages.
Along with my own story, it was important to me to include practical, personal and clinical tools and techniques, things my readers could use themselves. Its companion book takes that even farther: Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice From My Bipolar Life is a handbook for maintaining mental health, with short- and long-term strategies to get and stay stable. The esteemed Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) featured Rock Steady in “Best Graphic Medicine of 2018”, and both books received a Media Partner Award from NAMI Washington (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Marbles and Rock Steady are now being used by counselors, psychiatrists, patients, and readers all over the world, with and without diagnoses.
Since my books were released, I’ve had the profound honor of hearing from a wide range of readers who connect with the stories and information - in person and in writing, from patients, therapists, psychiatrists, and readers, of all ages and from around the world. These conversations and questions inspired me to start working as a coach, so I can help people one-on-one. I’m excited that my path has taken me here!
The Rock Steady Program
“Rock” and “steady” are verbs: to rock is to get thrown off balance, to steady is to work to regain balance. Life will throw us off balance, because that’s what life does, and it’s our task to learn how to steady it.
The Rock Steady coaching program is your personalized version of Rock Steady, the mental health handbook. I recommend that you read the book before applying to work with me. It’s a good introduction to me and to the material - plus, the book may be all you need!
My program focuses on helping you integrate a wide range of healthy skills and techniques into your own life in a way that makes sense for you, so you can move forward with a sense of capability, balance, and flexibility. Maintaining stability means maintaining what I call SMEDMERTS (sleep, meds, eating, doctor, mindfulness/meditation, exercise, routine, coping tools, and support system) as well as self-acceptance, self-awareness, and self-compassion.
I am a mentor, co-problem-solver, active listener, cheerleader, and accountability partner. I listen, question, and problem-solve from the point of view of someone who knows what mental illness feels like from the inside. I will keep you company. I will help you:
- Clarify what you want to work on for the short- and long-term, including the techniques and skills of SMEDMERTS, mood regulation, and self-compassion.
- Create personalized, realistic plans of action.
- Maintain your motivation.
- Connect with and apply your strengths.
- Prepare for future problem-solving on your own.
The Rock Steady program is intended to complement the work you are doing with a therapist. Therapy gives us the bricks to build our mental health. SMEDMERTS is the masonry that keeps the bricks together.
I’m excited to share my personal experience, knowledge, and resources to help you move your own life forward. I am the coach I wish I’d had after I was first diagnosed. I am wholeheartedly dedicated to having a mentally healthy life, and if you are, too, I hope we have the opportunity to work together.
The basic package is 4 sessions, once a week for four weeks. Week 1 is a 2-hour intake session to form our foundation and determine our focus; Weeks 2 and 3 are 90-minute sessions for follow-up and planning, and Week 4 is a 90-minute assessment and planning for the future. We can also discuss creating a similar, more comprehensive package of six or eight weeks.
Check-in sessions, after you’ve done a full course, are individually-scheduled 90-minute sessions to see how you’re doing, mark a milestone, share a congratulations, do some trouble-shooting, or make adjustments.
Please download and fill out this application form to help ascertain if we are a fit to work together right now. Please note that this is not a judgement or pass-fail! Please email or send it to me, and if we set out to work together, you can schedule sessions with a link I send to you.
My fee is $150 per hour. The full amount of the four-week (or six- or eight-week) coaching package or individual check-in sessions needs to be paid at the time of scheduling the sessions. Scheduling and payment will be via Square or PayPal.
Criteria for us to work together
My coaching complements (but doesn’t replace) your work with a licensed clinician, so you’ll need to be either actively seeing or have an identifiable connection to a therapist. Therapists and psychiatrists typically concentrate on deep-seated issues and medication management, and coaching is focused on integrating and reinforcing specific present- and future-facing goals.
You need to be 18 or over, and fluent in English.
Technical requirements: we’ll be meeting via Zoom videoconference. You will need a Zoom account (free), your phone or computer with camera and audio, a comfortable, private space, and reliable internet access. (If you have disability issues that impede these, e.g. hard of hearing, please let me know and we can discuss options.)