Perfect ChaosResearch has shown that self-determination is a powerful tool to decrease the risk of depression. A recent book by Linea and Cinda Johnson, Perfect Chaos, illustrates how important  self-determination is to navigate the mental health system and manage mental health conditions after diagnosis. Perfect Chaos tells the story of Linea’s struggle with bi-polar disorder and what she, her mother and family went through to triumph over the disease.  It speaks to the power of self-determination at every turn. The importance of close relationships, belief, persistence and creativity are evident throughout their story. For me, it was made even more powerful because Linea and Cinda are my friends. Cinda and I have been professional colleagues for years and, when they were young, Linea and my daughter Alanna played together while Cinda and I conducted workshops for teachers on promoting self-determination for students with disabilities.

Perfect Chaos and Linea and Cinda’s website,,  provide excellent resources for helping students learn more about self-determination. The book could be assigned reading with specific questions that students respond to, either through discussion or a writing assignment, about how Linea and Cinda used different action components of self-determination to find their way out of the horrific situations in which they found themselves. Video presentations on the website (also available on youtube), could be used to substitute for the guest speaker suggested in session 11 of the Steps to Self-Determination curriculum. I’m sure there are a variety of other ways these resources could be used to help students learn more about self-determination and a bonus is that at the same time they would be learning about mental health issues and advocacy. If you have additional ideas, please send them to us!

Check out 2BSD’s Youtube channel to see some videos that Linea has done about her experiences with self-determination and the mental health system. They are included in our Playlist section!

Stay tuned for a video interview with Linea that Alanna will be conducting and filming later this year. This time Linea and Alanna will be teaching about self-determination and Cinda and I will be watching. Sometimes everything comes full circle.

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