Silencing the Inner Ghosts is a creative journal specifically designed for Young Adults (15-25) dealing with non-suicidal self-harm by someone who has 25 years of “been there, done that” lived experience with mental illness.


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of people who self-harm begin during their teens


of teens who self-harm aren't being treated


of people left to self-harm will continue to do so into their 20s


of people who attempt suicide have self-harmed

Statistics may vary from country to country but…
self-harm has become far too common and most of the people suffering aren’t getting treatment that could be helping them.


Silencing the Inner Ghosts aims to provide a safe, private place for you to get to know your personal Ghosts—to explore and tackle your self-harming activites—through a combination of therapy techniques in a 6×9, softcover first edition, including:

– 212 pages
– Artwork by Patmai De Vera
– 39 art prompts
– 43 writing prompts
– Monthly trigger log
– Daily mood doodle log
– 15 colouring pages
– Mental health resource lists + MORE!

Created under the guidance of a qualified psychologist, the journal was specifically designed for young adults in a style that would appeal to them and address age-specific issues. It can easily be used as a form of guided self-therapy for those unable (or unwilling) to access other medical interventions, or in conjunction with other medical resources, such as psychologists and counsellors.

With use and time, Silencing the Inner Ghosts can help you transform yourself into an active participant in your personal journey towards recovery from non-suicidal self-harm. Start the challenge of silencing your Ghosts and reclaim control over your psychological well-being.


VJ Cast is a neurotypical non-fiction author, introvert, and co-parent of a home-schooled tween on the spectrum.

She’s spent over two decades struggling with depression, social anxiety, trichotillomania, disordered eating (EDNOS), and bipolar II. Fibromyalgia enjoys kicking her ass, so she’s close friends with numerous hot water bottles.

She’s likes comfy pants with pockets, table-top roleplaying games, and making a mess with too many DIY projects. She’s also definitely a cat person.

She dislikes (most) social media, having to wear makeup, photographs of herself, and watching her child grow up.

She lives on a small island off the coast of South East Queensland (Australia) with an abundance of wildlife and way too many mosquitoes.

Her hair colours, like her medications, are subject to change.


“The ghost needs you to see things in one way, and only that way. It needs to darken the room, draw the curtains, and focus you on a carnival mirror that distorts who you are. V’s new opus challenges you to shine a light on the pain, and the things that keep it going…”

Dr Travis Gee, PhD (Psychology, Carleton, 1998) is a psychologist practising in Queensland, Australia, with nearly two decades’ experience helping people from around the world. He has sat on the Executive Board of the Australian Counselling Association for many years, where he has edited journals and consulted on policy, and he has recently joined the Executive Board of the Black Ribbon Foundation of Australia.

Dr Gee has experience with a broad range of clinical issues, ranging from depression and anxiety through schizophrenia, bipolar disorder with psychotic features, drug and alcohol addiction, phobias, Asperger’s Disorder, grief and trauma.


Patricia “Patmai” de Vera is an illustrator and artist from the Phillipines who graduated from De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde with a degree in Multimedia Art.

She aspires to become a character concept and storyboard artist in the hopes of creating and molding the childhoods of future generations. She currently works as a freelance illustrator with numerous, varied clients and curates her works-in-progress on her Instagram, Tumblr, and website.

Patmai has worked creatively on Challenging the Black Dog as illustrator and concept artist for nearly two years after meeting VJ online.


Silencing the Inner Ghosts is to self-harm as Challenging the Black Dog is to depression. The CtBD creative journal aims to provide a safe, private place for you to get to know your Black Dog—to explore and tackle your depression—through a combination of therapy techniques in a 6×9, softcover first edition.

Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Amazon | Powell’s Books

Waterstones | Amazon UK

Amazon AU | Etsy (coming soon)

Amazon CA | Indigo

Book Depository

Challenging the Black Dog is a resource for depression sufferers by a depression sufferer. VJ’s approach provides a very specific type of compassion and understanding that’s only available from lived experience, yet still manages to get across the idea of personal accountability for recovery.  It is a treasure trove of ideas, strategies and bite-sized prompts which can be added to by the reader.  An experimental approach is encouraged!  Importantly it provides hope and will complement professional expertise.

Patrick McGorry AO MD PhD FRANZCP

Professor of Youth Mental Health & CEO, Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health

Challenging the Black Dog isn’t about replacing professional medical help, but, it will no doubt be an effective road-map to those who are lost and seeking guidance. Challenging the Black Dog is significant in that it does not hand you answers, but rather sets you up to find them yourself.

Sam Webb

Actor + Co-founder, LIVIN

What a brilliant idea — Challenging the Black Dog is a creative resource, designed to support personal reflection and insight into the experience of depression.  And why shouldn’t the exploration of depression be creative, stimulating and ultimately uplifting? Challenging the Black Dog effectively takes the currently popular, designer “happiness journal” to a new level and depth, confronting the reality of living with depression in a format that can be both pleasurable and relatable.

Professor Jill Bennett

Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow @ UNSW & Director, The Big Anxiety

Challenging the Black Dog presents a refreshingly original approach to grappling with depression. The exercises here spark a creative process that simultaneously grounds and explores. I wish I’d had this book in my teens and twenties.

Mark Pellegrino

Actor, Supernatural, Lost + Thirteen Reasons Why


Why are the journals self-published?

Self-publishing has given me the opportunity to work on all aspects of the book myself with an illustrator of my own choosing and within the timeframes that worked around both my health issues and home-schooling by aspie teen. Also, the Print on Demand company I’ve chosen provides the specs I need for the book and will allow me to keep the price of the book and shipping costs reasonable.

Are the journals available worldwide?

YES, except for countries restricted by various retailers. Journals sold via Etsy will be available only in Australia at this time due to the nightmare costs of postage in Australia.

When will you start accepting preorders for Silencing the Inner Ghosts?

Preorders for Silencing the Inner Ghosts will hopefully be via Etsy and only available to Australian customers at this time.

Do you mainly sell to individuals or organizations?

Sales for Challenging the Black Dog have been roughly split 30/70 between individuals and organizations. Shout out to Warragul Regional College which has been implementing CtBD with its students for over a year now.

Will a bulk ordering option be available?

If you’d like to order more than 5 copies at a time, please email as discounts may apply.

Are you (VJ) a mental health professional?

No. My ‘qualifications’ for creating this book comes from 25 years experience with various mental disorders of my own, including depression, which first became apparent during my teens. However, I did regularly consult with a qualified psychologist regarding the contents of the book during its creation.

How do you know the journals can help?

Not only have I used these activities myself during depressive phases and times when I’ve self-harmed in the past, the journals has been used in a clinical setting by a qualified psychologist with several patients who suffer from depression and related issues. All the feedback has been positive.

Will the journals cure my depression/self harm?

I wish it was that simple… Some depression goes away for a long time, only to sneak back up on you later in life. Some people seem to suffer from a low-level depression as their emotional ‘set point’. Other people find that with enough help that they can permanently exclude the black dog from their life. The same goes for self-injurious behaviour. Everyone is different and I can’t make any claims that the journals will cure what ails you, but they can help alleviate the symptoms and guide you towards recovery if you give them time and a chance.

If I get a journal do I still need other therapy?

and Everyone is different and this isn’t something I can advise you on. I’ve known people who have relied solely on self-guided therapy and lifestyle changes who’ve improved their condition. I’ve known other people with treatment resistant depression or embedded self-injurious behaviours where nothing seems to work. Most people find it best to go with a combination of treatments, which can include such things as: psychotherapy interventions, medication, self-therapy, exercise + diet changes, establishing routines, hypnosis, regular self-care, support groups, and medical interventions such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The journals were written to use either as self-guided therapy (for those unable or unwilling to access medical treatment for their condition) or in conjunction with working with a therapist (as a activity workbook).

Do you recommend any specific treatments?

I’m not qualified to give medical advise and recommend you speak, at the very least, to your GP if you have concerns or questions about available treatments for depression or self-harm. I will, however, recommend you (and everyone else!) practice regular self-care.

What's "Offbeat Brains" all about?

I needed a name for my publishing imprint and the idea of expanding it into a social business/enterprise grew from there. As for the name itself: I don’t see people with mental illnesses as ‘broken’, simply a little offbeat to the way the ‘average’ (neurotypical) brain works.

Why'd you create these journals?

I’ve spent more than 25 years dealing with mental health issues, but I also ended up wasting a lot of that time to struggling and barely keeping my head above water because I was unable (and occasionally unwilling) to access appropriate mental health care and a strong support network. Over the years I’ve lost (a lot) of friends, a marriage and numerous employment opportunities because of mental illness. Some of it to the stigma attached to having a mental illness (or more), some of it to my own inability to deal with my mental health at the time. After painstakingly building my life back up since becoming a parent and finding out how much of a difference good mental health care can make I don’t want to see more young people lose time that they don’t have to with struggling, when they can, with some help and compassion, lead fulfilling lives with just as many opportunities as everyone else.

Aren't you embarrassed to have a mental illness?


Why do you have a REALLY low social media presence?

Basically: social media or sanity. I cut back heavily on social media because it was becoming an interference in my day-to-day life. I breached the ‘cardinal rule’ of authors creating a platform before publishing, otherwise I wasn’t likely to get to the point of publishing because I’m easily distracted by shiny things! However, if you really want to stalk me in my natural environment, I still sneak onto Pinterest for DIY inspiration and I post off-and-on on a Tumblr account created solely for providing original, creative prompts for fiction writers. I also respond to emails. At the moment the social media accounts for Offbeat Brains are still in development.

What are trichotillomania + fibromyalgia?

Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder. Basically it’s an urge that results in you pulling out your hair (and can include all forms of hair on the body). My tendency is to pull out my head hair (which is an improvement over my earlier years which also involved trichophagia a.k.a. hair eating) and eyebrows. For me it’s usually in response to feeling stressed, anxious, frustrated or suppressed anger. These days I keep most of my hair shaved in the areas I would normally pull, and any area with length is dyed bright colours as a form of aversion therapy (it’s slowly working). Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that involves chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure. Other symptoms include extreme tiredness, memory problems and sleep issues. The cause is unknown, treatment is difficult and even though it is neither degenerative nor fatal, the chronic pain is pervasive and persistent.


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