“Don’t Call Me a Drama Queen” by Dr. Debra Mandel
c.2008, Alyson Books $14.95 / $16.45 Canada 232 pages

You’re ashamed to admit it, but it happened again.

Another minor annoyance in your life made you fly off the handle. You overreacted with tears and hysterics, and you practically demanded that your partner, your family, the entire world pay attention to a little problem that was just that: little.

You’re a drama queen, for sure, but you don’t like it. You’ve tried to calm down, you’ve tried not to make a big deal out of everything, but you don’t know how to get a grip. Start by picking up “Don’t Call Me a Drama Queen” by Dr. Debra Mandel.

First of all, is a drama queen born or bred? Is it nature or nurture? Dr. Mandel says it’s a little of both. Some babies are born more extroverted; others are naturally quieter. But what happens in a person’s childhood and formative years can definitely enhance or subtract from inherent personality tendencies.

Drama queens are not, as myth would have it, demanding of the spotlight because they like being the center of attention. They don’t choose to overreact because they enjoy what happens when they do. Instead, Dr. Mandel says, drama queens simply can’t manage their reactions.

Overall, drama queens have three main “button pushers”: loss (fear of it, or actual loss), rejection, and unforeseen (and uncontrollable) changes. Although these things are a part of life, drama queens feel singled out. The emotions that the “buttons” trigger – though controllable – can set off high drama.

So what can be done?

Understand that your instinctive “fight, flight, or freeze” defense won’t let you down. Practice R.E.A.C.T (learn to distinguish Reality from projection and Emergency from non-emergency, decide on an Action, be prepared for the Consequences and when the crisis is over, Think about what happened). Learn to lighten up and change your expectations when things don’t go the way you think they should. Understand your past and do away with victim mentality. Learn to make a conscious choice in how your feelings and emotions influence your actions. Realize that perfection is impossible by accepting “good enough”.

Choose to be happy.

Tired of riding the Tilt-a-Whirl of tumultuousness? Sick of your partner’s constant emotional outbursts? “Don’t Call Me a Drama Queen” is a good book, no matter which side of the hurricane you’re on.

Author Debra Mandel claims to be a drama queen herself, so she knows how it feels to be powerless against deep-seated emotions. The nicest part about this book, though, is that she’s so darn comforting. She stresses that drama queens can rid themselves of their crowns while keeping their flamboyant, “lovable” personalities. She helps partners understand what it’s like to be on the performing end of the storm. And she is quick to say that drama queens should seek professional help if her advice isn’t enough.

If life overwhelms you and you want to learn to lighten up, grab this book. Not having a copy of “Don’t Call Me a Drama Queen” isn’t the end of the world, but it’s close.