50 Thoughts: Sometimes Salvation Really is Between the Pages of a Self-Help Book

Originally posted September 10, 2018

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to write about tonight until I stumbled across another friend’s blog.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I don’t typically pay much attention to this, for no other reason than I can’t easily think of anyone in my life that has died in this fashion. In my near 50 years, there is a single person — a former colleague of my husband’s — that I know ended his own life. And to this day, almost 15 years later, it’s still impossible to understand the “why.” So it’s unfeasible for me to fathom the pain that must ensue when this happens to a loved one.

But I do understand sadness. Depression. Anxiety.

As my friend wrote about her anxiety, I could empathize, as while I am not demonstrably hindered by mine, it is always there. Always. And it’s only exacerbated raising a child with special needs. I have days, even weeks, where I dread checking my email. Where I wince when the phone rings. Because anxiety is there, whispering in my ear about the impending bad news I am sure it is. Anxiety is so incredibly evil in that it makes it so very hard to enjoy the good times because you’re convinced bad times are waiting just outside, smoking a cigarette in the alley, waiting for you to step out for a breath of fresh air so they can blow smoke in your face and call you stupid for thinking you had it good.

It’s insidious. And relentless. Which makes it perfectly understandable why some people dealing with this have days where they want to stay in bed.

Then there’s that blasted perimenopause. As if somehow we’re supposed to keep it together when our hormones are going haywire. I laughed out loud when recent news about depression and perimenopause showed up in my social media newsfeeds. Seriously? We needed science to fill us in on that one? I’ve often wondered how many women that divorced their husbands between the ages of 48 and 52 now look back and wonder, “What was I thinking? Oh yeah — perimenopause.”

I can’t offer a prescription for relief for everyone, but I do know what works for me, and that’s reading.

Making a connection through text to another human being is grounding for me in ways I can’t fully describe. I just know it makes my soul feel better to know someone else out there understands how I am feeling.

Of course, it’s the completely self-aware, confident person that can walk into a self-help section at the bookstore and peruse what’s available. It’s also that person that likely doesn’t need one of those books, then .. no? So, thank you, internet. Now you can peruse online and no one but your browser history needs to know.

A few books that have made me feel better?

The Book of Joy

Wild

F*ck Feelings

When Breath Becomes Air

The Gifts of Imperfection

The Gratitude Diaries

A book doesn’t solve everything. Or sometimes, anything. But books can remind you there are others that feel the way you do. And that’s a connection worth the effort.

Today’s recommendation: I gotta give a second shout out to the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with The Book of Joy. It is outstanding.

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