Tuesday, 5 May 2015

On The Up From The Bottom: Some Reads That Helped.

Last week I took a big ol step into the unknown when I shared with you all about my struggles with my own mental health. If you missed it, it was a little attempt at de-stigmatising conversation around depression and anxiety in the hope that it'd help a few others out there. Can I just take a second to thank all of you for your kind words, support and cheers at the idea. Yes, it was VERY hard for me to post, YES it has helped a few others and YES I am doing ok, but thanks for asking! 

It certainly wasn't posted from sitting down one morning and sharing some of the deepest parts of me, for months, maybe even closer to a year there had been that one untitled post sitting in my drafts, every now and then being restarted and scrapped. Feeling like you've revealed too little that others will think 'she's just depressed because she has daddy issues' was one of my biggest fears. There is much more 'meat on the bone' if you like but it was always a concern as to how my post would effect those still actively very much in my life. Which led me to my next concern 'revealing too much' and the repercussions that could have followed sharing the reasons behind my later years illness. Maybe it's something that will come with time, maybe the worry of how others will feel will keep deeper thoughts at bay. 

One of the strongest responses came from those that my post helped, sparked some light of interest into the ways I'd helped learn to cope and to manage. A few of you asked what books I'd found worked well for me, many of you asked me a little more about mindfulness. The ever quest for the anxious and depressed is to find a way to manage your thoughts that it shouldn't have surprised me really. All of the below listed books I've read at some stage during my illness; some haven't helped alone but with the knowledge of other reads have guided me to a stronger path. Please feel more than free to ask more about any of them, a couple I still use on a daily basis.

1) Mindfulness: Be mindful. Live in the moment- This book was the start of my self-awareness journey. Packed with practical and thought provoking advice, it taught me to start managing my thoughts, recognising patterns and influencing my own mind.

2) The Creative Colouring Book For Grown-ups - These books have become quite popular in recent months and I had this one a couple of years back for those calming moments. It's important to recognise when you need a little time to sit and not think- distracting the mind can sometimes be the hardest part of being human let alone depressed! 

3) Sane New World: Taming The Mind- This is written by Ruby Wax and it was actually my mum that gave it to me. Though I still think it's maybe a little too middle aged for me, combining this read with the ones I'd read before and those since has helped me laugh a little more, I find myself thinking of Ruby's quick witted quips and reflecting back on it, this book helped in it's own little way.

4) The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking. Better Decisions.- I came across this book almost eighteen months ago, in fact I think I shared it with you all when I did. You probably see it pop up in the odd blog post photo, forever by my side. Though my copy has now been half gnawed by Batman, I re-read the chapters from this book almost every day. Sitting on the train, I start my day with at least one (the excerpts are quite short making it perfect for refreshing!) little read to help balance my mind for the day. Filled with easy-read examples of practicing mindfulness, self-awareness and decision making help, this book continues to be one that I hold close to my heart.

5) Mindfulness Plain & Simple- Is definitely the most user friendly book I've found. To be honest, if you're not much of a reader it's probably the most concise and short term effective guide to practicing mindfulness. I read this after I'd read all of the above though and though found it helpful, it was maybe a little too simple when you're hunting for an explanation for your thoughts? If that makes any sense at all?

Mindfulness and self support is probably for me been much harder than therapy or medication because it's certainly not a short term fix, it's something that takes continuing patience and practice; two things that can be pretty hard to gain when fighting with yourself. For me, I needed something to focus on, a logical way of processing why I wasn't feeling 'like me' or how to stop what I know can be a spiralling mess of thoughts clouding you. If anyone would recommend any other reads please do let me know! 

Love Sophie Xx

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