A humorous look at infertility and fertility treatment, which has really cheered me up. It turns out I'm not the only one who feels the need to add an...moreA humorous look at infertility and fertility treatment, which has really cheered me up. It turns out I'm not the only one who feels the need to add an extra column for the "Are you pregnant?" question on the dentist's form, or who checks before booking holidays whether they're likely to clash with ovulation. Some of the situations didn't apply to me (baby-making sex has never been an option for OH and I, for example) and I might have liked the book to be fleshed out a little with other women's experiences. But everything that I have experienced was spot on. This book has made me feel less alone and made me laugh during a very difficult time. Thank you, Infertile Naomi!(less)
I haven't read all of this book, as a lot of it is fairly standard CBT stuff for anxiety which I was already familiar with. I thought the section on a...moreI haven't read all of this book, as a lot of it is fairly standard CBT stuff for anxiety which I was already familiar with. I thought the section on assertiveness, though, was excellent. It covers all the main anxiety disorders and takes a fairly holistic approach.(less)
I've tried out three DBT self-help books, and this one is by far the best. It's well laid out, easy to understand and very user-friendly. It teaches y...moreI've tried out three DBT self-help books, and this one is by far the best. It's well laid out, easy to understand and very user-friendly. It teaches you mindfulness techniques as well as skills for getting through a crisis, improving mood, and getting your needs met in relationships. I've found these particularly useful for coping with stress.
One of the things I like about this book is it doesn't make any assumptions about the reader, or target a particular mental health problem. DBT was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder, but this book is equally suitable for people who want to learn DBT skills to tackle other issues.
The other DBT books I've read were Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life by Scott Spradlin and Depressed and Anxious by Thomas Marra. The former is very much aimed at people with BPD, and I couldn't relate to a lot of it. It also goes into a lot of detail on some aspects of DBT, but is sketchy about others. Depressed & Anxious was a very difficult book to understand, and I gave up after one and a half chapters.
So if you're interested in DBT, whatever your diagnosis, in my opinion The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook is the one to try!(less)
Mind Over Mood is sometimes described as the Bible of cognitive behavioural therapy - though I know a couple of CBT therapists and trainee therapists...moreMind Over Mood is sometimes described as the Bible of cognitive behavioural therapy - though I know a couple of CBT therapists and trainee therapists who would debate this! It's essentially a book about how to do a thought record to reduce feelings of depression, anxiety or other distressing emotions. This involves identifying the thoughts that are running through your head, deciding which one makes you feel worst, listing the factual evidence for and against that thought, then coming up with an "alternative" more balanced or rational thought. I describe how to do a thought record with examples from one of my own here: http://siriusproject.org/cbt.html.
As far as CBT-style self-help goes, I think this is one of the better books out there, particularly if you have difficulty concentrating or get overwhelmed easily. Everything is described clearly, step by step, and lots of blank worksheets are provided. Be prepared to put up with some cheesy American case studies. ;)
My main concern is to what extent this type of self-help can actually benefit people with clinical depression or anxiety disorders. My own experience is that thought records do help in the short term, and are a useful way of coping with depression. However, I haven't found that they help me recover from the illness or prevent relapse. I also don't find CBT effective for my anxiety issues, and the chapters on behavioural approaches and changing core beliefs here did nothing for me.(less)
I come back to this book whenever I'm freaking out about things that are beyond my control. I'm not a Buddhist, but Buddhist philosophy makes a lot of...moreI come back to this book whenever I'm freaking out about things that are beyond my control. I'm not a Buddhist, but Buddhist philosophy makes a lot of sense to me and I find Chödrön's writing very grounding.(less)
Sunbathing is both Lewis’ account of her own experiences of severe depression and a sort of guide to the illness. I could relate to the author a lot....moreSunbathing is both Lewis’ account of her own experiences of severe depression and a sort of guide to the illness. I could relate to the author a lot. Like me, she’s a poet, was very much a career woman and her breakdown seemed to be triggered by stress. We also have/had a tendancy to drink too much and were both mugged while living in a foreign country, although that’s probably less relevant.
Lewis views depression as a kind of ‘early’ warning system that the way you’re living your life is unbearable, unsustainable. She says depression makes us stop lying to ourselves. It slows us down and forces us to live in the moment. If you don’t try to fight your depression, and don’t ‘act out’ but sit with it and let it take its course, it can be a gift that you emerge from enriched. Depression, she says, is a murder mystery and you are both ghost and detective. “Your job is to find out which part of you has died and why it had to be killed.”
Apart from the word ‘early’, this is all resonating with me so much. I know it’s a bit of a controversial view and I’m not arguing it’s true for everyone’s depression, but I think it is for me. I’ve been hurtling along at a pace I know I can’t cope with and trying to convince myself I love it. I do genuinely love a lot of my work and some things about my PhD, but the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
Lewis says depression is what happens when you ‘abuse’ your willpower. Apparently, willpower is for steeling you for particularly unpleasant tasks, like cleaning up vomit or making a scary phone call. It shouldn’t be your day-to-day source of energy, as it’s a finite resource and will run out. As such, recovering from depression is not really about getting back to your ‘old self’; it’s about growing into your new self and finding the life you want to lead. This is interesting. When I first recovered from my breakdown, I did feel very much changed. I had new interests, new friends and a much more relaxed lifestyle. But somewhere along the line, I seem to have confused recovery with becoming the person I used to be, with poetry and academia and stress. I’m not saying all those things are bad and have no place in my life, but I think I need to reassess who I am and what I want now and not keep making assumptions about what is and isn’t right for me.
Food for thought.
NB. The book is broken up into lots of short passages which is supposed to make it easier to read when depressed. However, the language is very literary and there are a lot of quite intellectual references, making it difficult to follow when your concentration is poor. Although I’d highly recommend this book, it’s definitely aimed at well educated readers, and is not one to attempt in the depths of severe depression!