We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, and encourage you all to do the same! Here’s a list of books to help get your 2019 off right.
Today, Just Like Yesterday by Richard Kirby
Why? Richard’s inspirational journey through dysthymia led him to undertake 100 mental, physical and emotional challenges designed to raise awareness of the condition. He did it over the course of several years, but there’s no reason not to challenge yourself a few times in 2019!
As Big Ben’s 12th bong heralded the arrival of 2014, I was all too aware that just a few months later I would reach my 50th birthday. I didn’t particularly relish the prospect, but nonetheless it was a milestone I wanted to commemorate in some way (“celebrate” doesn’t quite feel like the right word!).
Courtesy of a rare flash of inspiration, the idea of setting myself a series of “challenges” started to develop in the last few weeks of 2013, and by the start of the new year it had grown into a list of at least 40 tasks.
I wanted each challenge to give me either a brand-new experience or, alternatively, some kind of a test – whether it was mental, emotional, physical or something that required a great deal of planning. The common theme (which reinforced the mental health focus) was that to fulfil most of the challenges, I would need to ask for help – maybe from someone I didn’t know very well (or at all) – just as I had in that doctor’s surgery almost a decade earlier.
Doing Single Well by Gemma Cribb
Why? Being single can often come with a multitude of negative feelings. If you felt a bit left out when the clock struck midnight, never fear – Gemma’s here to explain why being single can in fact be liberating!
So, why am I single?
It’s not because I’m ugly or fat. Like Bridget Jones, it’s not because ‘underneath my clothes my entire body is covered in scales.’ It’s not because I don’t get out. My poor neglected fridge rarely sees groceries, I eat out so much. I’m not a nervous dater. In fact, I’ve been accused of liking dating too much for my own good! I’m not boring, stupid, frigid, or psycho.
I’m just single.
This is where life has led me.
I have neither hunted down a relationship nor pushed it away. I feel that, like a rudderless boat, my present circumstances merely reflect where the current of the opportunities I’ve had has taken me. And tomorrow, I might end up on relationship shores … who knows? All I know is that either way, my aim will be to remain happy and fulfilled, and to have an exciting journey. That, to me, is Doing Single Well.
Stress in the City by Enoch Li
Why? Is your New Year’s resolution to restore your work/life balance? In Stress in the City, Enoch explains how burning out at her stressful job could have been avoided, and gives you tips on how to reclaim yourself out of office.
Assuming that that’s the definition of happiness, the irony was that I didn’t have the energy to be happy. I had the spare time, but I was too bogged down by these images and reputations I had to create: the caring friend, the cool boss, the loving child, the efficient one. I spent all my energy living up to these standards – either those that others imposed on me or, even worse, those I presumed were imposed by others. I thought they would make me loved and liked. Consequently, my spirit and vigour started to erode. Some days, when I was supposed to be studying, I would just lie in bed until four o’clock in the afternoon, feeling lethargic. When I could push myself out of bed in the evening to make myself a pot noodle, I would berate myself for delaying the study plan and progress.
I had a life plan in the form of a Microsoft Word document that I followed to the letter, listing things I was to accomplish by the time I was 26 years old, by the time I was 30, 35, and so on. It was just all achievements or qualifications. It consisted of a list of cities I would like to visit, such as Buenos Aires and Rio de Janiero, and things to do before I died, like seeing the Northern Lights and polar bear cubs. I noted down activities I would like to do such as sky diving and parachuting, plus going to a fashion show. Planning was paramount. It gave me a direction and a sense of purpose, even though I had no idea where I was going and what my destination was – retirement? Retirement seemed a long way away for a young adult of 25. Pondering the meaning of life could wait; I had to sit through my Paris posting first.
Must Try Harder by Paula McGuire
Why? Paula suffered from extreme social anxiety to the point where she had become a recluse. But then she decided to grab life by the balls, learning all 17 Commonwealth Games sports, naked-life modelling, and even astronaut training! If that doesn’t inspire you to kick ass in 2019, we don’t know what will.
For the most part, I’m no longer pandering to luck or any of its demands, and it isn’t a huge victory to work out why. Learning to face life, in all its mountainous highs, and deep-sea lows, has taught me to take control of my own reality and let go of the daft idea that I can control anything else.
Reconnecting with the world, being outside among its wildest places and people, reminded me how very small my one human brain actually is. For far too long, it had been my everything: insulating me, surrounding me, and convincing me to believe all that it said. I was in an abusive relationship with myself. Keeping me in line, through fear and doubt, were anxiety’s chains, and to break them I had to start trying to see things in context, whether that was a black-and-white bird or a well-functioning drainage system.
Gradually, I realised that my thoughts, no matter how loud and obnoxious, couldn’t always be trusted because there was so much they didn’t know about the world, and more still they didn’t know about me.
OCD, Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Related Depression. The Definitive Survival and Recovery Approach by Adam Shaw and Lauren Callaghan
Why? If you’re looking to get to grips with your mental health this year, our very first book is a great place to start! Part 1 tells the story of our founder, Adam, who was struggling with OCD, anxiety, panic attacks and depression. In part 2, his psychiatrist (and our co-founder!) Lauren tells us how she went about changing his world forever – and she can help you too.
Teaser: When I first met Lauren and she told me that, rather than fighting my OCD and anxiety, I’d be better off accepting it, I thought she might be joking.
‘What a cop-out!’ I told myself when she’d gone. ‘How can I accept something I’ve been fighting all these years? I need to find a solution to my problem – anything else is just giving in.’
I saw my illness as a ‘fight’, a ‘battle’ and a ‘struggle’, and for all my life I’d responded by putting up my fists and trying to fight back.
To be told to lay down my arms and accept the situation as it was seemed ridiculous. There was no way I was going to ‘accept’ anything about OCD and anxiety.
At one point during the first couple of sessions, Lauren said: ‘Adam, everything you thought would be helpful over the last thirty years in trying to fight your mental health issues – has any of it ever worked?’
‘I suppose so,’ I replied, ‘but only temporarily.’
‘OK,’ she said, ‘then you’ve been trying to figure this out for more than thirty years and it’s made you very ill. So why not try it another way – even if it feels uncomfortable?’
So I thought about it, and just decided to give it a go.
Sex, Suicide and Serotonin by Debbie Hampton
Why? Debbie’s story is truly inspirational. After suffering critical brain injuries following a suicide attempt, she had to relearn how to how to speak, and how to fit back into society. Hers is a tale of how, through her own resolve, courage and commitment, she forged a new life for herself and proved her doubters wrong – and so can you!
Living a fearless life doesn’t mean recklessly throwing caution to the wind, because caution isn’t the same as fear, and I have to be brutally honest with myself to know the difference sometimes. To consciously choose actions and thoughts that coincide with my desired growth and intentions, even if they are fear-producing, is always an option in every situation. Through these choices, I decide who I’m going to be. Dr Joe Vitale said, “You are the masterpiece of your own life; you are the Michelangelo of your experience. The David that you are sculpting is you.” Your emotions and thoughts are your artist’s tools.
I read somewhere that the more you love yourself, the less effect fear has on you. In an evolutionary process that took years, I moved out of my anxiety-ridden, fear-based existence, transcended my past, and began to experience compassion for myself. Because absolutely everything else good stems from self-love, learning to love myself was a cornerstone for creating the “new Debbie”.
Teacup in a Storm by Tova Feinman
Why? If making that brave step to seek help is on your agenda for the new year, Tova’s got a book you might want to read. Teacup in a Storm is the story of how she finally settled on “Dr Right” and how the ensuing relationship changed her life for the better.
Dr. Guterson beat me to it. I was almost sold on this guy as my psychiatrist.
Just as I was preparing to leave, Dr. Guterson said something to me that became the cornerstone of what would be our enduring relationship. He said, ‘I believe in your ability to heal, Tova.’
And you know what? At that moment, I believed that he believed that. I didn’t believe it, but I was willing to let him hold on to my hope for safekeeping. So not only did I return for the next appointment, but also for every appointment after that.
Our doctor-patient journey had begun.
Body Image Problems and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. The Definitive Treatment and Recovery Approach by Chloe Catchpole, Lauren Callaghan and Dr. Annemarie O’Connor
Why? January is traditionally the time of year when gyms are flooded with people wanting to change their appearances. Here, Chloe explains how her low self-esteem grew so bad that she felt unable to leave the house. In part 2, her psychiatrists Lauren and Annemarie explain the CBT techniques they used to help Chloe feel comfortable in her own skin and show her a whole new world of freedom.
I knew full well that I was extremely ugly and disfigured. Sometimes – very occasionally – the odd thought would flash through my mind that maybe, just maybe, I was wrong. Maybe my neck didn’t stick out, maybe my skin wasn’t blemished, and maybe there wasn’t hair all over my face. But then I’d see my reflection in a shop window and I’d see that it was actually all true.
That was my life. There was no prospect of getting better. I was destined to live life as a recluse. It was the only way I could be sure I’d keep my hideous features hidden away from other people.
It wasn’t until much later, when I was diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, that all these things started to make any kind of sense. It was only then that I realised I had a mental illness. It was only then that I had any hope that I might, one day, get better.
And then, finally, when I met Lauren and Annemarie and started treatment, things really started to change for the better …
BUY IT HERE.
Stripped Bare by Sharon Bull
Why? Finding yourself scrolling the Boxing Day sales – despite having only just opened your presents – just because you need more? Sharon was the same – until it turned into a debilitating spending addiction that meant bad things for her mental health. Stripped Bare is the story of how she overcame that and went back to basics for a simpler life.
It’s hard to believe now that my image and importance of my status within society had somehow become the focus of my life. Sadly, this self-centred obsession with cars, body image, money, and promotion affects so many of us, and it’s galvanised by years of cleverly constructed marketing, engineered by banks and large corporate businesses to make huge profits.
What baffles me the most about this time in my life is that despite having everything I thought would make me happy, I couldn’t see that I wasn’t. My constant bouts of severe depression, anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, and debt were all painting a completely different picture. And it wasn’t happiness!
Up until 2010 I was completely occupied by a self-cherishing attitude, a mentality that seems to be encouraged across western civilisations. We are persuaded by advertisers never to be satisfied with who we are and what we have. We are constantly striving to be better than the next person by improving our status, climbing the corporate ladder, and accumulating material possessions. But at what cost?
Pull your socks up, it’s the New Year! And we have a resolution for you – be the best you this year!
Of course, all of our books are truly inspirational! You can find them all here.