Favorite Mental Health Related Books

I’m not great at reviewing books but I thought I’d at least but together a list of books that I’ve enjoyed and have helped me in with dealing with my mental illness.

These are non fiction, with the exception of one

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Here are some of my favorite mental health related books

Hearing Voices, Living Fully by Claire Bien 

Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life by Melody Moezzi 

Bulimia a Guide to Recovery by Lindsey Hall

The Eating Disorder Sourcebook by Carolyn Costin 

What a Life Can Be: One Therapist’s Take on Schizoaffective Disorder by Carolyn Dobbins, Ph. D

The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang

Surviving Schizophrenia by E. Fuller Torrey 

Maintaining Recovery from Eating Disorders by Naomi Feigenbaum

Coping Skills: Tools and Techniques for Every Stressful Situation by Faith G. Harper 

The Soloist by Steve Lopez

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michaelangelo and Me by Ellen Forney (graphic novel)

The Buddha and the Borderline by Kiera Van Gelder 

also, anything by Geneen Roth relating to eating disorders is good 

 

Here are some workbooks that are very helpful:

The Dialectical Behavior Skills Workbook for Bulimia by Ellen Astrachan-Fletcher and Michael Maslar

The Bipolar Survival Guide by David J. Miklowitz

The Binge Eating and Compulsive Overeating Workbook by Carolyn Coker Ross

Thoughts and Feelings, Fourth Edition: Taking Control of Your Mood and Your Life by Matthew McKay Ph. D, Martha Davis Ph. D and Patrick Fanning 

 

Fiction Mental Health Books:

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Spark

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That spark I was missing for so long is finally back.  I used to find inspiration everywhere, constantly getting ideas and wanting to learn more.  For a long time, probably the better part of the past year I wasn’t feeling any excitement or happiness.  I had tried to get it back for so long, but nothing did it.  It’s not something that can be forced, it’s not just a state of mind, it’s a physical feeling as well.  I wasn’t necessarily unhappy or depressed but I didn’t feel good emotions intensely anymore. Maybe it’s my recent medication changes/adjustment, all I know is I feel like myself again.  I have always been a really upbeat optimistic person, and I feel happiness on such a deep level.  After about 3 months of not hanging out with friends and isolating myself making up excuses, cancelling plans all the time due to anxiety, I started being social again.  Earlier this week I spent the whole day with a good friend of mine and had a lot of fun.  Today I went out to lunch.  I’ve been drawing and writing much more frequently, exercising, staying on top of cleaning my place. Things excite me again, I have goals and ambitions.  I’m hoping very much that this continues, and am definitely taking advantage of it.  🙂

 

Agitation and Anxiety

The spring/summer time is difficult for me.   I’m not exactly sure why but I get very agitated often during these months.  It’s like I’m ready to implode or something, it’s frustrating but I’ve been doing my best to calm myself down when this happens.  I think that I’ve made a lot of improvement over the years.  A long time ago if I was feeling like that I would generally act on impulse and do stupid/reckless things.  I’m able to recognize when I’m feeling on edge now and to take steps to chill out.

Last night it was coloring and videogames.  I enjoy coloring, it’s relaxing, hard to get myself to actually do it but once I do I get lost in it and feel a lot better afterwards because I’m doing something with my hands, coloring different pieces one at a time and focusing all of my attention.  Videogames of course are a great distraction for me.  Right now I’m playing Lets Go Pikachu.  Next game I plan on playing is Stardew Valley, I already own it but wanted to just focus on one or two games at a time.

I took a walk today and it felt really nice to get out and clear my mind.  The weather was beautiful.  Another thing I’ve been doing is turning on my scented wax tart melter.  Aromatherapy helps keep me grounded.

One problem when I get agitated and restless is that I feel so.. I don’t know how to describe it other than crawling out of my skin, so I get aggravated because at first it’s hard to get into any of these things when in the state of mine.  What I do is make myself take a deep breath and give it a shot and most of the time I ended up getting really absorbed into whatever distraction or hobby I’m doing and before I know it I’ve calmed down and feel much more relaxed, even happy.  It’s definitely a challenge but I think the more I turn to these things instead of letting emotions and feelings simmer and build up to an unbearable point the easier it will get.

Here’s a picture of the coloring page I did yesterday 🙂

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Awake and Alive

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The above image is a sketch I did a few months ago.  I really enjoy nature! 🙂

 

Hello!

I know my posts have been very sporadic and not very interesting.  I had some serious struggles with my mental health the past several months and am going through med changes and adjustments.  I’m beginning to feel normal and actually happy for the first time in quite awhile.  I’m able to sleep too which is always nice!

Right now I’m reading a book called Surviving Schizophrenia by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. (6th Edition)  It’s very interesting and strange at the same time.  I’m reading about this stuff and looking back and seeing how things progressed over my teen years to the first major episode when I was 18.  I had no clue back then, didn’t recognize any of the signs and symptoms as they slowly crept in.  Even years later I had trouble figuring out how it all happened,  to me looking back it seemed like all the sudden I lost my mind but that’s definitely not how it actually occurred.  There were major signs and problems leading up to the onset.  Things I could never explain or even knew there were terms for.  Even up till now I’ve always assumed in addition to the schizoaffective I was just a really bizarre person but they were actually signs and symptoms I wasn’t aware of.

I don’t feel disoriented right now, I feel peaceful.  I really am hoping this lasts.  I’m feeling motivated to get back into my artwork as I’m able to concentrate now.  Trying to do things to take care of my mental health.  Staying in somewhat of a routine at least with sleeping and eating.  Getting some exercise and going out of the house everyday, cleaning, keeping up with personal hygiene, doing things I enjoy. Yes, personal hygiene.  That’s embarrassing to say but it’s a struggle with many mental illnesses and tends to really decline when a person isn’t doing well.

So, I hope to start making posts at least somewhat regularly.  I hope my readers are doing well!

I also wanted to share two links that I’ve found helpful to refer to when struggling with hearing distressing voices

https://www.rw.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/hvnwa-coping-stratigies-poster.pdf

http://www.hearing-voices.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Hearing_Voices_Coping_Strategies_web.pdf

 

 

 

Still Here

I had some symptoms come back with the schizoaffective.  I did well for almost a year but things escalated recently with hearing a demon talking to me and believing/ and doing some bizarre things.  I kind of was in another world for awhile.  I’ve felt good today and yesterday thankfully, I really hope that is all over, it started building up again around 5 or 6 months ago with getting depressed then went from there.  I don’t want to end up like I was in my late teens again, it scares me how out of touch with reality I was.  I hadn’t been like that in many years, I’m not sure what happened.

Right now I’m just working on getting back on track with my college stuff because I was barely showing up for classes and not doing the work.  Went from straight A’s all through college to getting very low grades recently.  I can get things back where they were it will just take some time.

 

Update

Haven’t been posting much the past few days because I was having a lot of difficulty with motivation and was feeling pretty bad. I’m starting to feel more optimistic though and things have calmed down with the voices thankfully.

I’ve been getting behind in my classes due to this, I need to get back on top of things. I know I can do it, I’ve done it before. I just have to push myself a little harder this time.

I’m trying to reconnect with my faith, I’ve felt very disconnected from it the past few months. I plan on going to mass tomorrow evening.

One good thing is I have been going to the gym a couple times a week, I find it really helpful to get excess energy out, it helps me feel more relaxed, and it’s healthy of course.

Allowing Others to Help

So… things have been rocky but are looking up.  I think part of my problem is that I really dislike needing and asking for help.  I called and scheduled an earlier appointment with my therapist, we had one scheduled for a few weeks from now, but I realized I need some support during this time.  I’ve never done that before in over 3 years of seeing her.  She was completely fine with it of course.  I started having re occurrence of symptoms several months ago, but let it go because I thought it wasn’t that big of a deal or important enough to mention.  I thought I could deal with it myself, and I did try.  I tried very hard, to “fix” the symptoms without informing my doctor or therapist about them, until finally realizing that I need to ask for help, I can’t do everything completely on my own.  I can use my coping skills of course, to make things more manageable, but when voices and whatnot are so bad that I’m wanting to escape from life, there’s only so much I can do. Somehow I’ve maintained getting As in the classes I’m taking, and completing huge papers on time.  Not exactly sure how, the past couple weeks were kind of a blur.  I’m really hard on myself especially with college.  I love learning and want the degree I’m working towards more than anything, so when this started affecting my education again I got worried. It’s definitely a good thing the semester ends in two weeks.  I will be off till the end of January.

Another issue related to this is that I felt like a complete failure for hearing voices again.  I had a year with virtually no symptoms, not even mood problems. It was amazing, the most peaceful time in my life.  When I started dealing with this stuff again I felt like I screwed up or did something wrong somehow.  I just viewed myself as a failure, like there’s some sort of flaw with me as a person.  I’m starting to realize that those beliefs are not true.  I’m not a bad person or failure for having symptoms come back.  A year with none was great but considering I spent a large part of my life with them it’s unlikely that they would go away 100% forever.  I mean, it’s possible, who knows, maybe someday.  I’m going to keep moving forward and managing things the best I can, while allowing others to help me as well when necessary.

 

 

Down

I haven’t posted in awhile because I’ve really been struggling with some things. Specifically a bad depressive episode, the eating disorder, and the recurrence of voices.

I felt really low for a month, I didn’t even realize it till like 3 weeks in though.  I wasn’t taking care of responsibilities, laying around, sad for no reason, exhausted all the time and sleeping too much, and some other things.  I just would kind of lay there and stare into space for an hour or so. My mind just seemed blank, I wasn’t having negative thoughts or anything, I just felt kind of flat if that makes sense.  I hadn’t been depressed in over a year and a half. I can’t remember a single major holiday like Thanksgiving and Christmas that I haven’t gotten extremely excited over till now.  I go crazy the whole holiday season usually with excitement and happiness, plans, etc. This time I didn’t feel anything at all, all the sudden it was Thanksgiving and I couldn’t feel that excitement at all.  There’s nothing I was sad or upset about, holidays are a great time for me so I was really surprised and frustrated.  I tried to force myself into the holiday spirit but it wasn’t working.  I miss that excitement, it’s almost magical.  My mood does seem to be improving though, thankfully.  I’ve been making myself get out of the house, and do some things I enjoy. This has been an unusual couple months, I was doing fantastic for over a year with everything and little to no symptoms.

The fall semester is almost over.  It ends in mid-December, then I get a month off till the spring semester.  I’m enjoying the cold weather, I love winter!

Going to see the new Fantastic Beasts movie (Crimes of Grindewald) with a friend next week.  Can’t wait!

 

My 10 Favorite Coping Skills

  1. Journaling: great way to get emotions out!
  2. Art:  drawing, coloring, arts and crafts can be very relaxing.  Many people enjoy adult coloring for stress relief.
  3. Watching a Comedy:  there’s nothing better than to laugh when you’re feeling anxious or down.  Look up funny videos online or watch your favorite comedy! (I enjoy watching clips from Ellen (DeGeneres) on YouTube, they always make me smile.
  4. Talk to a friend or family member:  It’s good to have someone you can talk with who will listen without judging.
  5. Getting Out of The House:  This is a big one.  The worse you feel the more you isolate and it becomes an endless cycle because you start feeling even more depressed or anxious as a result not getting out.  Staying inside all day by yourself feeds into obsessive/repetitive negative thoughts. So get out, go somewhere.  Anywhere.  Sit outside in the fresh air, take a walk, visit a museum, sit in a park, go to the zoo.  All these things can make you feel more connected with the outside world.  I know for myself the longer I stay indoors and don’t leave (sometimes it border on agoraphobia) the more distorted my thoughts become.
  6. Play With a Pet: Pets are amazing, they can decrease anxiety and even reduce blood pressure.  If you don’t have a pet maybe volunteer at a local shelter and help care for the animals, or play with a friend’s pet.  I know the most relaxing thing for me is when my two cats take nap with me or lay on me and purr.
  7. Socialize: Join some sort of group.  It doesn’t have to be a long term commitment.  There are many free activities at public libraries such as yoga, arts and crafts, book discussions.  Or hang out with a good friend.  When I hang out with a really good friend of mine it pretty much completely takes my mind off my problems because we have so much fun together.
  8. Exercise: one of the most effective ways to deal with anxiety is to get out all that extra energy.  Physical activity can greatly improve sleep quality.  It’s good for the body and the mind.
  9. Play a game/do a puzzle: perfect for taking your mind off problems and focusing it on the present moment.  It can provide a brief escape.
  10. Read or engage in some other hobby: I have many hobbies and I find that I almost never get bored now.  I always have something to keep my mind occupied when I have down time.  Learning new languages, music/instruments, find something you enjoy and stick to it!

This is a very basic list of some of the coping skills that have helped me, there are many others you can try.  I’ve seen lists with hundreds of coping ideas, so look around, your bound to come across something that may be beneficial to you, good luck! 🙂

  1. Sunflowers

(Picture taken by me Summer 2018 at a local rose garden)

I’ve Come to the Conclusion…

That it’s important to take my meds. It’s also important that I keep up with my day treatment program and appointments.

I have been trying to deny this for a long time but the fact is I have a mental illness. It doesn’t matter what it is called. It impacts my life in various negative ways.

I have a long way to go to reach a good stable period but that’s what I’m aiming for.

Time for positive thoughts, time to make a drastic change in my lifestyle.

 

These changes start tomorrow.

  • No giving into or dwelling on urges to cut, or drink cough syrup.
  • Better hygiene
  • Positive thinking
  • Taking my meds
  • Being honest with my treatment team
  • Use coping skills to get through difficult feelings (color, journal, pray, play with cats etc)

    In a months time I will be living in my own apartment for the very first time, time to get my **** together