E&E Picks: Mental Health Month Reads
May marks Mental Health Month - a time to spread awareness and education about an issue that impacts all of us, directly or indirectly.
As I've talked about a handful of times, I struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Moderate to Severe Clinical Depression. I never really understood what either of these was or what they meant in my life until I picked up dozens (bordering on hundreds, let's be honest) books on the subject - some science-y, some self-help-y, some fictional with characters handling the same disorders. Truly understanding chemical imbalances, practical ways to cope, and that other people were dealing with similar feelings and confusion has really me more than I can express along my journey.
So, as we wrap up Mental Health Month, I wanted to share a few reads that have been instrumental to my mental health journey.
1. When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life
When I started therapy (round one), my therapist recommended this book, so it has a special place in my heart. Written by a psychiatrist, When Panic Attacks is all about coping techniques for anxiety and panic attacks. While I can't say every technique has been foolproof, it's been a great resource and handbook on how to manage thought distortion throughout the years.
2. You Are a Badass
This self-help book is in my top 5 favorite books of all time, hands-down. You Are a Badass is refreshing for the self-help genre - blunt and hilarious and so, so real. This book provides tips and tools on how to accept and love what you can't change (hello, anxiety 101!) and how to understand why you are how you are. I'm not going to say the book provides the most earth-shattering advice or anything totally, groundbreaking-ly new, but it does present it in an accessible way that really made it all click for me.
3. A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage and My Life
This non-fiction read is written like a journal from the author who is microdosing on LSD as an experiment to manage anxiety and pain. It was a fascinating look at the stigma around drugs, mental health and science. Plus, I never knew so many of the uses of LSD. I won't say I'd ever lean towards using LSD, but it did provide some insight into new research around anxiety and depression management.
4. Big Magic
Big Magic is another self-help book that breaks the barriers of its genre with its humor and bluntness. This book focuses on tactics to tackle what we want and ways to bring out creative inspiration in the midst of fear and challenges. It's a helpful read for working through anxiety and depression to unlock creative potential - both in and out of the workplace. This book will be on my shelf for years to come.
5. The Year of Yes
Written by TGIT's Shonda Rhimes, The Year of Yes was way more than just a celebrity memoir. This memoir was written by a fellow extreme introvert and individual who suffers painful social anxiety. It detailed Rhimes' year-long experiment to say "yes" and move outside her comfort zone. I felt an intense sense of camaraderie (at moments, it felt like I had written the book!) and an emboldened sense of courage to follow Rhimes' lead and explore beyond my fears.
I listened to Wild as an audiobook when I first moved to San Diego without a place to live and without knowing anyone - a huge time of both anxiety and self-discovery. Cheryl Strayed's honest journey through not only the PCT, but grief and heartbreak, resonated with my time of challenge, upheaval, change and self-discovery. This book helped me through understanding resilience.
7. The Little Book of Mindfulness
Written by another doctor, The Little Book of Mindfulness is a practical handbook of simple, quick mindfulness practices that you can integrate into daily life. It's designed for the busy individual (aka - my appeal to it) to use both before and during stressful situations. It's been really integral for when I feel panic attacks coming on.
8. Choose Wonder Over Worry
One of the biggest things I struggle with is fear and dread of the unknown. Choose Wonder Over Worry has helped me on an ongoing path to reframe that worry and dread into wonder, which Amber Rae, the author, believes we're inherently born with. The book presents simple daily practices that help reframe negative talk, and also encourages feeling all the feels, which we all know I'm about.