A mental health booklist

I’m developing a list of resources that you can use to make sure your life is exactly what you want it to be. These are mainly free resources as you don’t need further obstacles when you have decided that you need some me time.

I have started to use the Artists Way by Julia Cameron. This comes highly recommended by many famous patrons that have benefited from the information inside. It is also stuffed full of quotes from pretty anyone who ever lived that said something quotable. I have borrowed the book from my brother in law who didn’t like it as he said it was too simplistic. I can see what he means if I compare to Metahuman by Deepak Chopra but I think this is unfair since they are for completely different audiences.

I also have the accompanying workbook that he bought to see what if anything it does for me. The Artists Way is a 12 week course consisting of daily morning pages and artist dates amongst other activities. Morning pages are 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing to clear your mind for the day ahead. Artist dates are where you set aside time to indulge in culture. There are also other tasks such as reading as detailed in the book.

I have also ordered one of Melanie Beattie’s books on Codependent no more. I found the online version beneficial. Having now endeavoured to use technology less where possible, I now going to try to switch over to the paper copy. It provides space to write what you think about the daily devotional as it’s called. This allows you to develop your ideas about the concept better.

I have the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which was instrumental in me starting down this path and being that I now have a physical copy means I can read it and make notes where necessary. It’s so much easier to bookmark, read and absorb the information in a proper book rather than an e book. They may be more expensive and less portable but you get far more from them than their electronic copies.

In addition to these I have the Little Prince by Antione St Expury when I want something lighter and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. Fiction is a necessary compliment to non fiction. There is something much more reassuring and relaxing for a bed time story in an actual book rather than a Netflix series or YouTube video.

Meditation types

Not all meditation is created equal. I have tried the most popular commercial apps that are around at the moment – Headspace and Calm but to no avail. To me they feel like you are just going through the motions since they are only utilising a calming voice, tranquil music and visualisation; nothing else. This is why the American self help programs, positive affirmations and mindfulness I have previously tried to get behind haven’t worked. They feel lacking in authenticity to me. It’s like having an artificial structure imposed onto your life but there is no content to sustain it. If you just have the bare bones of something it’s not going to be very useful. Very much like in languages if you can say hello, my name is, how are you and I’m good this does not make a conversation or a friendship. It’s just politeness that feels like progress as its relaxing you, but stops short of actually achieving anything.

Meditation is being commercialized in a big way right now but when that happens the very essence of what you are trying to accomplish is lost. This happens continuously because when you introduce money into these concepts they stop being about self actualisation and start becoming about income and nothing else. They lose their potency which is the very reason why you want to do them in the first place!

Religion is a bit like this too. As I’m learning more about the origins of the big religions and how they have changed over the years I seeing why people are losing faith in them. There becoming corrupted from there original goals. No wonder Americans study the bible in Greek. The King James Bible is so altered from the Greek or the Russian Orthodox version. I wouldn’t say I was religious at all but there are truths in these books. It’s why they have persisted for so long. It’s control but it’s also an understanding of human nature. We have not changed as a species so the same stories still help us through the centuries. The father, the son and the Holy Ghost is a recognition of the fact that we grow throughout our lives but there are still elements of the past within us while we anticipate and plan for the future. Our personality or soul, what makes us unique, can be carried on to future generations through our actions, words and tasks. Our legacy can live on even though we do not.

I really liked the Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation course I’ve just done. This is available for free on YouTube if you want to take part in it yourself and I highly recommend that you do this. There are other resources to go with these videos which I was provided with as part of a group exercise I took part in. I’m not sure just the meditation works on its own even though he uses chanting, mantras and visualisation techniques. This is where the difference comes in with competing regimes. Deepak Chopra is a world renown doctor of endocrinology and has researched what happens with the body/mind connection. Not many other people are that steeped in the knowledge required to do this properly and it certainly shows with the outcomes of these programs. I’ve got his latest book Meta Human to continue the progress I have started.

I’m deep thinking and highly empathetic which is slightly problematic when I want to talk to someone about this. Most people are not able to understand this in the way that I need them too. Most of the people that do however have much higher levels of emotional intelligence than I do so trigger me. While this is good to a certain extent being triggered by them all of the time means they are not for you.

So once again I have the dilemma of where do I fit in and will I ever find my tribe? Being an optimist is only good for so long. That’s why occasionally I do have a healthy dose of scepticism and pessimism. If I was accepting of everything and everyone all of the time; my brain would be so open it would fall out. You have to stand for something otherwise you will fall for anything. Principles and a moral code are extremely important here as standards do need to be respected and kept.

Life is a game of balancing the 2 sides of everything. You can’t truly experience anything if your only seeing one side whether this is through your own myopic view or that which has been created in your own country.

Triggers

These are all actions that are buried in our subconscious. They appear when the event occurs that triggers them. For me they relate back to my early childhood like I expect they do with most people.

Triggers however are not always bad. Just like panic, anxiety or even ‘nesting’ these behaviours illuminate some action that needs to be taken. I see it a lot in guys that have just had children. They were so driven to get their business/career up and running that when they finally meet the one it’s quite a change for them. They have to revolutionise their lives completely as they have to incorporate the thoughts of another into their actions. Then with the birth of their child comes more changes and they lose their drive some what. This is not a bad thing as family is the most important.

However, if they were raised in a patriarchal society and have managed to overcome this in there adult life when the child(ren) turn up those hidden beliefs are revealed. It’s much more difficult to heal yourself when you have a business to run, a partner to provide for and a child to look after. If you can look inside yourself and find time to reinvent yourself once again then that’s astonishing. Raising a child and doing it well is no small feat.

Childhood is the most important aspect of our lives as it affects everything else that comes afterwards. If we have had a rocky start then the foundation that our later lives are built on is always going to be unstable unless we put in major work to shore up those footings.

Meditation

This practice is needed most by those most resistant to actually taking it up. It’s the masculine side that needs balancing by the feminine side. Yoga groups are full of women taught by men. This seems a little odd to me. It’s been around a very long time so it’s been proven by the test of time. It’s a free practice that has been monetised to great success. As proven by Bikram Choundry on the Netflix program about his life.

Meditation is about accessing the 5 different brain waves that we have at our disposal. Alpha, beta, gamma, delta and theta. (Makes me wonder why no epsilon?) These brain waves are responsible for our thoughts and brain activities. They are different lengths and respond to the different levels of consciousness that we possess. If we are not able to use them all while me may get get sleep it will not be the restorative sleep that we require to wake up feeling relaxed, recharged and ready for the day ahead.

Meditation helps us to connect our minds with our bodies as often we think they are completely separate. There intimately entwined with each other more than we know. This is why our diet is so important. If we put bad food into ourselves we are polluting our bodies and therefore we can’t function properly. Our gut biome is our bodies way of keeping everything ticking over well. If we lose our appetite this tells us there is something wrong just like when we are sick or feeling nauseous.

Our skin is often the first indication that something isn’t right with our diet, environment or our mental health. It’s extraordinarily sensitive to everything that we experience on a daily basis. It’s our barrier between us and the outside world but we often don’t give it enough attention. Only when it is irritated do we look for a cause. This is often just the first symptom though.

We often need to look deeper into ourselves if we have constant problems with our nerves or we have other issues that cannot be easily explained. Our endocrine system (hormones) and our 2 nervous systems, sympathetic and parasympathetic can help with diagnosis here. Pain is a problem with inflammation and shows that something is out of balance. In order to eradicate this we need to look at what could possibly be causing it. This is tricky because it’s not well understood by western science. We have a scientific understanding but much like with languages; our initial information only literally describes its effects. We need to investigate the links present so a much more through journey is required.

Eastern medicine looks at things in terms of energy to see where it is, where it should be and how to get it to make that transition. It’s how Feng Sui works but this is a much maligned practice at the moment. Marie Do has tried to help with her tidying but only time will tell how much of an impact she has on this.

Yoga is about breathing and stretching which is a key part of eastern beliefs. Tai Chi is another that helps to promote peace and prosperity. Gentle exercise is essential to get your endorphins flowing just like being outside in the fresh air getting your vitamin D. Swimming has long been held as beneficial as well as the sea side.

Our ancestors knew that simple things such as writing our thoughts down in journals, painting or calligraphy is soothing to an anxious mind as well as being beautiful, walks in nature and discovering ourselves through careful observation of our reactions to things.

We have become majorly distracted from what is truly important in our lives and for the majority of us we didn’t have the time until now to change this. We need to use this opportunity before it is lost to us to create our lives exactly as we would want them to be. They have been stripped of all excess to allow us to notice what we really appreciate and need. We need a lot less than we think to live a good life.

This is why meditation is so important to continue this reset so we don’t lose the progress that is made in this break from what has become normality.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This is a book I read at college but I didn’t like it. It was shocking and terrifying. I also didn’t like the way the book was constructed but I don’t think it could be done in any other way. It was meant to illustrate the power that such a revolution would have on you and it certainly did that for me. I was confused as to how such a thing could take place but so is Offred and everyone else. That is why they fight to overcome the system. Offred is very strong and resistant to the new regime but sensible enough to know that you have to act a certain way to survive. I don’t want to give the game away to any of you who haven’t read it or seen the TV series. I expect the follow up The Testaments is where the material for later series comes from.

Have you found any unexpected novels that you persevered with and later understood them much better?

Feminism

This is quite an unusual article to me to write based on my past history but I feel now is the time to start exploring it. I have realised that actually I’m a strong woman. I need to start embracing this characteristic of mine. A person can only go so long not recognising who they are before they start to develop their inherent potential.

The woman’s struggle has existed since the dawn of time and I have been guided through my mother and others to study the Suffragettes at college, to see exhibitions about them, to gather information about Virginia Woolf, visiting Sissinghurst where she stayed and acquire lots of books about the subject. This also led to me reading a Handmaid’s Tale as it was on my high school book list and later on watching the TV series. I will get the Testaments later. Other books that are on my list are Vox, The Farm, etc.

As I got quite into feminism through an alternative viewpoint on classist history I wrote several articles on what I discovered. I think it’s a novel idea because history is written from the standpoint of the victor. This traditionally has been male so to put another spin on it is quite good. It also helps me to learn about myself as my mother and my grandmother have been very strong influences on me. I’m only starting to realise the extent that impact has had on me.

A bolt from the blue

I’ve been reading Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks and the case on the page just suddenly stood out to me. It was describing the severe amnesia of the patient. It said that while he was still able to read and play music on a whim along with talking about subjects that he was previously interested in; he couldn’t form any new memories. This meant that will he could dress, shave or navigate around his house but he was unable to describe what his wife did currently or even what she looked like. His children’s careers were a complete mystery to him.

This state never improved and it got me thinking that because I experienced this after my accident I have been labouring under the assumption that I could get my memories back. Some things have returned but what I really miss is my mathematical ability. However that is again me orientating myself in a career mind. Doing what I felt compelled to do in order to support myself. Since I didn’t learn maths, it was just there; I can’t pick it back up again.

Some things really are lost forever if the brain becomes damaged.

I think perhaps the reason I haven’t found my tribe yet is because I’ve been looking in completely the wrong places. I’ve been trying to mould myself to fit into a workplace, society even my husbands family. This lack of belonging affects your stability since your never quite sure how to behave. You don’t know what is acceptable as the goal posts change depending on which scenario you are in and which group you are in.

Eventually you break down as you can’t cope with all these different personas. The support you need to continue is still lacking but at least you have a much better idea of what you want and need out of life.

I need to follow the strong female role models of my family. The fact that I’m inherently masculine due to my autism means that this is a big problem. It affects the way that I carry out any task. There is always 2 ways of doing anything and neither side can agree on which is best. There is however no right way to do things. They just need to get done. However it’s never satisfying just completely a task for the sake of it. There is no pride or sense of accomplishment. Only another task finished and on to the next.

So therein lies the trouble. A desire from my feminine side to follow a more spiritual, hippyish path and my masculine side saying don’t be so foolish you need to earn money to be able to look after yourself!

Meditation reveals your true self

I think we all need a reboot from time to time. We forget who we are because we are so overloaded with electronic stimulus and an emotional onslaught from all of the baggage that is carried around by all those we come into contact with.

This affects us more than we realise. It lodges itself deep with our psyche waiting for a moment when we are not actively using our brains and then it is unleashed. We suddenly let go all the tension that has built up inside of us in a flurry of insults and possibly fists. The storm that was brewing rains down on all those around us at the moment regardless of guilt. If there are not people objects or animals suffer our wrath.

This is why we need to look after our mental health. We need to take time every day to look over the events of the day. This will allow us to see the cause and effect of not only our actions and words but the impact of others too. We will then be able to understand the point of view of others better.

We can stop perpetuating the damage of the past. We can create a new and better life for ourselves. We are able to alter our programming. We need to align our body and mind to how pure we were when we were younger. Our childhood selves were not motivated by money and greed.

We took walks, painted pictures, wrote in diaries or grew vegetables. We learnt to cook and to clean. We played sports. We appreciated nature but left it alone. We took parts in crafts and joined together with others to celebrate life. We danced and we talked. All these we forget as we age in the pursuit of money. Money makes the world go round; but we have survived quite well recently with it taking a backseat.

We should indulge in more activities where money is not the focus as we will find that our lives become richer because of it.