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.

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.

Reading and Autism

I love reading. This much is pretty obvious early on as I read so much. I’m a highly visual person who can recite what they read parrot fashion for some time to come later on. This is a common attribute in autistics. However if you stop to ask why we read so much or why we like to read so much you might not get a cohesive answer if you receive anything other than I don’t know or I just do.

Yes reading is entertaining, diverting and occupies your time in a productive manner but also gives us something to talk about. We need to spend a lot of time recovering from the outside world so we escape into the world of literature. If we got out more we could talk about what we did or who we met like everyone else but we are solitary creatures often. Books are a refuge but they are also a substitute. Since the world is so overwhelming for us we choose to enter one that is much more calm. We can decide how long to stay there and when to leave. It gives a sense of control but also of adventure. We can visit many worlds, meeting all their inhabitants from the safety of an armchair.

Our knowledge is frequently ploughed back into fan fiction, comics, short stories, novels or even creating our own languages like Tolkien. We like words, well I do which is why I have spent so much time and effort concentrating on improving my verbal ability. Talking will never be easy for me so my conversational ability will forever be a struggle. I rely on my reading ability to provide me with something to talk about but it often doesn’t find a warm reception.

There is a lot of reading I have had to learn in addition to the book kind. The “reading between the lines” in social behaviour or documents. The forever unsaid, implied or just briefly referenced in some way by a gesture. There is also a new kind kind of reading as I’m learning.

In drag culture to ‘read’ a person is to notice their flaws. If ‘the library is open’ as Ru Paul says in every series of Drag Race; then you reveal what you really think about the person. This is often harsh but truthful yet comedic. It helps to be honest as then you can move on having aired your grievances without resorting to violence. Since they all spend so much time together it’s not wonder that problems crop up. There separation from the outside world creates an environment where everything is focused towards the end goal but not everyone plays ball. Willam is most famous for breaking out of his self imposed prison but nobody else has.

I am looking forward to breaking out of myself imposed prison due to the corona virus lockdown. Only about 6 weeks before I may be able to fly to Greece because they have announced their timetable. Here’s hoping that July really is my independence!

The Quarantine Chronicles

I was just thinking that the situation we find ourselves in right now is not far off the nightmarish world of Fahrenheit 451. In it physical human connection is replaced by conversations on video screens. These video screens are larger than life in the fact that they become all consuming. It is considered highly attractive if your lounge/sitting room is in fact just 4 screens for walls. In that way that highly prised connection is permanently established but there is in fact no connection because you can’t really see the people or their lives. You only have a facsimile of reality. This was life for me existing behind a screen because reality was so painfully overwhelming as it was real.

It’s like living in the world of Equilibrium. We wanted to remove all the negativity present in the world but in doing so we also cocooned ourselves to the point of numbness. We no longer felt anything so we lost the ability to connect on any level let alone a meaningful one.

This virus is allowing us to reconnect with our immediate family but also disconnecting us from our extended family. We no longer have stories to share or deep conversations because those present were not there.

Everyone is currently in the same boat with regards to lack of mobility. We are craving interaction with our friends. We like to be social and have experiences so being told stay inside is jarring to a couple of rebellious individuals. Usually I’m on the side of the outsider always being one but for once we need to do as we’re told. In this regard tv is helping by having cooking shows, craft shows, walks and quiz shows. These all keep us occupied and possibly give us ideas to try out later. Let’s turn the pain and anxiety of missing friends and family into positive activities that benefit our communities .If we do this we may find a much better world with improved mental health.

Learning to cook is an essential skill that we seem to have lost but maybe we can regain it over the coming weeks. Let’s see if we can get the nation cooking, cleaning, repairing, exercising, gardening and generally looking after ourselves and our environment.

Dovlatov on Netflix

This is a film set in 1970s Russia based on a real life author struggling to get published. It’s in Russian with English subtitles. I love the authenticity this provides and how it correlates with other films I have seen of this era. From what I can remember of when I was previously very interested in Russian films; the 1960’s and 1970’s was a good time for Russian film making as lots of good films that are available on YouTube were made. Since I don’t speak or write Russian here is a list compiled by someone who does

I added this in as a bonus because I like to listen to foreign songs as they tend to be more realistic and you can figure out the gist even though I have no clue what they are saying. Russian songs on YouTube.

As I’m struggling to occupy myself right now due to the enforced isolation; I thought I needed the challenge of watching a Russian program from another era. As you know I love history and languages so why not?

As I sit and write these various articles at different times and moods it reminds me of War and Peace as that’s very clear to me it was written and rewritten several times. It doesn’t flow well in many places to my mind and it appears very disjointed like his own mind and life no doubt. Perhaps that is the beauty that I’m missing. The imperfections as that’s what makes us all real at the end of the day.

It also would be nice if WordPress told you who was reading your blog other than 1 person in Greece reads this etc. Is that the same person all the time? If it’s who I think it is thankyou for the inspiration and recommendations and if it isn’t thankyou anyway for checking out my blog on a regular basis. Thankyou to all the other people who participate in my blog too.

The Girl under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming

This is a historical romance ie chick lit book I have been reading to cope with the social isolation that we all have to perform right now to rid ourselves of Corona Virus. Its in a similiar style to the Victoria Hislop books that I have read and tried to emulate.

This is a very interesting book as it documents the fictional life of Penelope Angelika Georgiou or Penny George as she goes by when in the UK. Pen as she is called in later years recounts her life as a Red Cross nurse in Athens, Greece during the Second World War. Its thoughtfully written with an accurate portrayal of what an upper class debutante would have to face going it alone with only her Greek heritage and looks for protection against an uncertain world.

It seems that the books that I enjoy most inadvertently tend to evoke my own life as Leah is in the Yorkshire Dales while writing these books which is where I originally hail from. The character Penny has for a middle name, my name in Greek and she reminds me greatly of myself. Very much like when I was reading Angelology and Angelopolis about 5 years ago. That was on my other blog as this one didn’t exist then.

Parsis and Zoroastrians

This is a book I started reading in my hotel in Mumbai as there is a big population of them there and I was curious to find out more about them. As far as I know they don’t exists anywhere else in the world.

Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Balsara) was the most famous one as far as I can tell but I didn’t even know that myself until I had watched Bohemian Rhapsody which is an awesome movie. Zoroastrianism also turns up in Nietzsche as he wrote Thus spoke Zarathustra which is the name of their God. Although it’s a much changed version according to the book’s author which I’m afraid I don’t recall.

I had a spare day since Covid 19 had cancelled my city tour so I settled down to read through a photographic journey of the life of the author so far. The writer grew up in the Parsi culture in Bombay but was educated elsewhere so that is why they were able to explain in English so well a religion that is not well known in the rest of the world.

Parsis is the cultural name given to Zoroastrians to separate them from anyone else that was living in India. The Parsis are originally from Persia but left due to persecution from Islamic forces long ago. However, they were followed much later on so became very insular. Where as before they were at the forefront of business and became very rich a bit like the Jews of Europe .This fear and persecution has contributed to their downfall in the eyes of the author since they will soon no longer be numerous enough to be considered a community (30,000+). At this point (25,000) they will now be labelled a tribe. There is a very big emphasis on staying within your community and they will provide for you that’s why this downgrading of their status is such a big deal to them.

I was unable to get more than half way through the book as I had to leave the next day but the information about the lives of the children who were becoming priests was fascinating. It is part of the culture for at least one boy in the family to learn how to be a priest even if they subsequently decide that is not the field that they want to go into.

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

India – Delhi (part 1)

Best wishes

Angela