Let’s get this party (re)-started – three books that helped me this month

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Without going on about where I’ve been and why I haven’t been blogging, let’s just get back to something fun. Consider this a brief update about what I’m up to and what has been getting my attention lately.

Books:

I’ve been reading a few books to help me think about my brain and how to beat depression. I’m not one for psychoanalysis as a therapy tool when CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) seems to work so much more efficiently (as an aside, in Oliver Sacks’ memoir On the Move: A Life, he talks about being with an analyst for 40 years or something crazy like that), but I have certainly been enjoying Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life by James Holland, which is decidedly psycho-analytic. I found descriptions of my behavior that were remarkably accurate and that helped me frame where those behaviors are coming from and what subconscious need they may be serving. I find labels and descriptions like this can be very useful. I do stuff lots of people do, I’m not a special snowflake, my problems aren’t unique, and there are ways to deal with them. Here is a little snippet I enjoyed:

Learning to find one’s own truth, hold to it, and negotiate with others seems easy on paper. In practice, it means catching reflexive actions while they occur, suffering the anxiety aroused by acting more consciously in integrity, and tolerating the assault of anxiety-driven “guilt” thereafter. (This guilt is not genuine;it is a form of anxiety aroused by the anticipated negative reaction of the other person). 

I also enjoyed Scary Close by Donald Miller this week. It’s a sort-of memoir about learning how to be in a healthy relationship and left me with some useful nuggets like this:

If you are coasting, you are slowing down.
If we don’t believe we are good or lovable, we isolate. 

Lastly, I finally read a book I’ve owned for at least a year but hadn’t finished called Feeling Good by David Burns. This is the classic CBT how-to and it is very useful IF you actually do the work he lays out for you. Burns’ basic premise is that all depression is a result of faulty thinking and that you can cure depression by recognizing and changing that faulty thinking. After reading the book on my Kindle, I decided to buy the updated paperback version called The Feeling Good Handbook so I could more easily do the written exercises. I’m taking my time working through the workbook a little bit each day, with no hurry to finish. I really recommend this book for anyone dealing with depression.

Podcasts:

Joe Rogan. Oh my gosh, I am really loving this podcast and I’m so thrilled there are over 600 back episodes for me to dig into. My favorites so far are episode #665, which is about depression, #668 with Jon Ronson, and #641 with Sam Harris.

Speaking of Sam Harris, I’ve been listening to a few episodes of his podcast as well, and THIS episode was fascinating – one of the best podcasts I’ve heard in a long time. It’s a conversation with Megan Phelps-Roper, the granddaughter of Fred Phelps and a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church. A must-listen.

I promise to blog again later this week with some further updates on what I’ve been up to and what I’m looking forward to. But for now I knew I just needed to get back on the computer and write SOMETHING. Until next time.