It’s all in your head

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and I want to share my connection and reading on this subject with you. It’s not something we talk about openly very often, but I find that the more I speak to people about mental health, the more I realise there are very few of our families or friends unaffected by some form of poor mental health.

Cover of The Nao Of BrownNao Brown has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but she’s unaware of this. To her the morbid obsessions, and other rituals and compulsions that she is quietly aware of, are different but no more. She is a young woman wanting to become a comic book artist, wanting a career, looking for love – really no different from most of us.

The Nao of Brown is a graphic novel which I chose partly because I enjoy comic books with good graphics, tick, and a good story, tick. That one of my loved ones also has OCD was coincidental, however it did give me another insight into how obsessions rule the mind. A very small insight. I really cared for Nao and wanted her to realise her dreams. An enjoyable story, not at all depressing, quite realistic and great graphics.

Cover of ManicReading Terri Cheney‘s Manic was a deliberate choice. Terri has bi-polar disorder, or, as she would have been labelled some years ago, is a manic depressive. Her mania started at high school; she got through university and made herself a career as an entertainment lawyer. She writes in an alarmingly frank way, which can be disturbing, but she delivers her story with hindsight and humour. She spent five years searching for the right medicine to get her brain stabilised from the illness. Years of highs that got her into some extreme situations and years of hard-to-comprehend debilitating lows –  all of which have made her an amazingly strong woman. To survive what she has been through and write two books about it is a feat of courage.

Journeys with the Black Dog is a wonderfully apt title for a book of inspirational stories of bringing depression to heel. Written with raw honesty and sharp humour, it’s an encouraging reading for anyone coping with the “black dog”.

You have to admire the people who contend daily with some form or other of poor mental health and carry on, live their lives and frequently hold down jobs. Have you read similar books to these and gained some small idea of how it must be for someone with a mental illness? Talked openly about mental illness? Or felt it was perhaps too intrusive?

Keep Learning: Mental Health Awareness Week

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. The focus for this year is Keep Learning, and what better place than the library for inspiration!

Evidence shows continuing to learn throughout life can help improve and maintain our mental wellbeing. Learning can boost self-confidence and self-esteem, help build a sense of purpose and connect us with others. Studies have shown that ongoing learning can be linked with greater satisfaction and optimism and improved ability to get the most from life.

Learning isn’t about going to University and aiming for that Ph.D. in Neuroscience (although that is a worthy aim); it’s also about connecting with other people, having fun and achieving something… anything!

Cover of Everyone Can Learn to Ride a BicycleIt doesn’t need to cost money and may not take up much time depending on your circumstances, but it is a way to reach out and learn at the same time. This earlier post from our blog has some great ideas for lifelong learning.

Our CINCH database is also a good place to start. Every type of skill or hobby imaginable is listed and I am always amazed at just how many people out there are willing to share their knowledge and passions with others.

However perhaps you or someone you know is at a really low point. I have always found reading a good way to find solace and help – to read that others are struggling with similar things is comforting, and learning new ways and ideas to help has at times been a lifesaver. If reading feels too hard then our audio material may be worth a try. Listening takes far less concentration and there is the added bonus of a friendly voice.

Our website has links to various organisations that work in the area of mental health that can offer support when needed, and here are some new titles on mental health that have just arrived on our shelves.

Cover of The Mood Repair Toolkit Cover of Change Your Life With CBT Cover of Overcoming Shock Cover of The Noonday Demon Cover of When Depression Hurts Your Relationship