Day 19: Have you ever read a self-help book or a book related to psychology? What is your opinion on them? If you have read them do you have a favorite?
The week I was checked out of the hospital I worked to learn everything I could about my “issues” and illnesses; particularly suicide. Who does this? Why do they do this? What did they do before they decided to end it? I had to know all I could. I didn’t understand what led me here and I wanted to make sure I didn’t end up there again. I was both fascinated and horrified by what I had done. I was terrorized by how I still felt.
I discussed websites I searched in my last blog as that was the easiest to access the moment I was settled in my parent’s home with my children. But I also raided the library and Amazon.com and had many books piled on my bedside table and I read every single one. They gave me something to focus on aside from my own failures. I became obsessed with my own morbidity. The thoughts of death that comforted me in weeks/months/years preceding my attempt had been replaced by a need to understand how someone could overcome their basic instinct to protect yourself and instead, feel so overwhelmed by a depression so intense one would turn to self-murder.
Some of the books I read first where: A Legacy of Madness by Davis; Night Falls Fast by Kay Jamison; The Savage God: A Study of Suicide by Alvarez; An Unquiet Mind also by Jamison; Born to Be Perfect by Raghavan; Half in Love by Linda Gray Sexton; Every Love Story is a Ghost Story (Bio of David Foster Wallace) by D.T. Max; and my personal favorite…Lipstick and Thongs in the Loony Bin by Courtney Walsh (actually, this one left me a little disappointed; it was quite shallow and sophomoric but the name was genius!) I also read peer reviewed studies listed under the American Psychological Association and information on new treatment ideas and medications; I found the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners had some interesting papers; There were some online classes for medical students on depression and suicide and also Emergency Room procedures describing how to identify and treat the mentally ill and suicidal patient.
Then I became interested in writers who were suicidal and depressed and wanted to understand their thoughts so I read: The Bell Jar by Plath; Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace; A Farewell To Arms by Hemingway; The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton; The Collected Poems by Plath; The Years by Virginia Woolf; The Complete Short Stories by Hemingway along with a few others I might have forgotten.
There have also been all of the podcasts I have found: Dr. Drew; The Healthy Mind with Dr. Zafirides; The Mental Illness Happy Hour; Madness Radio (which seems to just push a non-medicated agenda on its listeners); Speaking of Psychology; Psychiatry Today; My Three Shrinks; The Dr. Decker Weiss Show; Psychiatric Times Podcast Series…and there are a few more but this is getting embarrassing.
I am reading a book now one of my friends/associates let me borrow called ‘Brain on Fire’ by Cahalan that has been very interesting so far also.
Some of these have made me sad, many left me with questions and a few made me angry but I do feel like I have a broader knowledge of what I am dealing with now. Of course, I will continue to read, listen and learn because I like to….No NEED to know all I can about anything that controls me. Or that I feel has any overwhelming power. It doesn’t so much anymore. But I’d like to keep it that way, or at least know a little about the boogeyman that is haunting me from time to time. Knowing I’m not alone and that I have survived what others were not able to has helped some. In learning about myself and the illness I don’t think it is because I am any stronger than they were, I was just lucky enough to have been given a second chance by circumstances or a divine intervention or a combination of the two. I do not intend to waste that.
Back to reading…