We’ve written about how this is National Photography Month, but didn’t want to let May end without mentioning that it's also Mental Health Awareness Month. The issue has particular resonance for me because I’ve long struggled with depression and anxiety, having lost jobs, relationships, and even years to them.
Although immersing myself in fiction helped sustain me through adolescence, it wasn’t until I got to college that I began to explore non-fiction books that helped me learn more about what was happening to me and what I could do about it. Here are a few that stand out, in my own personal opinion:
Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You
by Richard O’Connor
The first such book I read and still one of my favorites. The author is a psychotherapist who has faced his own battle with depression and his description of the illness’s effects is both stunningly accurate and compassionate.
The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs
by Stephen S. Ilardi
This is a more recent book in the same vein as O’Connor’s, but what I appreciated about it were the practical, concrete recommendations. Ilardi lays out his program clearly with an understanding that someone with depression might have trouble following it, especially the steps involving socializing and exercise.
The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness
by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn
I’m still in the middle of this one, but listening to the exercises on the accompanying CD has become a comforting ritual over the past few weeks so I’m hopeful about the rest of the book, especially because mindfulness and cognitive behavioral techniques seem like they would work well together
Unfortunately, there’s no magical remedy--even though some of the above titles suggest otherwise. All of these books have helped, however, by giving me additional tools in my ongoing fight against what can sometimes seem like an unstoppable force.
Kavitha R. is an aspiring librarian whose next read will be something entirely frivolous.