Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Recovering Me, Discovering Joy by Vivian Eisenecher

Recovering Me, Discovering Joy by Vivian Eisenecher
Copyright 2008
KTW publishing - Self-help/Christian
191 pages, incl. appendix, bibliography and index

Subtitled "Uplifting Wisdom for Everyday Greatness," Recovering Me, Discovering Joy tells about the author's experience with depression, social anxiety and alcoholism and reveals what she has learned both from her personal challenges and the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

What led you to pick up this book? I'm a sucker for anything that claims to be uplifting, inspirational or has the word "joy" in the title, somewhere. And, I like reading about how people have succeeded in spite of hefty challenges.

A little bit more about the book. The author grew up with social anxiety and mild depression (dysthymia) but was not diagnosed until she failed several times to succeed in recovering with the help of AA. Social anxiety and group therapy, she says, do not mix. It was only after she was finally diagnosed correctly and found the right medication that she was able to recover and find joy in life. Recovering Me, Discovering Joy describes the various conditions that she has dealt with, how they are linked and what she's learned from facing alcoholism and mental illness as well as her husband's stroke. I don't know a whole lot about how AA works, but acceptance of God and letting go of your worries is apparently a big part of the whole 12-step shebang, so she dedicates a portion of the book to her beliefs.

What did you like most about the book? I thought the author made some interesting comments about staying positive. I particularly like the chapter sub-heading, "Did I have a Bad Day or did I have a Bad Five Minutes that I Milked All Day?"

What did you didn't like about the book? I wouldn't say there's anything I disliked, but I guess because it didn't apply to me specifically in any way, I occasionally found myself zoning out. And, I thought it was a bit disjointed; there were times I thought her philosophy would have made more sense if she'd given it better context -- there was not enough detail about her own experience, in my opinion. There's some good advice, but it's probably a better fit for those who are struggling with the combination of conditions that the author has dealt with.

Recommended? I'd recommend it for alcoholics -- recovering or otherwise -- in need of support and encouragement. For me, this was an average read, well-written but not right for me.

Anything else worth mentioning? The author has a rather fascinating perspective on Christianity.

If nothing else, believe as a precaution. Pascal looked at believing in God very logically. He suggested that we place our bet that He exists. If He does, we win it all. If He doesn't, we don't lose a thing, but have gained a joyous way to live. Believe without hesitation, because if nothing else it's the smart thing to do.

The author of Grace for the Afflicted (which I'm currently reading) spoke of this kind of belief as "holding on to some kind of faith-based fire insurance." Since I'd marked the passage about placing bets on God's existence this morning and then moved on to Grace for the Afflicted in the afternoon, that little connection jumped out at me. Doesn't the idea of believing for the sake of making sure you don't burn in Hell sound like a great discussion topic?

Cover thoughts: I really, really, really dislike covers with just a photo of the author. So, it's not a favorite. But, it's a pretty common type of cover for self-help books and I think the whole self-help industry could stand to work on cover creativity.

Up next: A review of Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs and the next 100,000-hit drawing. I'm not sure what I'm giving away next, but hang in there. I'll get back to you. I've still got a good-sized pile in the hallway. I just haven't looked at them, lately.

I'm pretty sure this was the third day in a row that I haven't found time to look at my Google Reader and now I'm shivering with fright at the thought of the number of posts I've missed. Someone give me a pep talk.

Also, I wrote that today was cross-training day on my Runfoolery blog, posted a photo taken in the military park (my favorite place in Vicksburg) and then . . . didn't exercise. Uh. Oopsie. I meant well. I guess my "rest day" will be shifted, this week. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter how strictly you hold to the schedule at this level, as long as you get in 6 days of exercise. I could be wrong about that, but we'll see if I'm the first to hit the wall when marathon time rolls around.

Confession: What I really long for is that sensation that I no longer have a butt that could squash Alaska. I'm not so sure I have an inner longing to run 26.2 miles. I was happy with my 10K experience.

I have not taken a single photo in two weeks. Can you believe that? I think next time I have a cross-training day, I'll dance through the living room and then grab my camera and go to the park. Nudge me if I forget. I'm sure you guys are in desperate need of a photo, right? Right? Am I making your life duller by not posting photos? Here, have an older photo:

See the little birdy living in the Rite-Aid letter "e"? Awww, how sweet. We'll call him a Wahoo Birdy. Okay, you may go back to your regularly scheduled reading. Happy Wednesday!


  1. "Did I have a Bad Day or did I have a Bad Five Minutes that I Milked All Day?" - Something I ask myself every now and then.

    I read another review of this one recently and I remember my interest being piqued by the mention of dysthmia. It's not an illness that gets much attention because it's always over shadowed by Major Depression.

    Your recommendation of this book for alcoholics or recovering alcoholics also has me interested. Although I don't fall into either camp, I am very familiar with the impact alcoholism has on families.

    Thanks for the great review, Nancy.

  2. My friend Laura, yes the Laura you know, is a runner and hearing her talk about training really made me want to do some sort of race as well. Until I watched the Olympics marathon. And until I realized that I drive 25 miles to work everyday and can't possibly imagine running that!! Sheesh. 10K sounds like a good distance...

    Sometimes I think Google Reader is a disguised evil. :) Mine is at zero for the first time in months, but I had to mark a lot as "read" to get there. The only thing you're missing on my blog is a new picture of Maggie.

  3. :) I sympathize with your having to move your "rest day." My good intentions with exercise are often waylaid by circumstance and laziness. I'm very good about yoga, but walking (forget anything like "runfoolery"- cause that ain't gonna happen) and weights are often re-scheduled.

  4. Wendy,

    I think I need to print out that title. It just seems like a good thing to have handy to keep yourself aware.

    Dysthymia (I spelled it wrong in the blog post -- ought to go fix that) is not something I was familiar with, but now I'm reading about it in Grace for the Afflicted. I'm surprised I haven't seen anything about it because depression runs in my family (on my mother's side) and I've read quite a bit about it.

    Yep, same here. While I have no alcoholics in my family, my father had an employee who was an alcoholic. Since he never did manage to stay on the wagon for long (and eventually died in an automobile accident) I can't help but wonder if he had similar problems. The one thing I learned from that experience was that alcoholism destroys lives. His home life and work life pretty much went down the drain with each relapse. I don't touch alcohol because of that man.


    Laura's a runner? Cool! Okay, now that you put it that way . . . 26 miles sounds ridiculous. But, the whole point is to get fit and strong. It's not required that you participate in the marathon, so I'll have to give that part some thought. 10K was just about right. I think that's around 6 miles. And, I was a lot younger!!!

    You know, when you forget to check your reader for a few days it gets to be a habit not blog-hopping. I have to watch that. I'm not an island, but it would be easy to at least be a peninsula, if you know what I mean. ;)

    Oh, yes, must see Maggie!! I love Maggie pics!


    It's funny how that works, isn't it? I don't particularly care for yoga because it's too slow for me, but I can understand why someone wouldn't like walking or running for the opposite reason. I think it's so much easier to get and stay fit if we're able to do what we love.

  5. How are you doing on your daily Bible reading? I am happy to report that I am current and using my reference Bible to learn additional info regarding my daily passage. Hopefully, I continue this good habit.

    Wow, running a marathon. No thank you. Good luck on that!

  6. Bree,

    I'm just one day behind -- right smack in the middle of Job's lament. His second buddy is about to give him what for, but my eyes were tired when I got to day 21, so I decided to cave in. That's great that you're taking the time to read extra info!

    Well, I do love running -- or did, before it kind of nearly killed me (we try not to talk about The Potassium Fiasco). So, I'm looking forward to the running, if not the 26-mile bit.

  7. Hey, I just tagged you for a bookshelf meme (if you haven't already done it).

  8. Anonymous4:30 PM

    Believe as afterlife insurance? That's an interesting concept.

    I like that "Bad Five Minutes vs Milking it" bit.

    I've got my Google Reader set up so that no numbers display. It's so much nicer that way. No pressure.

  9. Jeane,

    I've been tagged but haven't done that one, yet. I'll see if I can do a catch-up post, soon. Thanks for tagging me!


    Isn't that interesting? I can imagine the discussion that would generate in my Bible study group.

    Yep, me too on the 5 min. vs. Milking. I really do need to print that out. I used to have thoughts like that pasted all over my monitor, but that was when I had a whopping big monitor.

    I've yet to switch to not viewing numbers. I think even though it's intimidating, I like to know where I stand -- whether reading everything is likely to kill me and I should just do a mass delete.

  10. I have missed you over at AM3. Get your camera and go shoot some pix!! :)

  11. Les,

    Thank you, sweetie. I was going to take kiddo's little digital, today, but I forgot. Maybe I'll take a zoo jaunt after Marathon Makeover, this weekend. It was in the 60's, breezy and sunny, today! Ooooooh. Perfect.

  12. Cute little Wahoo birdy. Since I suffer from depression I used to read a lot about it, but now I avoid the subject. For me enough was enough. I do think it's good to educate those who don't suffer. It helps build understanding. I agree about covers featuring the author - usually not good covers.

  13. Booklogged,

    My Wahoo birdy thanks you. I have the same problem, although I've never done a thing about it. Chronic depression runs on my mother's side of the family. What I've found is that it's better to read books about positive thinking when I hit a low point than to actually read about depression, unless they're specifically about hope. I so agree with you on that. This book is really good in that way. She talks about how important it is to address the underlying issues and then work on keeping your spirit lifted, exercise, etc., in order to find joy.

  14. Anonymous9:44 AM

    I, too, love the word 'joy'. I used to sign off letters with "Joyfully Yours," but then I met a lady named Joy and she did NOT embody much of the spirit of her name. Darn disappointing to tarnish such a good word...

    I was going to say something else and now totally forgot what. wahoo anyway!

  15. Care,

    That's a nice way to sign letters! I've met a Joy who wasn't very joyful. She was a teacher and she gave my son 2 days of after-school detention for reading a novel while he waited for something to load on his computer, even though she'd let him read while loading the rest of the year. I've always wondered if she simply had PMS and took out her frustration on him. It would be hard to live up to the name, though, wouldn't it?

    Wahoo back at ya!!

  16. You're very sharp-eyed to have spotted that nest! Great photo. Wahoo!

  17. Indigo,

    I can be particularly observant when I'm bored. As I recall, I was waiting for the guys to fetch something at Rite-Aid and I was left standing in the parking lot with a camera (it was a very nice day -- I remember that, even a year later).


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