The Pocket Therapist is packed with 144 short essays -- or, at least, "Things to think about when you're down." I'm not exactly sure what to call them, but we'll stick with the word "essays". Each essay tells you a little bit about the author's personal experience with chronic depression, addiction and other psychological battles and also offers an idea to help keep you out of your own dark hole. #104 on p. 142, for example, is entitled "Rip the tags off." I'll just share part of it:
Here's a telltale sign of a noncommitter: a closet full of dresses and pants with the tags still on. Because by snipping off a sales tag, you are essentially taking a stand on life, making a decision to wear the dress in public; you lose the option of returning the dress. And, noncommitters adore possibilities and choices.I try to rip off as many tags as I can today because I know, by experience, that having a cool wardrobe of never-worn skirts--of blowing off invitations to socialize with and meet fellow moms, neighbors, bloggers-- further propels me down the depression hole.
This is also an example of one essay that's completely useless to me. I don't have a problem with leaving tags on outfits. I have a problem with not having any idea where to find people to socialize with (in person, that is -- I have plenty of friends online and I've discovered those relationships do fine face-to-face when I do manage to meet up with the people I've gotten to know distantly).
#105 - "Love the Questions" begins with a comment about why the author prefers math to literature and goes on to say:
But life is like literature. Where the answer--if there is one--depends on what your teacher ate for dinner the night before or how late her husband returned from work.
She goes on to say that for instructions on dealing with the questions in life, she goes to this quote by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke:
Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Oh. I like that. In general, though, the book is give and take. If you're having a mildly off day, one or two of the essays in The Pocket Therapist may help you to reevaluate your attitude and give you the boost you need to change your day into a good one. Sometimes, I did find the book helpful. It's a mistake to just blast your way through the essays on a really bad day. If it's not helping, I'd say it's best to do something you know usually helps or even just step outside and stand in the sun, rather than reading someone else's thoughts on how to get your mood to lift.
Recommended for the odd blue day, but not to be relied upon as a panacea. Read an essay or two when you're down; choose the ones that really work for you and mark them to return to. I don't think the entire book can possibly be right for everyone, but I personally found a smattering of essays that help me rethink my mood and make changes on a bad day. I'm a very moody chick, you know.
I keep forgetting to return to writing my cover thoughts! So . . .
Cover thoughts: I really like the bright, simple look of this cover. It's a grabber because of the colors but it's also clear from both the image and the title exactly what the book is about.
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I really want to find a good book of essays to read. I don't think this will be the one though. I really don't want to read what a therapist thinks I should do! But if you have any good essays besides this one, let me know!ReplyDelete
Long time no see! How about Nick Hornby? Have you read his writings from The Believer: The Polysyllabic Spree, Housekeeping vs. The Dirt and Shakespeare Wrote for Money? They are all excellent.
I've got a book of personal essays that I'm hoping to read soon, also: 501 Minutes to Christ by Poe Ballantine. Andi of Estella's Revenge highly recommended it, so I'm sure it'll be great.
BTW, Borchard is a patient, not a therapist. She's got some significant mental-illness challenges.Delete
I adore that green fainting couch or whatever those things are called. Odd and unbalanced and romantic and delightful. I like the advice to stand in the sunshine. I rip tags off immediately. I also tend to wear my newly purchased items as soon as I bring 'em in the door.ReplyDelete
I don't know what it's called, but that sure sounds right. Love your description of it; so perfect.Delete
Haha! I knew you're a tag-ripper! You had that Charleston dress on within hours, didn't you? Its a good thing to remember if you're that kind of person, though. She definitely has some excellent advice to offer.
I'm glad I don't have as many issues as the author does! I'm with you on the tag thing. Hopefully readers will find a few gems that will help them.ReplyDelete
Yes, she has some major issues. I do think she does a good job of sharing what's worked for her and there's plenty of great advice in The Pocket Therapist. You just have to take what works for you and leave the rest.Delete
Sounds intriguing...but ultimately like one I should try to track down at the library instead of the bookstore. I appreciated your candid thoughts!ReplyDelete
If you've got a decent library, that's not a bad idea. I do not. But, I do plan to revisit my copy and mark the essays that work best for me. At the moment, a friend wants to borrow it so that will have to wait. :)
Probably a better bet is to just pick up some Rainer Maria Rilke!ReplyDelete
LOL I would say this book has its place, but grabbing some Rilke is not a bad idea! :)Delete
This is a neat little book :) Don't know that I would love this, but I can see how it would be great and really useful for other people!!ReplyDelete
I found it useful at times, but I really think some of those essays are very much targeted to people who happen to be like the author in some way, if that makes sense. So, you just have to take what works for you and leave the rest. I'm loaning mine out, but when I get it back I plan to go back through it and mark the essays that I find helpful. Some just made me feel worse when I read them!Delete
I am not sure that I would find this book helpful to me, as I sort of think that my mood issues are a little different than just the garden variety blueness sometimes. I can see where this may be helpful to some, but as you said, it's probably not the panacea that many would hope it would be. Very thoughtful and impressive review today. I liked hearing what you had to say!ReplyDelete
Yep, same here. I think it's really best for mild blue days but for serious depression there's a lot more required that a little pep talk, which is essentially what those essays amount to, the idea being to help you alter your perspective (but without a whole lot of depth). Oh, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed my review! :)
Sounds interesting. Love that quote by Rilke!ReplyDelete