What I Do To Get Through, various Authors
In what is probably my most personal review to date, at the end of this review I post my own story, of what I do to get through. Feel free to share your story!
Published: February 18, 2021
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger Warning: This book mentions anxiety, depression and suicide, and mental health struggles. If you are sensitive to these topics, proceed with caution.
Sea Swimming by Virginia Jones
Swimming in the sea year-round is how Virginia helps keep her depression under control. She can completely surrender to the water, embracing the waves and the freedom from the things that weigh her down. It’s her coping mechanism, and she firmly believes it keeps her mentally healthy.
Yoga by Kelly Jensen
I liked this story. Kelly starts by explaining how nervous and anxious she was when she started doing yoga. She shared how she would shake throughout her classes until it clicked in her one day that yoga is not about anything except channeling yourself. There is no competition; there is no being perfect. There is only practice and patience, and with time progress. I very much enjoyed the way yoga paralleled with the way anxiety unfolds in your chest. Just take it one breath at a time.
Birdwatching by Paul Brook
Paul shares how birdwatching can bring moments of joy and excitement into your life. He likens the thrill of walking through the forest and seeing a bird through your binoculars, and the moment of celebration you feel at identifying the bird, and the feeling of pure joy at expressing that, even for a moment. He says that whole birdwatching won’t cure you of your depression or anxiety, and it can provide you with moments where you aren’t focused on the weight they lay on you.
Singing by Ruth Routledge
I enjoyed this story. The idea of singing is a choir, of hearing and being heard, is powerful. Ruth explains that women are often told they should only feel happy and joyous after having a baby, despite the other feelings raging through their post-birth bodies. Ruth states some very relevant and very necessary to be heard.
Pottery by Felicity Jacques-Diwani
I loved the words and the absolute passion in this piece. Working with pottery has changed Felicity’s life for the better, and she speaks so powerfully about her experience. I will have to look up her work, and I might need a mug!
Art by Orna
This story is beautiful. And I appreciate how Orna describes depression and how art has alleviated some of the weight for her. She is so right, and art doesn’t have to “be good” to do the job of providing a bright spot in the mind of the creator. Art is personal, and it gives you a voice and an outlet when nothing else can. There is power in finding the things that make you happy to be alive.
Meditation by Charles
This story focuses on finding whatever centers you. Charles found meditation, and he has found a way to stay in control when it feels like everything is slipping into chaos. I love that he emphasizes that it isn’t about doing it “right” or “in order” so long as what you’re doing is working and helping you be better.
Knitting by Nicola Rossall
I enjoyed this one. Nicola has found such comfort in knitting, and the way she talks about it makes me want to run out and buy supplies and learn to knit right this second. I am enjoying learning how people cope with their struggles by doing such everyday things, things that I hadn’t even considered.
Gardening by Elisabeth Basford
In this one, I can see how gardening could be a method for coping with depression. I can also see how creating something from nothing can give you a very needed boost in physically seeing results. I liked this story.
Poetry by Lorraine
I identified with this one a bit more than the others because writing had been very cathartic for me my entire life. I can understand how writing poems can help give your feelings a shape and a release for your mind. It’s an excellent method of processing, dealing, and releasing when you have a lot racing through your mind.
Cooking by Ellen Kanner
I liked this one. I can appreciate how cooking a yummy meal can help alleviate a mood and boost a lousy day. I don’t focus so much on the health factor side of cooking, my issue truly, but it is evident that cooking has ignited a passion inside Ellen, and you can truly feel how it has helped her overcome the bad days.
Dogs by Kate
I loved this one because I got it on a deep, personal level. My dog is this same type of medicine for me, and I agree with what Kate says about how a dog can completely transform your life and help you find your way out of a depression.
Sewing by Sue Arnott
This story was about how creating something allowed Sue to find the peace she didn’t know she was missing. I can understand how creating something from a pile of fabric can help a person feel empowered. I sew, but on a much smaller scale, and every single time I feel accomplished. So this one just makes practical sense.
Singing by Georgina Woolfrey
I identified with this story a lot. Singing has always been something that has made my heart soar. Even if it’s just belting in the car by myself. So I felt Georgina’s absolute passion for the one thing that made her feel human when she was suffering from her depression.
Filmmaking by Alice Evans
This story was about how filmmaking changed Alice’s life. I can see how that would help. She is in charge of how a story, her story, is told, and her imagination is the limit. When making a film, her mind would be so consumed in the creative process that she would find herself less likely to be grappling with her mental illness. And she says that through filmmaking, she has learned how to cope with and work through her mental illness, which is pretty powerful.
Meditation by Cassy Nunan
This story made me kind of nervous. Anytime I hear about people diagnosed with anxiety and depression who decided to take themselves off the medication that helps their brains function “normally,” it scares me. But it is powerful to hear about someone finding alternate means of coping with their mental health. But medication is a great option, and people shouldn’t have any fear about that.
Cycling by Fatima
This story is incredible. Fatima explains how using cycling, and creating goals, helped her refocus her anxious energy. It’s true, by creating someone positive for her to focus on, she was able to change how she handled her daily stressors. Very motivating.
Mountaineering by Sarah
I liked a lot of what Sarah said in her story. I would never try mountaineering because I’m terrified of heights. But her journey is so empowering, and she has indeed found what works for her through mountaineering. This story is powerful.
Horse Riding by Niki
I liked this story a lot. Anytime I’ve ridden a horse, I have felt intense peace. So I can see how this could be beneficial for someone struggling with their mental health. Great option!
Mindful Running by Rachel
I’m not a runner. I have no desire to become a runner. However, I do like the idea of mindful running and the calm it can bring. I can see how this would be helpful during stressful moments.
Surfing by Marigny Goodyear
The metaphors in this story are beautiful. And the lessons learned from surfing, truly powerful. I could never surf, but mostly because I have a beyond bizarre obsession with sharks and would be distracted while in the water. Also, I wouldn’t say I like to let anything else be in control, so the ocean and I would have some issues.
Birdwatching by Matt
I liked that Matt mentioned birdwatching could be replaced with anything, so I’m thinking puppies or baby farm animals. I want the freedom and encouragement that this story gives to spending time alone, with yourself, only focusing on yourself—definitely a crucial part of any self-care routine.
Natural Open Spaces by Olivia
I enjoyed this story, and I identified with the understanding that nature can bring calm. I find this kind of peace every single time I visit Yellowstone. The wide-open spaces. The wild animals. The smell of the air. The calm. Everything is pristine and beautiful. This is a great story.
Cycling by Sarah Strong
“Cycling will never cure mental ill health, but it sure as hell makes for a great management tool.”
This story was so lovely. The tone was so pleasant and honest. Sarah gives her opinion on how riding had changed her life, and I am thrilled she has an outlet that has allowed her to feel a sense of freedom she has never felt before. “Cycling won’t save your life, but it will make it immeasurably better.” This story is powerful.
Knitting by Lynne Cobb
I love the imagery in this story. Lynne is a great storyteller. And she uses such honest, vulnerable words to express her feelings. It’s so apparent how much knitting has helped her, mistakes and all. This story makes me want to learn.
Art-Making by Drew Walker
I love Drew’s outlook. He is so eloquent and has made some considerable progress with how he handles his mental health struggles. And his way of working through the lows is pretty incredible.
Writing by Carolyn
This story was longer than most in this book, and it’s apparent that Carolyn loves words. Words bring her comfort, joy, and comfort. I love that she found a way to help her cope with her trauma as a child, especially before she knew and understood what she was experiencing.
Horsemanship by Sally Rigg
Sally learned a lot through working with horses, and the impact the animals have had in her life is enormous. This story shows how connecting to another living creature can truly change your outlook on everything. Great story.
Knitting by James McIntosh
I love how James using the breath as imagery to connect with his knitting. And that seeing the progress he makes through his projects is a sign of positive progress. It’s a very powerful visual.
Sound and Music by Thomas Brown
I liked this story. Music has always been a considerable place of calm and peace within my own life, so I understand what Thomas said in his testimonial.
Quilting by Ami
I liked how Ami explains how the process of quilting has helped her climb out of her darkest days. It’s a beautiful explanation, and she is speaking so openly that, as a reader, we can’t help but truly see the impact this outlet has given her.
Photography by Mel
This may be my favorite story in this anthology. The creativity and adventure that comes from photography is something I have experienced, and I identified with these words so intensely. I love that Mel is advocating for people to find their creative outlet, whatever that may be, and committing to it. Uplifting and inspiring!
Puzzles by Caitlin
I like the idea of using puzzles as a way of self-soothing when struggling with mental health. This story is so upbeat and light, but the impact is substantial.
Afterword by James Withey and Olivia Sagan
The closing of this book is perfect. James and Olivia mention that they understand that this isn’t a book you sit and binge read, which made me feel better. I started reading this book over a month ago and kept putting it down, grabbing another book, and reading that to completion. As a book reviewer, I operate on strict deadlines that I don’t control. So as the publication date for this book loomed ever closer, I kept scolding myself for not finishing it. But this book isn’t meant to be read straight through. This isn’t a work of fiction where the story builds and grabs your focus. This book is real, and it’s a true struggle and real pain. This book is meant to be read when we need a little inspiration to help us pick ourselves up from the darkness that can take hold. So, I would like to add my entry to this book (entirely of my own will, not in any way affiliated with this book).
Reading by Katy Corbeil (that’s me!)
I have always been a pretty avid reader. I started reading at a relatively young age, and that hobby has always been encouraged in my life. As I’ve gotten older and busier with life, I found that I wasn’t reading or doing anything to balance my work-life, and I wasn’t listening to what my mental health needs were. 2020 was a rough year for everyone. I broke my right humerus at the beginning of March, needing surgery to repair it, which would take me out of work for at least 12 weeks. I was aghast at the thought. I was working my dream job, so the idea of not doing that left me quite discouraged. Then covid hit with a vengeance, causing the country to practically shutdown. The industry I worked in was hit pretty hard, and the unfortunate decision to lay 500 people off became a terrifying reality. Sadly, my position was eliminated. I sobbed into the phone when I got the call from HR, informing me that my job was eliminated and that I was being laid off. I fell into a pretty dark headspace.
Not only was I dealing with a broken bone and being helpless because I’m right-handed, but I was unemployed. Though it was through no fault of my own, it still crushed me. The seductive darkness of depression quickly swallowed me, and I found myself having difficulty finding a reason to get out of bed. I couldn’t see the point. Because of my anxiety and OCD, I don’t sit still, and I can’t remain idol well. One morning, I rolled over in my bed and just happened to look at my bookshelf. I’ve always been a book collector, so I had quite the “to be read” list. So I figured, why not. What did I have to lose? I quickly started devouring novels in a single day. I couldn’t read fast enough. I was tearing through my TBR list at a break-neck speed. Soon, I needed more books. Thankfully, I was able to turn to my Kindle and find instant access. Suddenly, I could get out of bed, and the weight in my soul wasn’t quite as heavy. I found myself looking forward to the novel I would read, and I felt excitement for the first time in a long time.
Yes, my struggles will always be with me, and yes, I have bad days. I have days where even the lure of a fantastic plot isn’t enough to hold my attention. But I can say with confidence, and reading helped me find my center in chaos. Reading gave me a purpose, and through that purpose, I sit here now, writing a review for an arc. Words are incredible. And I am so thankful to have had something to cling to in my darkest moments. Reading is a joyful experience, but writing reviews and talking about books is something I don’t even have words to express. This is my journey, this is my reason, and I am grateful.