(Notes to myself, should I need them in the future.)
Stories are important. The words I replay in my mind is important, so I need to notice what's going on, and make sure I'm looking at the whole picture, not just mentally tearing myself apart by repeating painful words and adding my own self-destructive commentary.
And then the whole list of helpful things: I need to really do them. It's okay to use the tools. It's /good/ to use the tools. Do not let the panic-brain tell you otherwise. It does not make you a failure that you need them - it makes you stronger when you are able to notice what's going on and manage to do them, even when it feels nearly impossible. /That/ is really hard, it is true. You are really worth it, even you. As much as anyone else in this world would be. And you can do it. You can do it.
>>S.! - Break the cycle, halt the brain-chemistry that's going on, right now pick something on the list that will help let light in, and take some of the power away from the things the panic-brain is telling you.
No one will think less of you, and in fact they'll be happy for you if it is able to help you get through what you're going through. (And anyway, S.!, some perspective - what random, amorphous "people" think is not what matters; that's a panic-brain construction - are you putting excessive weight into what others think?)
Once the cycle is a bit broken, books can be another thing that can calm the mind. From saya22, posted here with permission to keep for later. (Emphasis mine.)
Definitely. I turn to books especially when I’m sad or lonely. When my dad had a heart attack a few years back the first thing I grab is my copy of The Tale of Despereaux, because I needed to distract myself from that painful place, and because of the book itself, which tells a story about hope and forgiveness and seeing light in dark places. So to me, it’s a great balance, distancing myself from a terrible place, but at the same time I always read a heart-lifting book to remind me by the time that I resurface back in the real world, that there is good and hope and love still in my life.
I definitely recommend reading as a balm for your heart. Read something beautiful and bright and soothing, but grounded enough in reality that you don’t forget the real world. (...)
My dad got better, btw, still kicking life and taking names =)
Related to tools - my counselor & everyone is suggesting that I consider medication. I don't know why the idea of medications scares me like it does. I understand and know intellectually that it helps many people, and still I feel some fear there. But I promise to consider it if things aren't improving. I know that facing what is going on, and being honest to myself, is important.
Here’s a selection of books I always go to when I feel down and generally depressed, for Sqwook especially but also for anyone interested (some of the books require the characters go through painful journeys, but painful journeys are part of healing, so hang in there until the very end).
1) The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
A fairy tale about a mouse who wants to be a knight, a rat who yearns for the light, a princess who misses soup and the memories that come with it, and a scullery girl who dreams to be a princess. A story of forgiveness, redemption, and going into the dark to find the light.
2) The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
The journey of Edward Tulane, a snobby porcelain rabbit who scoffed at the idea of unconditional love, only to be lost and found, over and over again. In his journey he meets the lonely, the old, the homeless, the sick and the forgotten, and hearts are broken and mended and hope springs eternal.
3) The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Anything by Pratchett will do, honestly, but if I have to choose WFM heals me the most. It follows Tiffany Aching’s quest into Fairy World to save her brother from the Elf Queen with the help of a bunch of irrepressible pictsies, the Nac Mac Feegles. As she travels the illusory world, Tiffany remembers her grandmother, her wisdom and strength, and discover that as long she knows who she is and where she belongs, Tiffany will never be abandoned and alone.
4) The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
My ultimate favourite book. The story begins with David, a boy living during WWII, who lost his mother, gains an unwanted stepmother and stepbrother, and begins to hear the books talking. One day he finds himself thrown into an dark, desolate world where the fairy tales he loves to read comes true, except these are original fairy tales, and David struggles to find his way home while being pursued by vicious humanoid wolves, hunted by a violent huntress, chased by monsters, and all the while being shadowed by the mysterious trickster. Violent, gruesome, deeply layered but ultimately uplifting and courageous, BOLT is an ode to the power of fairy tales and the inevitable passage from childhood to adulthood.
5) The Horatio Lyle quartet by Catherine Webb
It’s Sherlock Holmes with a heart meets Thomas Edison meets Doctor Who and sets in Dickensian London. Horatio Lyle is a scientist, more at home with chemicals and things that go boom but occasionally finds himself “coaxed” to assist the police with their investigations. When a group of superhuman, green-eyed people terrorizes London, Lyle is morally obligated to stop them. At his side are “reformed” (caught) thief Tess, naive bigwig Thomas and Lyle’s unflappable dog(ish) Tate, who accompanies him as he battle something that science cannot explain. It is worth noting that this is one of the few children’s series that features an adult, but the gradual, tentative development of Lyle’s relationship with the children and ultimately embraces his role as their father figure (or an uncle, in Thomas’s case) is heartwarming. Elegant, witty and well-plotted, my only regret is the series stops at only four books.
6) Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori
The latest offering by the amazingly talented mangaka of Emma and Shirley, Bride’s Story chronicles the lives of several young women in 19th century Central Asia (along the Silk Road) as they embark into the next step of their life: as a newlywed bride. The manga series is a slice-of-life snippets that looks into the life of different tribes on the Silk Road. The art is mindbogglingly detailed and you can just lose yourself staring at the painstakingly detailed woodcarving, costumes, embroideries and land. Also Mori writes amazingly strong women, understated in their endurance and admirably courageous. If you can only read one manga, read this.
7) Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
Because even grown ups need to read read picture books once in a while. This witty and heartwarming story follows the quest of a boy who finds a penguin on his doorstep. Immediately assuming that the penguin is lost, he struggles to help the penguin find his way to the South Pole. But why does the penguin looks sad at the thought of going back? Could it be that the penguin is not lost, and is looking for something only the boy can give? Short but sweet, L&F is a great tale of friendship, unconditional love and belonging.
More books to read:
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
Lamb by Christopher Moore
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
The Scarecrow and His Servant by Phillip Pullman
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White