Get It Done When You’re Depressed by Julie A. Fast

3/5 stars.
ebook, 270 pages.
Read from August 26 to October 07, 2014.

As I usually do with most of the self-help books I read, I took my time. What was refreshing with this book is that it helped me to realize that some of my thoughts and even behaviors are not actually who I am. That when I wake up in the morning and that cloud is lingering over me, I know that I may have difficulties with what I expected to get done that day, that my negative thoughts are a result of my depression and that my brain is lying to me as a result. In recognizing when I’m struggling, I know that I can put out the extra effort to push past as much as I can and still be productive or at least be kind to myself that day if it’s particularly bad.

The author’s main suggestions are in regards to self-recognition and knowing when your depression is taking hold and when your thoughts and behaviors can’t be trusted,  along with suggestions to stay focused and organized. The author also provides plenty of exercises to help the reader along. Additionally, she lays down the science behind getting enough sleep, the importance of exercise and the effects that alcohol and caffeine can have on a depressed brain. What was also very interesting was that at the end of each chapters she poses a question or scenario that relates to the content that was just discussed so that you can get the scientific explanation to that question.

Many people have complained that this book is too straight forward or that if they had tried the author’s suggestions it would have made their depression worse for them but I disagree to an extent. I believe that this book is directed to people with mild to moderate depression, so those of us who are held together enough to not be hospitalized and are of no harm to ourselves or others. While depression sucks all around, no matter how bad you have it, the less severe it is the more we are able to deal with it and I feel that this book is a great aid for the milder situations. The information may be straight forward in some areas but how many of those complaining have willingly tried and put forth positive energy into applying the authors methods? Everything is harder when you’re depressed so it takes more effort to try the exercises and recommendations but, like anything in life, the hard stuff is often worth it.

I think that there are a few stages that a sufferer goes through with depression. The beginning starts with the unawareness which is the pre-diagnosis, the second stage is that recognition and the diagnosis, and the third is how the person chooses to deal with the situation. Depression has a horrible way of making the sufferer very negative and more often than not during the third stage, the sufferer victimizes and feel sorry for themselves at some point. I think many people sadly, are not able to move past this victimization. With this victimization the sufferer believes that they are their condition and that nothing will ever change, therefore handing over all of their power, control, and ultimately their life over to the condition. This is why, I think some people scoff at the exercises and suggestions that the authors makes.

The suggestions, I think to a person in this position, seem to mock their suffering in that they didn’t ask for depression so they don’t need to be accountable for it. However, nobody asks for depression and just like a lot of things in life you have to learn to adapt and to deal. One of the most difficult things I’ve done has been recognizing my own depression for what it is, stop being angry that it’s there, and learn to manage my life with it. Nothing happens over night, so repetition and practice are key to leading a life with depression which, is where this book comes in handy. Everyone is different to so not everyone’s coping methods will be the same. Some people require more compassion while others need a tough love approach.

I believe that people who are dealing with mild to moderate depression don’t have to let it consume their lives. Depression really blows and the effects from it can be overwhelming but the best plan of action is recognizing its presence and not giving up your control to it. It’s a matter of trying to alter our focus and knowing that we have choices and we have options.

My one complaint with the book is that the chapters seemed a bit repetitive after a while in that the relayed very similar information. I mean, if practice and repetition are key I suppose this isn’t a terrible thing, it just made for some tedious reading.

Overall I really enjoyed the books message and I have noticed a difference in my own work flow since reading this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with depression.

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Filed under 3 Star, Read 2014, Self-Help

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

3/5 stars.
ebook, 192 pages.
Read from September 15 to 25, 2014.

Well ten years after this book was first published, I finally got around to reading it. I can see why this book received a lot of hype as it was published at a time where people’s lives were evolving to reach a level of busyness that hadn’t been seen before and North America was also hit with some economical hardships. The book’s message hits home for anyone who has ever given up on a dream or has stopped dreaming. Most of us get caught up with money and time. We need money to have things and to pay our bills and to do so we often need to work in areas that may not satisfy us which, in turn takes up most of our time. This isn’t a fault and it’s nothing to feel guilty over but most of us will always wonder what would have happened if we had just taken the one massive risk to try and attain our dreams. The Alchemist is about the pursuit of dreams, a personal legend. Everyone has one and we all know what it is when we’re a child but we lose it as we age but we never forget the desire for it.  When someone is pursuing their personal legend, the universe will come to together to assist anyone that is in pursuit of their personal legend.

The story follows a young shepard boy named Santiago. who after having a reoccurring dream, in which he believes to be prophetic, consults a fortune teller. He is told that he will find treasure in Egypt. Soon afterwards he is visited by an old king called Melchizedek, who encourages Santiago to pursue the dream. The boy, through out his journey is met with several points in which he could have turned away from his personal legend, decisions that would have made him happy in the interim but would have still left him empty and full of yearning in his later years. The writing itself mimics a piece of philosophical or religious text and God is often brought up in the book. While the style worked, I cannot deny that, I didn’t always enjoy its preachy style.

This novel spoke to me not only because I am in the process of the pursuing my own personal legend but the book is also a reflection of the authors own experience of  becoming a writer so I felt that I could relate to the author’s own sacrifices as reflected through Santiago. What I also took from the book is the importance of ensuring that you don’t give up your dreams for anyone. Santiago meets two women on his journey, both which tempt him to settle and marry but it’s the second woman Fatima, who won’t be with him until he has pursued his personal legend. A loved one should support your dreams, not stop them.

I can see that this book may not speak to everyone just based on the way it’s written, but for those that it does, I think it’s important not to ignore its message. We have a set amount of time on this earth and we do have choice with how we spend it. It’s never too late to follow a dream. Anything worth having is going to have sacrifice, and often a lot of it but as this book shows, it’s the journey towards the dream that’s relevant and that’s what makes the rewards of success that much sweeter.

 

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Filed under 3 Star

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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4/5 stars.
ebook, 544 pages.
Read from September 07 to 17, 2014.

As Remembrance Day was yesterday, I feel it’s a perfect time to review and discuss this book. This book has created a lot of buzz since its publication and it’s well deserved. All The Light We Cannot See is a remarkable and one-of-a-kind story that takes place during WWII. Specifically during D-Day and the occupation of France. You follow the stories of Werner Pfennig, a young orphan German boy, and Marie-Laure, a young blind girl both before, during and just after the war. The novel is about humanity and what it means to be human when we are faced with unforgiving challenges and circumstances.

Marie-Laure is just six years old when she goes blind. While her mother is no longer alive, her doting father, who is the master of locks a the Museum of Natural History in Paris,  is extremely committed to her care. He begins to build small wooden models of the area that Marie lives in so that she can learn to find her way around. While initially terrified, through her father’s encouragement and persistence, Marie becomes a very independent and capable child despite her blindness.

Werner is spending his childhood in an orphanage with his sister Jutta as their father died in a coal mine. Werner is a curious and intelligent boy and he is constantly asking questions about the way the world works. He quickly becomes enthralled with the radio that he and Jutta listen to and when it breaks he becomes determined to fix it. Before long, Werner becomes the go to person for any type of radio repair in town. As he grows, so does his cravings for knowledge, but what sort of life could a boy, even a gifted one, have coming from an orphanage? The emergence of Hitler’s youth seemed to provide an answer to that question. While Werner is gifted he is oblivious to the cause that he wants to join. Jutta on the other hand is not as ignorant and she learns to read between the lines of what is being dispatched on the radio and the whisperings of other adults. She tries to warn Werner, but he doesn’t understand. All he can see is his one opportunity to become something more than an orphan.

As the war breaks out, you start to see how the story lines of these two very different characters are going to come together to one amazing and potent conclusion.

I loved Marie-Laure’s story. Her character is so enduring and real. However, this side of the war has been told many times so the inclusion of Werner’s story, that almost mirrors Marie’s, is what I found truly captivating. You often only get to hear about that horrors that Germany inflicted during this time, which is more than understandable, but it’s easy to forget that there were many innocent and young people in Germany that suffered too as a result of the actions that the adults took around them.

The story of Werner and Marie show that despite the horrors that surrounded the war, there were many cases of honor, love, resilience and strength that emerged as well. Within Werner and Marie, the author is able to capture the many facets of being human and that it’s our decisions and actions to do what’s right, regardless of whatever challenges stand in our way, that define and shape who we are and have the power to leave lasting impressions on those that that we meet and effect.

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Filed under 4 Star, Historical Fiction