I got a new shipment of self-help books today. I went a little book-crazy in the first months after getting my diagnosis. I read a very large number of things in a very short time frame, and have since been labeled as a little nuts for this by my current therapist (in her defense, it was a very large number). It’s a coping mechanism for me, I guess, that I want as much information as possible. Takes some of the stress off, and lets me feel like I’m doing everything that could be done (I do this in other areas of my life as well…getting our cats, planning my wedding, scheduling the honeymoon. Not always with books, per say, but I sure do my research). Plus, I’m not good at handing off responsibility for my well being to somebody else.
I acknowledge her point. Sometimes this lets me get my hopes up that I will find a solution that may not be coming, or sets my expectations at levels I can’t possibly reach (except on the honeymoon – priceless!). And of course, if you scan the previous paragraph for extreme language, it’s not possible to do “everything” that could be done. I like to get pretty damn close, though.
I was good this time, and tried to keep my book-related expectations as reasonable as possible, and saved my bank account as best I could. I sifted through reviews and personal recommendations, and weeded out those that I didn’t absolutely want to read right away or those that were duplicates on the same basic subject. I left the $50 volume on my wish list instead of in my shopping cart. I acknowledged that there may be tiny bits of help in what I was buying, but that they might not contain the definitive answer.
I have learned a lot from my books, though. Really a lot. I always had a kind of biased impression of self-help books. Maybe from scanning through my mother’s copy of “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus” when I was younger. Maybe just because there really is a lot of tripe out there. What I’ve read has been exceptionally useful, though. I have learned a lot more and improved a lot more from the reading I’ve done than I have from both of my therapists. Not to say that they’re no good, just that I get a lot more strategies a lot faster from my reading, and I’m pretty diligent about putting them to use.
(Not always so good about following through in great depth, but that’s a post on its own. I like to master things quickly. So the stuff that takes years of practice to progress with? Not my strong suit.)
I have to say, the more I read about this stuff, the more fascinated I am with how much there is out there that we’re just now barely starting to comprehend. Also with how many “fringe” things actually have a scientific backing if they’re done correctly. Meditation has tons of legitimate research behind it now (as effective as Prozac, they say), but I’ll be damned if my psychiatrist would ever suggest it to me. First psychologist, yes. Psychiatrist, no.
Today I started adding guided imagery to my repertoire. I am on some level hopeful that maybe some of what I’m doing will keep an allergic reaction away. It’s not actually unreasonable – there have been some studies done in which people managed to prevent a reaction to poison ivy, or create a poison ivy rash from harmless plants. The Wellbutrin is harmless…The Wellbutrin is safe…Please let the Wellbutrin actually help me so I’ll be justified in doing all this…
So far it seems very much like meditation with a slight twist to it. That’s fine. I acknowledge that it would be good for me to meditate again anyway. Can’t say the thought of actually committing to it doesn’t come with an expectation of progress, though. I remember the last time I was taking Wellbutrin and meditating daily, and I felt freer and more self-content than I ever have in my life. Can I get myself to do this every day without looking for that, or being disappointed if I don’t see improvements? I’m not sure that I can.
As a side note, the book mentioned in passing something about a “safe” memory from childhood. I am not entirely certain that I have one of these, and it is weirding me right out. I have many “pleasant” memories, but most of them are tinged with one kind of stress or another. Pure safety and comfort seems to come with a parent. My father was not helpful, and I always felt on some level like I needed to take care of my mom. It would crush her to know that. Which is why I’ll never tell her. Because I need to take care of my mom. Maybe children shouldn’t worry about whether it’s a good financial idea to buy that Barbie doll. Not nearly as dramatic as the terrible traumas many people have been through, so it’s another example of what I tend to write off as irrelevant or self-indulgent lines of thought. Still, one more moment of feeling suddenly like my life has maybe been a lot more interesting than I thought it was.
And not always in a good way.