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text 2018-02-05 21:10
Reading progress update: I've listened 270 out of 320 minutes.
Cheer Up Love: Adventures in depression with the Crab of Hate - Susan Calman

This book is a kind of autobiography/self-help guide to dealing with depression, or the crab-of-hate as Susan calls it. It's written and narrated by Susan Calman, a Scottish comedienne, who I've recently started to like. She tells her story in a conversational style, covering all sorts of topics like fashion, therapy, social media etc and how she navigates these in consideration of her depression. As she's a comedienne it'd be a bit strange if it wasn't funny, which of course it is. She's funny and brutally honest about her experiences and I'm laughing while at the same time shaking my head furiously because I can identify with so much. If you're looking for a book which gives an honest account of depression, this wouldn't be a bad place to start.

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text 2018-02-02 21:19
PART I: Telltale Signs of Untreated Childhood Trauma

 Adapted from the new inspirational self-help book entitled, ‘From Broken to Blest: Embracing the Healing that Awaits You’ by Adele M. Gill and Dr. Verna Benner Carson.

_____________________________________________________________

 

Clinical depression is on the rise in the US, with over 21 million Americans diagnosed with depression each year. Most people are able to get treatment that is readily available, including medication and/or psychotherapy. Many come to understand the origin of their depression over time, however, sometimes they only have a vague idea as to why they are experiencing persistent clinical depression, sometimes combined with what I call ‘the trifecta: ’Depression, PTSD, and a neuro-autoimmune condition, such as MS or MG or fibromyalgia, which often go hand-in-hand.

 

 

For those individuals who don’t know the origin of their depression, looking back on their childhood may be extremely helpful, even life-giving. Understanding the negative effects of untreated childhood trauma can be life-giving, even life-saving, especially when depression affects ones physical health. Here is my story involving the telltale signs of childhood trauma in my own life:

 

 

Having endured physical, sexual, and mental abuse in my youth, I came to doubt my own existence, and self-worth. Though resolved, the truth is that my self-esteem was always an issue as I grew up in poverty with my abusive schizophrenic mother, and my father who was involved in the Mafia, who took me with him while doing ‘business.’

 

 

In my youth, and later into adulthood, I felt depressed, anxious, and ‘less than’ more often than I care to admit, which colored the way I looked at myself, others, and the world at-large—but I did not understand why I felt that way. I was diagnosed with depression in early adulthood, but chose not to treat it, in part, due to the stigma associated with psychiatric illness and care, and I did not want to take depression meds. At that time, I was unsure as to why I had depression in the first place, as my life was going well and I was living my dream of becoming a wife, mother and registered nurse. But eventually I learned that it was repressed and suppressed memories related to my childhood that were making me sick.

 

 

Looking back, the mind-body illnesses I experienced could have been anticipated given my unusual, traumatic upbringing, but I was initially not yet in touch with the untreated childhood trauma I had endured. My memories were blocked until I started having flashbacks and nightmares about 10 years ago, and the root of the problem became crystal clear. It was not one event that caused the trauma and stress. It was my early family life itself, and a series of traumatic life events that made me sick physically and emotionally later in adulthood.

 

 

The enduring effects of untreated childhood trauma became so intense that I frequently felt overwhelmed, lost, and alone much of the time, having lived in daily turmoil and poverty through my youth, with little encouragement or emotional support. And that carried over into my adulthood years, as my own ‘trifecta,’ the tell-tale signs of untreated childhood trauma, rolled in over time: Unrelenting depression, childhood associated PTSD, and a serious neuro-autoimmune disorder, which often go hand in hand.

 

 

The latter is what forced me to look closely at my traumatic childhood for what it was—something I had avoided at all costs. In truth, I had little choice but to seek the truth, as my physical and emotional health depended on it. Eventually, I learned from my medical team that my autoimmune system had been damaged by the early childhood trauma, and that, in turn, was damaging my central nervous system.  I finally got to the point where I could no longer deny things that had happened to me. What had transpired in my youth was making me chronically and acutely ill, both physically and emotionally, and I could no longer function in my daily life. I had met the proverbial wall, so to speak. I could not work, could not walk even short distances without long arm crutches, then a walker, then it progressed, and I was bedridden and in a wheelchair for twelve years, had blurred vision, and garbled speech much of the time. Mind-body illnesses had taken over my life and I no longer had the privilege of pushing aside the memories of the trauma that had occurred. I found myself very sick with depression, PTSD, mobility impairment, and exacerbations of respiratory muscle weakness and generalized weakness requiring a home bipap ventilator 14-16 hours per twenty four hour day.

 

 

Once my medical team and I made the connection between untreated childhood trauma and the mind-body illnesses, there was no turning back. I had to heal, and to do so, I had to face where I had been and what I had experienced in my youth, painful as it was. Though I still have neuro-autoimmune exacerbations and remissions, and frequently receive IV steroids and IVIG treatments to quell symptoms when in acute need of medical care, I now have a new life since dealing with the untreated childhood trauma.

 

 

Most of all, I have hope now. For it is only with Jesus’ help that I was able to heal from the depression and PTSD, begin to flourish, and get on with my life. I believe it was faith that healed me through the prayers of many people who prayed fervently for me and continue to this day. What a tremendous blessing…the gift of faith!

 

© Copyright 2018   |   Adele M. Gill   |   Distributed by News Consortium

To be continued… See PART II:

'Telltale Signs of Untreated Childhood Trauma: Secret Weapons for Healing’

____________________________________________

 

Adele M. Gill resides in Maryland, is a retired RN/BSN, a board certified Disability Analyst (ABDA), a Chaplain, and co-author of the new inspirational self-help book entitled, ‘From Broken to Blest: Embracing the Healing that Awaits You.' She is a tireless mental health advocate living in Maryland.

Source: www.silverliningcommunications.net
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review 2018-01-22 00:15
Deep dive into cult life
The Boundless Sublime - Lili Wilkinson

 Disclaimer: reviewing a pre-publication digital proof via NetGalley.

 

Ruby's mother is no longer functioning. Her dad's in prison. For killing her baby brother in a drunk driving accident. She's holding it together on the outside, not so much on the inside. When she makes a connection with innocent, sheltered, cult-raised Fox, she gets drawn into the supportive, seemingly open-minded and health-conscious public branch of a local cult. When she follows Fox into the inner enclave, things take a turn for the weird.

 

Extremely well-written story by a new-to-me author. I wasn't sure what to expect going in, and mostly requested the galley based on that awesome cover (isn't it cool? so atmospheric!) But there's a lot to like in the storytelling as well. Ruby's in a bad place, and the way the author explores her thinking and how she moves step-by-step deeper into the land of crazy is really illuminating.

 

While I think most of us would agree on how insane the choices Ruby and others in the book make, the reality is that people around us are pulled into real-world versions of this, and get drawn into radical thinking and extremist behaviours every day. I have friends who've gotten really into things like Landmark (a leadership program with cult-like practices), CrossFit (an example of extreme fitness trends that can inspire cultlike devotion, also see: SoulCycle) and even things like detox cleanses or mindfulness programs that ride the line of eating disorders and abuse. The relatability and plausibility of the characters that Wilkinson draws out is impressive. Many people - maybe everyone - are looking for answers, for meaning, for a way to gain control over their lives. This story explores how someone could, out of a place of brokenness and searching, go down a route they never would have imagined for themselves.

 

I love how this story conveys a sense of empathy. You learn about others, and maybe yourself, in a way that's engaging, fast-paced (it's not a preachy dissertation on the evils of cults or anything), solidly in-character (Ruby's perspective feels natural, age-appropriate, and allows for some great reveals and twists at the end), and balanced. You come away with a clear understanding of why people behaved as they did, even if that behaviour was absolutely insane. Potential trigger warnings for various things like debilitating depression/suicidal thoughts, abuse and eating disorders. There is some sexuality and language that might make this better suited for older teens and adults - parental guidance recommended - but it's not pronounced or explicit (e.g. there is weird sex stuff in the cult, but it's not salacious or described in detail).

 

Highly recommended read that bridges entertainment and discussion-group-worthy literature.

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review 2018-01-11 03:39
Orange: The Complete Collection (manga, vol. 2) by Ichigo Takano, translated by Amber Tamosaitis
orange: The Complete Collection 2 - Ichigo Takano

Warning: this manga deals with depression and suicide. You've probably already read the first volume and know that, but this volume goes into more detail and includes a lengthy section from the POV of a character up to the moment he makes his decision to commit suicide.

I enjoyed this but had some issues with it that I’m not sure I can articulate. Well, I’ll give it a shot.

Orange is only the first two thirds of this volume. The last third is an unrelated story with a completely different tone. I’ll discuss them separately in this review.

Orange:

This volume picks up right where the first one left off. Naho is still trying to save Kakeru, but now she knows she isn’t alone - literally all of her friends also received letters from their future/parallel universe selves and are also working to save him. Things have changed enough now that the letters don’t always help, although they can still provide a little bit of guidance. But will it be enough? And will Naho and her friends’ efforts really manage to save Kakeru?

One of the things that worried me about the previous volume was the possibility that Takano might be taking the story into “high school romance saves Kakeru” territory. That worry never quite went away - although Takako thought that Kakeru would be fine even if his romance with Naho didn’t work out, Suwa was so unconvinced by this that he continued to sabotage the future he knew he could have with Naho. That said, the way the ending was written indicated that it was everyone, not just Naho, who was necessary to save Kakeru. What he needed wasn’t specifically romance, but rather relationships with people who cared about him, worried about him, and thought about him enough to try to stand by him through everything, even when he actively pushed them away.

Which brings me to the thing I’ve been avoiding writing directly about: suicide. While I think Orange is very good, it feels like something that was written more for people like Naho, Suwa, Takako, Hagita, and Azu than people like Kakeru and his mother. The section from Kakeru’s POV is part of the reason why.

At one point in the volume, Takano includes a flashback to Kakeru’s POV in the original timeline -

all the things that happened to him and contributed to his depression, as well as the one horrible thing that pushed him over the edge and made him decide to commit suicide. It was a very effective bit of storytelling, setting up a sort of final countdown and showing readers the things that Naho and the others didn’t know about but would somehow have to overcome in order to save Kakeru. And as someone who grew up with a mother who was depressed and who worried about contributing to that depression, I can say that Kakeru’s POV felt painfully real.

(spoiler show)


I probably wouldn’t recommend this series to someone who was dealing with depression and/or suicidal feelings unless they had someone they could go to that they felt comfortable talking to. The ending

was intended to be a happy and hopeful one, with Naho and the others accomplishing what they set out to do and determined to keep helping Kakeru even past the point where their letters could guide them. However, all I could think was that, despite everything they knew and all their daily efforts, they still only barely managed to keep him from killing himself. There was, for me, something deeply horrifying about that. And after all that, Kakeru’s reaction to what Naho and everyone else told him felt kind of...understated?

(spoiler show)



When I first started this series, I said that it could maybe be considered science fiction. After reading this volume, I take that back: it definitely isn’t science fiction, despite its occasional passages about parallel universes. Takano’s explanation for how Naho and her friends managed to send their letters back in time and start a parallel universe where Kakeru doesn’t die was absolutely ridiculous. Rather than coming up with some kind of brilliant plan to save Kakeru, they

literally threw their letters into the ocean and those letters somehow made their way into a black hole (or something similar). The letters then somehow all ended up in just the right time and place.

(spoiler show)


Haruiro Astronaut:

Chiki and Mami are identical twins. Mami’s the cute one that guys are always asking out. Since she can never bring herself to say “no” to any of them, even if she isn’t interested in them, Chiki always ends up being the one to break up with them for Mami. And then they ask her out because they view the twins as interchangeable. Chiki wants to find someone who sees her for who she is, rather than as an acceptable substitute for Mami, and who wants to be with her.

Mami introduces Chiki to Yui, a hot new guy in her class, and Chiki falls head over heels in love. Unfortunately for her, he’s interested in Mami. As if the situation weren’t already painful enough, Mami starts to fall for him too. So where does that leave Chiki?

This one’s light and fluffy tone was a welcome change after finishing Orange. The worst thing the characters had to worry about was whether the person they liked happened to like someone else.

This story had not one, but two love triangles: the one mentioned in my summary, involving Chiki, Mami, and Yui, and one involving Chiki, Yui’s best friend, and a guy who initially says he’s interested in Mami. To my surprise, I actually kind of liked these love triangles. Although they both had aspects that were painful for the characters, neither one got to the point of truly hurting anybody and wrecking friendships. I’m still not sure how I feel about the final pairings, but the fact that everyone could still talk to each other and have fun together after everything was said and done was really refreshing.

(And I wonder, am I the only one who looked at that last page and had a sudden vision of Chiki, Tatsuaki, and Natsuki all going on a date together? Natsuki would quietly and happily soak up the atmosphere, Tatsuaki would be overly loud in a failed effort to hide his nervousness, and Chiki would blush and laugh.)

 

Rating Note:

 

If this volume had included the end of Orange and nothing else, I might have given it 3.5 stars. Something about the way Takano wrote about Kakeru and his mother's depression didn't quite sit well with me - I don't think I've figured out exactly what bothered me, but I don't know that I care to spend more time digging into it either.

 

Haruiro Astronaut really was a breath of fresh air and managed to nudge my rating up to 4 stars, which is a bit funny considering that I probably wouldn't have given it that rating if I'd read it on its own.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-01-04 18:34
I loathed this. You need to read it.
Nice Try, Jane Sinner - Lianne Oelke

 Disclaimer: reviewing digital proof via NetGalley; final version may differ.

 

This is one of those hard-to-pin-down reviews. I almost put down the book in the first pages, and dragged myself through the first half, and finally adjusted by the second. The voice and format are distinctive, so if you like them in the first place, it'll help. Basically, it's one of those so-real-it-hurts contemporary fiction pieces that capture all the things about teens that makes people avoid them. Snark and superiority, carelessness and endless appetite for causing misery and pushing other people's buttons, willful destruction etc.

 

High school dropout Jane Sinner is depressed, bored, and checked out of life when she comes across a flyer for a student production; a reality TV roommate show at the local community college. It's a chance to move out of the family home and cut down on conflict with her parents, so she jumps at the chance. Cue snarky thoughts and meaningful silences, passive-aggressive housekeeping battles and pranks, and low-key hijinks, all chronicled in a distinctive journal-and-interior-thoughts format that often reads like a script.

 

It's painful - and all too familiar. Oelke captures an authentically nihilistic voice, unironic Canadian culture (note the outward politeness, while massively pranking and internally back-talking others). Bizarrely, one of the most unique elements is Jane's background as a church kid, and her experience of questioning and discarding her parent's religion once she realizes she doesn't know God or believe in any of it. Lots of Canadians, and even more Americans, have at least some exposure to North American Christian culture/religion, and yet it never makes it into books outside of the Christian Lit aisle. The way aimlessness and lack of goals/direction, dismal future outlook and relational/romantic ineptness are handled are likewise on point.

 

At the risk of spoilers, this isn't a heartwarming teen special about overcoming depression/finding a dream/fitting in/adjusting etc. The plot picks up as the tension rises in the reality show Jane participates in, and there are some good twists as it nears the finish line that keep tension high and provide a moderate level of catharsis. The next chapter of Jane's life struck me as unrealistic and too convenient, but maybe it fits well in the world of reality TV/pop entertainment anyways.

 

I wouldn't call this an enjoyable book (and definitely not a clean one - older teens and adults only for foul language, substance abuse, and some sexual situations), but it does an excellent job at capturing a certain experience of our time. It's the sort of book you may or may not want to read, but you absolutely should spend some time with.

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