I read 7 books this week? I.e; 7 mini book reviews

I may have lied a little bit in the title… as technically I have only finished 6, and am reading the 7th currently haha. Just to point out, I don’t always read the same amount of books each month, it all depends how much I get into reading. If you read my last post you’ll know I am using this month to read books outside of my comfort zone. Therefore, these books I am going to share are not typical ‘Flower in the brain’ books.

The first book I read last week was ‘The Light Between Oceans’ by M.L. Stedman. My last book post was a review of this novel. You can read it here at; https://flowersinthebrain.blog/2019/07/15/the-light-between-oceans-book-review/

I just finished ‘They Both Die At The End’ by Adam Silvera. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I’m not sure I would have picked this book up by the blurb, but I really enjoyed it, It contains a lot of sadness, and I did cry a few times. It is about getting a call knowing you are going to die in the next 24hours. I would class it as a romantic fiction too, Definitely my favourite book by this author.

‘One of Us is Lying’ by Karen M. McManus is a little on the cheat side, as it is a YA book, but the mystery part would have stopped me picking this us, and I do not like ‘scary’ things haha. This book wasn’t scary in the slightest, which proves to not judge a book by it’s cover. (which I am guilty of) This turned out to be a typical YA book, which meant I loved it! I particularly enjoyed how the chapters were split between all the characters. It was a mystery, which I figured about before finishing, but still found it enjoyable. (sorry,no spoilers). I’d give this a high rating of 4.5/5

Next, I read ‘The Elephant Tree’ by R.D. Ronald, which was very much outside of my usual book choice. I find the first half of this book slow and repetitive, the last quarter engaged me most. This book was a little too gruesome for me, it is surrounded with heavy drugs and violence. So would not recommend for younger readers, or those like me who dislike violence. I’m glad I read something different, but am not sure I would recommend this one.

A very quick read by Paul Kalanithi; ‘When breath becomes air’. Again, a book I really enjoyed. It followed the life of a neurosurgeon who had been diagnosed with cancer. It reminded me of the book ‘This is going to hurt’. A short, but enjoyable read, that I think everyone should read!

My favourite book this week was ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov. I have written a separate post to review this book. So watch out, as it’ll most likely be the next thing posted on my blog.

I am currently reading ‘Joyland’ by Stephen King. This is a huge ‘stepping into new territory’ moment, one of which I’m a little afraid. Stephen King is an author I am very intrigued by, yet have always been too afraid to pick up. I am only 50 pages in, and so far I am not petrified haha. I will update once I have read a little more.

‘The Light Between Oceans’; book review

I’m never sure how to start a book review, so I am going to begin with the first thing that comes to mind; Surprise! I was incredibly surprised by this book, not particularly due to the story, but how connected to the location and the characters I felt.

*spoiler free mini description* ‘The light between oceans is a Australian historical fiction based after the first World War. The main character; Tom, after the war becomes a lighthouse keeper on a very remote island. After marrying, and bringing his wife to the isolated island, a baby and dead man wash up upon the shore in a boat. The wife; Isabel cannot bare to part with the baby, and both decide to keep the baby as their own. I won’t spoil what comes next, you’ll have to read’

I have a habit of reading contemporary books, so was surprised at how much I loved how the book was based in the 1920’s. I thoroughly enjoyed the location, and scene setting at Janus Rock, and the lighthouse. I felt like Isabel with the love she had for the baby. Tom was a distant character emotionally, but I still very likeable. For some reason, I very much like the two men who delivered the supplies by boat, and friends of Tom.

This book is emotional, and put my mind in two different opinions on the situation of the baby, which definitely pulled my heart! I read this book quickly, because I was gripped! By the cover and description, I usually wouldn’t have picked this book up, other than that this month I am delving into new genres/books I wouldn’t read. I am glad that this change bought me to read this book.

I would definitely recommend this book, giving it 4.5/5.

Receiving help is so damn difficult?

You probably think this post is going to be able how hard it is to find help. It’s not. We all know how expensive therapy; is hundreds of $$$ a month… Finding a professional that suits your needs, and one you feel comfortable with. Or experimenting with medication for mental health is time consuming. Or even finding the time off from work, college or life to commit to focusing on your support. These are not why it is difficult for me. (Yet anyway)

Firstly, if you have read my post ‘My fear of medication for mental health’, you will know that medication has and is still not an option for me. So that hurdle is out of the window for the time being.

Time? I am a college student online getting a degree, and maybe PhD in the future, and I also work part time in a store, that I enjoy. My job is very flexible with hours and shifts, so I could also work around it if I were to receive weekly support. As I am an online student, I can choose my hours of study, as and when I have the time. I still have deadlines, but the majority of the workload you can do at your own pace.

Financially, well no one wants to spends $$$ of their monthly paycheck on therapy do they? Especially in my circumstance, as I completely shut down. I tried one to one therapy outside of a hospital/clinic earlier in the year. It was not successful, in the fact I could not talk… I don’t have the income to pay this amount of money if I can’t see an improvement or benefit. It was also so mentally exhausting.

My last mental health related post was my talking of my colleagues knowing of my mental health. My manager has been amazing, and even gave me a link to a free charity for support, provided by the company. I think/thought this was my opportunity to get the help I need.

I put on my brave pants, and gave the charity an email ,explaining how I got in contact with them, and a very brief outline of what I am struggling with. They emailed back the same day, and gave me a number to call. I was expecting correspondence through email, so the thoughts of a call stressed me out quite a lot. I am not good with phone calls.

It took me 3 days to have the courage to dial the number. I lasted nearly 2 minutes on the phone before having to hang up. They called me back straight away but I could not answer. I feel stupid in myself. Why can’t I cope with the help and want I need?

I am trying SO hard. Why is it so impossible hard to do something I need? I want to get better, I really do.

This leaves me to the now. I am not sure what to do, other than keep trying I guess.

Reading outside of my comfort zone (eg not YA)

I bet you never thought you would see a post like this from Flowers in the Brain. I am an avid young adult fiction reader, with the occasional contemporary fiction. I was always embarrassed about adoring these genres, until I realised just to appreciate what I love! Recently though, I have thought about expanding out. Not because I don’t love YA , but to broaden my knowledge.

The first book I read was called ‘The Elephant Tree’ by R.D Ronald. I am a wimp when it comes to anything even slightly scary, so this was a big jump for me. It was a little anxiety provoking, as the book follows a drug dealer, and violence plays a part in that. I read the book in 1 day, but I can’t say I enjoyed it, but am glad I read it. Anyone who has read ‘The Elephant Tree’? Did you notice there was lots of grammatical and spellings mistakes. Or maybe it was just my copy.

I also read ’84 Charing Cross Road’, which I think is non-fiction. I have had this book a while, I bought it for my boyfriend who likes visibly old/vintage looking books. This book was adorable! It was about the correspondence of letters between a bookstore owner in London, and a writer in America. I really enjoyed this book. I could feel and smell the bookstore at 84 Charing Cross Road. I would describe this book as warm!

I am currently reading the very popular ‘Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I remember beginning this book in my preteens (all those years ago haha) and found it difficult to read. It is probably a good sign I didn’t read this whilst young, and the story isn’t one for the innocent. I have only just started this book, so will comment no more. Although I may do a review depending .on my thoughts on completion.

Next on my ‘outside my comfort one’ book is ‘1984’, ‘To kill a mocking bird, and Go set a watchman’ and ‘Farenheit 451’. I’d love recommendations in the comment! Do stick to your favourite genre when choosing what to read next?

Recognising when I need to ask for help

Ever since my mental health journey began, I have been silent. I have kept my mind to myself, and have only shared my illness with my partner. I have had a few incidents/situations where others have probably wondered/ could see something wasn’t right, but it never escalated, and I was left in my own comfort of privacy.

If you have been reading my posts as of late, you will be aware that very recently I spoke to others about my mental health. This may not be hard for some. but this a HUGE step for me. I know do not know where this leads me now. They have been incredibly supportive, and repetitively made me aware that I can reach out to them at any time.

I do not know how to ask for help? When I am feeling particularly low or suicidal, and am wanting to reach out. How? How do I ask for support, when I don’t exactly know what I’d like them to do? Won’t it feel like I am burdening them? I don’t want people to go out of there way or spend their own time with me. Yet when experiencing suicidal thoughts, it can be nice to know you are not alone.

As always, I am in two mindsets about everything…

How I cope when alone/my crisis plan.

Let’s begin by mentioning I do NOT have a professional crisis plan, and all these mechanisms to cope are what I made up myself, and therefore may only reflect how they help me. I am writing this post to share ideas that may help others, but also to pinpoint for myself if I ever need a visual guide to look at.

My crisis plan is in place to help me when I experience intrusive thoughts and suicidal ideation. What helps me best is distraction, this is very useful when they begin, and can sometimes prevent the thoughts from becoming too intense. Therefore;

STEP 1: Distraction! -My list of distractions is very long, and I have a written list in a notebook as I need this method most often. If my thoughts are not too bad, I read. Once I am reading it is easy to get lost inside the pages, and a few hours later with a book, can often be enough time for the suicidal thoughts to pass. Other distractions include cleaning, I like to be physically distracted, and cleaning is killing two birds with one stone! Watching netflix/youtube isn’t often helpful for me, but if I get an adult colouring book or my bullet journal, background noise is helpful. I love a good podcast!

STEP 2: ‘ This too shall pass’- I am very comforted by the fact that these thoughts are only temporary. So I often repeat this in my head. Knowing that I only have to get through these moments, and I won’t feel this way soon.

STEP 3: Sleep- I know this isn’t the healthiest option, but if the suicidal thoughts are hard to control, then sleep is my temporary ‘disappear’. I usually only use this option if its night time/after 7pm. I can also use it in the early afternoon as a ‘nap’ but it’s harder to fall asleep during the day, especially with intrusive thoughts, which is why I try to only use this step in the evenings.

STEP 4: Asking for help- This step is a HUGE step for me, and one I do not use often. If I do ask for help, the only person I would contact is my partner. Who can be a massive help! I try not to use this option, and I feel guilty and do not want to burden anyone (despite needing the help, it feels this way to me). Now my management at work know how I can feel ( see last blog post) I have the option to contact him, we are friendly so It wouldn’t seem odd/uncomfortable. I don’t think I would ever reach out, but it’s an option!

STEP 5: Hospital- If I really didn’t feel safe, and wasn’t sure if I could keep myself alive, I would (hope) that I would take myself to the emergency department, or seek immediate professional help in some way. I haven’t used this step before, as I am terrified! Let’s hope I don’t have to either.

Another option I didn’t mention was helplines, there are many mental health and suicidal lines to call if you need support. These can be SO helpful, and area great option if you are alone! If you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comments.

Opening up about my mental health for the first time..

This is another odd post for me to write about, as I never thought this day would occur anywhere in the near future. This week has been odd.

I hadn’t been having a ‘bad’ week as such. If you read my last post you would know that I have been alone for a few days, which is a difficulty for me. I wrote about how well I was doing at the time, which I was. That wasn’t a lie. Ironically enough, that changed the next day.

I woke up with intense suicidal thoughts. I went to work at my part time job as usual, and thought the distraction would be good for me. I enjoy working, and it gives a good mental distraction. This day, the distraction didn’t come. I could not think about anything else but my thoughts, and this was making it extremely difficult to concentrate. My co-workers noticed this, and repetively asked if I was okay.

As my job does not know about my mental health, I put on a facade and tried to act normal. I couldn’t. My thoughts were too loud. I went outside and tried to compose myself. My colleague followed, and I broke down and told them how I was feeling. I genuinely cannot believe I spoke aloud to someone how I was feeling.

They were very supportive, and tried to challenge my rationale. They did not want to send me home on my own, so I stayed at work, with the support that I could take a step out whenever I needed. I am glad they made me stay. I guess I can recognise it’s best not to be left alone when feeling this way.

I am always comforted by telling myself that these thoughts are temporary and will soon pass. A few hours into my shift, and I was feeling a little better, and reassuring my management I would be safe, I went home.

My manager, as well as the colleague who supported me, both messaged me that evening, making sure I was feeling okay, and reassuring me that they were always there If I ever needed anyone. This made me feeling eternally grateful! And less embarrassed about them knowing about my brain. Every day since this incident, my manager has messaged to check up on me, which makes me feel very supported.

I can’t believe I am okay that others now know about my mental health… But as they said you should never try and cope alone, and that there is always someone who will be there for you. Considering my recent loneliness, this is so lovely to hear. It has come to me, that maybe my brain is wrong, and that I am not worthless and alone, thus would not be best to leave the world.

I am proud of myself for opening up, as it was extremely difficult, and I have been silent about my suicidal thoughts since they began. I am SO grateful for the support I have received, and cannot in words, express how appreciative I am.

I am still trying to reassure myself that it is okay that others know. I will return to work in a couple of days, and seeing them since the incident will be a hurdle… but I’m sure I can jump! I’ll be okay.