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Help Yo Self

With the help of my support group (AA) along with therapy and medication management, I have been feeling so much better lately. Another thing that’s really helped me grow and change is all the books I’ve read the past few years. I realized it was worth reporting on.

Of all these the most helpful for my mental health were “When Things Fall Apart,” “Recovery: The Sacred Art,” (not just for addicts, it’s for everyone) and “Happy For No Reason” – all read during a dark, dark depression, and they really helped me crawl out. But I can’t pick the best, truly all these books have been essential to my well being and understanding of the world – and perhaps most importantly, being comfortable in my lack of understanding.

I started the whole journey by reading “The Secret of Letting Go,” “A New Earth” and “The Gifts of Imperfection.” All three taught me to live in the now and realize that the shame I feel is natural, and it is not indicative of being a bad person. Lo all these books later, I am starting to realize that there aren’t bad people and good people – we are all just people. As I judge others less harshly, I judge myself less harshly too. What a relief.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Inspired me to meditate, taught me how, and also made me a kinder, gentler person to myself and others.
As soon as I finished this book I started reading it again. I had heard from several friends I should check it out, over the years. Then, a couple years ago, as I was walking by my house, I found this book on the ground! I started to read it, and just couldn’t get into it, I was too distracted for the quiet observance it was teaching.
Fast forward a ton of inner-work later, a couple months ago I was doing step 11 of AA (pray and meditate) and my wonderful sponsor suggested – in lieu of praying and stuff I wasn’t into – that I read this book for 10 minutes every day.
It’s become my bible. In here I find all the spiritual guidance I was lacking and seeking. This book taught me how to meditate, something I’d been struggling with for years (although I’m only up to 5-8 minutes a day, its become a near-daily practice). It’s taught me to accept, to be present, and to desire peace, not war. Most important of all it taught me to look at my own foibles with acceptance, gentleness and humor. Before, every time I found a flaw in myself I’d attack it like a cockroach, which only resulted in multiplying flaws and misery. This book is so full of wisdom, grace and quieting of mind. This is a great book for everyone, ever.
The Secret of Letting Go
Helped me ‘unclench’ for lack of a better word.
So incredibly helpful. I feel 10x as in touch with my spirituality and 100x more joyous and relaxed as I did before I started! Highly recommended to everyone.
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
Taught me to live in the moment, for reals.
Loved it. I went on an amazing spiritual journey over the course of reading this book, and I am a far less anxious and insecure person than I was when I started it! This book really held the answers for me – or more to the point, it gave me the recipe for finding all the answers in myself.
The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
I love this book! Rubin’s methodical, analytical approach to happiness, play, and feeling ‘right’ and true to herself is very inspiring, and full of practical, small steps the reader can take (as well as suggested reading) to improve their own happiness. I especially appreciated how she came to certain conclusions as a researcher. Happiness needs growth, challenge, and change. Happiness needs a willingness for temporary discomfort for the greater good, as well as time to relax, and a temperate hand with the joy of instant gratification. Happiness absolutely depends on a regular good nights sleep. If you make yourself happy, you will make the people around you happy.
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me
Inspired me to return to therapy and really try to live the therapy-advice I was given.
What a pleasure it is to read and look at this comic!
Marbles is quite different from Forney’s previous books: very self-reflective autobio with literature & art history accents. Her linework and layouts are to die for and her brush-and-ink interpretations of Van Gogh are worth the price of admission in themselves.
As someone who avidly followed Ellen’s career through the 90s and 00s, its an unbelievable treat to see her struggles when all I saw were her achievements. I thought she was simply born awesome (she was) but she earned her accolades with courage, sweat, and elbow grease.
It’s humbling how much self-work Forney has done in the interest of mental health – she even did the cognitive psychology journaling I cry when my therapist brings up, because its so hard and feels so left-brained and self-undermining. Knowing she did it and remained her creative self, makes me think, maybe I can do it too.
Reading Marbles is a great reminder that being a mental health goddess, no matter ones diagnosis, requires Omega 3, Vitamin D, seeing my therapist, journaling my varying states and substances, regular exercise, body/spirit balancing like yoga, real friendship, and self awareness even when its inconvenient or unpleasant. No one said being a mental health goddess was easy! But its so worth it. Just look at Forney, at the top of her career, a NYT Bestselling comic, a healthy body and mind.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are Taught me my shame did not make me a bad person, and that making mistakes was good.
The whole time I was reading this, I was fighting the urge to stop right there and shout every other paragraph from the rooftops. Post it, IM it, tell the barista, tell my coworkers. Reading this book was a journey full of life changes. The things I’ve learned make me dizzy, giddy with enthusiasm and feelings of “WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE KNOW?!”
Brene Brown so eloquently states the universal truths I’ve been slowly uncovering in my quest for meaning. She pinpoints many obstacles on the road to becoming a happy and compassionate person who reflects the love they have for themselves and others in their behaviors and actions.
Alcoholics Anonymous - Big Book
Alcoholics Anonymous – Big Book
Written for people with problems of addiction, these fundamental rules for honest, humble living can help anyone
Living Sober
Written for people with problems of addiction, and in a more modern, approachable tongue than the big book, these fundamental rules for honest, humble living can help anyone.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
Written for people with problems of addiction, and in a more approachable tongue than the big book, these fundamental rules for honest, humble living can help anyone.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Inspirational novel by the author of “Gifts of Imperfection” about taking the plunge and being present in our own lives, no longer hiding behind sarcasm and aloofness to be considered ‘cool.’
Recovery--the Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps As Spiritual Practice (Art of Spiritual Living)
Recovery–the Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps As Spiritual Practice
I’d been in AA for a year when I read this book, it helped me understand the 12 steps in a new and much deeper way. Full of advice for meditation, written for all belief systems, I recommend this book to absolutely everyone. It was a game-changer.
Amazing. This is my new favorite book. I have been working the 12 steps for 18 months, and this book helped me understand them in a much more in-depth way. Some steps I never quite ‘got’ now make perfect sense to me. It took me a couple months to munch through the heavy topics, covering a wide array of religions and spiritual practices, as well as agnosticism and atheism. The author is a rabbi with a food addiction, so he comes from a different vantage point than mine (an agnostic alcoholic), yet over the course of this book I understand how we are two waves made from the same ocean.
“I am not drawn to Twelve Step meetings to listen to people who are perfect; I am drawn to listen to people who are broken and who have found wisdom in that brokenness that allows them to live from a place of love.”
I recommend this book to everyone, from people studying and questioning the 12 steps, to anyone who isn’t perfect and would like to understand how to relax a little more.
Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out
A really helpful book in stopping my cycle of misery and engaging in practices that laid a foundation for a good mood.
I found this book super valuable. It was recommended to me by a friend when I was having a really rough time of feeling good ever. At first I was skeptical but it came at just the right time in my learning process. I was over-the-top unhappy and needed some ideas to get back on track. This book covers all the bases and incorporates a lot of the fundamental principles of 12-step support groups that I love. I can say with confidence that reading this book over the past few months has literally helped me become a happier person. Also more open minded, more active, smiling more often, and with more faith in life. The book takes a body-spirit approach that separates the wheat from the chaff of self-help. It can at times reflect platitudes people shout out when you’re depressed, i.e., sometimes its advice I’ve heard before – but this is the first time I’ve read those platitudes simultaneously backed by research and step-by-step outlines for a process of improvement, as well as lots of anecdotes from a wide variety of storytellers that really help me understand what, exactly, it is I’m supposed to do if I want to feel better. It’s helped me with everything from meditation to life goals to social anxiety.
The Guide to Compassionate Assertiveness: How to Express Your Needs and Deal with Conflict While Keeping a Kind Heart
The Guide to Compassionate Assertiveness: How to Express Your Needs and Deal with Conflict While Keeping a Kind Heart
Hard to get through, not approachable, but invaluable in learning how to communicate with everyone in my life in a way that isn’t passive or aggressive.
E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality
These experiments didn’t work for the most part, but she got her point across. A very fun and approachable read, I started to see how I was caught in my own cycle of badness, and I had the power to change.
I like this book. It’s as woo-woo as it gets but after reading it over the past couple weeks, I started to realize I’ve become a happier person just for reading it and opening myself up to infinite possibilities. It’s prompted me to try new approaches, savor my life just as it is, see the world in new ways, rekindle childlike curiosity, and even be a wee bit less judgmental of myself and others. It’s a fun, easy read, full of pop-culture references. I had mixed results with the actual experiments but the resulting disappointment of failed experiments prompted me to examine how I was approaching life, and what I really wanted from it. Once on a roll, a couple experiments brought some immediate results. I recommend this book to anyone looking for answers, it can’t hurt! I found several, and even more important, I am now asking better questions
Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos
Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos
Written for 12-steppers, this was a fun read I really enjoyed, a modern spin on the olde rules. Within it’s cheeky anecdotes the fundamental rules for honest, humble living are emphasized.
Just what I needed, just when I needed it. This is book is great and not just for recovering addicts, I’d say its for anyone feeling super confused about what they’re supposed to do and how. Easy to read, funny and inspiring.

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