Category: personality development


Irish best-selling writer, Marian Keyes, on how she survived her spell of poor mental health. And how life changed after it

Helen Walsh, the youngest of Marian Keyes’ fictional Walsh sisters, is a brave, scrappy, wasp-tongued slip of a thing who works as a private investigator, dates a “beautiful Viking” called Artie and is “abnormally, almost psychotically contrary”. She is also highly depressed.

On a Skype call from Ireland, Keyes explains why it was Helen, heroine of her 2012 novel The Mystery of Mercy Close, who had to wrestle the black dog. “People have been asking for a book on Helen, but I didn’t think it was possible,” says the best-selling author, whose books are, “always about women who go through something unpleasant and emerge different”. Therein lay the problem as far as Helen was concerned. “Helen has a core of steel. Nothing frightens her and I couldn’t imagine her heart being broken by a man. So, there had to be something almost outside of her that would be her story.”

Then, by the end of 2009, Keyes encountered crippling depression that lasted almost four years. “When I wrote the book, I was going through my own spell of horrible mental health, and it suddenly seemed right that Helen would be dealing with this, too,” she says. By February 2011, she had hit an all-time low, “an 18-month spell where everything plunged”.
Being Marian

On being a feminist
I am very aware of the power imbalance between men and women. And every book I have written, has addressed it in some way or another. I suppose I was a feminist without knowing that I was one.
On the Walsh family
We are five siblings with big personalities like them. And yes, Mammy Walsh is similar to Mammy Keyes.
On the book she is working on
I have just started a book about three brothers and the women in their lives. They all have secrets, something happens and many of the secrets unravel one evening. Hopefully, it will be received with warmth and people will laugh.
On creating flawed protagonists
I think absolutes can exist only in an unreal world. There are no entirely good people and no entirely bad people. We all do things that clash with our core moral values.
On writing
My writing connects me to people. I feel very lucky to have found what I was meant to do.

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Simply herself

Marian Keyes always loved reading and storytelling, but she never thought she could make a career of it. “Also, I thought because I was Irish, nobody would want to hear my stories. I didn’t think we were interesting enough,” says Keyes, whose soft, lilted voice gives away her Celtic roots.

Instead, she went on to study law and accountancy and take up a series of jobs, none of which gave her much pleasure. Alcohol seemed to, instead, and she soon developed a dependence on it. “I always felt different, like a bit of an outsider. But when I drank, I felt the way normal people feel all the time,” she says.

By 30, she was alcoholic and ended up having to check into rehab, like Rachel Walsh, protagonist of her second novel, Rachel’s Holiday. “I thought it was going to be very glamorous and full of massages and treatments and yoga. Instead, it was overcrowded and I had to peel potatoes,” she laughs.

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Not just Irish Blarney

It was around this time that she started writing. “I do think the two were connected — I started writing in September 1993 and got sober in 1994,” says Keyes, whose first book, Watermelon, came out in 1995. A dozen or so more novels about other “ordinary women who go through extraordinary stuff”, soon followed. happily-ever-after ending, leaves you feeling all warm and happy.

“It is the way I was brought up, a very Irish thing,” says Keyes. Laughing at something painful, once you get a distance from it, is healing, believes Keyes. It is also a way of knowing how well you have gotten, “when you look back at something terrible and can raise a smile”.

Saved by cake

Keyes says that she tried a number of things including medication, mindfulness and exercise but help came from the strangest of sources: cake. Her book Saved by Cake: Over 80 ways to Bake Yourself Happy, a chatty, colourful recipe book of sorts, also offers glimpses of her struggle with depression and explains how embarking on this new hobby — baking — kept her going. “It is impossible to overstate how important it was; it literally kept me alive,” says Keyes. Weighing butter, sifting flour, mixing things together, working with colour and icing was an exercise in mindfulness, she remembers. “It was the only thing that calmed me back then.”

By 2014, however, the depression went away, just as suddenly as it had come. “The clouds parted and I could feel like I was coming up from a dark, dark place,” she says. She still thinks of it as an illness that both came and left very suddenly. “I never thought I would feel normal again. And that is why I love to tell people — anyone who is in the black hole now — to hang on.”

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She is immeasurably better today, she says, adding, however, that “it is impossible to have come out of something as huge as this and stay the same”. She backs out of stressful situations, for instance, refusing opportunities or cutting back on work and travel if needed. “Earlier, I was always exhausted because I pushed myself. Now, I live my life and have more fun; I see the beauty and happiness in the small things,” says the writer. “My mental health is more important than anything else and I value feeling normal.”

http://www.thehindu.com/society/a-strangeness-in-our-mind-a-bipolar-journalist-asks-what-is-sanity/article20103052.ece

Madness is miserable, yes, but it makes sanity an ideal. Dialogue, I learnt, is more effective a cure than discourse

It is precisely this separation of the personal and the political that further exacerbates the despair of those afflicted by mental health disorders. By reducing internal turmoil to a set of physical symptoms, commentators like Joseph make it harder for patients to exceed their suffering.

Only sanity can help one transform the terror of madness into delight, but sanity, I would argue, can only be found in an embrace of the other. Confinement, when solitary, does not afford levity or reconciliation.

Life lessons

 

by Regina Brett, The Plain Dealer

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift..

 

168 hrs

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/37927684/ns/today-books/t/make-most-your-weeks-hours/#.UCfAYqBa5Y0

ShiningSoulYoga

Many people think of exercising and fitness as something that only takes place at a gym or fitness facility. Unfortunately, they are overlooking the fact that

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http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-literaryreview/article2078123.ece

The Pulitzer citation describes it as, “an elegant inquiry, at once clinical and personal, into the long history of an insidious disease that, despite treatment breakthroughs, still bedevils medical science.”

Delectable prose

“Elegant” is an apposite description of the New York-based oncologist’s prose, whether he is rephrasing Tolstoy: “Normal cells are identically normal; malignant cells become unhappily malignant in unique ways”; or explaining the book’s provocative title: “This book is a ‘biography’ in the truest sense of the word – an attempt to enter the mind of this immortal illness, to understand its personality, to demystify its behaviour”; or extrapolating, from cancer’s ability to mutate, into the realm of philosophy: “If we, as a species, are the ultimate product of Darwinian selection, then so, too, is this incredible disease that lurks inside us.”

Mukherjee weaves together multiple stories about medical advances, doctors and scientists, and the patients who teach us something in the living or dying.Emperoris a historical account of cancer; we understand how cancer rose to prominence as a leading cause of death – as a direct result of human beings living longer now, and more likely to develop cancer. A greater understanding of the disease however comes with the caveat, the more you know, the more aware you are of how much you don’t know.

Another doctor/author who combines the three key ingredients that makeEmperorsuch an un-putdownable read — medical expertise, literary elegance and the ability to tell a story — is Abraham Verghese. His first two books,My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story of a Town and Its People in the Age of AIDSandThe Tennis Partnerare gripping and finely crafted — more, they are candid and compassionate.

Addressing our fears

By dealing with two of the worst monsters of our time, AIDS and addiction, Verghese’s books address some of our darkest fears, whether our own demons or those of our loved ones.

A couple of years ago Verghese took the plunge into fiction withCutting For Stone, which borrowed elements from his personal history to tell the story of a family enmeshed in the world of medicine across multiple lands including India, a mission hospital in Ethiopia and an inner-city hospital in New York City. Verghese has previously written that “to tell a life story [is] to engage in a form of seduction”; no surprise that he has his readers hooked.

Do Indian doctors make good writers? While more research — blind tests, even — would be needed to prove or disprove the assertion, another hyphenate making the bestseller lists is general surgeon and MacArthur fellow Atul Gawande, author ofThe Checklist Manifesto,BetterandComplications.

The Checklist Manifestois an unusual exploration of the power of the to-do list. The author uses his own experiences to show that surgery today, for example, is far too multifaceted a task to perform without a detailed checklist. We fail, not because we don’t have the knowledge, but because we haven’t developed a methodical system to use that knowledge.

Doctors aside, medical writers also come from the world of journalism, such as Lisa Sanders. Her claim to fame is that her Diagnosis column for theNY Timeswas the inspiration for the popular TV drama, HouseMD, for which she serves as technical advisor. Her book,Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosislooks at how misdiagnosis can be at the root of medical errors. She suggests that tests/scans can’t be the only basis for diagnosis; a doctor needs to employ a full range of techniques from the physical exam to listening to the patient’s story.

The doctor’s story is worth listening to, as well, hence the popularity of the medical memoir. InHeart Matters: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon, author Kathy Magliato strikes a chord when she describes “the thrill of touching the human heart”. As one of the world’s very few female heart surgeons, she offers a different viewpoint on what is largely regarded as a male preserve.

Author Tim Parks inTeach Us to Sit Stillshares how reading a famous self-help book,A Headache in the Pelvishelped with his chronic pelvic pain syndrome. There’s a book out there on pretty much any medical condition you want; for example, while on pelvic pain, you could find a purely woman-centric one on the subject such asEnding Female Pain: A Woman’s Manual – The Ultimate Self-Help Guide for Women Suffering from Chronic Pelvic and Sexual Painby Isa Herrera.

Medical books deal with a subject close to our hearts — us, we, ourselves. Perhaps the ones we are most drawn to – thrillers aside – are those that give us a deeper insight into how the mind-body machine works, why we are sick, how we can get better — and, unhappily, sometimes, why we can’t. The doctor-author hyphenates are some of the most talented storytellers in this field; so when you next get a prescription from your doctor, bear in mind that within that undecipherable scrawl could lurk the beginnings of a literary masterpiece.

quotes

Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.
Thomas Jefferson

 

Don’t talk about what you have done or what you are going to do.
Thomas Jefferson

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.
Thomas JeffersonErrors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
Thomas JeffersonEvery citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.
Thomas Jefferson

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.
Thomas Jefferson

Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.
Thomas Jefferson

Forgive many things in others; nothing in yourself.
Ausonius

If fortune favors you do not be elated; if she frowns do not despond.
Ausonius

Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.
Ausonius

No man pleases by silence; many I please by speaking briefly.
Ausonius

When about to commit a base deed, respect thyself, though there is no witness.
Ausonius

 Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the follies and the misfortunes of others. Our own share of miseries is sufficient: why enter then as volunteers into those of another?
Thomas JeffersonHappiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.
Thomas JeffersonHe who knows best knows how little he knows.
Thomas Jefferson

He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.
Thomas Jefferson

A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.
Thomas Jefferson

A wise and frugal Government, which shall retrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.
Thomas Jefferson

Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.
Thomas Jefferson

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
Thomas Jefferson

Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.
Thomas Jefferson

An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.
Thomas Jefferson

An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes.
Thomas Jefferson

An injured friend is the bitterest of foes.
Thomas Jefferson

As our enemies have found we can reason like men, so now let us show them we can fight like men also.
Thomas Jefferson

Be polite to all, but intimate with few.
Thomas Jefferson

Bodily decay is gloomy in prospect, but of all human contemplations the most abhorrent is body without mind.
Thomas Jefferson

Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.
Thomas Jefferson

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.
Thomas Jefferson

Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.
Thomas Jefferson

Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government.
Thomas Jefferson

Delay is preferable to error.
Thomas Jefferson

 
 

discovering passion requires a dedication to unstructured exploration. – http://zenhabits.net/cultivating-passion/

As Caldwell’s research reveals, true passion can’t be forced. You can participate in personality tests and self-reflection exercises until you drop from exhaustion, but it’s unstructured exploration coupled with aggressive follow-ups that most consistently leads people to a life-consuming interest.

This advice can be hard to follow at first. When we think about passion we think about action: we want to start doing big things right now! But the reality of passion is more subtle. You have to do less to get more in your life. It’s a virtuous catch-22: by embracing a minimalist lifestyle now, you are more likely to develop the passionate interest that will support the lifestyle in the long run.

Put another way: take a step back; relax; then open your eyes to patiently take in all that’s out there.


The joy that results in doing something you love.