In today’s digital era, we are living fast-paced lives where most of our choices are “influenced” by social media and everything is instant. Trends that go viral today become irrelevant the next day.
From fashion to music and pop culture to career options everything evolves in a blink of an eye. In fact, life is so fast-paced these days that sometimes it becomes hard to keep up and our over-stimulated senses get overwhelmed.
From fatigue to stress and anxiety to sadness- mental health issues are common today. According to the World Health Organization, globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents and suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15-19 year olds.
I have personally faced mental health challenges time and again in my life. Growing up, I spent a lot of time alone at home. My father is a physician, and my mother is a teacher. I was 11 years old when my elder brother left for the city to pursue higher studies. It was not just work that kept my parents busy. They were also involved in a lot of public service activities, which while I am proud of, meant that I was alone most of the time.
As a freelancer, I am mostly curled up on my couch with my laptop and a cup of coffee. I know it may sound like a dream-job situation and to be honest, most of the times it is. But sometimes, being alone at home all day staring at a screen takes a toll on me. From my personal experience, I have come to realise that books can be an excellent distraction, motivation and inspiration. Books have indeed always been my best friends. Whenever I felt low, depressed or unmotivated, I turned to books to seek peace, solace and company.
Reading books and using it as a form of meditation and a way to explore ourselves can be a very healthy practise for our mind and soul. If you are anything like me and find yourself in need of constant motivation and reassurance, give these books a read and I promise you will feel better:
‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ By Matt Haig
Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ is a life-affirming memoir of his struggle with anxiety and depression, and a relatable account of how his day-by-day triumph over his illness taught him how to live a better life.
This book is a must-read for everyone, from people who suffer from mental health issues to those who haven’t got the faintest idea what it entails. With enlightening sections like “Things you think during your first panic attack” to “Things you think during your 1,000th panic attack” and “Things people say to depressives that they don’t say in other life-threatening situations” to “Things that have happened to me that have generated more sympathy than depression”- this book is a reality check for everyone.
The seriousness of Haig’s mental condition is never in doubt throughout the book, however, there is a wry humour that pervades his account making the reading fun, relatable and almost therapy-like. I read this book first and then gifted a copy to my mother so she could understand why her daughter who was “otherwise doing great in life” was “apparently suffering from depression”. Today, she understands me better and takes me seriously when I tell her that I feel lonely, sad or depressed.
From my many battles with mental health and my many attempts at recovering from it, I have come to learn that the first step is to acknowledge the issue and the second step is to ask for help. This book helps you do both.
‘There Is No Right Way To Meditate’ By Yumi Sakugawa
“It’s okay if the only thing you did today was breathe”- Yumi Sakugawa
If you seek peace and want to tap into your inner self, ‘There Is No Right Way to Meditate‘ by Yumi Sakugawa is the book for you. In this book, every single page has captivating illustrations as well as encouraging words. The book offers a unique perspective on how to lead a more mindful life and the author shares simple everyday tips like how to get rid of a bad mood or how to make your intentions come true.
For me, Yumi Sakugawa’s lessons worked wonders as they inspired me to become more aware of the present moment. She helped me find stability and stillness within. Yumi’s uplifting guidance will not only help you dig deeper into your mind and soul but will also enable you to discover and recognise the tranquillity surrounding you.
‘Hyperbole And A Half’ By Allie Brosh
I chanced upon ‘Hyperbole and a Half’ back when it was only a blog and immediately related to everything- from foiled attempts at adulting to being weirdly strange and awkward. Like Allie Brosh, I too have struggled with self-image issues throughout my teens to my adult life. And like many others, most of my inner battle was waged in isolation. This book made me feel like I finally belonged. That my struggles and pain was not abnormal and that I was not alone feeling this way.
With her simple sketches and genius satire, Brosh connects with anyone and everyone who has ever felt like a misfit. This book is a must-read for every teen or adult who feels that they are alone in this world because they do not fit in with societies’ expectations.
Many of us struggle with feeling excluded or unheard but reading similar stories of other people’s experiences with depression and anxiety helps us feel heard and validated. Listening to the narratives of others can be impactful and therapeutic. The sense of having a community, the idea of belonging somewhere can help fight insecurities and discomfort.
Signing off with one of my favourite poems by Alex Elle that has helped me face tough times and make difficult decisions for my personal, mental and spiritual well-being:
There will be moments in life
When showing up for yourself
Will mean leaving behind
The people who don’t