Blogging · Books · mental health · Writing

A Look Back: 2017

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This past year has been a busy one, to say the least. I am not typically one for setting goals for myself in the new year, so I aimed low: Read and write more. I had been going through a creative dry spell in the months that followed my separation and I vowed to get myself back into a creative mindset again. I am very happy to say that I have achieved that goal and then some. My Goodreads goal wasn’t super high. I wanted to keep things realistic and attainable, especially after not having read much for several months. We haven’t even reached the year mark yet, but I have already surpassed my reading goal. In the grand scheme of things, meeting a reading goal probably doesn’t seem like the most impressive of feats, but for me it has felt like one. Given some of the other things that have happened this year and the ups and downs I’ve had with my mental health, sticking to any kind of goal can be difficult.

I am pleased at the progress I have made with my blog this past year, as well. To be completely honest, when I started blogging I figured it would be something I would do for a little while and then my motivation would eventually fizzle out. On the contrary, here I am, almost a year later, still doing the blog thing. I have been pleasantly surprised at how much having this blog has helped me this year. Not only has it helped me get back in the habit of writing and working on my stories, but it has become a therapeutic outlet for me and has given me the opportunity to chat with some really great, inspiring people. (Yes, I am talking about you.) The book blogging community is a truly terrific one and I feel very fortunate to have stumbled upon on.

There have been other areas of growth this year, also. For one, it’s been a really good year for me at my job. After working at the company for only one year I received a promotion, which was completely unexpected. Since then I have been continually given important and challenging tasks that have made my job feel more rewarding at the end of the day. My dance and crafty skills have continued to improve and have kept me busy. I’ve even managed to start my own Etsy shop.

For every triumph I’ve had there have been trials. I’ve been very candid on my blog about my struggle with depression and my relapse into my eating disorder/anxiety this year. There have been huge changes for me as far as my social life has been concerned and I took a really hard tumble into a dark place for a while. There was also the loss of my sweet kitty, Nooch, about a month ago. There’s been more struggle than I cared for this year, but that is just part of life. With struggle comes the opportunity for growth and I feel fortunate to say that I have been undergoing some major growing pains these last few months. With the help of therapy, medication, various forms of self-care, and the support of those close to me, I am finally starting to feel like I am making progress. There will be more struggle going forward, but at least I know that I can go forward.

I don’t know what the next year will bring, but I am ready to find out. I hope there will be positivity and happiness not only for myself, but for each and every one of you, too.

Thanks for being a big part of 2017.

-Kiersten

Books · Uncategorized

On Raging in the Self-Help Aisle

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For probably the first time in my entire life, I had a very frustrating experience at the bookstore last week. Typically, the bookstore (Barnes & Noble in particular) is my happy place. It’s the safe space I retreat to when I need to relax or get lost for a while. I can wander within the stacks of the bookstore for hours and feel nothing but complete contentment. My trip to B&N last week, however, was a different experience…

I have been open about the fact that I struggle with mental health issues. Thanks to medication, I can be somewhat stable for long periods and life feels more “normal.” Eventually my body gets used to the medication and it stops helping me, in which I then plummet straight into a dark black hole that I can’t claw my way out of. That dark pit of hopeless despair is where I have been for the past few months. It’s been awful and at the risk of majorly fucking up my life and every relationship I have, I’ve come to accept the fact that I need help.

This is where that ill-fated trip to the bookstore came in. On top of figuring out what to do about my medication, I decided to pick up some self-help books that might be useful. Have you ever been to the self-help section at Barnes & Noble? It’s pretty diverse. There are self-help books for practically every personal problem you can think of. As I stood there browsing through titles like “Finding the Path to Freedom” and “Change Your Mind, Change Your Life,” I found myself feeling anything but inspired. Instead, I felt frustrated, angry, resentful, and just plain dumb.

To state it plainly: I fucking hate self-help books. I’m not really sure why I dislike them so much. Judging by how many of them exist, it’s clear that there are people who benefit from them. Perhaps I just haven’t found the right ones yet. I’ve tried to read a few over the years, but I feel like I can never connect to what is on the page in front of me, even if the author is perfectly describing the feelings/experiences that I am having. Or perhaps the problem is that I don’t want to connect to the book. I mean, who wants to admit that something is “wrong” with them? Or perhaps it’s the fact that I always feel stupid when reading self-help books. Maybe it’s just me, but it always feels like the author is talking down to the reader. I’m not a child. I don’t need someone to hold my hand and explain the basics of depression to me. I already know what depression is, now help me cope with it.

I flipped through at least a dozen books before deciding on one. I read the reviews online and did my best to determine which book would suit my current needs. Since purchasing the book I’ve picked it up 3-4 times and, to be honest, each time I’ve put it down rather quickly. There is nothing inherently wrong with the book, but I just can’t get into it and the whole situation feels forced.

I’ve been finding some additional ways to help myself and have actually been feeling pretty good the past few days. I just haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to keep attempting to visit the self-help section at Barnes & Noble.

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Have you ever used self-help books? Did you have a positive or negative experience with them?