There certainly are a lot of self-help books out there, written by a lot of so-called experts on stress management and life coaching. Which one of the recent avalanche is worth your money?

None of ‘em. The only self-help book worth your money isn’t even a self-help book. It’s usually sold under psychology. It’s “Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy” (1946) written by Viktor Frankl (1905 – 1997), a Nazi concentration camp survivor. Now, honestly — who do you think knows more about getting through stressful times — someone who lived through Auschwitz, or someone who chats with Oprah?

Other self-help books are nice and they can give you ideas or a good laugh, but you can get them for free in a library. This is the only one I recommend actually buying.

Brace Yourself

This isn’t “Chicken Soup of the Soul.” The book has a very grim beginning and a somber tone throughout. Frankl doesn’t dwell on the horrors he witnessed, although what he does mention can be nightmare-inducing. However, he never gets maudlin or even self-pitying. “Bad things happen and that’s the way things are,” is more the tone of voice you’ll find in “Man’s Search for Meaning”.

But if you can find a meaning for your life, it makes getting through the bad times that much easier. Frankl’s meaning was to survive long enough to write a book. He would eventually start the logotherapy movement in psychology, which teaches that the quest to find their own meaning to their lives is the prime driving force behind a person’s actions.

Personal Reaction

I find the book even more comforting than many modern self-help or positive thinking books. I have been through too much

in my personal life to pay much attention to “rah-rah” books (as I call them).  I’ve been robbed, cheated, beaten up and had my home flooded out and then burnt down in the course of my life.  I have endogenous recurring depression.  And I firmly believe I did wish these things upon myself.  These events just happened.  No one’s to blame.  But I am to blame if I keep wallowing in self-pity.

For example, I really didn’t want to get out of bed today.  But I have to go to work.  The meaning is to get money for food.  It might not be a really deep meaning, but it’s meaning enough.

You will find your own meaning when going through incredibly stressful situations.  For example, perhaps you’re stuck in a dead-end retail job (which has also happened to me).  It’s the best job you can find.  You hate it, but you’ve got to bring home a paycheck.  Your meaning is to bring food home to your family.  That’s a noble goal.  You have to focus on that in order to keep from going starkers, sometimes.

And it certainly helps to breathe deeply in these stressful situations.  “Man’s Search for Meaning” helps remind me to keep breathing deeply when life sucks.


NOTE: This originally appeared in 2011 on another of my blogs but yet it still applies
You know you’ve thought it. The answer is, “No.” All Peter Gabriel fans are not mentally ill. Just some of us. I have been diagnosed with endogenous recurring depression, which is a mental illness. It’s not a fun mental illness that makes you see neat things or go for days without sleep, but it’s still an incurable mental illness.

Source of Misconception

PG himself began calling his fans “lunatics” back in 2002 in conjunction with the release of Up. (The moon was one of the major symbols of Up and the Growing Up Tour. “Luna” = moon. However, PG has kept using the term for nearly 10 years.) In a 2011 “Welcome to My Facebook Page” message, Peter says, “If you’re a PG nut …” in a way in which was probably not meant as a compliment.

Trickery of Memory

The human memory works on identifying patterns. This can be helpful, such as knowing that all animals with fangs may bite, but can also lead to generalizations in thinking, such as all Peter Gabriel fans are mentally ill. If you meet just one mentally ill Peter Gabriel fan, that’s going to stick out in your memory. That strong memory will overshadow the other 30 normal Peter Gabriel fans. Mentally ill people are generally considered to be dangerous. Anything dangerous sticks out in your memory. Normal people are not dangerous and more easily forgettable. See how it works?

What If You Meet a Mentally Ill Peter Gabriel Fan?

It depends on the mental illness, how well it is managed and on just how much of a natural asshole the person happens to be. Liking Peter Gabriel’s music, unfortunately, does not magically remove assholery from people. If you’ve ever met me, you’ve met a mentally ill PG fan. And I’m a natural asshole, but a harmless asshole. The worst I’ll do is curse you out and talk about you behind your back. However, your wallet will remain in your pocket and your back will remain knife-free or any-other-weapon-free.

So now, that this issue is clear as mud, let’s watch a video. This is a demo for a song called “Funny Man” that PG recorded in the 1970s but has never seen an official release. Until next time, kids, this is Rena off to pop a Prozac:

My Mom had to change psychiatrists earlier this year. I’ve been telling her for years that she needed a new psychiatrist, but she wouldn’t listen to me until her psychiatrist announced that she was going to retire. It sounds like an easy thing to do. It’s not.

Getting rid of your psychiatrist is like getting a divorce. There were a lot of hard feelings, misunderstandings and “If that’s her tell her I’m not here!” type of situations I had to deal with. The old psychiatrist recommended several new head docs for Mom — but none of which took Medicare (a big must) OR did they have wheelchair-accessible offices. How the hell can you have a medical office and not be wheelchair accessible? Very easily, apparently. In return, Mom didn’t return most of the old psychiatrists’ phone calls.

Mom also asked to have her medication reduced during this time. The old psychiatrist disagreed for months and suddenly told her to drop an entire dose all of a sudden. (This was a med she had to take twice a day.) I’m not a psychiatrist, but even I knew that this was way too drastic of a drop of a psych med. You usually have to split pills into quarters (somehow) and the second dose would be three-quarters of a pill instead of just dropping an entire pill. Mom nearly had such a breakdown that I wondered if she needed to be hospitalized.

So when you are changing your psychiatrists, brace yourself. If they want to, they’ll get you by the balls. You can’t really complain because you’ll sound as if you were crazy.



Image from Wikimedia Commons

I haven’t been posting as much to this blog as I usually do. Sorry about that. I’ve been having some real tough times because my Mom’s body is basically falling apart. I spend most of my time taking care of her. I have less time than ever to write and when I do, I have to try and make some money. (I don’t make anything with this blog.) Making money with my writing not only helps my bank account, but also helps my mental health.

So now I’m taking some of the posts from this blog and putting them up on Bubblews.  (Yes, it’s spelled like that.) I’ve heard both good and bad things about this site from other online content writers. I’m hoping it’s worked it’s kinks out and that I actually get paid when I’m supposed to. If you are already a Bubblews member and read this blog (hey — it could happen) than I apologize in advance for the doubled content.

In the  meantime, keep on taking the meds and keeping your doctor appointments.

See you when I see you.

I wish I looked half as good when I get angry.

“Don’t make me angry.  You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” — David Banner (The Incredible Hulk)

Anger is a tool.  It is neither good nor bad in and of itself — it just is.  Anger can be used for good or for bad.  It’s not fun to be angry — at least, I don’t think it’s fun to be angry.  When I get angry, my head hurts, I shake and my stomach gets upset.  I’m not fond of any of those sensations.

However, being a stereotypical Scorpio, it takes me a good long while to settle down when I get angry.  I used to beat myself up for being “sinful” when I was angry.  Now, I don’t (much).  Instead, I try to use my anger constructively.  Key word is try — I don’t always succeed.) This not only lowers my body’s stress responses, but sometimes gets something done.

Chop Wood

When I lived in the woods outside of Bathwick, England, my only means of power was from firewood.  I had to spend a couple of hours a day collecting firewood and kindling, hauling it back to camp, sawing it into manageable chunks with a bow saw and then chopping the heck out of it.  It took a lot of energy.  Fortunately (I say with my tongue firmly in my cheek), I had a turbulent relationship with a blue-eyed alcoholic.  Needless to say, I was angry almost every day.  But I used the anger constructively by filling the wood boxes.

Some days, I still miss chopping wood.

Cute With Chris LIVE

An even better example can be seen from actor Chris Leavins, who has an extremely popular (and extremely funny) web series and blog called Cute with Chris.  (Before you click over there — be advised that adult language is used).  Although he does not get paid for his show, he puts a lot into it.

One day in early January, he received an email from “Rhonda of Hollywood”

“Dear Chris:

I am an actor, too (stage actor).  I am thinking of starting an internet show to spread my talents but I worry that it will affect the way I’m seen as a stage performer.  Your show is charming, but often strikes me as being very amatuer.”

I don’t know about you, but nothing ticks Chris off more than having his beloved show being called “very amateur.”  He used his anger constructively and, in a mere 18 days, wrote, produced, promoted and starred in a one man live version of his internet show called “Cute With Chris LIVE”.  And in the front row was a sign taped to a chair that read, “Reserved for Rhonda.”  The show was hysterical.

Now that is using the tool of anger constructively.


Portrait of Vincent Van Gogh by John Peter Russell; 1886

How many times have you heard of someone being described as having an artistic personality or an artistic temperament? This is often spoken as a backhanded compliment, implying that although a person may be gifted, they are also somehow insane (or, at least, extremely difficult to work with). The artist that most personifies the artistic personality is Vincent Van Gogh (1853 – 1890.)

But what just is the artistic personality? Psychologists describe it as having certain elements of having a contrary nature often at war with itself. For example, they are both introverted and extroverted; intelligent and yet naïve about practical manners like handling money; is both humble and yet extremely proud – even boastful – about their art. Van Gogh had all of these qualities…

Read the rest of my article at Yahoo!  Thanks.