Sunday 4 August 2013

"Bakery Air"

When I have kids will put this on their wall... Reading is the key to getting ahead in life...
A good book. For me, there is nothing quite like it. Back in the early seasons of the television show Survivor, contestants were allowed to bring one luxury item with them. My luxury item would have been a book. Pretty sure I would have been voted off the island early on but at least I would have been happy.
An engrossing book has been so many things to me throughout my life. It's been escape, adventure, travelogue, comfort, education, humour. On my journey through mental illness it has certainly been all these things and more. Soldiers don't go into war unarmed and I decided early on that I wouldn't go into my battle against depression without an arsenal of weapons of my own. Educating myself as to what I was (am) up against was never a question for me.
There are really three types of books in the category of mental illness and wellness that have been useful to me over the years: 1) self-help (workbooks, medical/scientific); 2) memoir; and 3) a category that I will call "break in case of smile emergency". This is just a small sampling of my favourites:
A book that has been super helpful to me over the years is one that I seem to keep going back to. It's a workbook called "Your Depression Map" by Randy J. Paterson, PhD. I love this book because it breaks down the illness of depression in a way that is easy to understand and digest. Paterson doesn't overwhelm (or bore) the reader with too much science-speak. The book is well laid out with wonderful suggestions for personalized treatment plans. If you can only read one book on depression this is the one.
The second book in this category is "Well Being: The Five Essential Elements" by Tom Rath and Jim Harter. Although not a book about depression, the explanation of the elements required to live a full, balanced, and "well" life are useful to anyone fighting depression. Rath and Harter are two Gallup scientists who have solid scientific information to back up their claims. Feel like your life is out of balance? Read this book.
I love this category and I think it's so important for anyone fighting mental illness. As I have said so many times before, depression (and many brain illnesses) is an illness that makes you feel very alone. Part of the reason for that is because so many people don't speak of it. This is why memoirs are so valuable. There is always comfort in knowing that you really aren't "the only one."
The first memoir on my list is "Changing My Mind" by Margaret Trudeau. For those of you of a certain age you will remember Trudeau as the young, free-spirited, "crazy" wife of Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau. For those of you who don't recall those days, she's Justin Trudeau's mom! I love her book because she tells a tale that is familiar to many: she spent years without a correct, accurate diagnosis of her mental illness. As a result, she didn't always receive the treatment that she needed, when she needed it. Oh, and she had to go on this journey in a very public way, bearing the brunt of the world's criticism and misunderstanding. Certainly not an easy task. Today Trudeau is an advocate on the topic of mental illness and wellness.
The second memoir on my list is a rarity - it addresses the topic of mental illness and the workplace. "Out of the Blue" by Canadian journalist and writer Jan Wong describes Wong's descent into deep depression after suffering trauma on the job and the subsequent very poor treatment of her by her employer, The Globe and Mail. I found Wong's account of her experiences riveting and appalling and her bravery inspiring. A must read for employers and human resources professionals.
Break in Case of Smile Emergency
This is the category that is simply fun. It's all about finding the smile that can be so elusive when you are in the dark depths of depression. The book that tops my list in this category is "The Book of Awesome" by Neil Pasricha. It's basically a compilation of things that Pasricha considers awesome. An example? How about 'bakery air'? "Bakery air is that steaming hot front of thick, buttery fumes waiting for you just inside the door of a bakery. And I am just going to tell you something straight up: that is some fine air."
In my last post I shared some insights from my fellow Partners for Mental Health community correspondents about their top tips for dealing with mental illness. I went back to the well a second time for a list of the books that they feel helped them along their own journeys. Here are their top picks:
* "Mindsight" by Dr. Dan Siegel
* "Mind Over Mood" by Dennis Greenberger, PhD and Christine A. Padesky, PhD
* "The Buddha and the Borderline" by Kiera Van Gelder
* "Writing Through the Darkness: Easing Your Depression with Paper and Pen" by Elizabeth Maynard Schaefer
* "Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness" by David A. Karp
* "The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression" by Andrew Solomon
* "Psychiatric Tales: Eleven Graphic Stories About Mental Illness" by Darryl Cunningham
* "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Finkel
The next time you are lacking inspiration or that smile, head to your library or local book store. Then maybe stop by a bakery and breathe in some of that fine bakery air. Bet you'll find your smile, even if just for a moment.
KB xo
P.S. I want to hear from you! Do you have any suggestions to add to our list? If so, please share them!
P.P.S. Thank you to Kathleen, Casey, Paige, Allison, Aidan!


  1. I love this post - such a great idea - thank you for asking. Books are part of my self-care regiment and one way I am able to be both active in helping myself and enjoying a good book.

    1. Thanks, Allison! I am so glad that you like it and really appreciate that you took the time to comment.

  2. Bakery air is the best. I have a video of a commercial that my mum sent me a long long time ago that makes me laugh every time. The attached link it to the video. It is my Break in Case of Emergency. I also really like to read books of courage when I am feeling down. Jane of Lantern Hill and Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery are 2 of my favourites.

  3. I love the clip - thanks for the smile & giggle! And thanks for the book suggestions, too. :-)

  4. I was lucky to be able to hear Margaret speak. After I bought her book and hung around for her to sign it. Had a very nice conversation with her. I certainly recommend her book to anyone. I think her talk is on the Internet as well and is worth the listen
    Dave. Thanks for all the posts Kristen

  5. She's definitely one of my heroes! Thanks for your comments as always, Dave!


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