October 18, 2008

Guest Post: Lean on Me

Guest post! Because I am flitting about town doing secret surprise date things. You know how it is.

This post was written by the ever-helpful Lisa Roe, whom I met through her capacities as the Online Book Publicist. She lives in Wisconsin, writes guest posts, and likes to send excellent books to people. You can learn more about her publicity services here, and contact her here.

Recently, I emailed a blogger friend, thanking her for a book review she had posted. Her response caught a breath in my throat. It was 4 lines. She used the word ‘down’. She mentioned ‘shambles’. It was so lost and empty. She’s feeling overwhelmed and lost in life.

I know that feeling. I’ve had it in a variety of ways. Downs so low that up is a mere pinprick of light floating somewhere high above me. Downs where sweats are the mainstay and my last shower is a distant memory. Downs so crushing they somehow reach a level of comic hysteria.

Feeling so badly for my blogger friend, I wondered what to do. Hugging her was not an option. Neither was getting together for a big fat pizza night and 16 Candles watching. Seriously. What else do we turn to if not 80’s flicks?

Perhaps . . . books? I began thinking about what I go to when the downs creep in. I have a giant book of Sudoku that I love immersing myself in. I can focus on that one little thing that has nothing to do with any other thing and it’s wonderful. If I’m really up for it, I’ll go for cryptoquips. ;-)

“It could be worse . . . ” Blah. ‘isms. ‘isms that speak truths I’m not in the mood to hear. However, when I recognize the need for that dose of reality, I turn to Angels of a Lower Flight by Susie Scott Krabacher. This was a project I worked on 2 years ago that I continue to revisit. The author is a former Playboy playmate who started a foundation to save orphans in Haiti. I challenge you to read this book and not get a hearty cry in.

And then there are the times when some David Sedaris is necessary. A good chuckle, chortle, and guffaw may be just the thing to lift me up a bit. And whether he’s telling his tales of overly coifed foo-foo entrees in an upscale restaurant or grudgingly learning French, my mood is instantly elevated.

Whose words do you turn to when you get the downs? Is there something that pulls you out of your funk or do you prefer something that mirrors your mood?

Oh, and for that blogger friend, this is the best I can do for now: {{{hug}}}…


MC Milker said...

Wonderful post. A book is so much better than a card when a friend is feeling low. Personally, i like to immerse myself in "mind candy" mysteries or romances to just "get away"!

Lezlie said...

David Sedaris is definitely on my list of books guaranteed to make me smile. Or Dave Barry. Dave Barry's The Complete Guide To Guys is honestly the funniest book I have ever read!

Books 'N Border Collies

Becky said...

When I'm feeling down or bleh or jicky...I like to turn to childhood favorites. There are few things that Pooh can't remedy...or Anne for that matter. There is something so perfectly satisfying about the Anne books by L.M. Montgomery books that make all the world seem right. On the rare occasion, I don't turn to books...listening to my favorite music can sometimes do the trick. There's something for every mood.

Nymeth said...

There are definitely times when some David Sedaris is absolutely necessary!

I like to re-read old favourites when I'm down. Nothing cheers me up like immersing myself in something I love.

I really hope your blogger friend feels better soon.

Lisamm said...

I'm a wallower. I wallow in my bad mood for a good day or two, and attempts to snap me out of it are met with a "leave me alone" attitude from me. What will eventually bring me around is music, my kids, doing something (anything) for someone else.

Lori Barnes said...

Wonderful post Lisa! for your blogger friend I've fought a battle with depression since my brother and 2 of my sister-in-law's (were like sisters) passed away I lost my photography studio due to having to move all these changes took place in a short period of time I was stripped of who i was i felt when i lost my means of my career which everyone knew me for and it made me feel worthy if you can relate. I'm sorry you're feeling down and hope that it a tempory time for you. I didn't start reading untill i got to a really low point and a friend suggested i pick up reading and i thought that was funny seeing i never read anything unless i had to. Luckily my first book was a good one because it lead to a serious addiction! don't get me wrong, i still fight my battles daily but can always depend on a good book to take me away. If a good book doesn't do the trick call a friend and do lunch if that's not a option light you some candles and have a warm bath with some soothing music playing, better yet turn up the volume with some dance music and dance. Just don't let this feeling keep you there, hope things get better for you :)

Lauren said...

Those "downs" can be very difficult, especially because life goes on. You can't wallow (much). The cats or kids need attention, the laundry has to be done, meals are required, work is non-negotiable.

Using books is the best way for any bibliophile to either indulge in or get past these times. (Maybe they are the same thing.) What kinds of books is really personal. I don't know anyone could recommend any. I find that I don't have the same desires at different times when I am down. Sometimes, often perhaps, it's an old favorite. It's kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich, comfort food, in that it's comfort reading.

For me, it can range. I like to browse through glorious cookbooks (more books than cook), soaking up the process and the anticpated smells and tastes. Other times, I turn to my Odd Shelf--difficult travel tomes, places and experiences about which I love to read but would not be interested in personally experiencing. Then there are my favored literary classics. And I might even get into a new book, something I picked up in excitement at the store but haven't started yet.

For your friend, I would ask what does she like when she feels good. Or maybe what does she crave that she has not yet been able to have when she is feeling good? Is there a way she can find that in a book? Can she read that book in a special place be it a favorite cafe or a blanket under a tree in a favorite park? Is there a particularly nice glass of wine she can give herself while reading? Or perhaps a ritual like a walk to a great spot where she can then spread out a nice picnic on a blanket and indulge (having bought a couple of special items at the store like roasted chicken, salad, bread and cheese, wine).

I know she probably doesn't feel like going to any trouble. But even if she just does a part of one of these things it might be a minor smile to her face. Time, really, is all that will likely heal. But sometimes a little self-indulgence (without requiring herself to like it or even acknowledge it) can work wonders.

Sending some hugs to her.

Dawn - She Is Too Fond Of Books said...

I just got David Sedaris' *Holidays on Ice*. I think I'll put it to the side until I need a pick-me-up, or read it in short bursts when days are long.

Lisa, I hope your blogger friend gets a boost from the positive post you wrote, and the cyber-hug :)

Katherine said...

When I'm down, authors such as Jen Lancaster (Bitter is the New Black and others) and Laurie Notaro (The Idiot Girls' Action'Adventure Club) never fail to make me smile.

Virginia said...

I'm with you, MC Miller--mysteries it is for me. There is something about working through the puzzle of the mystery while identifying with the detective--not the victem--that helps me be my own detective and solve my own puzzles.

Lisa Roe came to visit me via email today and asked me to come comment over here. I write www.vaboomer.com and am developing its sister e-biz site www. BoomerMade.com. Not knowing the circumstances of Down Blogger Friend, let me offer some support as a new friend.

I think one of the worst causes of feeling down for me is feeling so alone. And truthfully I am alone for large parts of the day writing at home, and I am alone in supporting my kid and me. And I am alone romantically. So there are factual reasons for feeling anxious and down.

Several things help--allowing myself my mind candy,mysteries, with out beating myself up too badly, oh you should be doing xyz.

Then making/taking any action to get moving. I want to hide when I get down--in bed with a long mystery--all day. So any movement at all starts to break the spell of the downtime. I often feel like it is a spell of some kind that I am bewitched by some inner demons, stuck in park, going down down down.

So any movement at all is a spell breaker--jumping on my little trampoline, getting out of bed and taking a walk, writing some of my nasty thoughts, reaching out.

Then there is just the action of allowing myself to have some down time. I believe sometimes I am not really down, just in need of downtime and in need of my generosity towards myself to snuggle down into down time with no self criticism. That's hard. Yet, I'm learning--taken 63 years, but I'm learning.

I'm learning that my down times are my bearish times--by that I mean, my times of inner hibernation, retrospection, introspection, and when I emerge from this inner state of downess, it is almost always with some new insight or with a way to convert what I thought was slack, lackness, slobbery, into a really productive creative quiet time, getting ready for something new and wonderful.

It was from just such a down time period of gorging on mystery mind candy that I conceived the idea of vaboomer--we boomers have our vavavaBoom, and from vaboomer the notion of BoomerMade grew--first as a channel for my own creations and then as a channel for other Boomers to send forth the riches of their hearts and receive back the treasures of the world.

I started with the notion of a "place" from which to send a little book (let) called "Sixty Key Tips for a Sensational Second Sixty" out into the world. I wanted to earn some bucks and provide support for others who might be down and not realizing that this was wonderful fertile down time from which they could allow their inner brillance to flame and blaze forth again.

BoomerMade.com is up in beta and improving as we go along...and I am open armed for more boomers to reach out to me and BoomerMade as a channel for their creative riches.

So Down Blogger Friend--capture and enjoy your downtime and let its creative juices flow. Who knows maybe you'll create something for BoomerMade.

Deena @ My Bookshelf said...

It's so easy to get to that point. We're creative souls who feel deeply and passionately, which can be a blessing and sometimes feel like a curse.

When I get this way, I go back and read emails I've saved where I've made a difference, impacted my small corner of the globe. I also dig out my copy of "The Bad Hair Day Book" and laugh a little at life.

It's also easy to get overwhelmed, and if you're a reviewer like myself, you can feel as if you're drowning and the world is mad because you published a review they didn't like, or because that review you promised is still days or weeks away from light of day.

That's when I must remind myself I do this for an audience of One, and He smiles down on my small efforts for Him and for others. Having my Father smile on me is worth it all...most days:-)

So warm, friendly hugs, down blogger friend. Here's a hand to help you up, and a shoulder to cry, lean or vent on any time!

Joi said...

It always breaks my heart when I hear about someone feeling down. I've had some ridiculous lows in my life - I watched my dad battle a very long, brave battle with an illness that eventually took him from us (WAY to soon, he was only in his early 50s). Then, in 2006, I lost my mom when she suddenly passed away in her sleep - also far too young to die.

I've once lost my absolute dream home when my husband's job forced us to move to another state.

Downs - whether they're large or small - are a part of life's ride. They have to just be ridden out the best we can. However, while they're in full swing, no one ever said we had to give in to the tears and duldrums. Oh, no - fight them off!

My favortie mood lifters are below:
1. Hanging out with my daughters (whether it's one, two, or all three) always lifts my spirits. They act as a "happy tonic" on me.
2. Getting down in the floor and playing with one of my cats also sends every bad or sad thought far away.
3. Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy, Roseanne, and George Lopez reruns also bring on fits of laughter and smiles.
4. Reading the Bible and praying brings about a peacefulness that nothing else can quite match.
5. Dean Koontz!!! You can't be sad when you're fighting ghosts with Odd Thomas (one of the best books EVER) or laughing at Einstein's antics in Watchers (another one).
6. This may sound silly, but going to YouTube and watching Dane Cook videos also brings on an outbreak of laughter. My youngest daughter has survived two Teenage breakups courtesy of Mr. Cook. That and trips to McDonald's with mom.
7. Never, ever underestimate a trip to Starbucks, followed by a good movie on dvd.
8. C.H.O.C.O.L.A.T.E.
9. The Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer are ridiculously great for losing yourself in.
10. Cooking always makes me feel fantastic.
11. Going to the movies with my husband - even if it's a bad, bad movie (like The Love Guru), the whole experience is sheer bliss.
12. Remembering that feeling down is something we all go through and that it'll pass. The next phone call, the next e-mail, the next knock on the door, or simply the next morning could see your whole world turn in the opposite direction.

Ride it out, stay strong, and have some chocolate. - Joi

Tracee said...

Books are my best friend when I am feeling blue...and every other time as well. You just have to try and look at the little things in life - a great way to do this is illustrated in Sarah Ban Breathnach's book "Simple Abundance". Every night before you go to bed, write down 5 things that you were thankful for that day. It really opens your eyes. Chin up - it will get better, that's a promise:)

Joanne said...

I too use books as a way to escape the blues, if only for an hour or two. Books have always been my way to escape from the everyday problems we all encounter, words strung together to form a world that has nothing to do with my own are the most powerful anti-depressant.

David Sedaris, as mentioned above, is perfect as most of his books can be flipped through and read randomly for a good laugh.

Sometimes chick-lit can help, when the biggest worries a character has is what handbag matches what shoes, which dress makes your butt look smallest and whether this blind date is a good guy or a total mess.

I also find myself cheering up after reading a particularly touching memoir, whether it be something serious, something funny or something touching. Personally I am a dog lover, so Marley and Me and The Art of Racing In The Rain are two of my favorite pick-me-up memoirs.

I think the best thing to remember is that for everyone, problems become clearer after we have had some tiny bit of escape. For me it's books that provide that temporary vacation but it may not be for everyone. The basic idea is to lose yourself in something you love, something that makes you see things differently and something that makes you smile even a little.

A good friend of mine has fought depression most of her life, her escape seemed weird to me at first, but for her it works. What does she do? She has a drawer of coloring books and crayons, and even though she is in her thirties, the simple act of coloring a picture of Disney characters or Barbie, takes her back to the carefree days of childhood. It allows her to relax and let her mind stop, if only for a half-hour. It may have seemed silly to me at first, but now I understand the calm it brings her is powerful.

To Down Blogger Friend, I truly hope you can find a way to bask in your own calm. No matter how silly it may seem, do what makes you smile.

Carey said...

I use reading too, to pick myself up when I am down. One of the funniest books I ever read was A Walk Through The Woods by Bill Bryson. I often read at night in bed and while I was reading that one I kept bursting out laughing, I couldn't help myself. My husband was not so amused (he was trying to sleep at the time).

Sending virtual hugs out. I have found the book blogging community to be the warmest and most supportive group of people that I have ever had the honor to be a part of.

Bill Crider said...

As others have said, mysteries do it for me, and you really can't beat Dave Barry. So one of his crime novels should do the trick.

Jena said...

Oh, when I'm down, I turn to Ben & Jerry's pints (Dublin Mudslide is a lovely, lovely ice cream) and Disney fairy tale movies and fantasy/fairy tale-esque books. I also cook and bake a lot--the best chocolate chip cookies ever (http://tinyurl.com/yxmmh6) and PB chocolate chunk cookies (http://tinyurl.com/5no6sn) are two of my favorites when I'm feeling blue. And I don't care how down you are, you cannot eat more than two of that first recipe.

Kip de Moll said...

If down and blue, a book takes effort and concentration, I love to play music or listen to music. Sing a song at the top of your lungs, sing the blues and the rainbow comes out.

Thomas "Duffbert" Duff said...

Taking it from a slightly different tack... When I'm feeling down, I love it when someone just takes the time to email/ping me and say "Hi... I was just thinking about you." Makes me feel less "alone".

Which is a not-so-subtle reminder that I need to do that more often to others...

Major Bedhead said...

If I'm just a bit glum and blue, I love to read Rosemund Pilcher or Maeve Binchy. They're comforting and warm and feel like a warm cup of tea and an eiderdown.

If I'm in a full on funk, I have to just ride it out. It sucks. A lot.

Allison said...

Getting out of the 'downs' is hard !! but finding that 'thing' that helps can be found!! I love mystery books like others have mentioned..they get you involved in solving the mystery. Watching funny old comedy shows does the trick for me too, like someone else mentioned...I Love Lucy of Rosanne repeat...or Carol Burnett Show rerun!! The best thing though...get out of the house!! Even if its just outside on the deck...and watching people go by...change of scenery always helps me!

ChristineMM said...

When I am down if possible I rent or borrow an old movie that really will snap me out of the current day. Once it was "The Breakfast Club" another time, "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Older movies made before I was born often work, they are so different.

Other times I put on terrible reality TV to see what others are living like, something not very much like my life at all can lift me up.

Other times I'll read a really good children's book. When I feel generally sick of modern American culture I will immerse myself in really good, older children's literature like Anne of Green Gables, Understood Betsy, or other good old stories that have good messages in them.

I have been avoiding reading much women's fiction or chick lit as frankly some of it depresses me instead of making me feel entertained or relaxed. (Such as depressing Oprah book picks, books with abuse etc.)

Literate Housewife said...

This was a wonderful post. One example of how reading helped me get out of my blues is The Onion, a newspaper satire. After 9/11, I think that we were all very down. My husband was getting the actual paper copy at the time. When the first edition post 9/11 arrived, it was just what we both needed. I laughed for the first time after reading it. It didn't make things better, but it helped shift my attitude. I definitely turn to humor in times like that for a pick me up.

Michelle said...

I'm one of those people who need to be reminded that people have been having worse problems for centuries, because it brings whatever my situation is to light and makes me realize that it's just a part of life. Knowing that, I feel much more confident, and I know I'll get over whatever is ailing me. So when I'm down I turn to ancient texts - The Iliad and The Aeneid have always been comforting, because so much is lost in those books and there are so many inspirational lines!

Sometimes, though, I'm so out of it that what helps the most is any well-written book. Anything that can take me out of myself for a while, so I'll pick up something off my TBR pile, read a few pages, and if I don't get into it, I'll put it back in favor of something else. Once I find something that I can't put down, I live through the characters. When the book is over, my problems miraculously feel less superior to everything else in my life (even if the book itself wasn't sad or touching). Books heal even when they don't mean to!

Tara R. said...

great post Lisa.

Heather said...

I feel for your blogger friend, and know just what it's like. Recently I had the blues pretty badly for a couple of weeks. Some of the things that worked for me were finding someone to talk to, who would listen while I vented my frustrations, spending some time sitting out in the sunshine, and organizing my bookshelves. I was so down that I couldn't even read, so instead I rearranged the shelves, and thought of all the great books that I had read, and that I would be able to read in the future. It also doesn't hurt to spoil yourself a little during those sad times. I hope your friend is feeling better soon.

Care said...

Wow - what an outpouring of love and glad tidings and great ideas and fabulous book suggestions. Lovely way to cheer a friend is send the link to this post!

Kris said...

My best recommendation is to get your hands on any book by Andrew Matthews. I also love listening to his audiotapes. I always go back to them. Well worth the cost!!!

Also, try looking into the online course called Awaken Joy. It's awesome!!

Jen said...

What great ideas! I'm bookmarking this page for the next time I feel down. Thanks for writing this, Lisa.

To your friend:

I have a lot of experience with the blahs. I definitely think getting out of the house (girl's night out) is a great idea. But if that isn't possible, try a night in with some funny movies (my favorite is The 'Burbs) or comedian that you love (maybe Ellen or Brian Regan).

As for books, I would definitely recommend Twilight if you haven't read it. You will be so wrapped up in the story, you will forget that you felt bad in the first place.

I'm not very religious, but I have found that prayer and meditation helps. Sometimes all it takes is just asking God/higher power for more joy in your life. When I am good about doing this I do notice I feel so much better.

If all else fails and it continues, definitely make sure you go to your doctor. Sometimes there is a chemical reason for the blahs. I know for me it is monthly (pms). For others, it is constant.

Good luck! I hope you feel better.

trish said...

I don't know that books bring me out of a funk, but movies certainly can. For myself, when I'm feeling down, I have to let it out or it sits and festers inside of me, evolving into something akin to poison. Therefore, I pick out a movie I know will make me cry, and invariably the next day I feel much much better. But that's just me.

Anna said...

Great post, Lisa! When I'm down, I don't do any reading. I write. I get it all down in paper, whether in journal form or as the start of a story or whatever. I figure I may as well put those feelings to good use.