Managing The Depression Puzzle

CARAMEL'S CORNER

Today I am going to review one of the most impressive books written by a blogger whom I respect immensely. Of all the books written by WordPress bloggers that I have bought and read, “Managing The Depression Puzzle” written by Ashley Peterson, the creator of Mental Health @ Home, is one of the most useful and valuable.

I have to read a lot of health related material in connection with my role within the NHS. As well as having relatives and friends with mental health challenges I also have had a taste of trauma, despair and intense emotions after some of my own experiences. Here is a quote from the World Health Organisation on the subject of mental health:

“Mental disorders afflict hundreds of millions of people in every part of the world and impact on the lives of their loved ones. One in four people will be affected by mental disorder at some point in their lives.

Depression is the single largest contributor to worldwide disability. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are among the most severe and disabling disorders.

Although huge numbers of people are affected, mental disorders remain hidden, neglected and discriminated against.”

World Health Organization (WHO).

It is my belief that some people are still frightened about the subject of our mental health, even though all people, people of all ages and cultures, should be aware of what can impact both their physical, emotional and mental health. The value of a health professional like Ashley Peterson writing articles on WordPress about mental health and producing comprehensive books is highly appreciated.

Ashley has already published three books and I bought and read all three in fascination. I am reviewing “Managing The Depression Puzzle” because it is so fresh in my mind.

The most important thing I wanted to mention to you is that right from the start I love the tone of this book. I felt as if Ashley was an experienced guide and was holding my hand and reassuring me, as she explained all sorts of facets of a mental health diagnosis and the array of potential treatments to aid recovery. As I mentioned above, there is still so much fear as well as stigma about mental health. So to read this book and to feel as if I was not on my own, but Ashley’s calm and wise voice was going over things step by step, and at a pace that was comfortable to read was very helpful.

Student, Typing, Keyboard, Text, Startup

Ashley clearly knows her subject. Her professional experience shines through from start to finish. She has been careful to cite her resources which makes her work even more authoritative and authentic. But if you know anything about Ashley, you will know she has been there, and she has the T-Shirt! Yes, one of the most significant factors in reducing fear and providing reassurance is the way Ashley candidly mentions her own experience throughout her book.

I mentioned earlier that I have had some challenges myself, and at times it was irritating when people told me what I should do to “get-over” it and move on with life. I have started reading some mental health resources and given up quickly because they were so unrelatable and frankly provoking.

But I did not feel this way at all when I read Ashley’s “Managing The Depression Puzzle“. I never felt patronised or pressured towards one treatment option. Ashley dignifies her readers in presenting clear information and allowing them to determine how useful it is to them. I especially appreciated that, because decisions on medications, therapies and matters like spirituality may be deeply personal. Whoever you are, whatever makes you “you”, Ashley communicates a respect for you being the one who is equipped to make decisions.

Communicate, Brainstorm, Logo, Face

She is careful not to endorse on the basis of what has worked for her, explaining how different we all are, and that what may work for one person may not work for another. But in providing information on a wide range of treatment options, from medications and therapies, from physical factors such as nutrition, exercise and sleep to perhaps more emotional factors such as pleasurable activity, creativity and spirituality, Ashley looks holistically at all of the aspects that can add up to make a significant difference to any of us who are aware we need to address mental health challenges that are impacting negatively on our enjoyment and satisfaction in life.

This book is excellent for anyone who has experienced any form of depression or another diagnosed mental health condition. I think it a great aid for those working within a medical field. However, even if you have not (or perhaps we should say not yet) had to avail yourself of professional assistance to support your mental health, a very large section of Ashley’s book still of great benefit. I say this because all of us have good days and bad days, all of us find it hard to maintain balance. So in the process of detailing and discussing all of the factors that can make a difference to our mental health, Ashley has shone light on how all of us can be aware of how becoming unbalanced, or neglecting some of the factors that make you “you” and me “me” overtime, can be detrimental to us.

We live in a world that is changing rapidly. Perhaps so far, your life has been relatively calm. But what if your stress levels began to increase and your mental health began to suffer? The last few chapters of “Managing The Depression Puzzle” deal with some of the frightening challenges that may come along with a mental health crisis. Yet again, Ashley provides tremendously reassuring practical suggestions that indicate that even if your darkest fears came descended before you, there is so much help available.

One of the most helpful aids to managing your own depression puzzle or mental health challenges is somebody who knows what they are talking about. Not only have they studied the subject inside and out, but they have also experienced what it is like to go through a mental health crisis and to try different treatment options to aid their recovery.

Ashley Peterson is an absolute treasure! Through her writing she is making an invaluable contribution to mental health resources. I am sure that not only will you be impressed by her in-depth knowledge, but also you will find that in candidly sharing so much of herself, she provided reassurance and that feeling that you are not alone in the sometimes frightening field of mental health.

__________

You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Rejected

Last night I spent over an hour submitting reviews on Amazon for books I have bought and read, that were written by WordPress bloggers. I thought I had done a lovely thing.

I came home this evening to find that Amazon has rejected all of them except one. Why? I can’t tell. They have provided me with a summary of the review guidelines. I don’t see why my reviews were rejected.

Oh well…I will try again. I am only frustrated because I put so much effort into the reviews I left last night. Now I cannot even find them in order to edit them. I have to start all over again from scratch.

When did Amazon become so fussy about reviews?

Preposterous Tales From The Newbury Short Story Teller

CARAMEL'S CORNER

The book I have chosen to review in this week’s CARMAEL’S CORNER is the perfect solution for feeling blue about all the silliness in the world at large. I bought a book written by Martin Strike, who you may know as The Newbury Short Story Teller. I love Martin’s very humorous stories, which often show a farcical side to people and life. He complied a fantastic collection of his short stories and published them in the sensational “Preposterous Tales From The Newbury Short Story Teller”.

I used to live in Newbury Town Centre, and then later I moved to a beautiful estate a few miles from Newbury. So for me, it is easy to conjure up images when Martin references locations in the Newbury area. I found it a very happy reminder of a place I came to love.

But even if you don’t know Newbury I heartily recommend this book to you. Why? Because we all need some laughs! Martin’s writing is packed with humour. Every story from start to finish will bring smiles to your face. The comic characters, descriptions and conversations he employs can’t fail to cheer you up.

People, Woman, Girl, Female, ReadingOf all the books I have bought from WordPress readers I have to say, this was the one that left me in the best spirits. His compilation of light hearted and very amusing tales, which highlight some of the absurdities of human behaviour (and it’s not only Newbury where you will find oddballs) are a terrific read.

If you would like a treat to pick up your mood, I definitely would recommend Martin’s “Preposterous Tales From The Newbury Short Story Teller”, because it is great fun and full of great storytelling.

__________

You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations (books written by WordPress bloggers), please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

Let.Love.Speak – Book 2

CARAMEL'S CORNER

I have purchased several poetry books written by WordPress bloggers, including one by Maria Velazco, the creator of Let.Love.Speak. This review is of “Let.Love.Speak. – Book 2“, although I believe that there is also a Book 1 and a Book 3 also available on Amazon.

When I look at my WordPress Reader, I see other bloggers publishing poetry regularly, some of them publish a haiku or a poem every day. Different poets have different styles and use varying themes for inspiration. But reading a collection of poems by one writer is a more personal experience. As I read the poems in Maria’s compilation, I began to wonder more about the poet. Each poem feels like a little glimpse into the heart.

What I have learnt from reading poetry books, is that I cannot read the whole book from cover to cover in one sitting. That would be like sitting down to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one sitting.

Camera, Book, Candle, Read, Cozy, BedSo instead, with the poetry books I have bought, I have developed the habit of reading one or two poems before I drift off to sleep at night. Some of Maria’s poems were a very pleasant way to end a day, sending my mind twirling, whirling around her verses and weaving them into memories they brought back to my mind. Some of her poems seem like earnest prayers, and having them dance around my mind was a sweet way to fall asleep.

Reading Maria’s slightly longer poems was a lovely experience. I wanted to languish in the romance of many of them. Poems which pack in so much feeling, so much yearning, cannot fail to stir in the reader memories of the marks on their own heart, past and present.

I like that a considerable number of the poems in this book are short yet complete. Each with a different beat or rhythm. There is no unneccessary fussing. Each short poem captures a delicate bubble before it bursts. Each verse catches the wave just before it crashes. What I am trying to say is that the shorter poems pique your interest as they register with you…but Maria does not force a conclusion. She has an enigmatic tendency to leave you as the reader feeling that after picking up the refrain, you could then add the finishing line.

I enjoyed Maria’s poems. I enjoyed the themes she wrote about. I found it an absolute pleasure to take my time over her delightful poetry. I look forward to her new posts arriving in my WordPress Reader and I am very glad I bought a compilation of her poems.

__________

You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

Climbing Over Grit

 

Today, I am going to share with you my proper first book review. (Yikes!) I am reviewing books written by WordPress bloggers, which I have bought and read. The first book I have chosen to write a review of is one that many of you will recognise. “Climbing Over Grit” is a book that I discovered because I was following the posts by Laleh Chini, the creator of A Voice from Iran.

It’s been some time since I read this deeply moving account based on the real life experiences of Laleh Chini’s own mother. Laleh wrote “Climbing Over Grit” along with her own daughter Abnoos, and in many ways I am glad they could work on it together. It must have been a very emotional process to record this harrowing real life tale.

The first few chapters were rich in details, presented through the eyes of a child, that helped to paint a fascinating picture of the world Najma (Laleh’s mother) grows up in. Despite having the natural love a child has for their parents, Najma is candid about the aspects of their characters which would have caused challenges to the young children. As an adult reader, I found the tendency to judge was easily provoked in me. I wanted to scoop up Najma and her siblings and for them to be a part of my own family, especially as I knew what was coming.

But then came the moment I had been dreading reading about. I knew beforehand that the story features the real life accounts of child brides in forced marriages. Many of my friends and relatives have worked out in lands where they have been distressed at seeing young girls married at a very young age, often by their parents seeking economic survival. So reading about Najma’s experiences left me with tears trickling down my face. This is why so many organisations are trying to empower women in various lands so they can access education and they are not subjected to abuse.

However, the more I read, the strength and resilience of clearly a remarkable woman shone through. I don’t want to risk dropping any spoilers because this is so definitely a book I recommend, but anybody with a heart who reads “Climbing Over Grit” is going to be deeply moved by this story, especially when you realize how incredibly personal it is to the authors. There are are real life characters that you will want to be able to protect and fight for. In fact I wanted to know more about what became of some of the characters I was anxious about.

sarjytWhy would I recommend “Climbing Over Grit“? For a start, it is an education in itself. If you have grown up in a land where you were guaranteed an education that likely lasted into your late teens and were allowed to choose your own romantic interests, and decide who to marry, it may seem hard to grasp the very different world that Najma grows up in. This real life story shows the reality of what many child brides endure even now. I also think that a stark light is shone on abuse in general, and how it is allowed to be perpetuated for so long.

In many ways I hope that after reading this story, you will care more than ever about the welfare of young women in lands where forced marriages occur and the right to education is not protected.

I also think this story is a profound example of how a human can endure and grow stronger despite crushing circumstances. As much as I was weeping to think of what Najma experienced, I also fell a swell of pride with each of her personal victories. I don’t want to drop any spoilers, but I will say to be prepared (preferably with Kleenex and plenty of chocolate) for an emotional rollercoaster.

As well as employing vivid descriptions to help readers envision Najma’s world, Laleh Chini and her daughter Abnoos have very courageously provided an unsettling personal account that highlights astonishing endurance but also shows how a damaging cycle was perpetuated. The record they have published is a great asset providing insight into why many millions of women around the world need better protection.

__________

This is the first of my book reviews. I have more scheduled to be published.

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

 

CARAMEL’S CORNER

I want to give some attention to some areas I think I have been neglecting. One of the areas I have been neglecting is books…

…to correct that, I am introducing CARAMEL’S CORNER!

CARAMEL'S CORNER

I buy the books of other WordPress writers, mainly because I want to support them. But it has been brought to my attention that I could go further in supporting them, by reviewing their books. So…I am going to start a READING CORNER on my blog. Just what you never realized you needed….but now you are not going to be able to go without!

I am going to focus on books I have bought and read that were written by WordPress bloggers. Now…you are going to have to cut me some slack to begin with. The truth is…I don’t know where to begin with writing reviews. I have been reading the reviews other bloggers have written and hopefully learning something.

bloggging6I am a little nervous about the responsibility of reviewing another writer’s book. What if I did not enjoy it? What if it was full of spelling mistakes? I don’t plan to list all the faults I may pick up on. I want to support other writers, not slate them. So my plan is to write sweet Caramel flavoured book reviews. I am not going to score them. I am going to tell you what the book is called, who wrote it and where you can find their WordPress blog…and then I will tell you what I enjoyed about their book…without dropping any spoilers! Spoilers are baaaaaaaad!

Turns out writing interesting book reviews (without sending readers to sleep) is not easy.

Yes…this is why I have never attempted book reviews!!!

Anyway…I have forty paperback books I bought from other WordPress writers and ten Kindle books. I prefer reading paperbacks, because staring at my laptop (I only have Kindle on my laptop) strains my eyes.

cc1I am always looking out for books written by WordPress bloggers, but before everyone starts sending me links to their books, I want to mention that I am a little fussy with books…only in that I don’t want to read about things that are going to give me nightmares. I have been the victim of a serious crime, so anything that is violent, disturbing, or features demons, vampires or horror…I just can’t read that kind of material. So, on occasion I have chosen not to buy a WordPress blogger’s book because I know I cannot read it.

I do love reading, chick-lit, poetry, children’s and young adult books, non-violent crime-solving, action and suspense so long as there is no gory violence, fiction and non-fiction that promotes more awareness in all aspects of mental health, stories about life and love and learning about oneself, growing as a person, becoming stronger.

readsI even bought a WordPress bloggers book (in complete naivety) which turned out to be quite an education in…”human biology”…they obviously missed that chapter in science lessons at my high school.

Most of my reading has been the classics, which I have read and re-read because I loved them so much the first time round. But wanting to be supportive to other bloggers, I have bought a lot of new books…and read them…and now I am going to review them – ta da!!!

Reviews a la Caramel!

Anyway…I am waffling now…my point is CARAMEL’S CORNER posts will be making an appearance on my site, and within each one I will be sharing the fabulous books written by other WordPress writers…and I shall be attempting to review them without offending anyone!!!

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

Feeling Totally Stoked!

Person, Young, Woman, Girl, Skirt Today I woke up to the very happy thought that I have a week-long holiday ahead of me. Yayyyy!!!

Jack is with his parents this weekend, but he is coming to stay for for a few days after he has been able to catch up with his own family (who live at the other end of the country). So I am spending the first day of my holiday doing something I wanted to do for a long time – walking for hours. I am going to take a walk through the beautiful London parks near to my little nest.

I wanted to check out some WordPress posts before I headed out (especially SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY selections) and I came across a post from Iain Kelly Iain Kelly, who has very kindly read and reviewed my first book “We Hide What We Hate About Ourselves“:

BOOK REVIEW: WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES by MELODY FINCH

dfhygdI am so grateful to Iain, not only for reading Annabelle’s story, when it is not the genre he would usually opt for, but also for publishing a very complimentary review. In my head, my book was kind of chick-lit (I know that’s not very PC) with a sprinkle of grit, so it means so much that Iain has rated it so positively. Iain is also spot-on about the areas I need to give more attention to. I will work on those points – I promise! But I am totally stoked about the very kind comments he made.

Iain Kelly, author of THE STATE TRILOGY, is not only a fabulous fiction writer himself, as I am sure many of you will know, but he also reviews books published by independent and self-published authors. If you have a book that you would like Iain to review, he invites writers to leave him a message so he can take a look at your book.

The LEARNERS AT LOVE Series

I was reading a post from Ashley, the creator of Mental Health @ Home, and I noticed she has a very cool…what’s the word?… “feature” that she can use on her posts. She has a block with her books advertised. You can click the box and it will take you to a post where you can read more about her books, and find a link to Amazon to be able to order a copy.

Well, I mentioned to Ashley that I thought this was a great idea. I am sure that if you have published books, you will know that there is something weird about the process of promoting and marketing them. Hey…we are writers, not advertisers. But having something to discreetly draw attention to the fact you have some books…if anyone would like to read them.

Books Block

Well…it is going to take me a while to write a main book post that will have a bit of a blurb about my books. I need to be wide awake to do that and I am struggling at the moment with a splitting headache that has lasted for two days. But from now on…I am going to frequently use my little book block. If you click it, currently it takes you to Amazon where you can download Book One on Amazon Kindle (for free if you are on Kindle Connect).

Ashley has given me the idea…and I am going to work on perfecting it when my head stops hurting!

Why We Need Taylor Swift

fhldsbsJack said something random to me the other day, which was well motivated but didn’t make sense to me. He suggested that my three books could become a way to raise money for mental health charities. Afterall both of us have been passionate about our work for non-profit charities.

I reminded Jack that the money my books have made so far would make a disappointing donation. (ALTHOUGH EVERY PENNY COUNTS AND THE BACKBONE OF MOST CHARITIES ARE REGULAR SMALL CONTRIBUTIONS.)

He has more of a business mind than I do and more of a creative mind. He said we need to market the books, and get big names involved. My face contorted at the word “celebrities”. Well he whittered on for a while with all these ideas that frankly I was ignoring. But then he said something that did capture my attention.

Chromakey, Shooting, Film, Movie, SceneJack started talking about how much money could be made if a production company dramatised Annabelle’s story. (You see how he appealed to the part of me that cares so much about my main character and wants people to get to know her.) He thinks (and I think his feelings for me are blinding his judgement) that there is great material in the book, especially the contrast of Dean Mather’s character and the dip into the music industry that is part of the story.

He said that submitting the lyrics of the songs in the books to powerful song writing forces like Taylor Swift and the writers she has worked with (I did point out to him that Dean’s band Mildew are supposed to be a grunge rock band) and seeing if they would be willing to produce a track (or all three tracks) and use it to raise money for mental health charities. Top recording artists can generate enormous sales/streams etc. Although I am not someone who approves of lots of money lining the pockets of individuals, I do approve of lots of money getting into the hands of responsible charities.

We ended the conversation with me laughing at Jack’s ideas. But I think any writer can relate to how much it discombobulated me. For anyone who has written a novel (or a three part series), the thought of seeing the story as a movie or a television production is so exciting.

  • I would love to see the town of Blackwood with it’s white picket fences and lovable vintage generation (and of course the nefarious gossipers).
  • Empire State Building, New York CityI would love to see Annabelle and Chris in New York.
  • I would love to see bad boy Dean Mathers and Mildew play at Madison Square Gardens.
  • I would love to see the Switzerland scenes – they would be breathtaking.
  • I would love to see the English countryside scenes in West Berkshire – and the beautiful estate at Inkpen. That whole English wealthy class, tweed jackets, wellington boots, horses, dogs, going for shoots culture that Annabelle is baffled by.
  • I would love to see the key events of the book…happy and sad being dramatised.
  • I would love to see these amazing minor characters – Ralph Crabbe, Gina Ward (my personal favourite), Burt and Pearl, Dean Mathers, George and Carol Riley, Stephen and Fiona Grainger, Nick and Anna, Angharad and Maggie (even Jenna, Amber and Margo!) on a screen.
  • I would love to see a talented actress who could one moment be a beautiful energetic woman become someone who is overwhelmed with guilt and her mistakes and unwilling to communicate with those who care about her.
  • I would love to see two great actors play Chris and Robin – and leave the audience split between who they like the most and think is best for Annabelle.

Person Holding White Printer PaperYes Jack knew just how to pull on my heart strings. But by myself I have no power and no resources to turn a story I wrote into a tool that could generate money for charities. I would love to sign it all over to those who knew how to produce entertainment. It would be immensely satisfying (as any other writer would agree) to see what started on the dashboard in my head and became Annabelle’s story, jump from page to screen. I would love someone like Taylor Swift to take the three songs and make them something that could make money for charities. It would be sooooooooo exciting to see those words become real music.

Jack dreams big. He dreams big on my behalf. I have no head for money making at all. I chose the minimum charge when pricing my paperback book, which means every time someone buys a paperback, Amazon make some money but I do not make a single penny. I make $1 each time someone downloads a Kindle copy.

If I thought the LEARNERS AT LOVE series could be a fund-raising tool for charities, I would be totally stoked. But I don’t have the expectations Jack has for my writing. It is very sweet of him though. In a way, that’s what Annabelle did for Dean. She believed in him. She saw the teenager who played the guitar in a basement with his pals, become an international rock star.

Write, Notebook, Pen, Woman, Hand, PaperI am still going over every page, every paragraph, every punctuation mark editing my books to perfection – and I feel as if I may be doing that for weeks to come. I also think the cover for Book Three needs to be more similar in colour to the first two books.

Meanwhile there are new characters in my head that want to have their own story told. They will have to wait though. I want to do Annabelle Riley justice and give her my full attention.

If Annabelle ended up becoming a fundraiser for mental health charities (which is what Jack wants her to be) then that would be the absolute dream ending for the character I am so proud of.

But I will say this…it is very touching to have someone who believes in you. Jack and I may have different dreams. But it is inspiring to hear him come up with all these ideas. I am someone who enjoys writing. I have worked thousands of unpaid hours for charities and I don’t have a business or money making mind. I try to avoid owning anything other than the contents of one suitcase. I wrote a dramatic story set in exciting locations, but I don’t know how to take a decent photograph (and have to use Pixabay images for all my blogging posts). I wrote song lyrics for each of the three books but I don’t have a musical bone in my body – that’s why we need Taylor Swift.

I would love to hand over the books to people who know how to make money, make screen productions and make music – and for them to become a fundraising tool. I would love any profit generated to end up in the hands of mental health charities who help people in times of crisis. That is something I am sure Annabelle Riley would feel passionately about. That is something I feel passionately about.

Why We Read

Take, The Book, Girls, The Study

We read because sometimes this world stifles our ability to dream. So we pick up books and allow the writer to teach us what it is to dream, to imagine, to conjure up scenes where anything is possible and nothing is predictable. We read because we hunger for a break from the monotony, we long for dramatic twists and an inspirational ending. We read because we know that the hum drum is not what we were made for. We were made to live with gusto, to thrive and to exhilarate. We read for the sake of the reminder that the grey crusty routine is temporary and that all mankind are craving that day when real life becomes those repressed dreams.

Until then…we read.

We read to dream.

 

 

 

 

 

And…sometimes we read because we have a ton of NHS guidelines to wade through on the one day off we have each week.