I sit here in the midst of a rather torrential downpour which has quickly flooded the gutters and down-pipes. It sounds beautiful on the roof with the doors open. Perfect for reading, and since our TV is officially broken and won’t be replaced for at least a week, I’m actually prioritising reading outside of that half hour before sleep time in bed!
The usual time for reading has been interrupted the past few days due to the toothageddon going on in V2’s mouth. Instead of relaxing with a hot coffee and a book, I’ve been sipping my once again cold coffee while intermittently returning to her room optimistically dreaming she will settle and my free time has not been wasted doing the chores – why do we always make the same mistake of cleaning before we relax?
I currently have three books on my bedside table. Jane Eyre, awaiting a re-read. Alain de Botton’s, The Course of Love of which I’m half way through the re-read. The third is Liane Moriarty’s Truly, Madly, Guilty. I’m almost finished my current book so I can make a start and return to that pile which I’m eager to do before I commence this year’s 101. However I will be sad once this one is finished. It is Sarah Wilson’s First, We Make The Beast Beautiful and I’ve been finding it somewhat eye opening.
I must first admit however that it has taken me some time to write this as I’m worried I simply won’t be able to address the seriousness of the topic the book delves into, or do enough justice to the author for her amazing presentation of so much research and experience in this book. (In fact I have sent this post to my twin sister to proof read to be sure of this!)
However, I’ll do my best. I was initially immediately drawn to the beautiful cover (I know we shouldn’t judge by the cover, but this judgement was spot on) which describes it as “a new story about anxiety”. In her work, Sarah Wilson presents an abundance of varying sources and a diverse range of research into what has been thought to be the cause of anxiety; ways it has been suggested to be managed both in the past as well as presently and, most prominently, her own personal experiences with her own anxiety including some suggestions to make the journey through life with anxiety a little smoother.
I found it to be written in such an amazing conversational style with so many pearls of wisdom about, to use the author’s words, the various ‘ironies’ that those with anxiety are faced with one a day to day basis. The whole work is delivered succinctly, but expanded upon appropriately to ensure each pearl sinks in nicely and I found her work did in fact convince me that anxiety is not something of a disorder but rather something to be made ‘beautiful’ for each person (as her title suggests). Her consistently positive tone combined with the vast amount of research convinced me of some of the ways to in fact make each aspect of anxiety a positive and useful part of everyday life and who I am.
It has been such a relaxed read, I have been able to pick it up and put it down often without feeling worried (there it is!) that I had lost my place or that I hadn’t made it to the end of the chapter (something Mums never get to do given our reading time is always interrupted by something more pressing – usually someone arising early from a nap!) and still gaining a greater understanding of anxiety.
Not all of the aspects of the book relate to me. However, as a Mum of 2, I’m a constant worrier about what has been eaten, what hasn’t been eaten, what could be eaten and everything else in between. I’m obsessed with plans, not changing plans, spreadsheets to record plans (just to mention one type of spreadsheet clogging up my computer!) and how best to communicate said plans to others to ensure there aren’t any changes (which just ask my husband, often result in a flat spin into chaos). These are just a few of the things that fill the day. I can safely say the book spoke (and is still speaking!) to me now that I’ve almost finished. As any Mum knows, when you are organising anything involving the children, it is an an enormous challenge and achievement to actually organise something involving the kids. It is almost insurmountable to actually stick to those plans. To be anxious about this is challenging given the almost certainty of an inability to control the outcome. I don’t list these things with the intention of trivialising the issue of what is at the heart of anxiety but I personally find that it is these day to day small worries that creep over me, so I found I experienced a definite lightening (as well as numerous light bulb moments!) to read of others who have researched this hugely common mental condition and to read of suggestions to manage these challenges.
I’m not an expert on anything in this book but feel I’ve learned a lot more about myself, anxiety and how others thrive during challenges and difficult times and can only recommend it to anyone who carries a little more worry, stress, and anxiety than they can handle sometimes.