Books Magazine

How To Stay Sane – Philippa Perry

By Hannahreadsstuff

how to stay saneSo yeah, in my last reading challenge post I said my next review would be for a book written by a female under the age of 30.

Well, that isn’t going to happen.

I had a sulk and I’m not doing it.

I picked up a couple of titles, turned them over a bit, chewed on them for a day or two, then shoved them into the charity shop bag with a scowl and possibly a go-away finger.

I was grumpy, I’d just had another birthday, one that cemented my status once and for all as an “Over-30 Something”. And what that “Something” definitely was not was “young, vibrant, voice-of-her-youth writer”.

That wonderful potential that radiates from those glorious “Under 30s” would never be mine, and in that moment I’d have rather pulled out my eyelashes than sat for a moment in its sickly glow.  Yes, I could well go on to achieve a multitude of things, but none of them would be drenched with the seemingly sweeter plaudits that come with being still in your twenties (or hell upon hell, younger).

My angst at my own situation made sitting through the efforts of young achievers feel like starving a monster just to lay down in front of its bulking, hungry mass and have it slowly gnaw and burp its way through me.

What didn’t help either was that everything I picked up didn’t seem to be any good anyway – I would go off on an internal spiraling rant about how even the most mediocre writing seemed to have been swamped with praise and  prizes.

But at least they’d written SOMETHING.

So as I sat next to that charity bag, stuffing in yet another “masterwork” from some past whippersnapper, I felt doomed to be an underachiver for LIFE. A sufferer of terminal inactivity.

So, in short, I was being an arse to myself

What I needed to read was something to give me a boost, not something that was going to stir up my insecurities. Having stupidly parted with my copy of The Antidote I was in need of another straightforward, plain speaking, mind soothing read.

Perry - does great hair and excellent glasses

Perry – does great hair and excellent glasses

Having enjoyed her down to earth advice column in Red magazine, and just digging her face in general, I downloaded a copy of Philippa Perry’s How to Stay Sane (part of The School of Life series).

This book is a wee treat for a frazzled mind! Perry focusses on our daily stresses and anxiety and uses easy to follow exercises to help the reader look inwards and have a rummage about. These self-observation techniques help bring your focus away from the Urgh and eases them bit by bit towards the more Ahhh things in life.

I love Perry’s writing style – it’s very clean and clear and free from “psych-speak”, this book is totally accessible for anyone who feels like those negative thoughts are starting to pile on in. And like any good friend giving advice, she lets you know that things have the capacity to get better, but offers no illusions about the amount of work you have to put in in order to make changes. The exercises at the back are thought-provoking and stimulating and though I found each one a challenge (they are meant to be) I was glad to complete them and felt a little lighter each time I tried them.

Perry has given me the tools to face ugly thoughts, analysis them and try to steer them into another place. What is even more encouraging is that Perry provides examples of what she concluded about herself during the same exercises. I really liked this touch – it shows she believes in them and makes you feel less alone and weird (“phew….she has envious thoughts too!”). Of course, no book can take the place of counseling or psychotherapy if that is what you need, but this little book offers a quick read and enough insight and suggestion to at least keep the cogs turning positively for a bit longer if that’s all you are looking to do.

But the best thing this book taught me? You can have all the youth and talent you want, but is that better than a bunch of wisdom and experience? I’m not so sure. I for one came away from this book happier, lighter and with a better handle on the things that feed that monster.

Thanks Philippa!

Being Bipolar Channel 4 March 4th at 10pm

Being Bipolar Channel 4 March 4th at 10pm

Oh! If this has caught your fancy, Perry has a documentary on channel 4 tonight at 10pm examining bi-polar, almost certainly worth a watch.

I’m going to tick that off as A Nonfiction Book on the PopSugar BUT WITH ALL WOMEN reading list….3 down….

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