Can books help beat the blues?
Posted Friday 8 January 2010
Harper Lee has Scout say it best in To Kill a Mockingbird: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
People can turn to books for comfort or to match their moods. As noted in the news, Marian Keyes has told her fans via her website that she is experiencing a depressive episode. The post has a number of quotes, some from other authors that show a profound understanding of dark, low moods. A. A. Milne’s donkey Eeyore gets a mention, as might be expected. I think that this Eeyore quote captures it well:
"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily.
"If it is a good morning," he said.
"Which I doubt," said he.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."
Notable on Ms Keyes’ site is the tremendous support from her fans, also demonstrating that she is not alone in her feelings. TashiK writes “Your books are the one thing that helps me through my bad day. I wish I could do the same for you.”
If only Ms Keyes could use her own books for bibliotherapy as others have done. Diane Shipley, who has declared her appreciation of Keyes’ work, gives advice on what and how to read when depressed. There’s even a website recommending books to read when you’re depressed.
A number of Primary Care Trusts have recognised the power of the written word and offer books on prescription. The NHS site says that reading books about various conditions “can bring many of the benefits of conventional medication without the potential side-effects associated with drugs.”
Here’s hoping that the power of books can help move those mired in depression forwards towards a lighter, brighter place. Again, Eeyore helps us put it all into perspective:
"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."
Bridget O'Connell, Head of Information
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