Reading Roundup #5

A lot has been happening in my life since my last post and I haven’t been as consistent with this blog as I wanted to be. After spending a month and a half at my parents house in Wisconsin during quarantine, I moved back to Nashville to start my new full time job at the place where I had been interning. That’s right; somehow I got a full time job right out of college! It’s very exciting but has also been quite the adjustment. I am living in an apartment with one of my roommates from college while our other two roommates are in the apartment diagonal from us. In a lot of ways, I still feel like we are all going back to college in August. I’m struggling to feel like a full-fledged adult and also struggling to be productive in the times where I’m not working. Hence, me not posting on here for the past few weeks. It also means I haven’t been reading as much as I thought I would. However, I did read enough to pick three of my favorites from the past couple of months. I definitely recommend checking these out and as always, let me know what books you’ve been enjoying!

#3 The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Most of the books I decide to read come from recommendations from people or Goodreads, but occasionally I scan the aisles of the library and see what jumps out. That’s how I found this book. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was proven wrong. It follows the main character Victoria as she learns to trust the people around her after having a lot of mistrust in her years being brought up in the foster system. One way that she communicates with people (whether they are aware of it or not) is with flowers. Every flower has a meaning. Some mean love, while others mean loss or hatred. That is how Victoria connects with the world. However, when she starts to find a purpose in life and finds someone who can speak her language, it becomes overwhelming. I loved this book because the emotions felt were never sugarcoated. It gave a glimpse into how going through the foster system can shape a person. It is also inspiring to read about a woman finding her passion and her place in a society that wants to undermine her skills and downplay her accomplishments. You are rooting for her happiness the entire time. A book filled with emotion and feelings that a lot of people can relate to on some level. By the end, I wanted to learn this new language so that I could apply it to my own life. Maybe you will too!

#2 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I had heard about this book and it had been on my list to read for a while, so I’m super happy that it lived up to the hype. The reason this book works so well is because of the impeccable characterization of the main character, Eleanor. She is depicted in such a specific way, that you can picture her vividly in your mind. The way she talks is unique, her look is perfectly described, and her feelings (or lack of feelings) make perfect sense based on all of the details provided. This book also has a bit of a mystery element, as you start to piece together the events in her childhood that made her into the person that she is today. There is also a romance component for people who enjoy reading about people finding their person. You want Eleanor to break out of her guarded shell and live life to the absolute fullest, and it is incredibly satisfying to read a book where you can almost see the walls around her crumble to the ground in your mind. I literally couldn’t put it down and finished it in two days. I had to know what happened to Eleanor and if you read it, I bet you’ll feel the same!

#1 Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Everyone was talking about this book, so I decided to give it a shot and now I definitely understand what the hype is all about. Much like the other two books, the story revolves around a strong-minded and strong-willed woman. It follows Kya who lives with her family out in the marsh. She doesn’t have the best family life and eventually, at a very young age, is abandoned by her entire family and must survive on her own. Prejudices from the people in town abound, but she learns to get by with her own tenacity and a few friends. I love books like this that alternate between different timelines. In one timeline you read about Kya growing up, discovering what love is, and becoming a strong woman. In the later timeline, police in the area are looking into the death of a well-known man in town named Chase. These stories eventually intersect and the ending is definitely not what I expected, but it was perfect. The writing itself is beautiful as well and the description of the land shows a huge respect for the beauty found in nature. The best way I can describe how this book made me feel is by comparing it to the feeling I get when I’m on a long drive in the middle of nowhere, just admiring the vast land and enjoying the contrast of the music playing in the car to the silence that exists outside. I highly recommend that everybody read this book if they get a chance!

Bonus: Songs I’m Loving at the Moment

Here are six songs that I have been listening to a lot lately. Definitely check out these songs and check out the other songs from these artists as well!

– Die seems like an intense title, but it isn’t as somber as you may think! I’ve been loving Overstreet’s music for a while now, but this one is my favorite.

– Made It This Far is by Katelyn Tarver who is one of my favorite songwriters and also appeared on the show Big Time Rush which just makes her even better (haha). This song is super relatable. It talks about the fact that you may not know what your doing or your life may be a mess, but we can be proud of the fact that we’ve made it as far as we have. A tough mentality to keep in check, but definitely healthier than being weighed down in all the mess.

– Paper Planes is the ultimate driving song. It’s soft and airy and just makes you feel at ease. The songwriting itself is great too.

– betterman is an upbeat song about the artist wanting to become the best person he can be for himself and in his relationships. I found Virginia to Vegas randomly and really love all of his songs so be sure to check him out.

– Honey in the Summer just feels like summer. Upbeat and another great driving song. I also love the context of the song, because it talks about creating your own happiness instead of focusing on the fact that you’re not in a relationship. Super fun and perfect if you need a song to listen to with the top down flying down the highway.

As always, I’m always looking for new books and music suggestions so send them my way! I hope you have a great day!

Rachel (:

Mental Health Medication Stigma

I didn’t have a blog post idea today and then something happened that really made me mad. My friend was working today and was telling a coworker that her new medication was making her a little nauseous. Another one of her coworkers walked up and decided to insert himself in the conversation. He proceeded to tell my friend several things that made her angry (and subsequently myself and my roommates angry). I wanted to break down what he said and then talk in general about mental health medication stigma.

Things he said:

#1 Anxiety/OCD/etc. are “just personality traits.”

It really annoys me when people try and tell you that what you are dealing with in regard to your mental health is not valid. By saying this, he invalidates the seriousness of mental health problems. Mental health issues are not just personality traits. They are recognized as disorders by psychiatrists and medical professionals worldwide. It is something that is treated by mental health professionals. It isn’t something easily changed or something you can just move on from. A personality trait like getting nervous before a big event is not the same as having a generalized anxiety disorder. A personality trait like cleanliness is not the same thing as having OCD. Having a personality trait like pessimism is not the same thing as having depression. These disorders are not just personality traits and it fully invalidates someone’s struggles when you say that they are.

#2 “I know exactly how you feel.”

Unless you also struggle with a mental health disorder, this is false. This is another way to invalidate someone’s struggles. Even if you also struggle with anxiety and depression, you don’t know exactly how that person feels. It affects everyone differently. This is especially the wrong thing to say before you proceed to give your unwanted and unsubstantiated opinion on mental health in general.

#3 Medicine is just not the way to help. It basically is unnecessary for mental health disorders.

This is what the remainder of my post is going to discuss because my friend’s coworker is not the only person to think that mental health issues are not serious enough to require medication. People often try and tell you that if you exercised more, ate better, meditated, did yoga, or thought more positively you would be fine. That’s not how it works. Don’t you think that we would all do these things if it magically cured us? You can’t just think happy thoughts and get over depression or meditate and get over anxiety. There are a lot of different treatment options from medical professionals because it is an actual disorder. Therapy is an option and one I highly recommend. It has helped me a lot. But medication is also a valid option for people who are really struggling. Sometimes people feel like taking medication means that they have failed in some way or that they’re weak, but that isn’t true. It just means that you need some extra help in dealing with a disorder. When you take an Advil for a headache (physical health), you don’t have guilt, so you shouldn’t put guilt on yourself for taking medication that helps with your mental health.

It is always important to consult with a doctor or a therapist when you are thinking about medication. It’s important to make sure you are a good candidate for taking medicine to help. Once you and a medical professional have decided it is the right next step, it could take some time to figure out what medication works best. There isn’t one magic pill that is going to be an easy fix to your problem. There are side effects to medications and it is important to find the one that works the best in your body. But it is possible to find a medication that helps you a lot.

Saying it is unnecessary is an uneducated point of view. As our friend who is in pharmacy school who heard about this statement said, “there are decades of research and clinical studies that show how medications do what they do.” There are many medications that are proven to help with a variety of mental health disorders. No one should feel ashamed or judged for taking medication. If you feel the need to shame someone who does take medication, I would encourage you to put that energy into researching mental health disorders and research instead. I believe your opinion would change. Medication is not the only answer, but it is a valid option for those who are struggling.

Here are a couple of other articles that talk about mental health medication:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-internal-debate/201812/breaking-the-stigma-taking-meds

Rachel (: