Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger, PhD and Christine A. Padesky, PhD is the perfect self-help book, if by self-help you mean actually doing stuff to … you know… help yourself.
I got it five years ago – during 2014: The Year of Pain.
It was after the last time I saw my regular therapist (Amy). It would (in fact!) be the very last time I’d see her as I didn’t even have the (incredibly generous sliding scale) fee to pay her.
Looking back, as I often do in this blog space, I realize I’ve spent most of my adult life under an umbrella called “The Kindness of Others”… and 2014 was actually the year I learned – was forced? – to step up and take care of myself. I know this sounds strange coming from an adult (and an older one, at that!) but it’s true. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that jazz.
Point is: I was broken and possibly more important to this story… also financially broke. My husband made money so I’d have a roof over my head but everything else was in jeopardy, as I helped to pay our bills and had no job.
The first thing I had to do was understand how I’d gotten there.
There are many posts on this blog about 2014 and they’re linked above. You may read them, of course, or just stick with me here. I won’t be linking to earlier posts from here on in.
Bottom line: I had my beautiful husband, who did his best to love me through my crisis… beginning with my autistic son’s violent suicide attempt in 2011 and ending with the loss of our beloved 15-year-old cat (Tess) in 2015. In between, I lost my dream job by my own hand, was cut out by a very close friend, my oldest daughter was given a cancer diagnosis, my youngest had her first (and only) child (my precious grandson) and my children’s father walked in the house he shared with my son and oldest daughter who was going through a divorce as well as cancer… and dropped dead.
My place in these stories was… as it has been since 2000… 4000 miles away.
And then, no Amy to talk to about it all. I was on my own.
My husband’s workplace has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) and I called them in search of low-cost therapy. They gave me a number and I called. Turned out, it was counseling over the phone – which, for a non-auditory learner who hates the phone, was helpful NOT at all. But!!! They sent me this book. So, there ya go! That’s how I got the darned thing.
Aside: I would never have picked up this book on my own. I dislike the cover. It looks clinical. I prefer warm and fuzzy, as we all know. For some reason… and I’m being brutally honest here… it kinda reminds me of something where you’d read about stool samples. Know what I mean?
Back to the book. Let’s begin with the obvious. It’s good. VERY, VERY GOOD.
There are two steps that the book builds upon:
Step 1; If you want to heal, you need to know what you’re dealing with. This book will help you break it down by touching on these five aspects of your life:
There are many, many examples of how this is done with case studies and blank worksheets. If you have trouble with the worksheets there are loads of helpful hints.
Step 2: Thoughts are then connected to moods, then behaviors and finally to my nemesis: Physical Reactions. And this illustration is *exactly* how it goes for me:
And folks, all that was in the first 25 pages of the book!! There’re 200+ pages more! Everything else builds on those first concepts and expands them into the details. A few of those “details” might include core beliefs, depression, anxiety, anger, guilt, and shame. These are YOUR details, so you can work on how you react to what is going on around you… from small disappointments to gut-wrenching sorrow.
Greenberger and Padesky use their expertise as clinical psychologists to describe how to use cognitive therapy – which I have grown to appreciate as I’ve gotten older (especially for panic!) They won’t do the work FOR you… you will learn to do it yourself… but you’ll get LOTS of help. And you’ll be glad you did!