As you have probably gathered from my myriad references to my untidy house, I am not great at keeping things clean. I don’t mind some clutter, and I keep things in piles on the floor sometimes. My husband isn’t crazy about it, but we don’t let our house get so out of control that a weekend of cleaning can’t fix it. One of the messiest areas in my house is my bedside. I have makeup, perfume, medication, glasses, jewelry, pens, lotions, nail polishes all crowding up my bedside table. Nearby is my beading supplies, cross stitch supplies, more makeup, my sunlamp, and about 20 books. It’s kind of a mess, but not completely arbitrary. Most of it is in purposefully crafted piles. The books, especially, are ones that I repeatedly return to for my mental health. I keep them by my bed so on a bad day when I will more than likely be stuck in bed, they will be just an arm’s reach away. Today I thought that I would mention a few of the books I keep close by as recommendations to those of you who love to read.
I love to collect old hardback books. My fireplace mantle is filled with my collection. I even have a collection of very small hardback copies of Shakespeare plays. One of my all time favorite books, which I found in my hometown in Texas at a local charity book sale, is an adult picture book titled “The Life and Times of Elizabeth” from 1967 and was published as part of a series called Portraits of Greatness. It is full of beautiful portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and her contemporaries as well as a historical account of her life. Elizabeth I is one of my historical heroes. I am drawn to her power and strength. I like to read about her to encourage me to push forward, accomplish more, and be strong despite opposition. I also keep close a book of poetry that my father gave me called “The Singer.” I mentioned it in one of my first posts. It is a beautiful poem about Jesus. It is easy to read and engaging. It provides me with hope and reminds me that my earthly father and my Heavenly Father both love me immensely.
I don’t keep my bible by my bed because, fortunately, I use it more often and so it moves around rather than staying by my bed. But, I do keep my daily devotion and other spiritual books by my bed. My favorite devotion in recent years is “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. It is a wonderful book that continually makes me think, pray harder, and hope more. This year I am going through Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost For His Highest” for the first time. It is really great, and although life has distracted me from faithfully doing a daily devotion so far in 2016, I keep this book close and easily accessible. There are books by three more Christian authors that I keep, in rotation, by my bedside: C. S. Lewis, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, and my dad–David O. Dykes. These three authors have helped me form the spiritual ideology that I adhere to. Right now I have “Mere Christianity” (Lewis), “The Cost of Discipleship” (Bonhoeffer), and “HOPE When You Need IT Most” (Dykes) on hand. The first two I have read before, and I often return to passages that I have highlighted or dog-eared. I am sporadically working through my dad’s book for the first time, although I also return to some of his other books that I have read before, too. It is important to me to feed myself spiritually with devotion, teaching, and theology. This helps me feel more comfortable in my spiritual life and makes me more stable overall.
Right now, the three mental health books that are by my bedside are Randi J. Jensen’s “Just Because You’re Suicidal Doesn’t Mean You’re Crazy,” which I have mentioned before, “Free Yourself Be Yourself” by Alan D. Wright, and “The Mindful Way Through Depression” by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn. All three of these books have been truly formational for me. “The Mindful Way Through Depression” was my first direct introduction to mindfulness, and I cannot stress enough the real benefits of practiced mindfulness. It becomes a way of life, and through practice can becomes an automatic response to stress and anxiety. It takes time, practice, and dedication, but this book is a wonderful place to start. I return to it to refresh my skills. “Free Yourself Be Yourself” is a Christian book about healing your heart and accepting Jesus’s unconditional love. It was a very important book for me when I began to incorporate Christianity into my mental healthcare, which has made a wonderful change in my ability to think positively and accept myself. Finally, “Just Because You’re Suicidal Doesn’t Mean You’re Crazy” by Randi J. Jensen has revolutionized my views on what she calls the “psychobiology of suicide.” I could not have so fully made my commitment to never commit suicide without this book. This was a roadmap for me to understand what has been happening to me and address it head on with strength and gentleness.
So there is my bedside bookshelf. I didn’t include all the books about diabetes that have newly taken up residence by my bed or the journals–both old and current. It is quite a mess, but when my head is a mess, it helps so much to be able to quickly grab a book that I know has helped me before. Sometimes even just seeing the titles reminds me that I can do this because I have surrounded myself with resources to help, and I have put in years of practice to overcome my struggles with depression, anxiety, and suicide. I encourage you to check out some of these books if they interest you, or find other books more suited to your desires and situation. Part of a well rounded approach to fighting depression involves research and resources. Happy reading!