By Lisa Huddleston

I am an anxiety junkie.  When I have too much time on my hands, I spiral into a tighter and tighter knot until something sooner than later has got to give.  Usually that something is my mental health.  Yep.  As my dear husband put it one day in reference to the fact that my two and only (so far) bike accidents have occurred while standing still–“Lisa, you don’t do nothing well.”  Amen and amen.

Most recently I have been filling some of my spare time with books.  And not just any books.  I have been bingeing on books that deal with mental health.  Funny books, serious books, medically correct books, hilarious anecdotal books, and so on.  (I’ll share a list of some of the best at the end of this post.)  The specifics have varied a great deal, but one truth has been lauded by all.  Too much empty time leads to a downhill turn.

“Get a job,” some may say.  “Volunteer,” say others.  Even “write a book” has been a common directive.  But none of those options has taken root.  I like the freedom my “freelance” life affords, and I’m blessed to be able to continue it.  I do volunteer and love the time I spend tutoring at the Adult Learning Center in my home town, but it only fills two mornings a week.  At least that’s all I’m willing to commit to right now.  “Write a book?”  Oh my my my … I feel the stress even as I type the words.  I know I am making excuses, but I seem to be stuck where I am on a roller coaster of anxiety with deep plunges into occasional depression and equally occasional moments of exhilarating epiphany.  (Don’t worry–not bipolar.  Just a little over-emotional.)

And so here I sit smack dab in the middle of what Daniel Smith in Monkey Mind calls “anxiety’s petri dish.”  Too much in my mind and not enough in my hands.  Freedom–my curse and blessing at the same time.

My Recent Reading List (in no particular order):

  • Monkey Mind, Daniel Smith
  • Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick
  • Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult
  • The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson
  • An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison
  • Hallucinations, Oliver Sacks
  • The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn R. Saks

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