Reviewed – On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety

At a family reunion last summer, I was shocked to learn that we had anxiety problems on every branch of our family tree. Second cousins who’d never met had lengthy school absences because they were too anxious to attend classes. Nieces and nephews made limiting life choices based on fears of getting a job or perusing higher education. Recognizing the impact of anxiety on my extended family was sad and sobering.

I think that’s why I appreciated On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen. She had her first panic attack as a college student in 1989 and has battled anxiety throughout her life. This book is part memoir, part mental health history, and part science of medication and a cure. Petersen’s grandmother was a 39-year-old Wisconsin housewife when she tried to set fire to her three young children while they slept. She lived most of her remaining life in a mental institution.

Much of the treatment for anxiety uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (essentially changing your thoughts about an anxious situation and forcing yourself to do it anyway). I found it especially interesting that there are now interventions for preschoolers to teach them how to cope with anxiety. This approach encourages bravery and taking small steps toward goals, versus letting the children quit an activity because they are afraid.

This book will be of interest to anyone with anxiety or who has loved ones who suffer.

Reviewed – Your Life Can Be Better, Using Strategies for Adult ADD/ADHD

I read this book when researching an article on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I do not have ADHD, but I know many people who do. The author is a prominent psychiatrist with ADHD and understands the challenges both personally and professionally.

This book is well-written in a friendly tone with short, understandable chapters. As the title indicates, the book is totally focused on strategies that make living with ADHD easier. The author suggests identifying a problem, developing a strategy, making the strategy a rule, and then making the rule a habit. One of his first examples is that his keys always go on a specific table. It is now a habit and he no longer loses his keys.

The author includes several interviews and case studies about how to cope with ADHD. One of my favorite was a gentleman who carries a folded piece of paper in his pocket. Each quarter page is labeled as follows:

1. Things to do today

2. Appointments

3. Calls to Make

4. Ideas to Remember

I really enjoyed this book. It helped me understand the challenges of a person with ADHD. It also provided several strategies for getting organized that can be beneficial to everyone.

Reviewed – The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People

You are likely an empath if you grew up being told you were too sensitive and needed to toughen up. (Spoiler alert: this is me!)

The author describes the difference between ordinary empathy and being an empath in this way: “Ordinary empathy means our heart goes out to another person when they are going through a difficult period … or during times of joy. As an empath, however, we actually sense other people’s emotions, energy and physical symptoms in our bodies… Empaths feel things first, then think, which is the opposite of how most people function in our over intellectualized society.” (pg 5)

The purpose of the book is to describe the experience of being an empath, and then to teach empaths self-care strategies. Chapters include how to manage at work (including how to choose an empath-friendly job), in relationships (the ideal types of partners), and how to raise sensitive children.

Not all of the book will be applicable to everyone. However it gave some great strategies for coping with sensitivities. I believe it will also help people recognize that being an empath is a gift and not something they need to change.

Reviewed – The Art of Social War: A Novel

I may be the only person who hasn’t read The Art of War by Sun Tzu, so some of the parallels of this story were lost on me. Public relations maven Stacey Knight and her husband Jamey move from New York City to Los Angeles, where Jamey will serve as CEO to a movie studio. Much of this book is a “fish out of water” tale as Stacey adjusts to West Coast living.

The former movie studio head is a big fan of The Art of War, and the Art of Social War follows the same format. Eventually Stacey gets tired of being bullied by the ex-CEO and uses The Art of War to get revenge. The story line was interesting and quite clever. As I said, I think I would have appreciated it more if I was a bigger fan of The Art of War.