There’s much talk of mental health these days and a plethora of books on the topic to go with it. Singing in the Rain offers a unique and practical take on the issue, acting as a ‘wellbeing workbook’ with all sorts of useful things you can do each day. There are chapters on everything from eating for calm to dressing to change your mood, getting up early and more. Here author Rachel Kelly explains how she used her personal experience to create the book:
‘When I was in my thirties, I suffered two severe depressive episodes that left me suicidal. As I’ve slowly got better, I’ve benefitted from experts, be they psychiatrists dispensing medication or therapists listening to my woes.
But there’s been a third, more recent leg on the stool of my recovery that finds me calm and well at 53: a belief in my own agency. Feeling passive and a victim, and powerless to do anything about my condition, was part of being depressed. The more I discovered my ability to take action, the better I felt.
This insight is the basis for my current approach to managing my own mental health. Every day I remind myself that I can make a difference. This begins as soon as I wake.
The first thing I do is to make my bed, the white duvet perfectly aligned and my pillows plumped. A small gesture to be sure, but one that reminds me that if I take control of small decisions in this way I will feel my own power to affect larger decisions.
In addition, I can take care with the language I use. Instead of saying ‘I’m at the mercy of my depression’ I might say ‘I can choose how to respond to my low mood’. Or rather than ‘I can’t deal with this stress and worry’, I might say ‘I can’t deal with this stress and worry yet.’
My approach has evolved with the help of many others, both mental health nurses, psychiatrists, therapists and psychologists, but also those who come to my wellbeing workshops. The result has been Singing in the Rain, a workbook full of practical stuff you can do for your wellbeing, whether that’s listing your strengths, cooking with your mental health in mind, using visualisations or composing a poem to process difficult feelings. I can guarantee you will feel empowered, though you may not end up singing like Gene Kelly.’
Rachel Kelly is a writer, mental health campaigner and ambassador for Rethink Mental Illness and Sane. Singing in the Rain, her fourth book was published in January 2019 by Short Books.