For one reason or another, a couple weeks ago I ended up buying a copy of Prof Paul Gilbert’s Overcoming Depression from an Oxfam book shop.

When I’d looked at the book before on Amazon Look inside preview, I’d found it condescending. I don’t remember quite why, as now I’m finding it reasonably readable and mostly friendly. I have a feeling it is more likely me who has changed, than the book itself!

That first impression this time came when I read the first I flipped to, which happened to be a chapter called, ‘Thoughts and Feelings’. Gilbert gives a quick example of how one might change thoughts in an everyday situation: that someone bumps into you and your initial reaction may be anger. But when you turn and see they have a white stick, that reaction may turn to sympathy and/or guilt etc. I don’t think I’ve had it shown to me so simply how it is actually a natural thing to do to change feelings and thoughts depending on your understanding of a situation, and that it doesn’t need to take superhuman abilities to understand something differently, or that changing a thought is only ever going to be superficial.

Another first impression is how I’m enjoying having my own copy of a book. For however many years I’ve been a student, I’ve always put up with borrowing books from libraries to not shell out for my own copies. Now I can make notes all over the page and margins in glittery gold pen if I like, and fold down as many corners of pages as I want, in origami fashion even! As a bonus, I get to see the previous owner’s underlinings too. At first I thought we had a lot in common and it would be strange to bump into them (I’m fairly sure this particular Oxfam has a small catchment area!), though we’d never know a way of identifying each other. In fact further into the book we’re not underlining and highlighting the same things so much.

This post (and subsequent ones as so far I’ve only got through the book’s first section) isn’t meant to be a review of any kind, it is simply me working my way through the book: at the end of the first chapter in the ‘Learning to Cope’ section, Gilbert suggests making a list of all the things in the chapter that are relevant to you. Also, as I’ve got notes scrawled across a lot of the pages in sheeny gold ink which is difficult to read in the best of lights, I think it will be useful to me to type them out anyway. I haven’t got that far yet, though!

 

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