Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Review: This is How

I am a big of Augusten Burroughs. I am also a big fan of self-help books, though I probably shouldn't have publicly admitted that. (It's mostly in the same way I really love reading organization blogs. They make me happy and excited while I envision a magical, oh-so-possible world, but my organization skills have yet to move one iota in the right direction. Same with imagining the more effective-productive-happy-assertive-etc self I could so easily become as I read the self help books. I feel happy and excited as I read, but I remain pretty much the same old self.) 

(I'm pretty sure the previous parenthetical rant made me look a little worse, rather than the better I was going for.)

Anyway, Augusten (I've apparently decided that we are on a first-name basis!) has written a whopper of a self-help book. Using his usual witty style, he gives concise and very direct advice to people in all kinds of situations from the very pragmatic (getting a job, losing weight, riding in an elevator, etc.) to the very traumatic (eating disorders, addiction, suicide, grief, etc.) to the deep-metaphysical-profound. He may not appear to be "qualified" to give this kind of advice, but overall I think this is some of the best advice out there for a lot of these issues. Plus, there are moments of comic relief!

The reason for my discussing this book on this MS blog is that one of the chapters is called How to Be Sick, and it's pretty good. The major theme of the chapter is VERY applicable for people with MS and for people with loved ones with MS - worrying about what might come next is always worse than whatever is happening in the present moment.
"Once you're in it, it's okay."
Sure "it" can be pretty awful, but "it" is never as bad as the imagining-it-in-advance part is. So, Augusten suggests adopting a "Pay as You Go" model. "What affects you now is what you deal with now." Don't pay now for what you're going to have to pay for in the future, or what you might never have to pay at all.

"Your disease will inform of what to worry about, when."

I also enjoy his pointing out of the importance of naps and snacks:
"Knowledge is important but naps are more important. The details of treatment are often confusing. Cheese is easy to understand. Eat cheese."
There is actually quite a bit of good meat to this chapter, and I recommend reading it. And the rest of the book. Especially if you are like me and enjoy both Augusten (or other searingly witty autobiographical essayists) and self-help tomes.

1 comment:

Traci said...

Ha! Love the naps and snacks quote.