A ‘let’s talk!’ book recommendation: Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard

download (4)Occasionally, here at The Terrace, we like to suggest books, films or programmes that we have enjoyed and which we think you will find interesting and thought-provoking. So today we have a review of Emotional Geology, written by Linda Gillard and available in paperback or on Kindle.

Following the lead character, Rose Leonard, as she runs from events in her troubled past to take refuge in  a small cottage on the island of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, the book is described as a  ‘passionate, off-beat love story’, but it is much more than that. It deals, in forthright terms, with the terrors of mental ill-health and Rose’s struggle to come to terms with her past. It examines the power of memory; discusses with great honesty what it means to be ‘mad’ and takes you to the very edge, literally, with descriptions of mountaineering that would put any non-adrenaline junky off the idea of climbing for life. In fact, mountaineering is a metaphor for Rose’s life in many respects, as she too has a tenuous hold on on the solidity of what passes for ‘normal’  life.

Another key theme is Rose’s love for textiles, and the stories that are woven in the fabric of the landscape translated into poetry and into her art works. Her art reflects her life and the new love offered by Calum, a fragile younger man. He is a poet who struggles with his own demons, and  their relationship, along with the difficulties Rose experiences in her role as mother to a troubled daughter, are central to the story.  But there is a real warmth at the heart of the book, as the community of North Uist embraces Rose and her work, and without giving too much away, offer her healing and a way forward.

Linda is the author of seven novels, but Emotional Geology is her first. She lives in the Scottish Highlands, and in Emotional Geology, the landscape of the Scottish island of North Uist is a key character in the story. She has a website www.lindagillard.co.uk and an author page on Facebook  at www.facebook.com/LindaGillardAuthor.

So do take a look. Emotional Geology is a book that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.

 

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Exam results: some quick tips to deal with the stress of results day & beyond

emoticons1Well today was the day for thousands of young people waiting for GCSE results, last week it was A and AS level results. Both can make or break ambitions for further education or training places. It can be a time of euphoria or despair and whatever the outcome it is important to take care of yourself, your friends and in a parent’s case, your children’s health and well-being.

Firstly, make sure you talk about your feelings, to friends, parents, carers. We have heard the tragic story of Robin Williams this week, an incredibly and naturally funny man who many never realised suffered terribly from the depression that caused him to take his own life. Lots of young people will not like to show their disappointment; will put on a brave face. If you know someone like this, encourage them to open up. It isn’t easy, but neither is it easy to admit you are struggling when those around you are celebrating your success. Just try to notice who may be missing….

If your results do not enable you to take your first choice place, consider your response carefully and know that this is a setback, not the end of the world. There are so many options available now and schools have counsellors available to help you through the maze of possibilities – one of which may not have previously occurred to you. Just because all your mates have gone to Uni it doesn’t mean you have to, but if you want to go through clearing don’t assume you won’t get onto a ‘good’ course. Many of the top universities still have places available, but don’t rush onto a course that may not be right for you. Perhaps an unplanned gap year will help you make a decision?

If you have done well and are planning a celebration, watch your alcohol intake. It may seem boring but at times like this people can make the wrong choices, placing themselves in danger just as their future seems so bright.

There are many other ways to help yourselves and those you care about and if you or anyone you know needs support go to www.youngminds.org.uk, www.mind.org.uk or  www.time-to-change.org.uk for example.

Take care of yourself. You have a long life ahead of you in which to achieve all manner of wonderful things. Whatever today has brought, it is just the beginning….

Dealing with anger in angry times (1)

angerDo you sometimes open a newspaper, or turn on the television and almost immediately feel your blood boil? Does the language used by politicians and presenters seem designed to raise your blood pressure? Does the shouting, drama and fear expressed in TV soaps or reality shows make you feel ‘on edge’?

Sometimes it seems we have become an angry nation. Some papers seem deliberately divisive; they blame immigrants, benefit claimants, bankers. At the weekend one paper used the headline  ‘NHS to fund sperm bank for lesbians: New generation of fatherless families… paid for by YOU’ above a piece that when read closely described a sperm bank that was also for heterosexual single women and couples. In fact it was a sperm bank for everyone to use, managed carefully to ensure those approaching it had thought carefully about starting a family, but the headline was deliberately inflammatory and designed to induce anger against a particular group. It is not a one off. Footballers get angry and bite other players; Jeremy Clarkson makes remarks about shooting striking nurses or uses racist language and claims his right of free speech; politicians continue to blame one another for the country’s problems and shout across the House at Prime Minister’s Question Time. Isn’t this all very unhealthy? What does it achieve and how does it spill over into our own lives?

We cannot necessarily influence what is said on the wider national stage, but we can ensure we deal with any feelings we have as individuals in a healthy way. We all have to deal with faceless call centre staff who seem to have gone on every ‘dealing with difficult people’ course available and are impervious to our frustration. Our friends and family don’t always agree with us, can hurt us:  bottling anger up can lead to explosive outbursts that can cause rifts in relationships, stress and feelings of guilt as we turn it in on ourselves.  So what should we do?

Psychotherapist Harriet Lerner has examined the impact of anger closely and has developed some key ‘do’s and don’ts’, and we particularly like the following coping strategies:

Speak up when an issue is important to you

People often say, when seeing someone in distress, to ‘let it go’. If someone says something hurtful, it is sometimes seen to be more mature to just let it be. But this is often the way bitterness and resentment sets in. In the long term it is better to make a stand when something is important to us.

Appreciate the fact that people are different

Different perspectives on an issue suggest there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the matter. People react in different ways, and to recognise that can be very liberating.

Don’t speak through a third party

‘So and so was upset when you didn’t turn up at her party’ could, if it has made you angry be phrased as ‘I was really unhappy that you didn’t find the time to come along, you were missed’. To use someone else’s assumed response is dishonest and avoids the real issues.

Next time we will look at who is actually responsible for the way we respond to an incident. Think about it – in the examples we started this piece with what should we do with our anger at casual rascism, the discrimination inherent in the sperm bank story or the behaviour of politicians? We can change our newspaper and turn off the television but avoiding the issues doesn’t make them disappear. If we are not dealing with our anger appropriately something else will inevitably take their place. …

The Terrace is hosting a ‘Shaping Anger’ workshop on 25th and 26th October. For more details go to What’s On.