Help can come in all shapes and sizes.
There can be a tendency sometimes, when you’re in a tough place, to ignore the simplest of solutions to a problem.
With the case of disabilities, it can bee too easy to dismiss solutions which seem trite, glib or seemingly shallow. Most Brtish people are relatively aware of basic Psychology, can see a lecture coming a mile off and will roll their eyes at the slightest sniff of condescension.
Listed below are a few of the things that helped me out whilst I was struggling. They cover a wide range of mediums and might not help you in the same way, but they’re always there for me in my time of need:
French Films might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this movie grabbed me particularly at a time when I needed some real inspiration. Although they might be speaking a different language, the message of the movies is universal. A well off gentleman, wheel-chair bound after a paragliding accident, is supported by a French-Algerian man with no experience of care work.
I’d be surprised if most people haven’t heard of this one. It’s a classic tale of survival and determination that sees Tom Hanks’ FedEx employee stranded on a desert island with only his undelivered packages and a volleyball to keep him company. Although most people remember the movie for Tom Hanks’ convincing performance, as a man totally alone, it’s also a great example of the power of the individual to overcome great odds.
Lost In Translation
The final film on this list is a movie that some may not enjoy. Bill Murray, in a typically deadpan performance, is an ageing Hollywood star who meets Scarlett Johansson’s Charlotte (a Philosophy graduate recently married to a successful photographer) in a hotel in Tokyo. Both characters, although in committed relationships, find themselves feeling isolated in their personal lives, these feelings are amplified by their alien surroundings.
Understandably, Music is even more of a subjective topic than Film. I often found that listening to purposefully ‘happy’ or ‘upbeat’ music would only serve to anger me. It may well be different to someone else. For my part, I soon discovered that listening to slightly more sombre music or tunes that brought back old memories – had a better effect on my psyche.
The go-to ‘mopey’ band of the 90s, they have more emotional range than they are often given credit for. Although I enjoy all their records, the last three that they released are probably them most modern and accessible.
My mother used to play Joni Mitchell songs on the piano to me as a child. Hearing Blue and Clouds, whilst I was recovering from surgery were real comforts to me. A soulful singer with a light touch and carefree soul, Joni’s music is as soothing as it is sorrowful.
A bit more alternative, Future Islands have been playing their soulful electro-pop music for the last 10 years. Although you can draw parallels between them and moodier bands such as Joy Division and The Cure, they’re really a great deal more optimistic than their influences. Eschewing moody shoe gazing for heartfelt, chest beating sincerity.
Whilst you’re stuck in bed, or simply don’t have the energy to move, it’s good to keep your mind active. Although you could put your spare time into learning a new language, or getting caught up on your History, Fiction can often be more of a comfort to your mind.
Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar
Just like music, sometimes it can be a good idea to engage with works that deal with depression, in order to gain a greater understanding of the subject. Plath’s semi-autobiographical book is short but not too sweet. Reflecting the struggle with depression that she experienced as a younger woman (and would later cause her to take her own life), The Bell Jar is a bleakly comic novel on the isolating effects of depression.
J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit
Nostalgia and fantasy can be a potent remedy to sadness. The Hobbit was the story of my childhood, and one that most are familiar with. It still makes for a wonderful read and espouses wholesome morals of pushing one’s personal boundaries. Bilbo’s story is quintessentially British, a stuffy, set in his ways middle aged man is forced into taking an adventure – one that he could never have imagined taking. A story for children that can offer a fantastical relief to adult’s who choose to read it.
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath
If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, then Steinbeck’s near-500 page Biblical epic could be the book to fill your spare time with. Another story of overcoming adversity – this is a book deeply rooted in Depression Era America. Filled with charming characters, with the American Dream coming under attack from left, right and centre – this is a book that takes no prisoners. At it’s heart, it’s a road story told focusing on a well-meaning family, looking for a place to live.