Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

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What do you do when it’s all going down? In times when it seems as if nothing’s ever gonna get better. When it appears that whatever you do is taking you deeper into the dungeon of despair? 

I’ve been there. Trust me. I tried and used different methods to get myself out of the darkness, and many of them helped me tremendously in getting back to normal, functional daily life. From simple everyday walks in early mornings through therapy and intensive physical training with a personal trainer to expanding my knowledge with new hobbies, then a new career and yoga. There was one constant that was part of all the methods that I used and the one that I enjoyed the most, reading. 

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

Reading for me is a go-to activity through thick and thin. If I’m down, I will look for an escape in books, either by exploring a new subject to give my mind a different focus or just by diving into a new world opposite of mine. If I’m happy, I’ll expand my TBR list with new purchases and pick a new read in excitement. 

I used to read fiction exclusively in my spare time, but in the past few years, I discovered a whole new world of non-fiction and developed a tremendous love for memoirs and autobiographies in particular. Many of them picked me rather than the other way around, I dare to say. Somehow, the timing appeared to be just right to come across a book that described what I was going through but also showed me that there is that famous light at the end of a tunnel. A book that soothes the scars and lifts up in times of blues. 

I picked out my favourite 10 that inspired me, carried me into the next day and pushed me to take another step. Here they are in no particular order. 

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. A mind-blowing account of facing death and becoming a father at the same time. It’s a beautifully written memoir that combines science, language and literature. Inspirational and heartbreaking.

I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell. The subtitle of the memoir is Seventeen Brushes with Death, and it’s a collection of seventeen near-death experiences in an extraordinary life of the author. 

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Before he had a stroke, Bauby was editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine and a father of two children. After the stoke, he ended up in a 20-day long coma and woke up with a lock-in syndrome able to blink his left eye only. That is how he dictated this book.  

Living With the Dead Language by Ann Patty. If you are like me, a lover of Latin language and literature and memoirs then this is a perfect book for you. The story of self-discovering and redefining life purpose combined with good humour, honesty and beautiful writing will teach and entertain you. 

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. A memoir in books of a teacher and her seven dedicated students that tells a story of the power of literature and resilience in the times of revolution, censorship and denying freedom in Iran. 

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Together with Reading Lolita in Tehran, this memoir is on my list not only because I am fascinated with that part of the world but because, although different, both are testimonies to resilience, wisdom and strength in difficult times. Persepolis is a graphic memoir with a tremendous amount of humour and heartbreak. 

Reach for the Sky by Paul Brickhill. Published in 1954, this story of Douglas Bader is an inspirational account about an RAF pilot who had it all in 1931. Then, one December morning after an air crash, Bader lost both of his legs but and had to learn to walk again. He served as a fighter pilot in the Second World War.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. A memoir that is trying to make sense of a time when one faces an unexplained illness of a child and a sudden death of partner after 40 years of life together, all at the same time. Honest and powerful. 

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. A multilayered and innovative memoir about taming Mabel, a goshawk and liberating self in the times of grief after the author lost her father. 

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Insightful and hilarious, this is a collection of essays about moving to France, learning the language, eating in restaurants and many more. 

So, there! I gave you some ideas and added more to your to-be-read list. If you’re anything like me, it’s probably a neverending one.

Have you read any of the books on my list? If not, what one would you pick?

What do you do in the times of blues? What is the one thing that makes you feel better instantly? 

Let me know in the comments box or get in touch with me.

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment
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How I Gave up Hate to Recreate Myself

alt="Biljana Hutchinson recreation"

 

A friend of mine asked me once, ‘Don’t you hate?’ and I said, ‘No.’ I gave up hate. I had to. It was the only reasonable thing for me to do to raise my children as decent human beings. The only sensible thing for me to do to be able to raise my children as decent human beings.

I hated. I did, with passion everything that was connected in any sense with the place where the attack happened. The country, its people, its food, mementoes, the memories, I hated it all. Dozens of scarves that I bought there, rugs, books, I gave away almost all of them. I believed that I’d never wear or use them again and I hadn’t, for a long while.

 

Initially, I was busy with grief, guilt and rage.

 

The time stopped. My little universe was shattered into thousands of pieces, and I was in a complete dark. Dungeon. Pitch-black all over and all I could do was feel my way around searching for something. A light, a twinkle of hope that somehow I was just stuck in a terrible nightmare and that I needed to wake up. Somebody had to wake me up. I WILL wake up! There is no other way!

Then, I went through the surgery. It gave me the initial push to start moving again and reach out of the dungeon. I went through the physical recovery, physiotherapy and I despised it because I had to be among other people, speak to them, answer their questions, pretend that I cared about what they said when I didn’t.

I hated it all, and I hated myself.

 

The time passed. Life started happening again.

 

alt= Biljana Hutchinson Embryo
Farewell gift from a family friend before we moved back to the UK. ‘Embryo’ to me.

 

I travelled, started a relationship and joined my efforts in recovery with my soon to be husband. We were there for each other in every way. Able to understand and support one another, to leave each other in peace and silence when we needed it. I’m the silent type while my husband is a talker. It was a bit of an awkward match at the beginning, mainly because I had the notorious passive-aggressive approach to personal relationship matters for most of my life. It took me a terrorist attack to break that cycle too. (Yup, you got it, I learn the hard way).

Anyway, my soon to be husband and I had a lot more going for us, so the differences between silent vs talkative type were not a dealbreaker. Our relationship was the front line against the cycles of misery, rage and hate that both of us created for ourselves respectively.

 

‘I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.’ – Booker T. Washington

 

I am not a hater. My parents didn’t raise me that way. Hate is unnatural and uncomfortable feeling for me.  Yet, I felt it and wore it without thinking of it too much. What burst the hate bubble was a week of another emotional earthquake that shook me only eight months after the attack.

We set a date for our wedding, and although I hadn’t had a great relationship with my dad, I was still excited to share the news with him. I knew the news would make him happy and it did. Dad started making plans straight away. Two days later, he called me back, but I missed his call. Another two days and my soon to be husband and I found out I was pregnant with our first child. The following morning my dad passed away. I never returned his call.

Although the relationship I had with my dad was weak and shaky as we rarely saw each other and we didn’t really talk much, certainly it was far from hate. The news I received was sudden, unexpected and devastating and one thing that it did was deepen my feeling of guilt.

All I could think of were good memories I had with my dad growing up. The thick snow on the ground, big beautiful snowflakes quietly falling while my dad is pulling the sledge explaining the nature to me. How we collected conkers together for my school assignment while dad talked about chestnut trees and answered my questions about anything and everything. How we chose books to buy and talked about them after reading them together…

As a contrast, a memory of us sitting on the roof during the attack became a constant. We were sweating, sitting on the tiled floor in the blood puddle, listening to the noise of bullets and RPGs. A helicopter that was sent to extract us had to pull out because the shooting in and around the house intensified. We could only wait as we had in the previous few hours. My husband now sat next to me with tourniquet high up on his arm but still bleeding. We were all quiet when he put his hand on mine,

– We gonna get out of here, you know.

– I know – I said, thinking – No, we won’t…

We went quiet again and just sat there. I felt as if I were detached from my body sitting on top of the water tower, watching us in pain and fear but calm, tired and waiting. The day was bright and hot. Mum… Would I see her again, have coffee with her or laugh with her again? When was the last time I told her I loved her?

Going through all these files of memories when my dad passed away unlocked the door that I shut tight and chained after the attack. Plus, pregnant?! I’m going to have a baby! We’re going to have a baby! It felt as if the missing piece were put in the right place in the puzzle and the whole puzzle illuminated, revived me. I felt ready to get up, brush my teeth and start the day.

 

‘A baby is not the answer.’

 

Broken relationships cannot be patched-up with babies, we know that, but this was different (how many times have you heard that?). I never thought I’d say this, but the baby was an answer. It patched-up broken relationship between myself and I. At the time, I was nervous, worried, insecure and although I said after the attack that I’d never have children, the knowledge of the new life that we created rekindled me. It was the best surprise ever – there is a new life within me that bears my new self.

As if I pulled the curtains and opened the window, the light was back in, and I took a deep breath of fresh air. I could see my life in a perspective again. The road opened up ahead of me, and I could stop going in circles now. It was the time for me to focus my energy on creating and nourishing my new life instead of hating the old one.

The only reasonable thing for me to do was to give up hate. I had no energy or time for it anymore, and it was not an option. ‘New’ was the word of the day, and we decided to live it. Nothing represents the New better than the change of environment, so we changed countries and distanced ourselves from our triggers.

 

I gave up hate to recreate myself and build a new life for us.

 

We closed the first book in a series and opened the second one. The clean sheet before us, quill in hand.

 

Photo: ‘Embryo’ by Bisa Jelisavac. Farewell gift from a family friend before we moved back to the UK.