I’m writing a self help book.

One of my friends who I made through Digitiser is one of those people who seems to really have their goals sorted. Imran, in his late 30s, is very successful in the creative arts and I must admit, when I first met him I was incredibly intimidated. People who are headstrong and focused make me feel inadequate, because my organisational skills are equivalent to a Filofax that just gets stuffed with receipts and then chucked in a drawer for five years.

He frequently sends me self affirmation texts, and links to videos which have helped him along his way. I struggle to watch them, as this is my usual train of thought:

SELF-HELP VIDEO: You are in control of your own destiny.

MY BRAIN: Oh shit, I’m fucked then. 

I can’t seem to consume any kind of self help video or book without feeling bad about myself for not being able to just function like a normal human being.

There was a book I bought a few years ago that really messed me up. I can’t remember exactly what it was called, and in any case I don’t want to bad-mouth it as it might work for some people. But it was basically a load of colourful pages that were supposed to give you that kick to stop procrastinating, I picked it up at WHSmiths on some kind of deal with a book called “how to be more confident”. The latter, incidentally, did frig all to help my confidence and ended up lining my rats’ cage.

Each page of this book would say something like “The pan is hot. Start cooking.” “Life is short. Don’t wait.” or simply the word “START.” in block capitals. Always with that full stop at the end, which pissed me off because that’s not even a sentence.

I leafed through the book, quite quickly because each page was just a few words or an inspirational quote, with my anxiety slowly going more and more mental. Why would you publish a book like this? Literally all it’s saying is “FUCKING START THE THING, JUST FUCKING START. DO IT.” But for people with anxiety, depression, or any kind of procrastination problems, it’s not the starting that’s the issue, is it? It’s knowing where to start, knowing how to start. Knowing why to start.

If you’re standing there at the bottom of a cliff, surrounded by all sorts of equipment and books of instructions, how is it going to be helpful for some lad to rock up and shout “START CLIMBING THE CLIFF. JUST START. JUST FUCKING GO. CLIMB THE CLIFF.”

Are you gonna grab the first bit of equipment you see and start trying to climb? What if you pick up a wet fish rather than a pickaxe? You start climbing and you fall down right away? All the time this knobhead is screaming “JUST START!”

I don’t know if anyone else with anxiety issues experiences this problem.

I talked about this to Imran, and also explained my rudimentary system for keeping my head above water – a series of post-its and drawings stuck on my wall. And he said – “make it into a book. Write a book.”

So, here I am, starting to write a book.

I’ve not got that far yet – I fully intend to include any and all traumatic incidents which have sculpted my mental health issues today, in the hope that anyone reading it may see some parallels with their own life. By doing my Octav1us channel, I have learned that there are a lot more people with these issues than I first thought – and only thing that’s stopping us from talking about it is a society-imposed sense of shame.

I can’t lift the shame for anyone. But I think I can help make it a little less heavy, perhaps?

Unsure of a title yet. I was thinking “Knobhead at the Cliff” but that might cause some issues. Plus it sounds like an erotic novel about mountain climbers.



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3 thoughts on “I’m writing a self help book.

  1. I think this is a wonderful idea, Sarah. I actually really enjoy your writing. I think you have quite a talent with words, and a making a map of how you have navigated your traumatic experiences could help you to understand yourself better.

    There are some experiences that you go through in life that never leave you. My first childhood memory is quite horrific. It didn’t seem so at the time, but it has persisted inside me. Then there are other things as you grow older that get trapped inside your mind.

    My one piece of advice about your book would be not to just make it about trauma. No human is completely shaped by trauma. We all have beautiful moments inside us that enriched our lives. It’s just harder to find those things inside because the traumatic events looms so large in all of us. Try to find the beautiful things inside too if you can, Sarah. It’s often so much harder to do that, I find.

  2. i hope you write your book. youre a very good writer and always keep me entertained. im glad you stopped smoking. i want a person as special as you to live as long as possible. my dad has copd and has been in the hospital on and off all year because he smoked most of his life.

  3. Just one idea: why not youtube videos instead of a book? I mean, there must be a million self help books out there. But youtube is your field! You have experience, you have your fan base… Think about it.
    I know how painful and OVERWHELMING can be a “regular life” for some people. And I mean “regular” when you don’t have cancer, or all your family has been killed by terrorist, or something like that, but you have some kind of “regular life” and still you can’t deal with it. I know because this january I am finally going to ask for professional help, something that I have been avoiding and DENYING all my life. I think that there is some kind of EMBARRASSMENT in accepting that you are that weak. I don’t know if that makes any sense. Sorry, I am rambling.
    BTW while I am writing this message, all the text is displayed capitalised. I don’t know why, I don’t have the caps lock stuck, I can not change it. It wasn’t intentional, I am not shouting. It must be a bug or SOMETHING. Sorry!

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