Sunday, November 15, 2015

Depression and Reading

Well, I'm sure you have noticed a long hiatus on the blog. It's not the first time it has happened and it probably won't be the last time. I have to admit that while I've spoken about my fertility problems on the blog I haven't much discussed the fact that I have depression. 

I was diagnosed in first year of university and I can remember not being motivated to go to class at all for an entire 2 months. I was given some medication without much discussion of alternative options and being naive I took the pills. They were horrible. I became an insomniac and I just didn't feel like myself. They helped me to get out of a funk but as soon as my refills were done I quit them cold turkey. I would not recommend this to anyone. I had side effects and withdrawal symptoms for at least a month. Since then I have tried to manage my depression with exercise, walking, and not staying cooped up in the house for too long. This summer I did a very good job of staving it off. I took the summer to do what I wanted to do or to do the things that I kept saying I would do during the summer while I was off. I hiked, went canoeing along the canal, went camping, did yoga and bootcamp at Parliament Hill and I took up running. Things were going incredibly well and my reading was on point. I was reading everything I could during the summer and I was listening to audiobooks as I walked. 

Then September hit and well my motivation became a little bit less little by little. My class this year is a bit more challenging than previous years and this made it difficult to manage stress. D and I also began our IVF (invitro fertilization) journey. We started a cycle and unfortunately it was cancelled before we even got to the egg retrieval process. Apparently my body is just as stubborn as I am and the drugs were not doing what they were supposed to be doing. I should say that IVF is our last chance at having children. We have been in limbo for far too long so we always said that we would try once and then move on with our life and try to be happy regardless of the outcome. It felt like we got cheated out of our attempt. We have since decided that we will try one more time. With all of this going on, I have been finding myself very unmotivated to do anything. This includes reading and blogging. I have contemplated quitting blogging altogether but every time I do I cringe because that would mean leaving something I ultimately enjoy doing and also leaving the community. I love being a part of the community. I love sharing what I love and talking about books and adding to my never ending TBR. 

I did have to sit down and make some decisions though. My TBR is slightly out of control. Yes, yes I know that we all have insane TBRs but when I say out of control I'd approximate I have no less than 800 books here on my shelves sitting unread. I have made the choice to read what I want to read. I will no longer be accepting ARCs unless it's something that I have wanted for a long time and that I can guarantee that I will read before the release date. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all publishers who still do not have reviews for the books they sent me. I just haven't been able to find the energy or motivation to read. I have been walking around like a zombie trying to pretend to be my normal self. I do promise that they will get read but they will get read and reviewed as I am able to do so. My focus for the next six months at least is to not bring many books into my home. I will not promise never to go to the bookstore and buy books because we all know this is slightly ridiculous for me but I will promise not to buy multiple books just because they look kind of interesting. I will be reading from my shelves and I want to see how many books I can cull this way. 

I also want to read what I feel like reading at the time. If it's a YA contemporary great. If it's an adult literary fiction novel, great. I will be reviewing what I read as much as possible. 

I am hoping that you my fellow readers will bare with me while I try to keep my depression at bay. It's frustrating for me but I must fight ahead and do what I can. Thank you for your continued support over Twitter and via comments. They mean more to me than you can know. 

Happy Reading! 

ARC Review: Smoke by Catherine McKenzie

Publisher: Lake Union
Publishing Date: October 20th, 2015
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Pages: 370 pgs
ISBN: 9781503945654
Source: Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:
From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.

After a decade-long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in for a quieter life with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce, and when a fire started in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.

For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation.

As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved. 

My Review:

I have loved every Catherine McKenzie book that I have read. She definitely doesn't follow a formula when it comes to her writing and each book is distinct in premise and cast of characters. When I was contacted to review this book I couldn't resist and I was not disappointed. Smoke takes place in a mountain community after a long dry summer. Unfortunately a huge forest fire takes hold and Elizabeth, a resident of the community, is called in to investigate the origin of the fire. The novel flips back and forth between two different perspectives. One being Elizabeth and the other being Mindy, Elizabeth's ex-best friend, who is dealing with her disconnected teenage son.
This story is part mystery and part family drama. We are trying to figure out who set the fire and how it came about but we are also drawn into Elizabeth's relationship with her husband. The two are trying to navigate through some tough times and essentially they are trying to determine whether they should get divorced or not. Some of this is due to fertility issues. I will admit that this is part of the reason I really liked this book. As someone going through fertility issues I can tell you that it puts a tremendous strain on your personal relationships. It also causes you to question many things about yourself and where you see yourself in the future. It is a case of expectations not matching reality and this can be emotionally exhausting. I think that McKenzie was able to fully convey this through her protagonist's thoughts and actions in this novel. I tip my hat off to the author because it's not a topic that is often tackled. In fact, I recently went through my bookstore trying to find novels that deal with this very topic and I find it extremely difficult to find anything. I went as far as searching on Goodreads for lists of novels about fertility issues. This did not bring back many options. It is treated like a dirty little secret and I applaud McKenzie for bringing light to this.
I enjoyed the characters in the book but at times I found myself less interested in what Mindy was doing. I wish that I had seen a little more of her relationship with her son. I wanted to get into his head more than I wanted to get into Mindy's head. Elizabeth was my favorite because I could relate to her and I understood her motives. I understood her trying to push her husband away by asking for a divorce (not a spoiler- this literally happens in the first few pages). I could understand trying to find a balance between her passion for fire fighting and her love of her family.
Overall, I thought this was a well written novel that was hard for me to read at times. It's definitely worth a read.