“Feeling Great” – How to help yourself during these difficult times

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Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

“Feeling Great” by David Burns, M.D. is a book for now.

In 1982 my life changed for the worst.  I loved my life on Long Island, had a great job with Clairol (working as a sales manager for 6 years), had a group of wonderful and fun friends, my kids were happy, we had a great little home, 1 dog, 3 cats, a turtle and a bird.  As small as the house was, we were all loving life.  I finished the basement so we could have live-in help (which, at that time cost me $60 a week!).

David Burns, M.D.

My husband was offered a job transfer. We were asked to move to Michigan.  Those years ago, men’s jobs took priority and we had little choice.

We moved into a huge home in a fancy neighborhood.  I left my job, friends, little home, wonderful life for a move that felt quite strange for me.  Here is a New York gal (along with my accent) learning that a hero is really a hoagie and soda is actually pop.  And, no one drove foreign cars.  My Toyota tires were slashed twice.

I also left a friend who was dying of liver cancer.  She was 36 with a 4-year-old son.  She died 4 days after my move.  I flew back to New York for the funeral.  I hadn’t even begun to think about unpacking.  It was a tragic day for many of us, never forgotten to this day.

Upon returning to Michigan, with the economy in shambles, I went on many job interviews.  Mostly, I was told after getting to the finals, “New Yorker’s were too aggressive for this job;” a job I had been doing successfully for 6 years.  My kids didn’t love school.  Things were very different for them.

There was a lot of pressure and depression.  I absorbed it all.  On the outside, no one would know.  One day, when I was getting out of bed in the morning, my heart was beating so fast I couldn’t catch my breath.  I was nauseas.  I was dizzy.  I felt weak and helpless.  I couldn’t get out of bed.

I had one friend at that time.  She was a therapist.  We called her and she immediately sent me to her doctor.  He ran glucose tests to see if my blood sugar dropped, blood tests and whatever he felt was appropriate.  Nothing.  I wasn’t sick, not physically anyway.

I couldn’t get dressed and went to doctor in my pajamas.  I came back, crawled into bed and after many other ‘professional opinions,’ I was diagnosed with ‘a nervous breakdown.’  Me, the aggressive, funny, friendly, likeable person was depressed.  How could that be?

I knew nothing about depression and was constantly told by my mother to ‘cheer up.’  I was lost and my family was losing the ‘me’ they knew.

I then began to pass out when I attempted to leave the house.  So, I didn’t and became agoraphobic.

As many clinically depressed people would tell you they’d rather break an arm or leg than ‘break their brain.’

I began to see a therapist for the first time in my life.   One day, I went to the bookstore (a trip out of the house was scary), and found, FEELING GOOD – THE NEW MOOD THERAPY, BY DR. DAVID. D. BURNS, M.D.  As I flipped through the pages, I saw the word, ‘depression’ many times.  This book was not only extremely helpful, but it was a Gift from God.   I read most of it in the bookstore and absorbed every word.  It was 1982, almost forty years ago.  It was my personal bible.  It sits on a special shelf in my home.

Three years and three months after moving to Michigan we all moved back to Long Island.  It was 1985. 

I was only 38 years old.

The move was difficult. There was more adjustment to being ‘back home.’  Very little was the same.  I had no job, knew no one in the neighborhood and my husband, who quit his job for the move, had no work either.  I had my FEELING GOOD book.

The challenge seemed unsurmountable.  Several years after I came across the Good Doctor, Dr. Burns, on the Barnes and Noble bookshelf. THE FEELING GOOD HANDBOOK WAS SITTING THERE WAITING FOR ME.  I kept FEELING GOOD always beside me and now, I had a workbook so I could not only relearn strategies for depression and anxiety but I had homework.  I still have that book, sitting beside me as I write this review.

It’s the year 2020.  I am 73 years old.  A mother of a 52-year-old and 48-year-old, with 4 grandchildren.

Life has become challenging for the world.  For each and every one of us.  Day in and day out is another anxiety about Covid-19.  We have been essentially indoors since the middle of March and haven’t seen family or been able to hug anyone.  I am a hugger.

I am a journalist, but by trade I am a Gerontologist, working with families who have a loved one with Dementia.  It’s challenging at the least.  I’ve learned a lot of strategies from Dr. Burns.

Today is October 2, 2020.  President Trump and Melania have just been tested positive for Covid-19.

Everyone’s scared and anxious and the older people, such as me, are feeling this way almost all the time.

At this time, there is no cure but something very helpful.

Here comes DR. DAVID D. BURNS, M.D. with his brand-new book, FEELING GREAT.  It’s not a matter of ‘if’ you should buy this book, it’s a matter of ‘when.’

Dr. Burns speaks to his readers on a very understandable level.  No matter what you are feeling you can relate to his book.  It will help you to start changing your life in ways that will help you to reduce your anxiety and moods, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anger, frustration.  It will give you practical, user-friendly tools to help you feel better.  You will learn about CBT.  COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY – A psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health.  CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, helping with specific coping strategies.

In plain English, FEELING GREAT is a book that you will forever cherish.  This book should be in every home, especially during these difficult and challenging times.

DAVID D. BURNS, MD, is currently Adjunct Clinical Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine. More than 50,000 mental health professionals have attended his workshops for mental health professionals throughout the United States and Canada. His weekly Feeling Good Podcast (two million downloads) provide therapists and the general public alike with tips to overcome depression, anxiety, relationship conflicts, and habits and addiction. To learn more, visit “Feeling Great

To order the book

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for not only sharing your review of an extremely important and timely book, but for also sharing your own challenges you courageously faced throughout your life.
    So many of us are seeking ways to cope and trying to remain as positive as we can during these difficult times. The book and your story are great reminders we can still find hopefulness and take good care of ourselves.

  2. Thank you for posting your story. I was very connected to your story especially the part about becoming agoraphobic at one point of your life – as I am there now. From vertigo- to panic attacks – agoraphobia. I am pretty much housebound. Can you share more about your recovery from agoraphobia. Its a topic that many do not understand or can relate too. Or you can email me directly.

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