All day every working day I sit with brave people who suffer from one form or another of severe mental illness. For the past several weeks one particularly depressed woman and I have faced each other for an hour a week she letting go and giving up and I coaxing and cajoling her to hang on for just another week.
The other day I decided to stop coaxing and stop cajoling and instead just visit and hope that taking a break from the often intensity of individual therapy might do more for her spirit than all of my other best efforts.
For the first several minutes we sat in silence. Finally I asked her if she liked to read. I like to read so it seemed a reasonable question to ask someone else.
Her face lit up and she said that she like a good mystery. I asked her if she had ever read any of the Alex Cross books by James Patterson. I don't know why I chose that particular fictional detective/psychologist or that particular author. I could have chosen the indefatigable Alex Delaware or even my own favorite Kay Scarpetta. But without rhyme, reason, or even thought I chose Alex Cross.
Her face brightened. Come to find out she had read all of the Alex Cross books and was eagerly awaiting the new one coming out in a couple of weeks. She was able to tell me how Alex got the third child. She frowned when I explained that I hadn't read the books in order nor had I read them all and so was confused on many details. She even told me about Nana's health crisis which I hadn't known about but will doubtless discover when I pick up another of the series.
We spoke for all of the scheduled session, she doing most of the talking and smiling most of that time.
Books can change lives and give meaning to them.
My new best therapy tool -- books.