October 22, 2017
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“Tools for Stability,” By Melva Freeman

By: Berniece Owen
August 11, 2017

Melva Freeman shared a table with me and some friends recently at an informal lunch. I had not spoken with her previously although I knew she lived in the same apartment complex, we were neighbors. The building limits residents to persons who are at least 50 years old – an adult community in other words. A few days later our paths crossed again and Melva asked me to take a look at a book she had written. I agreed to do so, although I mostly read fiction and history. This review is the result.

It takes ingenuity and dedication to produce a self-help book like this. Melva Freeman has an ample supply of both. In this guide Melva has pieced together useful tools from her own experience with bi-polar disease. Then she added some down-to-earth discussion notes gleaned from fellow persons with bi-polar and from professionals in medicine or related fields.

Melva’s chapter headings guide her readers to the key areas she wants to highlight from her experience: “Stress,” “Anger,” “Medical Help,” “In the World,” “Information List,” and “Conclusion.” Throughout she focuses on mental health as her primary discussion point, rather than on the symptoms of mental disease.  

Melva first describes her own experience with emotional upsets.  For years she faced problems without a formal diagnosis of mental illness. In fact, one of the psychiatrists she saw denied that she had an illness. So she had to find her own way to solutions. She talks about achieving mental health with tools that are readily available. For example, laughter, an uncluttered living space, music, sleep, how to save money when shopping and in general, avoiding debt by learning to distinguish needs from wants.

A significant stress point may be a roommate. It seems obvious to say that space, clutter, sounds, and habits generally can be barriers to mental health, but Melva notes that people may be oblivious to the problems that are clear to their friends and

family. She recommends a formal, written roommate agreement that covers potentially stressful behaviors.

With a separate chapter on anger, Melva addresses constructive versus destructive anger. Throughout she draws on her personal experiences to illustrate the tools most useful for achieving stability in her life.  She encourages her readers to use them.

Melva explains that she has conducted workshops on stress and anger with some success. Individuals who benefited from her advice urged her to write a book in order to address a larger audience. This book reaches out to those potential readers.  She uses a straight forward, conversational style.  She covers her topic in seven short chapters modeling her message after the twelve steps that Alcoholics Anonymous has used for many years.

She tells her audience to keep working toward health using the simple steps she outlines. “Don’t give up!” is her favorite advice. Readers can find Melva on the internet: a search on her name yields several relevant web sites. I encourage you to take a look at this book for some very useful and personal advice on dealing with difficult experiences that affect mental well-being.