Pillow book of a Manic Depressive


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Recovery through Mindfulness
By Anthony Peck

ISBN: 978-1-84991-338-6
Published: 2010
Pages: 188
Key Themes: mental health, manic depression, recovery, empowerment, spirituality



‘Pillow book of a Manic Depressive’ follows the style of medieval Japanese writers, who would keep a record of courtly life through their daily impressions, which they would then keep under their pillows. Taking a modern approach, the ‘Pillow book’ follows the impressions of the author in the year following an extreme manic episode, which saw him leap four floors and only barely survive. While his body repaired he was forced to slow down, take-in all that was immediately around him, and come to a place of peace and gratitude.

Unknowingly using the technique of Mindfulness, he was able to reflect on all the many facets of his life, and life in general. Written in a very simple way, each impression invites the reader to slow down and examine his or her own thoughts. While as a whole, the collection is a story of survival and recovery – as the author’s momentum towards good health becomes increasingly, if subtly, apparent.

From the stain left on a page by a bookmark, to the author’s catastrophic manic leap, to an old radio – the breadth of recollection is vast. And time to time, sprinkled throughout the book, are lists – of things you can break, things you can’t hide, things that you do but don’t know if they work – which pause to make you think what you as a reader might add or subtract. And to capture some of the deepest emotions, poetry is used.

There is also humour, and lots of it. Life is many things, and to someone suffering a mental illness, the comfort of laughter is one of the richest. This is not slapstick, but the warm recognition of truth, and the joy of a new perspective on old troubles.

Ultimately ‘Pillow book of a Manic Depressive’ is a window into one person’s recovery and mind. But it also attempts to open hope to all through its portrayal of the human spirit.

About the Author

Anthony Peck is a lifelong sufferer of Manic Depression, which wasn’t diagnosed until an extreme manic episode led to him leaping four floors from a building at the age of forty-five. Prior to that he had a very successful Advertising career, which saw him working in eight cities across four continents, creating work for some of the world’s most famous brands. He is a published poet and short story writer. And continues to take an interest in the Advertising world. Born in 1962, Anthony’s passions are writing, presenting and surfing. Since his diagnosis and its subsequent treatment, he has taken a deep interest in all aspects of mental health, from different types of therapy to the mental health service itself. As a patient, he brings a unique perspective and voice to the ongoing issues that face those with mental illness. And he looks forward to the time when all sufferers receive the treatment that will serve them best.

Book Extract


When I sat down to write this it was with no particular end in mind. I had just re-read Sei Shônagon’s pillow book and wondered what a twenty-first century pillow book might be like. In fifteenth century aristocratic Japan the reflections were on court life, the changing seasons, personal intrigues, manners. Through Sei Shonagan’s eyes and from her heart a picture is painted of her place and time that no regular history could capture. I thought it would be fun to see what a similar approach might reveal about today.

Besides, I had the time. I was recovering from a manic episode that had pretty much broken all of me. Plus I was coming to terms with my bi-polar diagnosis, receiving excellent treatment and guidance, and taking the time necessary to ensure a long happy life, with the ability to keep the beast under control.

Learning to adjust my thinking, and writing a book full of reflections, seemed to be a happy marriage. In a way they informed each other. My reflections kept me mindful of what I was thinking about. My therapy was given depth by the daily practice of that same mindfulness.

None of this was intentional, it just happened, and I never thought about it in this way at the time. Indeed, my understanding of Mindfulness as a specific therapeutic practice didn’t occur until well after finishing this book. I knew from therapy that I had to be constantly alert about my thoughts, especially those unhelpful ones that might trigger either a manic or depressive episode, but that was it. I put this down to the mind and body being instinctively knowledgeable about what they need to survive.

Mindfulness is simply stopping and being present in the moment. It’s not always easy to achieve, but when it is achieved it makes life more vivid. Mindfulness also comes with a heightened sense of gratitude, in a way that always thinking of either the past or the future doesn’t.

There are many good books on Mindfulness and many good counselors who can help you incorporate it into your life. This book, however, is not a ‘How To’, but an example of Mindfulness in action. Though created with no thought of a practical result, there was deliberateness in the writing to leave mental room for the reader to have their own Mindful reflections. So it’s the sort of book you can pick-up at any time, consider, then continue on your own path to recovery; with maybe a little extra hope on your side.

Some reflections talk directly to bi-polar, its symptoms and treatment. But the majority are simply thoughts that occurred to me as I gradually returned to health. The ruminations may be peculiar to me, but the subjects are able to be shared. In this way it hopefully has the benefit of group therapy, where you often learn more about yourself by listening to those around you.

Finally, I hope it occasionally makes you laugh. Therapy is often such a dry business, reaching deep into some of the most troubling aspects of our lives. I find being able to laugh at myself has made it easier.


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