In the last few months, I’ve:
- moved to a new country, where I know no one but my husband
- left the job (and friends!) I had for nearly five years and started a new one
- spent several days sitting next to my grandma at the hospital while Grandpa (successfully) fought a series of potentially deadly illnesses
- started planning a work trip to Ethiopia
- finished rewriting a novel
- built a new website for myself.
While all of these things – except Grandpa’s brush with mortality – are exciting new adventures, they also come with lashings of stress. Last week, the stress finally caught up with me, and I had a bad anxiety attack.
I found myself waking up at 1am several days in a row, panicked, struggling to breathe, and obsessively composing emails in my mind. I completely lost my appetite for food and coffee – something that’s only ever happened when I had the flu. I was so weepy that I started crying when I was walking through a store and “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” came on because I was suddenly heartbroken over Patrick Swayze’s death.
Worst of all, I felt terribly guilty about it. My heart kept telling me “You’re being ridiculous. You’re so lucky. Millions of people are facing actual tragedies.” But my body and brain kept freaking out.
I even found myself accidentally walking down one of my town’s two red light streets (yes, we’re a small Dutch town, so we don’t have enough prostitutes to occupy a full district) and saw a bored-looking middle-aged woman wearing a poorly fitting teddy, sitting in a window behind a row of dildos. “That could be you,” I told myself. “Your work doesn’t involve real dildos, so get over yourself.”
My husband has been amazing as I had what must’ve looked like a complete meltdown; he’s been honest, blunt and compassionate at the same time.
I’m finally feeling back to my old self, after a weekend of talking with friends and family who experience similar issues. Reaching out to them was hugely important, as was finding ways to distract my mind and help it find a happy place while I regained my equilibrium. When I started to recover, I knew I needed to take a few days to let myself relax, and I scanned my TBR pile to find a comforting read.
Kristan Higgins was exactly what I needed. Kristan’s novels are hilarious and poignant at the same time. They’re as much about having a strong, supportive community as they are about finding the right man.
Kristan Higgins is often my go-to gal when I’m stressed or anxious. Last week, she had to work extra hard to make me feel better, but Catch of the Day ended up being just what I needed.
The heroine, Maggie, owns a diner in a small coastal Maine town. She’s slightly jealous of her twin sister’s wonderful family life. She’s also in love with a young Irish priest.
Catch of the Day follows Maggie as she goes on the disastrous dates her priest sets her up on, takes care of the people (and dog) she loves, and discovers that the grumpy lobsterman Malone has a hell of a lot more to offer than scowls.
I was feeling fragile anyway, and some of the things Maggie goes through had me crying in places. But by the end, Kristan had worked her magic and I felt more optimistic than I had all week. That’s the power of a Kristan Higgins novel.
(P.S. A huge thank-you to Janet Webb for giving me Catch of the Day in the first place. I totally owe you.)
(P.P.S This week, contemporary romance author Amie Denman is giving away her novel Her Lucky Catch – and if you like Kristan Higgins’s books I think you’ll love Amie’s, too.)
What authors do you turn to when you need a pick-me-up? Who helps you find a happy place?
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