Review: There is no good card for this

There is no good card for this: what to say and do when life is scary, awful and unfair to the people you love
Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell

Books and articles on caring abound. This is the best I have ever read.

It feels like sharing a cup of tea with Kelsey and Emily, hearing their wisdom whilst looking at Emily’s Empathy cards.
Except it’s written, illustrated and professionally referenced.

They start from the expectation our first response is “uhh…wow. Let me know if there’s anything I can do?”
That we want to help but are not sure of the next step. Because we fear messing it up or it being a burden.

Both authors have extensive experience in messy life happening to them and their friends. Kelsey has an academic and clinical social work background and Emily launched her Empathy Cards after the isolation of her cancer experience.

Like all good persuasive writing it has three parts.

1. Laying some groundwork
what are you like
background unpacking of your motivations
learning postures of empathy

2. The three touchstones of showing up
your want to help equips you to help
the importance of listening
small things have big impact

3. Just help me not be a disaster
practical and clear case studies
the do’s and don’ts

What I loved:
– Kelsey and Emily’s work in unpacking the concept of compassion.
Compassion is to notice, feel and respond.
They discuss how to grow in compassion and how to act in compassion.

step by step conversation and action points (especially for when I’m feeling socially awkward)

no guilt. About the bad job you may have done in the past

no superhumans need apply. Their suggestions are actionable by everyone and do not require vast commitments of energy.

There is no good card for this:
gives clarity on motivation
develops empathy and compassion
and provides concrete actions.

Every person who cares about another person should read this book – that’s everyone!

Please borrow my copy, or buy your own.

Review: Marbles – Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me

Marbles – Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me

A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney



You have bipolar II. And then it was my 30th birthday.
Words – I needed words to explain, to understand, to cope.
But instead I found pictures as well. And they were even better.

Ellen’s memoir leapt into my hands. You have bipolar I, and then it was her 30th birthday.
I love it. Every few pages I see part of my own struggle expressed clearly, or notice a panel I want to share.

MA rating: sex, drugs, nudity, adult themes, heart wrenching truth.
My first reading gave me words and images to frame my own experience. My second reading gave me space to laugh and cry. My third reading gave me enduring wisdom and courage.


The first half chronicles the early years of her struggle:

  • trying medication
  • working out her moods
  • exploring her personality
  • adjusting her understanding of the past
  • figuring out how to speak with people.

The second half explores the link of creativity and bipolar.
Does stability prevent creativity?
Is balance a crushing of opportunity?
What about famous past creatives?

What did I learn?

  • I am not the craziest person.
    I have never had psychosis – that stuff is even more scary.
  • How to take a handful of pills in one swallow.
    Put some water in your mouth, throw in the pills and swallow. Fast, efficient and tasteless.
  • Articulating emotions and thoughts help process and tame them. Ellen provided easy descriptions for my catalogue.
  • Helpful ways to describe bipolar for friends and family
  • Supportive things other people can do
  • Stability is better than manic energy
  • There is still the funny and delight to be found in the mess

Thanks Ellen – I’ll be reading this again.