Recommendations: The "I Will Survive" Edition
May 12, 2011 7:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for book and/or movie recommendations that portray survival during the (emotional) worst case scenario that in reality, isn't all that bad.

I am anxiety ridden, pretty much constantly, mostly about my relationship. After many times being burned, I'm having serious trust issues and severe anxiety about stuff that is either in my imagination or out of my control. Clearly therapy would be a good idea, and I'm trying to work my way up to it. But in the meantime, I find it helpful to see/read stories about people who go through something pretty devastating and come out just fine. Not looking for happy endings or promises for a bright future, just "hey, that sucked, but I know I'll be okay."

The closest example I can think of at the moment is Under the Tuscan Sun -- things go bad left and right and she doesn't get exactly what she wants but learns to be happy with what she gets (ignoring the potential love interest at the end). What I'm not really looking for is truly devastating situations...Sophie's Choice is far, far beyond anything I'm coping with, obviously.

p.s. I did search but if I missed a previous question that is similar, please feel free to chastise/link me.
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I feel "She's Come Undone" fits your criteria. A lot of bad/unfair things happen to the main character, but her own responses to these events wind up harming her far worse. It was a painful read because she's not always a sympathetic character.
posted by hermitosis at 7:37 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's hardly high literature but Slightly Single definitely fits the bill here. The main character suffers from anxiety, too. It has a shocking review on Amazon but this was the first book I thought of - no 'happy ever after' ending, just that she knows she'll be fine.
posted by rubbish bin night at 7:37 AM on May 12, 2011

Also, "White Oleander."
posted by hermitosis at 7:38 AM on May 12, 2011

It's a happy ending, of sorts, but for some reason the movie "Once" came to mind when describing your situation -- although when re-reading your post, it doesn't exactly fit, the two characters start in a bad place and go through goodness but end up not entirely where you'd expect and... well, just see it because it's an awesome movie and is a lot more complicate in what it says about human emotions than any other similarly light hearted fare (but it free of the devastation you obviously don't need... though to be honest, I'm not sure I'd be equipped to ever deal with the person that says "you know what my life needs now...MORE Sophie's Choice!" :)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:59 AM on May 12, 2011

The Weatherman is a wildly underrated movie about this kind of thing. It's about an anxiety-ridden neurotic who gradually, and with difficulty, realizes that things are, if not OK, at least basically under control. It's a great movie for a number of reasons, but one of the best things about it is how satisfyingly realistic the ending is.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:09 AM on May 12, 2011

I think Greenberg fits your description.
posted by pwally at 8:33 AM on May 12, 2011

Brokeback Mountain?
posted by Melismata at 8:50 AM on May 12, 2011

Living out Loud is more of an "after the break-up" movie, but it's a good one.
posted by travertina at 10:13 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

The entire Texasville series of books by Larry McMurtry (The Last Picture Show, Texasville, Duane's Depressed, When The Light Goes, Rhino Ranch), but particularly Duane's Depressed--though you really need to read the first two first. There's a lot of just life packed into those books, which in places are quite hilarious, a lot of which is facing what you expect to be the hardest emotional trial ever, and then it's over, and all that life is still going on. I've never seen any of the movies (well, I've seen Last Picture Show, but it was filmed before Texasville was published). The writing is very human.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:05 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Watermelon (Marian Keyes) and Echoes (Maeve Binchy) are engaging reads about intelligent, sympathetic women who learn to cope after their lives go sideways for a while. Watermelon has more light moments than Echoes.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:40 PM on May 12, 2011

It's been a long time since I've read it, and it might be a little sadder than you need, but I think Of Human Bondage might fit your bill. It's beautifully written and the things it says about love, mainly that sometimes we have no choice but to let go of the person we think we should be with, might be just what you need right now. You'll probably cry a little in the middle (I've cried each time I've read it) but the ending is lovely and sweet.
posted by alittlecloser at 2:51 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

ooh this made me think of Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down. If you read the plot summary quickly it may put you off because of the "attempted suicide" theme but have no fear, if you're familiar with Hornby you know it's not going to be depressing at all. In fact, it's really funny and charming and genuinely life-affirming, in a non patronizing way. It cheered me up lots.
posted by bitteschoen at 2:54 PM on May 12, 2011

Came in here to (also) say "She's Come Undone." I was so affected by this book when I read it during a very hard time in my life that I seriously credit it (and Prozac) with helping me out of a suicidal depression. It was so well-written from the feminine point of view that I thought to myself, "If Delores can live through all of that, I can survive this."
posted by thebrokedown at 3:23 PM on May 12, 2011

Dodie Smith's I Capture The Castle is a great book and I think might be up your alley. And I second Marian Keyes, although I'd also suggest her book The Other Side of the Story, which is terrific.
posted by pie ninja at 4:17 PM on May 12, 2011

In Her Shoes? Both the book and the movie were quite well done, aren't too depressing but aren't shallow despite the veneer of "chick-lit", and are different enough from each other to be worth the time to read and to watch.
posted by flex at 6:30 PM on May 12, 2011

Seconding "Duane's Depressed."
posted by Lizzle at 11:15 AM on May 13, 2011

This is maybe silly, but the movie Bridesmaids (just came out in theaters a couple days ago) really fits. The main character loses her job, her apartment, her best friend, and a budding relationship, and ends up in situations ranging from minor embarrassments to epic humiliations - due to a mix of bad luck and her own neuroses and fears - but ultimately manages to begin to turn things around. It's part chick flick and part gross-out comedy, but it also has a real heart. My boyfriend said he found it really reassuring. Plus you could get out and go to the movies, which I always find a pick-me-up.
posted by naoko at 12:18 PM on May 15, 2011

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