Book – I was excited for the recent release of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist & Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb and am happy to report that the book exceeded my expectations.
Lori explores her personal experiences from the point of view of as therapist and patient. The concept of therapists seeking therapy for themselves was one I had never before considered. This prompted me to question how we, as a society view therapists. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is insightful, deep, thought-provoking and shows therapists in a different light. At the base we are all human beings, but as a people who pay others to provide a service, she demonstrates a unique lens in which to view therapists. Lori also shares stories about the work she did with patients, which includes humorous narration when describing her true feelings of an especially difficult patient. I find the therapist-patient relationship particularly fascinating and enjoyed reading all of the experiences Lori had to share.
She begins the book leading up to a devastatingly unexpected breakup, which ultimately leads her to seek out a therapist when she hits the breaking point. The order of events are easy to follow, as she switched between the present and past narratives. Learning about her career path and the events that ultimately led her to become a therapist, is a journey of seeking and discovery we may all relate to. Her story on this is enlightening. Lori is a relatable author and readers will find at least one aspect to connect with in Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.
Book List – There is a variety of self-help books concerning mental health. Memoirs are my favorite genre, featuring real stories from real people who share their raw experiences with mental illness. The following books explore anxiety through memoirs.
Okay Fine Whatever: The Year I Went From Being Afraid of Everything to Only Being Afraid of Most Things by Courtenay Hameister
In her memoir of goals, the author challenges herself to attack her fears face to face – an admirable task to take on, in a year. I was particularly interested in the chapter on using a Sensory Deprivation “Float” Tank – an adventurous activity, especially for the claustrophobic. Hameister’s writing can come across as crude, due to her bluntness of storytelling, but I enjoyed how she narrated her inner monologue with each new experience. The book concentrates on fear, which I feel is strongly related to anxiety and the fear that prevents us from venturing into new and terrifying futures and endeavors.
Little Panic : Dispatches From an Anxious Life by Amanda Stern
The author’s memoir details her childhood growing up with anxiety and worry. I enjoyed reading of Amanda’s experiences, but also found them stress-inducing. Plagued by daily panic that her mother will suddenly die, or forget her own daughter exists, Stern lives in constant fear that everyone she loves might suddenly leave her. As a child of divorce, she is also caught between two conflicting worlds: that of the bohemian, free-spirited life with her mother and the strict, cold sterile environment with her father. I appreciate her honest and detailed narration, growing up a child fearing that her whole world could fall apart in an instant.
Other related books include: On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen, and Hi Anxiety: Life With a Bad Case of Nerves by Kat Kinsman.
Book – It started with a bed bug infestation. Susannah Cahalan was convinced that they had overtaken her apartment, even though the exterminator could not confirm a single insect. Otherwise, things were going well. At just 24, her career as a reporter was advancing at the New York Post, she had a great boyfriend, and supportive parents. But suddenly, she began developing mysterious symptoms and started letting things slip at her job. She started experiencing memory loss, paranoia, and catatonia. She was hospitalized for a month at a great expense, seeing numerous specialists, going through a barrage of tests, and given inconclusive diagnoses.
She recounts all of this for us in this fascinating memoir. Her skill as a journalist is apparent in her writing, because she has almost no recollection at all what she experienced right before and during her hospitalization. She compiled her engaging account of events from stories from her colleagues, friends, family, and medical records. Her severe psychosis was also documented in a journal that her parents kept.
One extraordinary doctor, Souhel Najjar finally determined that she had a very rare autoimmune disease called anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis. Her brain was on fire. Luckily, it was treatable and Susannah slowly recovered and was back at work within a year.
The author compares her symptoms to what must have appeared through history as demonic possession and wonders how many suffered and were persecuted for the same disease.
A great page turning medical thriller.