If you’re depressed, sometimes it feels like you’re the only one going through it. Reading books about other peoples’ experiences with depression is a fantastic way to know you’re not alone, and get some good tips on dealing with depression.
Back From the Brink is a well written book devoted to real-life recovery stories, as well as rigorously analysing the bulk of treatment options. A large focus in the book is on people’s strength, what they did in a difficult situation and how they were able to beat depression.
Back from the Brink acknowledges the pain and the negative parts of depression, but doesn’t get weighed down by them. It practically unpacks the strategies that work for people and gently encourages a balanced and holistic approach to recovery and a cultivation of a life that not just survives but thrives.
Graeme Cowan has written two books for the Australian market – Back from the Brink and Back from the Brink Too. I’ve read them both multiple times both in good seasons and not so good seasons. The frank discussions with both everyday people and celebrities were eye-opening and spoke a language I could resonate with deeply. In spite of very different social worlds we occupied, the stories made me feel that these people were deeply part of my emotional family.
I’m glad to say that Back From the Brink continues the established form and expands upon it significantly. I found it a compelling and riveting read, full of great research and some penetrating insights by the interviewees.
It emphasises to keep active, eat well, have a balanced view of medication, don’t give up, cultivate gratitude and speak about your problems. It also offers excellent suggestions when it comes to finding the right career and work path, as well as navigating the tricky world of helping someone with depression. The book also charts the best course through the mental health system.
Back From the Brink powerfully promotes the destigmatisation of mental health conditions by building together a chorus of personal stories, some from some very well known figures such as former US Senator Patrick Kennedy, TV Show host Trish Goddard and former communications director to Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell. It covers the gamut of depressive disorders – post-partum, melancholic, bipolar, clinical – and unpacks and explores how in each case, often through much adversity and trail, each individual was able to come back from depression.
This book put the celebrity stories in perspective and underscores the fact that social class or status means nothing against the force of depression. You can’t incubate yourself against it with popularity, fame or career security. If anything, celebrities and high profile people often live more damaged lives emotionally because of the toll of public pressure and the mask wearing associated with fame.
Those of us who have actually lived with a mood disorder or mental illness have deep credibility when we tell others that they can get through it. – Lora Inman
Patrick Kennedy, a US senator and son of JFK’s brother, gives a riveting interview about the pressures of growing up in the dynasty. In the interview, Kennedy talks about being crucially mentored by a man who invested in him as a person and being shaped profoundly by that experience. Another fascinating interview was with former tennis star Cliff Richey, who had many demons in the closest and a fierce competitive will, often entangling themselves harshly through his life. Greg Montgomery explores the creeping darkness after a successful sports star hangs up his boots. Trish Goddard gives a candid and raw take on recovering from family heartache and forging a strong career as an independent woman.
These stories are very real and whilst reading them I found myself able to closely relate to the experiences and pain of the depressive episode they went through. The book closes with an important chapter where Graeme outlines the results of surveys for more than 4000 people and identifies four key issues people with depression need to consider:
- How to build a network that provides more compassion and emotional support.
- How to access great mental health professionals.
- How to find fulfilling work and
- How to incorporate exercise and other health-support activities into everyday life.
His analysis is sound, well thought out and written in careful language that can also cut through to the depressed ear and mind prone to wandering. Everything is digestible and reasonable.
Tools in this book will help map out a recovery plan, at the same time help you feel more human by these moving stories. Graeme’s mission is to help people thrive, not just survive. Reading this book will help anyone on that journey recovering from and beating depression. This book is highly recommended.
The book is available on Amazon here.