Published November 21st 2016 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Full title: We’re All Mad Here: The No-Nonsense Guide to Living with Social Anxiety
Author: Claire Eastham
Genre: Non-fiction, mental health, self-help
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Come on, you can do this.”
Anxiety is a crafty shapeshifter that can take on many forms: the tiger that sinks its claws in with physical symptoms and distressing thoughts, the cruel and belittling bully creating insecurity and self-doubt and, worst of all, the frenemy rewarding avoidance of social situations with no physical symptoms, no cruel thoughts… and no life beyond your sofa!
This complete guide to beating social anxiety covers everything from school, university and work, through to surviving social media and making it through parties and dates (whilst actually enjoying them!) With honest insights about her own social anxiety and a healthy dose of humour, popular blogger Claire Eastham describes what social anxiety is, why it happens, and how you can lessen its effects with medication, lifestyle choices, talking therapies or even a hug from your favourite canine friend!
If only this book had been around when I was a teenager, or when I was at college. It’s exactly the sort of guide that is needed at that stage in our lives, when we don’t quite understand what is going on in our heads and why.
I might have got help sooner, or realised that I had anxiety (or even a few depressive episodes) bubbling away under the surface. It might have made me feel a bit less alone, or given me the understanding and clarity that I needed so much at that age.
However, my story worked itself out, and I’ve still come to this book even at the grand age of 23. Reading it was still useful and insightful, and I learnt some new things and became more aware of other things like natural alternatives to medication (something that I’ll be looking into over the next few months).
Most of the actual stuff about anxiety, and about therapy to help with it, I knew from my own experiences with having Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but Claire presents coping mechanisms and techniques in a fun, more understandable way. She’s on just the right level to be relatable, trustworthy and knowledgeable without distancing herself. You feel like she’s a friend who’s given you her handbook on how to deal with anxiety.
She tells you her own personal story too, which means the book isn’t just all about the ins and outs of anxiety, you actually get the human side of it. She is able to pass on her own experiences and what she has learnt with a retrospective look at how social anxiety affected her life up until the point of writing. Yet, she is still learning, still living with anxiety and still blogging about it, and this makes her tone all the more comforting.
She offers tips on food, side-effects of medication, therapy, drinking alcohol, dating and relationships…in fact, all the areas you could want covering are covered. Not all of them may relate to your own experiences, but this is a guide and so you’re not forced to read it front to back. You can pick and choose, or look up a section e.g. Medication that you want to know more about, and just read that. It’s an easy and accessible guide.
My only criticism is a petty one. To buy, this book is £12.99. And when reading, I found more than a few mistakes (missed words in sentences mostly). And considering the author works in publishing, I don’t know how this book was signed off with such mistakes still inside! Like I say, petty, but these things matter.
For a young person who may just be getting to know their mental health and what this means, this could be an invaluable guide, and if you’re a parent with a socially anxious teenager, I’d buy them this book. I wish I’d had it when I was 13!