I’m rather fond of Susan Calman; she makes me laugh and has always seemed like a genuinely lovely person. I was a bit surprised by the title of the book ‘Cheer up Love’ when it caught my attention in the corner of my eye, because I absolutely hate that expression. However on getting a bit closer I saw that the full title of the book is ‘Cheer up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate’, and I immediately forgave her when I realised using that phrase would have a point. I even picked up the copy of the book (and not just because it was a signed copy either) without reading the blurb.
I really like this book. It is an incredibly honest, sometimes hilarious account, of Susan Calman’s ‘adventures’ (the word ‘battle’ is more apt in my experience) with depression, which she calls The Crab of Hate. I have read books by people in the past about depression, but this the first time I’ve ever been able to read a one fully, because let’s be honest they are usually depressing. Somehow, this wonderfully witty woman has managed to write about depression and I’ve been left with a smile on my face.
She has managed to make understanding what it can be like to have depression and anxiety incredibly accessible. It isn’t easy to talk about having depression or any other mental health problem, and I know this from experience. I mention it frequently on this blog, but don’t for a second be fooled into thinking it is easy to do so. I have agonised over posts for days, especially in my Book (Re)Writing series.
To write an entire book is nothing short of heroic, for which I thank Susan Calman a great deal.
It has not been the easiest of times lately for me, and this book came along at a good point. I needed to be reminded that I’m not alone, not only in having mental health issues, but also in being re-assured that others like to arrive in a timely fashion for appointments and trains etc. I call it ‘Departure Anxiety’ and no-one yet has managed to convince me that I’m leaving too much time to get to places; it was nice to hear Susan Calman has a similar attitude.
And that short paragraph near the end of the book, is one of many things that I took away from this book. One small bit of reassurance that I am not the only one. I will admit that on the whole I generally have a different experience with depression than Susan Calman, but that isn’t the point of the book. It is one person’s experience of a mental health condition; it is not a be all and end all description of what it is like for everyone. This is her experience, but what you can take from it is a great deal of empathy, maybe a few points here or there that are the same.
I highly recommend it to any one who has suffered or is suffering, because she understands, and that is an incredibly important notion. She understands and does not dismiss what you are going through. I also recommend it to anyone who hasn’t suffered, because if you do need to understand; it will help you be better at being supportive.
It is not a guide on depression nor a cure, but it is an important book.