There’s a reason people share their personal journeys about depression with John Moe, whether it’s after he gives a speech or in his podcast. I frankly never heard of the eponymous podcast, nor of John Moe. I read a description of the book and saw it looked popular and grabbed the audible version to start on a car ride, thinking it would be humorous, like a Jenny Lawson book. And yes, Moe can certainly be witty, including in this book. But this is a family memoir and a roadmap for growing up in a traumatic environment, with serious depression and anxiety and what happens to people– many people, not just Moe — who make their way through life struggling, yet outwardly doing well — or those who make decisions that lead to poor relationships, self-medication, addiction, suicide, i.e., dangerous or destructive cycles arising from the desperation that comes with mental illness. In other words, this is about people who perceive everything through pain and negativity and insecurity but who often think it can’t be helped. I now have learned that Moe has been illuminating many celebrities’ mental health stories in his very popular podcast. Through this, he has helped many people recognize the fact they are not the only “Saddies” in the world, and that one’s experience of life can get better: many people’s mental illness can at least be managed. I’m not sure, personally, that there are “Normies.” I do personally know about having ADD and being treated as lazy and temperamental and difficult as a child, being sad and anxious always. I remember getting therapy from a psychiatrist at 17 and from various counselors after that. But I do not remember ever being given a diagnosis or hearing any comments from a single therapist about what depression is during my first twenty years of treatment for depression. The first guy told me I had a nervous breakdown. I suppose everyone else thought I KNEW I had major depression. Nope. I only knew I had a cluster of symptoms that made me nonfunctional. This book would have saved me SO much time in my mental health comprehension journey. (This book would have saved Moe so much time). Like Moe, I can recount significant successes from childhood through adulthood that outwardly suggest only a successful, happy life and, in my case, a picture book family. The thing is — I didn’t recognize my successes or happy times due to chronic depression. Like Moe, I tried many treatments and therapists, some with great success (including my current one). I experienced unexpected medication fails after years of good experiences (one current). I’ve learned a lot about handling flare-ups and continuing to use all the tools and support available to me while waiting for that recognizable feeling that my mood is improving, that people don’t hate me, that I am not a loser, that my panic over the laundry is a perception problem and it truly is not a big deal. I tell some of my story here because it is common. Moe nails a variety of ways people experience depression/anxiety/mental illness in a way that validates those of us who have experienced it but also, and importantly, in an accessible way that explains it to those who need or wish to educate themselves about what depressives perceive and feel in this world and what it takes to secure effective treatment and manage mental illness.
Published by Emily Leader
I have been an avid reader since Dick and Jane met Sally. At age 7, I read my parents' first edition of "To Kill a Mockingbird." I am a retired lawyer and so read almost only fiction for pleasure. I'm adding in nonfiction these days, largely on social justice matters but also history, biography, and weird topics that catch my imagination. I used to read only serially, one book at a time. Presently, I read paperbacks, hardcovers, listen to audible, listen to CDs and read online through Net Galley. Covid-19 has caused me to read a lot so I have re-upped my Goodreads challenge for 2021 and am starting to review at least my favorite finds annd, perhaps, some stinkers. View all posts by Emily Leader