Shoot the Damn Dog - A Review

Gardening is my passion. So is good food. I love to cook. There are few things I like more than to feed my friends.
I am, in all these ways, blessed.
I am also a depressive.
It doesn’t quote fit, does it?
— Sally Brampton

I have become obsessed with learning more about depression.I need more information, I must better understand the workings of it. I need more and more. I don't want to be alone. So when someone I followed posted about this book - Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression by Sally Brampton, I ordered it in from the library. A week before it was due I finally picked it up. It was not an easy read. At the time of reading it I was consistently waking up between 4 and 5 am. Something not normal for me. Normal is 9 am. Normal is snoozing the alarm clock ten times. Normal is no longer apparent. The book is deeply depressing and oddly uplifting. As I've said before I am self diagnosed. Which means there's a whole sections of this book that I can not relate too - her time in rehab, her alcoholism, her divorces or child. However I am thankful for that shared outlook. I don't know what the months ahead of me will be like and the more I know the better I can prepare. 

People generally think of a nervous breakdown as a sudden, cataclysmic event rather than the gradual erosion of a person, a slow and sad disintegration of a human being... This is madness writ large; this is a breakdown of dramatic force but for most they happen, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
— Sally Brampton

This has always been my thought. That mental health was this sudden out of nowhere smash into the wall. I now know that, that is far from accurate. There are warning signs, cries for help long before it ever gets to that point. We have been trained to overlook them, pretend it doesn't exist and shame those making those cries. Mental health needs to be a topic, awareness needs to remove the shame. For me, that's reading and writing my thoughts. Sally Brampton goes into some detail about her past. She explains past behaviors of herself and her family and works out how it effected her behavior and emotional state. I am sure that through her therapy she broke it down into so much better detail. To better understand the past allows you to adjust for the future. It's something I've been doing for ages, what I didn't realize was how big that was in healing. Even though I have always felt so much better after sharing it. 

The chapter after discussing her family is called "Who Am I" and hit really close to home for me. I have changed so much since we moved to Madison. Going back to visit with friends is stressing me out. How can I be the new person I am? How can that person be accepted, when those I love have barely met this person? 

Shoot the Damn Dog is a good and depressing read. I took my time reading it, I skipped sections that I couldn't relate to (alcoholism), and feel like I have come a way with better knowledge surrounding suicidal thoughts (please note, I have no had suicidal thoughts, it was just a good look into how that works). 

One of my favorite lines came from when she was talking about yoga

It taught me, too about acceptance, in that in order to do yoga well, you have to accept the body just as it is with all its kinks and pains and strains and awkward bits. It taught me to be gentler with myself (something, I believe, that every depressive needs to learn) and to encourage, rather than push, my body to perform in new and unexpected ways. It taught me that it was fear, or rigid and habitual thinking, that made me believe that I would never achieve a headstand or be able to do a handstand. If our minds can hold us back, then they can push us forwards too.
— Sally Brampton

And lastly, these lines give me hope. Hope that I can continue to build up the success I have found through my healing process. 

There is a saying, “it’s never too late to have a happy childhood”. I’d rephrase that. I’d say ,it’s never too late to stop a difficult childhood from turning us into unhappy adults.
— Sally Brampton