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  • Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes

    Review of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genees by Therese Borchard

    My rating of the book: 5/5 (Excellent!)

    This self-help memoir is the most enjoyable and personable self-help book I have read on the subject of depression and anxiety. The book has just been released, and I have been really looking forward to reading it after following the author's blog of the same title.

    If you like Therese Borchard's blog, you will love her book. For those who don't already know, Therese's blog "Beyond Blue" is one of the most candid, helpful blogs on overcoming depression and anxiety. As with her blog, Therese is very open and candid in this book, which reads more like a conversation over coffee than a prescription of self-help advice. And she includes insights she has gathered over the years from various people, including psychiatrists, therapists, and other authors.

    The book is both practical and uplifting, and it exceeds at what it sets out to do: "My sincere intention for Beyond Blue is that anyone who struggles with anxiety or depression--even in the slightest way--might find a companion in me, some consolation in the incredibly personal details of my story, and a bit of hope to lighten an often dark and lonely place." For me, Therese hits a home run when she uses her humorous anecdotes to address and help allay the self-doubt, guilt, stigma, and other forms of shame experienced with depression and anxiety.

    At less than $15, the book is a small price to pay for Therese's hard-won insights that are fun and easy to read. I would recommend this book as a perfect supplement to Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns, who Therese also mentions in the book. Based on the helpfulness of Beyond Blue, I have already preordered the author's next book due out in April: The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit.

    An online preview of Beyond Blue is available from the publisher but may require a little patience to navigate.

    Table of Contents:

    Self-help "sanity breaks" interspersed throughout the book:

    9 Ways to Stop Obsessing
    The Prison of Perfectionism
    11 Ways You Know You're an Addict
    Love the Questions
    30 Ways Motherhood is Like Mental Illness
    How I Met My Guardian Angel
    They Just Don't Get It
    Dear Kate: It Will Get Better
    On Perseverance
    Guilt: My Confirmation Name
    Jesus Says to Chill Out
    Love Her: My New Mantra
    Four Steps to Better Boundaries
    Use Your Words
    On Marrying a Head Case

    Some of the reviews from the back cover:

    "It's a clinician's dream to recommend a resource with such honest and accessible wisdom, research, and guidance from someone who has endured depression firsthand. Beyond Blue is the most even-handed account of overcoming depression through psychological and spiritual resources I've ever seen."
    Ryan Howes, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist and author of the "In Therapy" blog for Psychology Today

    "This is a rare and invaluable book for its raw, lyrical honesty, for its tender compassion, and for its biting humor. But what's most remarkable is the breadth and depth of Borchard's view on the beast of depression, and how she manages to look at the problem through so many lenses--biological, holistic, spiritual, and day-to-day nitty-gritty. Beyond Blue is a revelation, big-minded and big-hearted, full of succor, concrete advice, and inspiration."
    Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of Lincoln's Melancholy

    "Not every book about depression makes you laugh out loud, but Therese Borchard manages to be both funny and searingly honest. Think Kay Redfield Jamison laced with Anne Lamott."
    Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes started by Daniel View original post
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Daniel's Avatar
      Daniel -
      Writing "Beyond Blue": Keeping My End of the Bargain
      by Therese Borchard

      I'm a tad over hearing about how depression and other mood disorders are yuppie diseases for folks with the time and resources to ruminate and obsess. I could do without all the advice on how to transform my thoughts into happy campers, even as I try every mindfulness strategy and cognitive-behavioral trick in the book. And I'd like to, one day, be able to tell family and friends the truth when they ask the predicable question, "How are you?"

      We need to understand something important.

      Depression kills

      It killed my godmother—my mom's younger sister—at the tender age of 43. It kills approximately 800,000 people across the globe every year. Suicide takes more lives than traffic accidents, lung disease, and AIDs, and it is the second leading cause of death in females aged 15 to 40. By 2020, depression is expected to be the second most debilitating disease worldwide.

      But if you don't care about those stats, let me tell you this: Depression nearly killed me. For two years after the birth of my youngest child, I was a suicidal mess. The worst part about it? Unlike a cancer victim, I had to keep it all to myself. I wasn't able to utter a word to the outside world.

      Because I had already been judged plenty.

      Well-intentioned people said I wasn't eating organically, that I wasn't doing the right yoga, that I should be praying harder, and that my meditation attempts were lame. They told me to get over my childhood crap and move on, to buck up like the rest of the population. So I continued to fall into my cereal bowl every morning, to carry with me a paper bag for imminent panic attacks, to lock myself and my kids into the restroom of a Starbucks until my meltdown subsided, and to pull over onto the side of the road whenever I started to shake.

      After trying 23 medication combinations, working with 7 psychiatrists, participating in two inpatient hospital psychiatric programs, and attempting every alternative therapy out there, I made a bargain with God.

      "I will dedicate the rest of my life to helping people who suffer from mood disorders," I promised, "if I ever wake up and want to be alive."

      Miraculously that day did come… the morning I woke up and thought about coffee.

      So here I am. With my mission: to educate folks about mental illness and to offer support to those who, like myself, suffer from mood disorders.

      That's why I wrote Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes.

      So that others might find a seed of hope in my story, and be able to hang on for one day longer. So that anyone who struggles with anxiety or depression—even in the slightest way—might find a companion in me, some consolation in the incredibly personal details of my story, and a bit of hope to lighten and often dark and lonely place.

      It's about my end of the bargain.
    1. Daniel's Avatar
      Daniel -

    1. Daniel's Avatar
      Daniel -
    1. JennyS's Avatar
      JennyS -
      When will there be a DNA test that can give a person a heads up on depression?
      Or is there one?
    1. Daniel's Avatar
      Daniel -
      I do find the title of the book potentially problematic because people with depression tend to already blame their genes for their depression. So one of my therapists a few years ago tried to challenge by beliefs about genetic destiny.

      But to answer your question, at least at this point, any genetic testing for genes associated with depression would be basically worthless.
    1. Daniel's Avatar
      Daniel -
      The author's point about genes is that it helps to underscore that depression is an organic disease, not something that one can just snap out of:

      Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression ... - Therese J. Borchard - Google Books