A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind is a memoir about a girl with bipolar who spent years trying – and failing – to cope with her symptoms. Emily was diagnosed in her early 20s and spent many years trying to understand how to live with the diagnosis. She knew something was wrong even before being diagnosed; she couldn’t get any doctors to believe her.
This memoir is both hilarious and moving. Emily makes light-hearted jokes throughout the book and is brutally honest about her life’s experiences. She doesn’t shy away from talking about the tough topics. There’s a whole chapter dedicated to self-harm/suicide and how they enveloped her life and worsened her condition.
“But whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is that I was miserable all of the time. ‘Sad’ doesn’t quite capture how I felt – ‘sad’ is melancholic. Sad is soft. Sad is gentle. Sad is looking out of a window wistfully. What I felt was more vicious than that.”
Emily wrote this book because she couldn’t find a self-help book that actually helped her cope with her symptoms and she wanted something she could pass on to others.
A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind is a candid exploration of mental illness. Unflinching and brutally honest, Emily Reynolds has detailed exactly how depression affected her life. She dedicates a chapter to self-care and how she didn’t possess any, harming herself in her bed and then sleeping in bloodied sheets. Emily had empty wine bottles all over the floor, and used a cheese grater as a spoon because she didn’t own any cutlery. Sanitary products cost money and would require her to leave her apartment to buy them, so she didn’t, and she rarely showered.
This is an incredibly brave memoir about navigating mental health, but it’s also a fantastic resource for any reader struggling with it themselves. After the end of every chapter, some of which focus on education, relationships and self-harm, Emily gives advice for anyone going through the same thing. And even though I’m not the target audience for that section of each chapter, the advice seems reasonable and practical. She wrote it because all the self-help books that she read gave impractical advice that didn’t really help her. So, she wrote this book in the hope that she might be able to pass her knowledge on to anyone else struggling with depression.
“Empathy can’t – or shouldn’t – be limitless; there’s a point in which you really should stop making excuses for other people’s shitty actions.”
This benefits readers who want to understand what mental illness is like and how it can affect a person’s life, in case they have a loved one going through it and needing help. Emily talks about her family, and she offers advice to those who may have a loved one going through depression. She advises them to be a listening ear because there’s no quick or easy fix to that person’s condition. You need to be patient and understanding and not bully or judge the person for their condition.
I loved this book so much and devoured it in one sitting. It’s shocking, hilarious, eye-opening but also extremely well written. This is the book you should pick up if you’re interested in gaining more insight into mental illness.
Thank you to Hachette Publishers for sending me a review copy of this title.
A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind