‘Mental illness feels to me like a loss of the self. If everything you care about, everything you love and value, no longer feels meaningful to you, what is life for?’
A few weeks ago I was walking through Euston train station and my attention was drawn to the bright yellow cover and the words ‘Sh*t Therapist’ displayed on this book. It engaged my inner curiosity immediately, as I’ve had bad experiences with therapists in the past (but thankfully I’ve also had some good ones). I had to purchase this book and it’s been sitting on my Kindle ever since but I finally got around to reading it last week. It was the book that I never knew I needed to read right now, but I’m so grateful that I did.
My Sh*t Therapist: & Other Mental Health Stories is the first book publication by Michelle Thomas. In 2015 she made headlines with her blog when she published a post describing an incident where she was being body-shamed after a first date (It’s a really great post, read it here). In this book, Michelle describes her own experiences with mental illness, dating back to her first depressive episode in 2013. She discusses multiple aspects of her life relating to her mental health in ten separate chapters, from her initial diagnosis to her current home life. I found this book strangely refreshing, she presents information in a light hearted way and tackles some pretty dark subjects using her humour beautifully. I found her voice throughout the book both engaging and reassuring. But alongside the laughs, there was some really good advice and guidance of where to get support which I think will be of a huge help to some readers.
I personally found this book so dearly relatable. I’ve read a couple of mental health books but have struggled to engage with what the author talks about. With this book, I had personally gone through so much of what Michelle describes, including her experiences of reconnecting with old friends and how this isn’t always the best thing to do for your mental health. The book discusses the struggle faced by many individuals in their twenties, where there is a pressure to do it all and to do it all now. Me being 29 myself, I connected with this section of the book so much and it made me feel a little more at ease that I didn’t have my life all sorted out yet.
As well as Michelle’s story, there are stories of experiences written by members of Michelles online community. At the end of each chapter, Michelle asks her community a question such as how their mental health has changed over the period of their lives. Reading the communities answers was so enlightening and really made this book feel like it was a part of something bigger, like we were all in this together. It was comforting and inspirational to read the experiences and advice of others.
Overall, I’m so glad that I read this book at this point in my life. It really helped me to rationalise my own thinking and to accept that the way I personally feel sometimes does not make me a weirdo. There’s nothing wrong with taking medication if thats what works for you, and everyone needs to indulge in self-care on a regular basis. Anyone can experience struggles with their mental health and this book helps combat the stigma around discussing these struggles with others. If only more people had the same mentality as Michelle, the world might be a little easier for those struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. I highly recommend this book for those who may be feeling a little alone with their own thoughts and would benefit from the support and reassurance that this book offers.