Coming to an understanding of anxiety can be like trying to figure out what wind does--a lot depends on place and time, and whether the effects are devastating or capable of being harnessed. Millions of Americans have one of the various permutations of an anxiety disorder, and there are a range of books about living with its particular form of loneliness that comes from feeling so unstable while life goes on around you.
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety by Sarah Wilson somehow works a magic of relieving that loneliness. It elaborates on the wide-ranging conversation with honesty, revelation and questioning. It doesn't offer answers so much as possibilities for relief, which reflects Wilson's outlook on a "harm reduction" approach to anxiety over trying to stamp it out entirely. She travels far and wide across the condition's rocky terrain and, like the best travel guides, she brings the reader to see out-of-the-way things that can make all the difference. What does a loved one need to do when anxiety strains a relationship? How does anxiety play into, and off of, other disorders like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia and bipolar disorder? How does one begin to find help from a professional? Wilson does readers a service in sharing this memoir, and readers can do a service by sharing it with friends. --Matthew Tiffany, LCPC