"The world in which depression and anxiety reign supreme is extremely lonely," writes Maggy van Eijk in the introduction to her book How Not to Fall Apart. "I wanted to write this book to reach out and say: 'Hey there, you're not alone, I'm right there with you.' " By documenting her own experiences living with mental illness--anxiety and depression, but also a variety of other co-existing diagnoses--van Eijk offers both community and advice to readers.
How Not to Fall Apart is full of lists: things to do to find comfort on a tough day; activities to consider instead of self-harm; a checklist for "when your brain is ready to jump to conclusions"; great places to cry it out. On their own, the lists could be seen as fluffy. Interjected throughout van Eijk's very personal account of struggling with anxiety, depression and self-harm, the lists become a window into one person's coping mechanisms, offered with a suggestion for personalization. (Note that readers who may be triggered by accounts of self-harm, sexual assault or other traumas may want to avoid this one, as van Eijk doesn't shy away from such details.)
That's the thing about mental health: it's incredibly personal, specific to the experiences of each individual. Books like How Not to Fall Apart can't offer a one-size-fits-all solution to living with anxiety or depression. But they can offer a reminder that there is hope, even when it's hard to find, and that we are not alone in our struggles, no matter how exceptional they may be. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm