Tens of millions suffer from anxiety and depression. If I had one book I could pass over to them to read, it would be Lisa Jakub’s Not Just Me: Anxiety, Depression, And Learning To Embrace Your Weird. Needing to do character research, I ordered it off the author’s website and it delivered more than just hope. It provided practical steps for one to take in combating anxiety and depression.
Most people come across Lisa Jakub because of her acting career. (Probably, most famous as Robin William’s daughter in Mrs. Doubtfire). What they don’t know is that she suffers from severe anxiety and depression. It helped lead her to leave Hollywood and change careers. I actually came across her due to her memoir writing and Twitter feed. It was the Twitter feed (and her blog posts) that led me to believe - correctly - that she is a good writer. I’m convinced writers can spot other great storytellers by the way they communicate publicly. Its like seeing someone in a pickup basketball game. You know if they truly have game or not.
The author does a lot of correct things in the way she tackles, what is admittedly, a daunting topic. First off, the language is laid-back and you feel like you’re having a normal conversation when reading it. The only time she gets clinical is when she has to explain medical data related to what she is talking about. She keeps it simple and easy to follow.
Along this line, there is a lot of wit in this book. There aren’t too many books on anxiety and depression where you find yourself laughing aloud. She isn’t afraid to present herself as she is. My guess is, when she isn’t fighting her own demons, she keeps those around her smiling. (Though, I’m still thinking about that orange in the shower thing).
One of the funniest parts of the book is her personal experiment to see if marijuana would help her situation. She had never smoked it before. Her personal journey will have readers giggling and probably recalling a couple episodes in their own lives. Everyone remember the first time they had to use a bong?
She also ends each chapter with a suggested list of possible actions readers can do to help improve their situation. Time and time again, Jakub throws the reader a lifeline. I can’t think of anything more important when it comes to this subject.
There are stories from other people. While many authors would’ve relied totally on their own experience, Jakub brings in real-life experiences from others. This is important because not all anxiety and depression is alike. There isn’t one cause/cure element that anyone can put their finger on and go, ‘Ah, HA! That’s it!’ Doesn’t work that way.
I was also happy to see her dive into the wealth factor. She harks back to Sebastian Junger (Tribe; War; The Perfect Storm) who also brings this up a lot in his work. Wealthier societies are the most depressed, anxious ones. Every study supports this finding. Materialism is not a solution. At some point, society is going to have to come to grips with this reality.
If there is one flaw with the book - and I don’t think there is a lot she could do about this, so ‘flaw’ is probably not the right word but you get my meaning - it is the repeated references to professional help. She is right. If you have a problem with depression or anxiety, seek professional help. If you can. The truth is, most people can’t. Most of us can’t afford to see a doctor for the flu, let alone sustained treatment. Then there are the consequences. Because everything is reported, shared, investigated … well, you can lose your job, see insurance rates skyrocket etc. I suspect most people reading this, are going to find themselves in the self-care category.
But in the end, I think Jakub’s core message is spot on. Be yourself. Embrace your weird. There is hope. There are solutions. And if you take the first steps, make the effort, you can control your anxiety and depression and improve the quality of your life. Most importantly, you aren’t alone.
This book is a strong 5/5 on the rating scale. Check out Lisa Jakub’s WEBSITE for more information or to purchase a copy of the book. And try some yoga.