Genre: Personal Memoirs

Book Review: Hi, Anxiety: Life With a Bad Case of Nerves by Kat Kinsman

Posted November 3, 2017 by Hillary in Book Reviews / 1 Comment

ISBN: 9780062369703
Book Review: Hi, Anxiety: Life With a Bad Case of Nerves by Kat KinsmanHi, Anxiety by Kat Kinsman
Published by HarperCollins on November 15th 2016
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Medical, Mental Health, Social Science, Women's Studies
Pages: 240
Format: ebook
Source: bought
Buy on Amazon

Joining the ranks of such acclaimed accounts as Manic, Brain on Fire, and Monkey Mind, a deeply personal, funny, and sometimes painful look at anxiety and its impact from writer and commentator Kat Kinsman.

Feeling anxious? Can’t sleep because your brain won’t stop recycling thoughts? Unable to make a decision because you're too afraid you’ll make the wrong one? You’re not alone.

In Hi, Anxiety, beloved food writer, editor, and commentator Kat Kinsman expands on the high profile pieces she wrote for about depression, and its wicked cousin, anxiety. Taking us back to her adolescence, when she was diagnosed with depression at fourteen, Kat speaks eloquently with pathos and humor about her skin picking, hand flapping, “nervousness” that made her the recipient of many a harsh taunt. With her mother also gripped by depression and health issues throughout her life, Kat came to live in a constant state of unease—that she would fail, that she would never find love . . . that she would end up just like her mother.

Now, as a successful media personality, Kat still battles anxiety every day. That anxiety manifests in strange, and deeply personal ways. But as she found when she started to write about her struggles, Kat is not alone in feeling like the simple act of leaving the house, or getting a haircut can be crippling. And though periodic medication, counseling, a successful career and a happy marriage have brought her relief, the illness, because that is what anxiety is, remains.

Exploring how millions are affected anxiety, Hi, Anxiety is a clarion call for everyone—but especially women—struggling with this condition. Though she is a strong advocate for seeking medical intervention, Kinsman implores those suffering to come out of the shadows—to talk about their battle openly and honestly. With humor, bravery, and writing that brings bestsellers like Laurie Notaro and Jenny Lawson to mind, Hi, Anxiety tackles a difficult subject with amazing grace.

I too have Anxiety. Mine comes with my Bipolar, but I still have the same crippling sensations of fear. I wasn’t always an anxious person. I can in face remember life before I had this crippling anxiety and wonder what I did to bring it on but alas today I have it, and I must figure out a way to live with it. Which is why I love books where OTHER people write about how they deal with their anxiety. It makes me feel less alone, and sometimes I will glean something new to try.

What I Liked

I loved how open and honest  Kat Kinsman is about her anxiety. I mean I am open about the fact that I HAVE anxiety, but it is not often that I will go into detail about it with just anyone. Most of the time I reserve the nitty-gritty details for my mom or close friends. But in Hi! Anxiety Kat Kinsman gives us an intimate look into her anxiety.  She goes into detail so that we can see excakly what it is like living with this illness.

I also like how she tells the truth about Effexor. I am one of the people that Effexor works for. It pulled me back from the dark abyss of depression and allowed me to live my life, BUT if I miss a dose a few hours later, I get sick of a  bitch as withdrawal symptoms set in. I have people tell me that it is all in my head that THEY don’t get sick and at times I have felt that maybe it is just me. Kat Kinsman tells it like it is for many of us if we are late taking a dose or if we try and go off of it. I admire her for going cold turkey. I was reading, and I was like OMG YOU ARE DOING THIS WITHOUT STEPPING DOWN?!  And you know what she was honest that she was sick for WEEKS after she quit. She explains why she did not see a DR first and I can’t fault her for that, but still, i was like holy fuck. She even tells us that it was two YEARS before the brain zaps stopped. Damn, i guess I am stuck on this for life cause I don’t have that kind of courage. Heh

My friends like to joke that I am a “modern-day shut-in” and at times I felt really bad an about it but this book made me realize that I am not alone and that agoraphobia is a very real thing that people live with. It made me feel less isolated, and that is the point of Kat Kinsman sharing such stuff in the book for the people who CANT speak up.

In the end, she admits that she is “privileged as hell” with her illness and I realized that I too was privileged. I have access to great insurance; I can work from the comfort of my apartment. I am manged to snag a great apartment that has everything or almost everything I need or want on the same block. I can be open about my anxiety with my friends. My friends get me when I tell them I am not in a going out mood.  I have a FANTASTIC Dr., And the list goes on. I will admit there are days I wish I were the kind of person that liked to go out of a one-mile radius but I am not. I am lucky in that I don’t have to drive anywhere as we have buses here. I do feel for people who have agoraphobia and who do not have this kind of choice, and they are indeed stuck in their house.



What I Did Not Like

There is nothing about the BOOK that I did not like, but I wanted to add something about how I hate that most people who live with crippling anxiety do not have the resources to live life as they choose. They have to go to work in a place that gives them even more anxiety. They cant be open with it or worse they live in a place where they cant get treatment for it.

For example, I take a million milligrams of Neurontin for anxiety. Kidding I only take 900 three times a day. cough here in Cleveland I can get my pills easily. Hell, I don’t even have to leave my apartment building as the pharmacy mails them to me. Life here is pretty good I must admit. Then I visited my mom at her house in South Eastern Ky, and I find out you gotta take a drug test, AND you have to leave your home to go pick up the pills and sign a paper and blah blah blah. I mean can u imagine how hard that would be for someone like me who hates leaving my apartment which is afraid to drive ( there is no public transportation in SouthEastern Ky) who hates dealing with humanity in general? Seriously it is a pain in you know what. I hate that the way I live is the way the most privileged of us with mental illness live. I wish that everyone could have access to fanatic dr and pharmacies who will mail their meds and that everything they needed was within a one-mile radius. But they don’t.  And that makes me sad.


I feel that Hi! Anxiety by Kat Kinsman is a book that is important in the cannon of dealing with anxiety and mental illness. There are not enough books on the topic of severe anxiety in my opinion. This book tells it like it is and if everyone understood what it is REALLY like living with anxiety then maybe, just maybe help can be found.


Detour from Normal

Posted February 2, 2015 by Hillary in book review / 0 Comments

ISBN: 9781491248638
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Detour from NormalDetour from Normal by Ken Dickson
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on December 12th 2013
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 372
Format: eARC
Source: netgalley

Before April 14, 2011, Ken Dickson lived a life indistinguishable from those of other residents of his Phoenix suburb. The normally healthy fifty-five year-old held a regular job, and lived with his loving wife, two teenage daughters, and an assortment of pets. On that mid-April day, though, the course of his life forever changes when he learns he must undergo surgery to remove a damaged portion of his lower intestine.The life-saving surgery and associated medications become catalysts for an unbelievable chain of events that cause the formerly mild-mannered man to spiral into the chaotic mental illness known as mania. Dickson is then subjected to a whirlwind of trips to emergency rooms, hospitals and ultimately, psychiatric facilities where he finds himself deep in an inescapable abyss of mental illness.Part medical mystery, and part psychological thriller, Dickson's creative nonfiction memoir, Detour from Normal, demonstrates how even the most seemingly normal life can implode in an instant. It is a riveting account of undying love and brutal anguish, of lies and arrogance, and of unforgettable characters and desperate actions.In an age when there is utmost concern about the quality of mental health care, the timing couldn't be better for this informative and inspirational memoir. Told from the real-life perspective of someone with mental illness, readers will observe first-hand the adverse reactions to medications, misdiagnoses, improper treatment, and other factors that work together to send Dickson spiraling into a seemingly inescapable hell.Despite overwhelming obstacles, Dickson struggles bravely to reclaim the life he has lost. His journey proves to be a perilous one of unexpected discovery, and from its foretelling opening pages to its unpredictable climax, it never ceases to be fascinating, enlightening and thought provoking.

why I read this book

I have experienced mania from Bipolar and I am always curious when some one else experiences something like mania or depression.

my review

First of all I have to be honest and admit that the writing was not the best in this book. However I was curious about how he handled his mania episode so I ignored that and read on.

He first details the illness that had preceded the mania episode then details his decent into mania. Aside form not sleeping I have to say we had two very different experiences. I liked reading about how describes his decent into mania. At first I was sure that he had undiagnosed bipolar and almost every book I have read by someone with bipolar the prose sings. It is like a cursed gift. You get words from the angels but you pay a dark price for it and this…well it was mostly choppy and disjointed.

I felt kinda bad that it seemed that no Dr were really able to help him. In hindsight I can see why. He had no history of mental illness and no family history so it probably never even entered their minds. I have to be honest, I kept waiting for the diagnoses of bipolar to come and I was more than a little irked when he refused to take his medication. I wanted to reach through my kindle and shake him and tell him, honestly the sooner you take it the sooner your nightmare will be over. So yes I had my jugdey glasses on.

At the end when he has recovered from the ordeal I was shocked to find out the real cause of his mania. I have never heard of this cause even though I have read memoirs like this since 2007.

The story was good but like I said the writing was choppy and disjointed. It made it hard to read at times. Other than that it is an interesting memoir.



My Age of Anxiety

Posted January 16, 2015 by Hillary in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

My Age of AnxietyMy Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on 2014
Genres: Anxieties & Phobias, Biography & Autobiography, History, Neuropsychology, Personal Memoirs, Psychology, Psychopathology
Pages: 400

A riveting, revelatory, and moving account of the author's struggles with anxiety, and of the history of efforts by scientists, philosophers, and writers to understand the condition As recently as thirty-five years ago, anxiety did not exist as a diagnostic category. Today, it is the most common form of officially classified mental illness. Scott Stossel gracefully guides us across the terrain of an affliction that is pervasive yet too often misunderstood. Drawing on his own long-standing battle with anxiety, Stossel presents an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of the efforts to understand the condition from medical, cultural, philosophical, and experiential perspectives. He ranges from the earliest medical reports of Galen and Hippocrates, through later observations by Robert Burton and Søren Kierkegaard, to the investigations by great nineteenth-century scientists, such as Charles Darwin, William James, and Sigmund Freud, as they began to explore its sources and causes, to the latest research by neuroscientists and geneticists. Stossel reports on famous individuals who struggled with anxiety, as well as on the afflicted generations of his own family. His portrait of anxiety reveals not only the emotion's myriad manifestations and the anguish anxiety produces but also the countless psychotherapies, medications, and other (often outlandish) treatments that have been developed to counteract it. Stossel vividly depicts anxiety's human toll—its crippling impact, its devastating power to paralyze—while at the same time exploring how those who suffer from it find ways to manage and control it. My Age of Anxiety is learned and empathetic, humorous and inspirational, offering the reader great insight into the biological, cultural, and environmental factors that contribute to the affliction.

why I read this book


I suffer from anxiety and I wanted to see how another person copes with it.

my review


I was never anxious as a child. Well I was afraid of the dark but that’s about all. Then in 2007 I was diagnosed with shizoeffective disorder and all the anxiety that I didn’t have come on all at once. I became so anxious that I became house bound and convinced that all of creation was plotting my demise.

I have tried to tell friends but their advice of just suck it up and get over it never did much good. So lately I have turned to books that have been written by people with anxiety in the hopes that they have found a way to thrive because of it.

I could relate to My Age of Anxiety in so many ways. Reading the authors account of anxiety attacks was like a peek into my own personal hell. He described it so well that I had an attack while reading. Alas like me the author has tried all the therapy and all the meds available but none seem to work really well. What we both have found works is when you feel an attack come on, cram all different sorts of meds in your mouth to hopefully pass out and when you wake your nervous system will be reset. Well, I feel less alone now that I know that at least one other person has popped Klopioion, vodka and other stuff to do this.

Also, like me, the author has tried less orthodox means. This mostly includes smoking pot. I have found that this is the holy grail of anxiety treatment. The author did not seem to have my  success with it. Just goes to show that everyone is different.

I also liked the history that The Age of Anxiety delivers. I never much thought about how people in ancient Greece handle anxiety and I really never thought about how anxiety seems to afflict people in artistic endeavors more than any other field. It was all very interesting to read. It could have been boring but the author has the skill to make even the mundane come to life.





Hyperbole and a Half

Posted November 11, 2014 by Hillary in book review / 0 Comments

ISBN: 9781451666175
Hyperbole and a HalfHyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2013-10-29
Genres: Adult, Biography & Autobiography, Comic Strips & Cartoons, Comics & Graphic Novels, Form, General, Humor, Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs, Topic
Pages: 384
Format: ebook
Source: Scribed
Buy on Amazon

FROM THE PUBLISHER:Every time Allie Brosh posts something new on her hugely popular blog Hyperbole and a Half the internet rejoices. Touching, absurd, and darkly comic, Allie Brosh’s highly anticipated book Hyperbole and a Half showcases her unique voice, leaping wit, and her ability to capture complex emotions with deceptively simple illustrations. This full-color, beautifully illustrated edition features more than fifty percent new content, with ten never-before-seen essays and one wholly revised and expanded piece as well as classics from the website like, “The God of Cake,” “Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving,” and her astonishing, “Adventures in Depression,” and “Depression Part Two,” which have been hailed as some of the most insightful meditations on the disease ever written. Brosh’s debut marks the launch of a major new American humorist who will surely make even the biggest scrooge or snob laugh. We dare you not to. FROM THE AUTHOR:This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative—like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it—but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:PicturesWordsStories about things that happened to meStories about things that happened to other people because of meEight billion dollars*Stories about dogsThe secret to eternal happiness**These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

My Review 2

When I first found the blog Hyperbole and a Half I thought it was brilliant. However, when she posted about her depression I finally felt that someone put into words just how I feel. I have tried to explain to people the depths of depression, but it seemed that nobody could REALLY get it.

Reading this book felt like I was talking to a kindred soul. She explains herself honestly and with humour. I could so relate to so many things that she said. She explains how she KNOWS what she is doing is stupid but she couldn’t seem to find a way out.

One of the things that really cracked me up was when she talked about deciding to do laundry but only made it as far as her couch then let it sit for weeks. I thought that only happned to me. I felt better reconizing myself in this book. If you want an honest raw look into what depression is then read this book.


Book Review: The Confidence Code

Posted October 3, 2014 by Hillary in book review / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Confidence CodeThe Confidence Code by Katty KayClaire Shipman
Published by Harper Collins on 2014-04-15
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Business & Economics, Careers, General, Personal Memoirs, Women, Women in Business
Pages: 256
Format: ebook

Confidence. We want it. We need it. But it can be maddeningly enigmatic and out of reach. The authors of the New York Times bestseller Womenomics deconstruct this essential, elusive, and misunderstood quality and offer a blueprint for bringing more of it into our lives.Is confidence hardwired into the DNA of a lucky few—or can anyone learn it? Is it best expressed by bravado, or is there another way to show confidence? Which is more important: confidence or competence? Why do so many women, even the most successful, struggle with feelings of self-doubt? Is there a secret to channeling our inner confidence?In The Confidence Code, journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman travel to the frontiers of neuroscience on a hunt for the confidence gene and reveal surprising new research on its roots in our brains. They visit the world's leading psychologists who explain how we can all chose to become more confident simply by taking action and courting risk, and how those actions change our physical wiring. They interview women leaders from the worlds of politics, sports, the military, and the arts to learn how they have tapped into this elemental resource. They examine how a lack of confidence impacts our leadership, success, and fulfillment.Ultimately, they argue, while confidence is partly influenced by genetics, it is not a fixed psychological state. That's the good news. You won't discover it by thinking positive thoughts or by telling yourself (or your children) that you are perfect as you are. You also won't find it by simply squaring your shoulders and faking it. But it does require a choice: less people pleasing and perfectionism and more action, risk taking, and fast failure.Inspiring, insightful, and persuasive, The Confidence Code shows that by acting on our best instincts and by daring to be authentic, women can feel the transformative power of a life on confidence.

It seems like a lot of successful women are coming out with books. There is Lean In  and Thrive among others. This book is different however in that it talks about women who are successful but still lack the confidence in themselves. First the authors describe what confidence means. It has a different meaning in what I thought it did. Then they interview different women in different fields to see if they had confidence in themselves. All were successful so that was not the issue. What was surprising was that many women felt that they lack confidence. They may show confidence to other people but inside of themselves they still felt insecure.

I was surprised to learn this and in many ways I can relate. No matter how successful I may be I still feel like an imposter just like the women in this book. They had some tips on how to gain confidence. They also acknowledged that society is set up to make women feel like no matter what she does she is failing in some ways. If she is successful in work, she is a bad mother. If she is a stay at home mom then she is not pulling her fair share of the work. We have a long way to go in making sure women are truly equal in whatever she chooses to do. With feminism being in the news recently this is a good time to have such a discussion.

I myself choose to throw myself into my work, but I STILL get questions about do I have a boyfriend, when am I going to have kids etc. I am never sure how to answer these questions so I usually make up a comeback how women who stay at home were not really pulling their weight. I have to admit, I answer this question from a place of insecurity. Am I a failure because I don’t want kids? Why is it so important anyway?

We as a society need to move to a place to where women can feel confident to be whatever she chooses. It is good that this question is getting the airtime that it desperately needs. I will admit and so do the authors of these books that there is no easy answer to this question. In the mean time I am going to try some of the tips in this book and maybe I can move from a place of insecurity to a place of confidence.


Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

Posted March 26, 2012 by Hillary in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

A book review of Tolstoy and the purple chair

After her sister died of cancer the author decides to read a book a day for a year. She wrote reviews on her blog Read All Day for every book that she read. Prior to this she was trying to cram as much into her day as possible to escape her grief. Then one day she realized that to come to terms wit her grief she needed to slow down to heal.
Sankovitch and her sister shared a love of books. So it made sense that the author selected books as a way to figure out how to come to terms with her grief. And she did come to terms with it. I felt this was a moving and compelling read about that process.
I like many other people I am sure wondered how she would read a book a day and keep up with the fluctuations of daily life. She writes about this. About how it took her a few days to get in the rhythm of things. The most important thing she does is to make reading a priority. Many of us feel that we make reading a priority but do we really? In her book she explains how she always has a book with her and anytime she finds herself in a position to read she does. Waiting in line, waiting for an event or whatever she makes time for reading
In her book she speaks of the healing power of books. How reading such books taught her to live again. This is beautifully written and and can help other people attempting to learn to live with grief.


Review:Signs Of Life

Posted April 25, 2011 by Hillary in ARC, Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Thsigns of lifeis book was sent to me by the publisher for review

Can you imagine going on vacation and being pregnat then getting a phone call saying that your husband has died? That is exactly what happened to Natalie Taylor.

Signs of life starts with Natalie vacationing in Miami with her family sand her husband. Then the phone call that drew them all back to Michigan where Natalie had to face the inevitable. In mere seconds her life as she knows it is over. She is now a widow and soon to be single mother. This memoir is based on the journals that she kept and details coming back to the living.

The memoir details raw grief. She writes so that you as a reader feels her grief at have so unfair an event happening. She worries that she wont be able to take care of her newborn baby without her husband. When the baby is born it is heim who starts the healing processes for her.

This is a book about coming to terms with the unthinkable and how to resolve it so that you can still see the beauty in life.It is a tale of family love of learning to survive without the one thing you always counted on.

Every day we see her make improvements and we feel like cheering for her. Then she slips back and we find ourselves cheering her on.

having never been married it is hard to fathom what she must have went through. Especially since his death was the result of a freak skateboarding accident. In just one moment her whole life changed.

The book talks of her going to a grief support group and having everyone being older than she is. How out of place she felt. She also goes to a support for single mothers and she felt out of place there also. It wasn’t just her husband that died but a whole way of living that died with her.


Review:Happiness Project

Posted April 12, 2011 by Hillary in Book Reviews, self help / 0 Comments

happiness project

Everybody wants to be happier. Sure we could all move to the tropics and make ourselves think we are happier but what if you want to change your life where you are? That is what author Gretchen Rubin did.

This book chronicles a one year journey that the author took to “change her life without changing her life” She conducted research on happiness and made a resolution chart and tried then out for a year.

She draws on current happiness research. What does happiness really mean? She points out that it will be different things for different people. Which is true what makes me happy wouldn’t necessarily make you happy. She took some antidotes from some people well known for their happy state of mind and drew inspiration from them.

She sets up a system that allows her to focus on one aspect of happiness per month. For example the first month she focuses on energy. Because having energy will make the other resolutions easier. Makes sense. Then she sets up how she will gain more energy. She goes to bed when tired even iif its at 9 30 pm. Sounds simple but how many of us really do that? She keeps a resolution chart to track everything.

This book was really fascinating. She had scientific facts to back up her claims so it does not come off a New Agey or some far off experiment that everyday people like me and you could not do. In fact it is so doable that many people are doing their own happiness project, including myself.


Review: 365 Thank Yous

Posted February 24, 2011 by Hillary in ARC, Book Reviews, LibraryThing Early Reviewers / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: 365 Thank Yous365 Thank Yous by John Kralik
Published by Hachette Books on December 28th 2010
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 240

One recent December, at age 53, John Kralik found his life at a terrible, frightening low: his small law firm was failing; he was struggling through a painful second divorce; he had grown distant from his two older children and was afraid he might lose contact with his young daughter; he was living in a tiny apartment where he froze in the winter and baked in the summer; he was 40 pounds overweight; his girlfriend had just broken up with him; and overall, his dearest life dreams--including hopes of upholding idealistic legal principles and of becoming a judge--seemed to have slipped beyond his reach. Then, during a desperate walk in the hills on New Year's Day, John was struck by the belief that his life might become at least tolerable if, instead of focusing on what he didn't have, he could find some way to be grateful for what he had. Inspired by a beautiful, simple note his ex-girlfriend had sent to thank him for his Christmas gift, John imagined that he might find a way to feel grateful by writing thank-you notes. To keep himself going, he set himself a goal--come what may--of writing 365 thank-you notes in the coming year.One by one, day after day, he began to handwrite thank yous--for gifts or kindnesses he'd received from loved ones and coworkers, from past business associates and current foes, from college friends and doctors and store clerks and handymen and neighbors, and anyone, really, absolutely anyone, who'd done him a good turn, however large or small. Immediately after he'd sent his very first notes, significant and surprising benefits began to come John's way--from financial gain to true friendship, from weight loss to inner peace. While John wrote his notes, the economy collapsed, the bank across the street from his office failed, but thank-you note by thank-you note, John's whole life turned around. 365 Thank Yous is a rare memoir: its touching, immediately accessible message--and benefits--come to readers from the plainspoken storytelling of an ordinary man. Kralik sets a believable, doable example of how to live a miraculously good life. To read 365 Thank Yous is to be changed.

365 thank yousltbird

This is a short and delightful book. The author is at a low point in his life. His small law firm is failing, his ex wife cant agree on a divorce among other things.He decides to start writing thank you notes.It is during this process that he realizes what all he has to be grateful for and his depression starts to dissipate. But first he had this insight:

“Then I heard a voice:Until you learn to be grateful for the things that you have, you wont receive the things that you want.”

From this he concocted the idea of the thank you notes.

While he was really in a predicament that would make most people feel despair and depression (living in a tiny apartment with almost no ac and cold during the winter, 40 pounds overweight etc.) he used this to go after his dreams.

Slowly over the course of the year his life gradually improves. It is by no means perfect but at the end of the project when some ask how is he, he can honestly list  good things that have been happening in his life.

This is one of those ideas that I had myself. When he was wrapped up in his despair it was impossible to see through the dark clouds at the happiness that lay beyond. By writing these thank you notes he was in a sense “forced” to see what he really had to be happy about.

This is a quick short and sweet read. Even though he was a lawyer and now a Judge his writing is written so it is easy to understand from anyone view. This will definitely be on my favorite books of 2011.