4 out of 5 stars


After his mother died when he was fairly young, Arnold Thomas Fanning had his first experience of depression. It didn’t last for long, but the seeds were sown. Fast forward to a decade later and Fanning was an up and coming playwright with lots of opportunities opening up. But at the same time, he was starting to suffer from delusions about his abilities and this rapidly became mania.

He had just given up a good job to give himself the time to write full time, but things weren’t going well. He was back living with his father who he had a difficult relationship with and he had just left an artist residency in disgrace. Very soon after that he had a total mental breakdown and was admitted into a secure unit where they began to treat him. After release he, went home with a bag of drugs, but there was to be much worse to come.

From there he descended further and further into his mental maelstrom. This book is his raw and brutally honest account of someone going through depression and all sorts of mental anguish. When it was happening he managed to alienate almost all his friends and family, ended up in several institutes and was prescribed a cocktail of drugs that they hoped would help him recover. It did reach the point where he stared into the abyss as he came very close to suicide, but he didn’t quite have the courage to do it that day. Might have been cowardice, but it saved his life that day.

The account is compiled from records and from what others have recounted to him, some of the episodes he has not been able to remember because of the illness. It doesn’t make for any less terrifying reading though. The fact that he has been able to get through his mental illness with a lot of help and write this book is a testament to his strength of character.

Mental health is important, if you are feeling depressed or anxious, then speak to someone who can help. This may be a family member, or you might be better speaking to an independent expert who will be able to help you. Do not ignore it.

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