Chris knows he will never get over his anxiety. He didn’t
want a ‘How to get better’ book. He wanted to understand his
condition. So he wrote this book.
An honest heart-breaking account of how generalized
anxiety disorder affected Chris, his family and everyone around
him, yet went undiagnosed.
Having suffered from anxiety myself, as so many have, I was glad to be offered this book to review! Especially as I have a young family member who is going through the same levels of anxiety, that Chris Westoby describes in this deeply moving and utterly fascinating account. I wanted to be able to understand the crushing levels of anxiety that have left her unable to attend a mainstream school. Because although as I said above, we all at one time of another suffer from this depilating condition, most of us can not perceive of the ways it impacts of everyday life and relationships. How it can cut of suffers from normal interaction with society, leaving them isolated, often wrongly perceived as insolent and aloof.
The Fear Talking by Chris Westoby is a brutally honest account of the crippling anxiety that he started to suffer from as a young man. How it affected every aspect of his life, relationships and education. He did not go through this in isolation though, his family were affected as well, when he was unable to face trips away, or watching while his hands were left cracked and bleeding from excessive washing.
I recognised such behaviour, the almost unbearable pressure it puts not just the sufferer under, but their parents. I wish I had been able to read this book earlier! I feel I could then have been better able to understand and recognise why a child I loved and believed to be capable of anything, suddenly became terrified of the world around them.
By taking to us about how this condition affected him, Chris Westoby, peels away those layers of isolation and enables us to recognise and support suffers. Understanding is key and his writing gives a voice to those often locked away and misunderstood. He lets us know what it is really like, how he and so many others become caught up in a form of social paralysis, often made so much worse by the inability to explain how they feel. Watching as the world constricts around them, at a time when it should open and reveal a myriad of possibilities, While their peers are taking strides into the wider world and independence, Chris and others face the very real fear that anxiety will cripple every aspect of their lives.
This book is a very important read and I think one that should be read by all of us. Ignorance and misunderstanding create barriers and leave suffers feeling judged and misunderstood. It took bravery to put this out into the world and although The Fear Talking is not always an easy to read , it is critical reading if we to understand that our mental health is as important as our physical health.
The Fear Talking is not a work of fiction, it is a true story. Chris Westoby is not alone in going through this and his words should be recognised, as an opportunity to better understand ourselves and those whose lives are controlled by this debilitating condition. Read it and the next generation hopefully won’t feel unable to seek help.
About the author
Chris Westoby has a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Hull, where he is now Programme Director of the Hull Online Creative
Writing MA. He guest lectures in subjects of mental health, teaches reflective writing to Mental Health Nursing Students, and runs cross-faculty writing workshops. Chris was born and raised in Barton, on the Lincolnshire side of the Humber, where he still lives.