United By Pop received a free copy of It’s All in Your Head in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.
Title: It’s All in Your Head
Author: Rea Earl
Purchase: Available in the UK and the US
Overall rating: 5/5
Great for: Fans of Jenny Lawson, Juno Dawson and Sarah Rayner
Themes: Self-help, non-fiction and humour
Inspired by @lexigagan for today's post. She has started an inspiring series of weekly IG stories where she invites her followers to share their mental health struggles for #airitshareitwednesdays. This is yet another initiative that showcases how compassionate and caring this community is ❤ Follow her hashtag for more info. . . It is always important to talk about mental health, instead of allowing it to become a taboo subject. I, myself, struggle with my mental health. This might be the first time I'm opening up about it on here (and am terrified at doing so!) and the reason is to show that you are not alone! I wish I had realised that fact sooner. . . My current read is 'It's All in Your Head' by @rae_earl and I cannot recommend it enough! This highly visual non-fiction details the author's own struggles and gives advice on how to be kind to yourself. I think it is well worth a read for anybody wishing to understand that queer little mass of grey matter. I am learning to appreciate life's little hard-fought victories. And today I feel brave for writing a caption that the me-of-a-year-ago would never have had the guts to open up about! . . bibliophile #bookstagram #bookstagramfeature #bookishfeatures #igbooks #igreads #instabook #instareads #bookdragon #booknerd #booknerdigan #bookworm #bookgeek #bookgram #booklove #booklover #booklion #booklife #bookish #currentlyreading #currentread #amreading #bookpic #bookporn #bookphoto #bookphotography #booksbooksbooks #raeearl #btat17
Review: Time to put on my big-girl pants!
So, I need to be brutally honest and admit that my mental health is something I have been battling with for years. At the beginning of 2016 my completely overworked and distraught little mind decided to just give up on me and what resulted was possibly the worst few months of my life. I had insomnia; I had headaches; I had nosebleeds. I could faint on cue like some sort of miserable party trick and I would often lose all feeling in my limbs. On the inside, I was even worse.
These physical symptoms terrified me so much that I got myself a hospital appointment and awaited the outcome that I had some rare and terrible disease. After blood tests, heart tests and half a week spent in the hospital waiting room, the kind doctor told me that what I had sounded like a case of anxiety and depression. This was my brain’s way of telling my body that it needed a rest.
This was quite possibly the only outcome I had not expected. Yes, it was true that my mood was often dejected and I was constantly tearful, but I felt I had no right to be given this diagnosis; no cause.
To me, a mental illness was something you either had or you didn’t have and if you had it then you’d know about it! I naively pictured every sufferer to be easily definable as such, and I couldn’t imagine myself in this role. But I soon became aware of a middle ground and, in doing so, began to confront what my own brain had been telling me.
For there is no black and white when it comes to mental health. There is often not even a definite cause. My low feelings and the physical manifestations of my illness were signs that I needed some time out to recuperate.
And slowly, this is what I have been doing. It took a while to assess what was wrong inside of me and it took even longer to begin to make the necessary changes in treating myself better. For I had begun to realise that I was not being kind to my own mind and body.
I began to read self-professed guides to improve the way I saw myself. And I hit on the self-help jackpot when I discovered ‘It’s All in Your Head’!
Rae Earl’s witty narrative began with a story of her own journey to a diagnosis and I instantly warmed to an individual who could be so brave in admitting of her own suffering in such an honest way. I was already inspired to view what I saw as my ‘mental defect’ in a less harsh light if I could share it with such a strong and warm individual. It also encouraged me to find my own courage and share my own story. She wrote so openly that I could see no alternative but to mimic this and fully confront everything happening inside of me. For we’re all human but none of us are wired the same. Without admitting this to ourselves and without sharing our own stories, how are we to grow and understand each other?
Earl’s writing was so inclusive of her reader that it felt more like a conversation with my own brain than the musings of another. Her hilarious prose made the voice immediately likeable and knowing she was coming from a place that directly understood suffering made me believe in all she was instructing her readers.
“It’s strange, isn’t it? We don’t do anything much for our brains. We spend hours in a gym trying to get really good thighs, yet we don’t pay much attention to our brain. What are we doing to help the thing that’s in charge of everything?”
‘It’s All in Your Head’ is here to tell us how to care for our inner-selves and the first step in doing so is to let go of our judgement of others. It is easy to envy other’s lives when they are so readily available for us to view on social media platforms. But remembering that this is a filtered version of reality is important. To others we could be representing the source of their admiration, without them knowing that we’re currently sporting three-day old hair and the mess of the every day is gently nudged out of each posed insight into our lives. If a picture tells 1,000 words, a filter can hide 900 of them.
Also understanding the importance of our brain takes central focus. Only by doing so can we begin to properly take care of it like it deserves and requires. Without good brain health, you cannot expect good body health, and I know first-hand how distressing this can be!
These, and other reminders on how to nourish our minds and filter out what could distress us, grace the pages of this book. The additional illustrations both enliven and drive home the message of the text. Queen Bey in all her diva glory, profound quotes, and key instructions are all provided in the images, which makes this an ultimately unforgettable read. I know whenever I allow my brain’s self-sabotage mode to go off, it will be quickly shut down by being able to open any single page of ‘It’s All in Your Head’ and find something to immediately quiet the chaos.
I believe the stigma regarding mental health has declined in recent years due, in part, to admission from celebrities and more readily available knowledge. Regardless, I still agonised over how much of my own suffering to admit to, here. But if Rae Earl has taught me one thing it is that I have to be kinder to myself. And part of doing so is to accept the way my brain is wired and to feel no disgrace over this. ‘It’s All in Your Head’ helped me to understand myself that much better and going forward from reading this, I hope to put all it instructs into everyday practice.