All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Anxiety by Dr Mark Cross

on November 9, 2020

Dr Mark Cross
Harper Collins AUS
2020, 307p
Read via my local library/Borrow Box

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Expert advice from a neurotic shrink who’s lived with it all his life.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Mark Cross knows a lot about anxiety. Many of his patients are sufferers, which is hardly surprising, given anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia, affecting up to one in four people at some point in their lives. But Mark also knows about anxiety from another perspective, because he too has suffered from anxiety all his life.

In this book, the well-known author of Changing Minds, who featured on the award-winning ABC TV series of the same name, demystifies this mental illness in his trademark warm and friendly style. He looks at causes, treatments, both medical and natural, anxiety in the workplace and more, sharing his own experiences as well as stories from others.

When I saw that psychology was one of the topics chosen for the 2020 Non-Fiction Reader Challenge, I knew way back then that I wanted to read something about anxiety. I’ve been an anxious person for a large portion of my life – it probably started in high school. I was actually a pretty confident, outgoing kid who could walk into a room full of people I didn’t know and start a conversation with anyone. Now? The thought of that makes me want to vomit. As I got older, I got more self-conscious, more introverted, more uneasy around new social situations and people. I can’t handle large groups of crowds, I hate ‘busyness’ and the thought of speaking in front of people is paralysing and my family have forever made fun of how terrifying and mentally exhausting I find making phone calls. Even things like standing at a bus stop make me highly anxious. My brain runs a million miles a minute about pointless things like are people looking at me (why would they be?), did I miss the bus, what if it doesn’t come, etc. But when I was in my teens and twenties, no one talked about these sort of feelings and it was more along the lines of “haha you’re just a bit nervous, you’ll be fine” or “that’s not even something to be worried about, why are you freaking out?” or even worse “stop faking it”. It’s taken me a very long time to realise I’m more than “just a bit nervous” about things and that these things are increasing in number or can be non-existent. I can be sitting here on the couch doing absolutely nothing, not thinking about anything and I’ll realise that my heart is racing and I feel sick and dizzy.

So for me, this book was eye opening. There was so much in here where I’d read something and everything would click together in my brain like ‘yes, that is exactly what I feel/think/happens to me during X” etc. There’s a lot of background information, like the different types of diagnosed anxiety-related conditions and how they quite often present, the types of responses people might have and also the other types of medical issues they face. I have another (diagnosed) chronic medical condition and apparently a significant number of people with that condition also have anxiety. Which makes sense really, because probably half of my feelings of being anxious are actually devoted to things to do with that illness and how it affects my day to day life. It also goes into the different types of therapies and medications and combinations thereof.  I do not have diagnosed anxiety because until well into my 30s, I never actually considered it something that I could go and talk to a doctor about. I thought it was just something that I had to deal with on my own, pretend wasn’t there, fake it until you make it type thing. So I’m not at that stage yet – but I might be in the future. And then if so, I’ll probably come back and re-read this book with a different slant on it. At this time, I was looking for information on the actual condition itself and the various types, how it might present etc, in order to see if I really felt like this was something that I should pursue about myself.

The author is not just a psychiatrist but also suffers from anxiety himself and I think there’s a bit of a remark of he feels like ‘outing himself as anxious’ might make some of his patients a bit worried, but instead I think it probably gives him a great understanding and empathy of what his patients experience. That for someone like me, would be very helpful and validating that someone would be coming from a place of knowing, to a certain degree, the things I was struggling with. That might not suit everyone of course, but I liked the personal details. The author’s anecdotes and stories about his own anxiety do make up quite a bit of the text but the background information and medical stuff is very solid and quite thorough but not dense enough to make it difficult to wade through if you’re not medically nor scientifically minded (which I am 100% not!). There are also a lot of other anecdotes sprinkled throughout, people that have had different experiences with anxiety and mental illness and what has worked for them and in some cases, what has not. There are definitely experiences in here where many medications and dosages have been tried and it’s been long and ongoing journey to find a management plan, one that is constantly evolving.

I found a lot of this really helpful – there was more in here that I was familiar with feeling/thinking/etc than I expected. I told a few people I was reading this and got a couple of more recommendations and I will definitely look into them. There was a bit that felt overwhelming – things that I think will be better to come back to in the future. This covers a lot of ground, so it’s suitable for a lot of people whether you might just be looking for information, are looking to understand medication and/or therapy more etc. I only borrowed it from my library but I think it would be useful to own, to refer back to.


Book #214 of 2020

I am counting this towards my participation in the 2020 Non-Fiction Reader Challenge, hosted by Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out. It’s the 10th book read for the challenge (I actually feel really confident about finishing this now!) and I’m checking off the psychology category. I only have two prompts to go now, medical issue and science and I have a couple of options for each.

1. Memoir

2. Disaster Event

3. Social Science

4. Related to an Occupation

5. History

6. Feminism

7. Psychology

8. Medical Issue

9. Nature

10. True Crime

11. Science

12. Published in 2020

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