There is a bit of an Eleanor Oliphant in all of us. Someone who enjoys routine and comfort zone, who’d rather sit tight with a glass of vodka in front of telly than going to a party full of strangers. Someone who stays in a job for far too long despite the fact that she thinks all of her coworkers are complete idiots.
But Eleanor seemed to take it to the extreme. Her life is fine, she has a job that she goes to every Monday to Friday and vodka as a loyal company for the weekend. She has almost no social life, not that she cared about either. For years, she thought life couldn’t be any better. Until she met someone who showed her that there is so much more to life.
I find it really refreshing to read page after page the journey of Eleanor finding herself and how a small kindness can go a long way in helping her in the process. I don’t usually like fiction, but this one is one you can’t miss even if you always feel a bit sceptical about fiction. Eleanor’s character is just so relatable, she’s not that usual undeniably pretty heroine with bright career and great social life you can’t even imagine someone can manage so well. She’s so original. She’s funny but also weird sometimes, she tries to fit in a bit of social life but sometimes too lazy to do so, she enjoys being alone but also sometimes feeling so lonely. She’s just one of us.
This is the first book of Gail Honeyman, but it already makes me see a lot of potential in her to tell a story about unspoken issues like profound loneliness, something all of us once experience but never talk about.
These days, loneliness is the new cancer—a shameful, embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted, or that it might tempt fate into visiting a similar horror upon them.
This is a much needed book during my struggle with anxiety and depression, this book helps me to see anxiety from a different perspective. The author, Sarah Wilson, reframes anxiety as a spiritual quest rather than a burdensome affliction, a state of yearning that will lead us closer to what really matters.
Quoting the book:
Globally 1 in 13 people suffer an anxiety-related illness and searches for anxiety on google are up to 150% in the past 8 years
Yet our society still have a lot of stigma around mental illness. I have been surprised by the number of people that came up to me and said they have similar condition since I started being open about having mental illness. Thanks to them, I don’t feel alone now. The heartbreaking fact is still there, all of the people that told their stories to me said that it’s hard to find a support system – which they desperately need more than anything – because a lot of people just don’t understand the depth of it. For many of us in Indonesia, having mental illness means you’re crazy and you belong at the lunatic asylum, or even worse you’ve got possessed by devil and you need exorcism. Which obviously a wrong concept that mainly came from the lack of information in the society, someone got homework to do!
In this book, Sarah talked about how she deals with her anxiety for years. Some tips sound cliche although still easier said than done, like yoga, meditation, gratitude book (which I find really helpful, help me focus on the positive sides of everything), exercise, eating healthier. But the main thing that she promotes in this book is to embrace the illness, to recognise that it’s there, accept it and have a conversation with it.
Anxiety is the thing that takes you down, this anxiety about not knowing what life is about takes you down. But it’s also the thing that ultimately takes you to where the answer lies.
This book would be very helpful for those who are suffering with mental illness or are supporting someone with mental illness.