Most sufferers of depression, including me, have read the numerous self-help guides and the "What is.." textbooks for laypeople in attempts to treat themselves, thoroughly inform themselves or to just try to make sense of the world they find themselves in. Although the former two groups get some of their mental fodder from "Shoot the damn dog", I reckon it mostly helps those of us who want to share with someone who's been there. I didn't find this book harrowing or difficult.
Okay, Sally Brompton doesnt represent - and doesnt claim to be - the typical depressive; partly because there is no such person. Each brings their unique past, present and future (hopes) into the illness and needs to deal with that. Sally recognises this but finds some solace in others who have "been there": the black hole, the black dog, the emptiness within or whatever you call depression.
This is a sensible and balanced book. Sally walks a middle path between the "biological" and the "psychoanalytical" camps that set themselves up in the enormous and amorphous field of psychiatry, rarely crossing their carefully drawn boundaries to share knowledge or, god forbid, work together. Sally meets some who have, but I suspect she may be an exception (and exceptional). She advises those who cant get on with a therapist to find another. While acknowledging this can be difficult for a withdrawn depressive, a number of NHS users may not have access to alternative treatments, particularly of the psychological kind, let alone be able to change therapists .
With that caveat, I found this a great book. Its not just a "me too" book, joining the other people who found the courage to "come out". She deals with shame, suicidality, support, friends, family and even fun and laughter. This book should be in every psychiatric ward and, even more than that, it should be on every psychiatrist or psychotherapist's shelf.