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Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book About Depression [Paperback]

Gwyneth Lewis
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

16 Oct 2006

101 Ways to Climb out of the Slough of Despondency – a literary guide (part memoir, part companion) to coming through depression.

'Depression is internal snow. Black snow. The flakes whirl around like motes in the water around your personal shipwreck. The quicker you dive down to see your sorry state, the better for you in life. For above you, if only you can reach it without getting the bends, are sunshine, laughter on a yacht, the clink of plates as a lunch of steaming fish is handed round.'

Whilst the overall structure of ‘Sunbathing in the Rain’ moves from dark to light, telling the story of Lewis's recovery, its different strands allow a variety of tones and subjects to be explored, from the profound to the frivolous. Alongside a paragraph about the proper relationship between the ego, the mind and the emotions nestles a passage on the therapeutic value of nail varnish. Practical hints on how to get better (diet, read Hello!, helpful pieces of music) are alongside striking quotations, ranging from sentences on crisp packets, to prayers, from Russian orthodox writings on silence to collections of slang. Part memoir – drawing on her own experiences, both adverse and encouraging, as a depressive and an alcoholic – and part guide or companion, this book brings Burton's ‘Anatomy of Melancholy’ into the twenty-first century. For it will have two voices, one calling from the valley of despair, the other from a safer, calmer new place. The suffering depressive needs help from outside his or her own consciousness, a radical new perspective that makes life possible again. This unique book offers it.

Frequently Bought Together

Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book About Depression + Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression + The Devil Within: A Memoir of Depression
Price For All Three: 19.17

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (16 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007232802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007232802
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘Brave, affecting and uplifting.' The Times

‘While many books about depression bring one down with their tales of dark mood states, and others bring one down with artificial and unconvincing messages of hope, Gwyneth Lewis's “Sunbathing in the Rain” is both witty and wise: a profound musing on the problem of depression that is deeply informed yet full of hope and cheer.’ Andrew Solomon, author of the award-winning ‘The Noonday Demon’

‘“Sunbathing in the Rain” is undoubtedly the best book I have ever read about one person’s experience of depression.' Dorothy Rowe, author of ‘Breaking the Bonds’

‘I started reading the book on a rainy afternoon and read it right through without stopping to late evening. I was seized by its rhythm of discovery, its humour, courage and sharp-eyed insight. Gwyneth truly draws on literature, bringing to bear writers from everywhere and every time as part of present experience. She gives you confidence in poetry. And she is wonderfully down-to-earth in her advice.’ Dame Professor Gillian Beer, President of Clare Hall, Cambridge University

'Genuinely life-changing…It should be available free on the NHS.' The Guardian

About the Author

Gwyneth Lewis is an award-winning poet whose work has drawn widespread acclaim. Her previous book, ‘Zero Gravity’, which followed the journey of her cousin to repair the Hubble Space telescope, used the science of space to describe a voyage, a death and coming to terms with lost love, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize. She is married and lives in Cardiff.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
85 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sunbathing in the rain 18 April 2005
Fantastic. This book was a critical part of my recovery, having picked it up quite randomly from a book store. For me, it is the most accurate account of my experience of depression I have heard from ANYONE. Most importantly of all, it offers those with depression methods of coping with the illness rather than another description of depression. I didn't need to know what depression felt like - I knew EXACTLY what it felt like - what I craved from a book or professional was actual coping strategies for the hell I was going through. Depression fades with time but never goes away, so I felt I needed to 'arm' myself and learn how to live with it. I would never wish depression on my worst enemy, and if you are reading this and have it, I wish you all the best in your recovery. There actually is light at the end of the tunnel!
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122 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last! A helpful book about depression! 16 Nov 2005
I've been severely clinically depressed, on and off, for 21 years. I'm currently in Month 20 of the lastest bout - the worst ever, which forced me to give up work 18 months ago.
Over the years I have read countless books on depression, mostly self-help books. And I can honestly say that none of them has ever helped me even a little bit.
I started reading Sunbathing in the Rain with a sigh of "here we go again - more time and effort to put into reading a book, with no payback". I couldn't have been more wrong.
I literally couldn't put this book down. It made me laugh and cry in equal measure and for the first time in my life I felt I was in the presence of someone who understood what it's REALLY like to be depressed. Best of all, this book has given me hope and heart and the ability to look forward to the future.
It is also, by the way, beautifully written and pleasure to read on that level alone.
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88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always poetic, never depressing 26 Feb 2003
Gwyneth Lewis wrote Sunbathing in the Rain as the book she wished she'd had when curled up like a frozen prawn with devastating depression. It's much more than that though, and you certainly don't need the same diagnosis or the same desperation to benefit from Lewis's gripping insights, which go beyond any narrow definition and plunge straight into the human condition itself.
This isn't a self help book. As Lewis says, self help is the last thing a depressive needs. Instead, it's a personal account of depression, mixed with down to earth advice and good old fashioned comfort and reassurance. Aimed at depressives, it's helpful that Lewis has also broken up the text with short and realistically readable quotes from other writers who know what they're talking about.
We don't get just any personal account of depression either, we get a poet's account, which to me is significant for two reasons. For a start, no-one writes prose like a poet. It might seem like bad taste to consider Sunbathing in the Rain as an exquisitely written work of literature, but it would be impossible to ignore that it is. More significantly perhaps, Lewis presents a very convincing case for a close connection between depression and the act of writing poetry. So convincing that I almost started to sympathise with the insurance company that notoriously charges fellow poet Simon Armitage considerably more to cover the risk of living his life as a writer than when he was a probation officer.
There are some unsettling ideas here about the nature and possible causes of depression. Echoing Les Murray's assertion that the cure for depression is the truth, Lewis adds that depression "says the way you've been living is unbearable".
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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Gwyneth Lewis has written a funny (yes really!) and insightful book on depression which I have found to be hugely useful in understanding my own experience of this condition.
She points out, as gently as possible, that there are no quick and easy cures for depression, and that time and acceptance are the only solutions. She shows us that depression is your subconscious frantically trying to tell you something, which is usually that how you are living is not tolerable for you. If you ignore this warning for long enough, depression will literally take you out of commission for a while, forcing you to re-evaluate your life.
Since reading this book I have recommended it to numerous friends and relatives and they have all found it to be a great help.
I have nothing but praise for this book.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars cheerful 28 April 2007
By D. Ryan
I have suffered from Clinical Depression since the age of 14 ( I am now 59). I enjoyed the book,and most of all my children and husband understood more of what was going on with me after reading the book also. My medication is now at maintenance level, but I remember times when I was in my 20's and would sit in the corner of the bedroom not being able to focus on anything while my 3 year old looked after herself. I have spent many periods sunk in despair, sometimes I have got to work sometimes not. But this isn't a choice, when in the depths of true depression nothing matters, the real world has gone and you are sunk in a deep hole with horrors all around you. I am not sure that many of the reviewers actually have suffered this disease in the full blown variety, or they would have had more sympathy. Many people look upon depression as a bit of the monday blues, but real clinical depression and the other forms of chemical depression are more than this and when taken over, who cares about money food or even a roof over your head, if it all went ,when in the deep stages you wouldn't care. Most depressives who have a long term relationship have a loving caring partner who understands, if they didn't they would have left long ago. Read the book and enjoy it. You will recognise yourself in this book and that is a help.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A curates egg
Not bad ... but while you will admire her honesty there are better confessional/help books . Not a book that grippped me , but occasionally cheered me
Published 1 month ago by Pedroza
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
This is a really well written account of the authors experience and insight into a bout of depression. The book is easy to read and can be dipped into as well. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Januaryeagle
2.0 out of 5 stars Not useful
I didn't find this book very useful at all. It wasn't cheerful and to be honest didn't even feel much like it was about depression! Read more
Published 4 months ago by Festival Kidz
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem
This is a great book for people who have depression, people that have periods of feeling down or happy people to understand what it is like to feel like this.
Published 6 months ago by ailsa mary nichols
5.0 out of 5 stars Mental health is my passion
I adore reading about mental health (weird I am sure) and I loved this book. I used it in my a level coursework and it was just amazing.
Published 6 months ago by Liv bartlett
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what it says on the label
It was not cheerful. I'm really sorry the lady suffered so much but it didn't help me with mine. I didn't smile once.
Published 7 months ago by Mrs. J. E. Hingley
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but sadly not for me
I found this book easy to read, and I usually give up on these books before I get to chapter 3, lacking motivation to endure another author go on about how they had a bad episode... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Louise
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
This is a book that a person who sufferers with depression will enjoy and help them to smile while showing empathy with the sufferer.
Published 12 months ago by pauline black
1.0 out of 5 stars Depressing!
This is not a read for when you are feeling very low or indeed afterwards. Its very depressing and doesnt really tell you anything you dont already know. Read more
Published 15 months ago by nic
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for sufferers of depression - and their loved ones
I read this in one sitting, coming up and out of another too long and seriously black depression, followed by 'Shoot the Damn Dog' (Sally Brampton. See separate review). Read more
Published 16 months ago by Miss Read
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