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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly moving read
The author provides a deeply moving account of his battles with alcoholism and depression throughout his early life. For anyone who has suffered from either or both of these it is a chilling read, and I would recommend it to anyone trying to understand just how real these problems are.
To answer the question posed by an earlier reviewer - what has the author suffered...
Published on 29 April 2003

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Honest , but depressing read
As a recovering alcoholic who takes medication for anxiety and depression and leads a very happy life, i was keen to read about the author's experiences and recovery. Sadly i came away feeling rather cross and very worried that someone suffering from alcoholism may read it and give up all hope of any solution to their problem. He gave the impression that all...
Published on 23 July 2007 by Mrs Hugh Janus


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly moving read, 29 April 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: A Head Full of Blue (Paperback)
The author provides a deeply moving account of his battles with alcoholism and depression throughout his early life. For anyone who has suffered from either or both of these it is a chilling read, and I would recommend it to anyone trying to understand just how real these problems are.
To answer the question posed by an earlier reviewer - what has the author suffered from that everyone else hasn't? - chronic alcoholism and severe clinical depression is the simple answer.
Far from being a 'teen' read this is a gripping, thought provoking novel for intelligent readers of all ages.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Head full of Blue., 13 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: A Head Full of Blue (Paperback)
whats written between the covers of this book, is more beautiful and inspring than anything that i have ever read, it follows no set path or direction, chapters come in the guise of several lines, or several hundred lines. None of this matters as every line pieces together snapshots of memories that seem to be written down more for nicks own peace of mind and progression, than just to have a book to show at the end of the day.
It feels like the book happened by accident, as though this memoir was meant to be read after nick was dead and buried, revealing the true story to all those that never quite understood what was wrong.
I have read it twice, and already certain lines have stuck, certain paragraphs cant be forgotten.
nicks wildly desriptive tones, create surreal images of what he feels and remembers, but they never leave us behind, only make us pause to admire the way his eyes see the world.
The book moves swiftly, through many phases of nicks life, some very familiar to most of us, some so dark that we give thanks that we never got that far down the road.
It is something that i wish i had never read, so that the next time i am going to buy a book, i can see it, and buy it all over again, sit down and not come back until its finished.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A courageous and astonishing account, 16 Mar 2002
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This review is from: A Head Full of Blue (Paperback)
Last night, I read this book in one sitting. I was spellbound. It is gut-wrenchingly frank and confronts the horrors of depression and alcoholism head-on. Nick Johnstone has stared into the past and at the mirror and has unflinchingly described what is there. He is honest with himself and with others and has detailed the breif highs and desperately prolonged lows of his illness and addicition. He encounters the disinterest of medical professionals whose only answer is to bombard him with alternative addictive and head-mashing compounds. He also encounters therapists - some extraordinarily healing and others appalingly remiss - as well as others who have helped themselves and who reach out to him. The book unfolds at an extrodinary pace, like the events of his young life: 'Nineteen and being prescribed Antabuse'. It develops through a novel series of short, journal-like sections which carry the reading along. The thing that srikes me most forcibly about this book is the extraordinary sincerity and clarity with which he presents his almost confessional account. This perhaps reflects the various admissions and therapies that are required to combat the self destructiveness of alcohol. As one who has answered 'yes' to three of the twenty questions, I recognise his descriptions of the intense draw of the stuff. I am proud of the man who wrote this book, for exercising immense strength in tackling the drink, for confronting his depression frankly, and for having the extraordinary courage to write and publish this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, poetic, poignant., 27 Jan 2007
By 
J. Kennedy (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Head Full of Blue (Paperback)
As another reviewer said, I too have issues with some people's comments saying this book is 'narcisstic' 'self-indulgent' and that the author was 'lucky he didn't have to work his way through college' Oh I see. So you would rather suffer from self-hatred, depression and anxiety as Johnstone did rather then go to work? If you haven't experienced depression DON'T judge people who have. Depression is an illness of the mind and naturally you are going to be thinking about yourself because you are suffering! This is a beautifully written, understated and moving book which I couldn't put down, and I resent certain people's attitude to his illness by implying his misery was something he should just get over.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Honest , but depressing read, 23 July 2007
By 
This review is from: A Head Full of Blue (Paperback)
As a recovering alcoholic who takes medication for anxiety and depression and leads a very happy life, i was keen to read about the author's experiences and recovery. Sadly i came away feeling rather cross and very worried that someone suffering from alcoholism may read it and give up all hope of any solution to their problem. He gave the impression that all antidepressants make one lethargic and spaced out, something which i strongly disagree with. He also did not stick with AA long enough to reap the benefits of its 12 Step programme, which would have provided him with the tools to lead a happy and fulfilling life. He appears to survive on willpower alone, which is not necessary, and a sad way to live.The whole book was negative and gives the wrong message to any suffering alcoholic or person suffering from debilitating depression. It was well written and very honest but I personally would not recomend it as it I found it a very depressing read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depression, alcohol & love: More enjoyable than it sounds!, 17 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: A Head Full of Blue (Paperback)
This is a well-written, thought-provoking account of the author's depression and alcoholism. It gives a real insight into the addictive/obsessive personality in a very readable style. The concentration on short, snapshot stories about his drinking, with the rest of his life reduced almost to footnotes, serves to emphasise the tunnel vision of the addict: very effective.
If I had a criticism, it's that Johnstone doesn't spend enough time writing about Anna (his wife) who helps him, initially, to deal with his alcoholism, and later with the obsessive personality traits that led him to drink. As a result, she comes across in a rather one-dimensional way, which is a pity, as the passages involving her (particularly the one in which he proposes to her) are some of the best in the book, and genuinely moving.
However, this is a fairly minor criticism; overall I'd definitely recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and compelling, 14 Aug 2006
By 
Sarah Durston (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Head Full of Blue (Paperback)
'A Head Full Of Blue' is a candid exploration of Nick Johnstone's experience of depression, destructive realationships and alcoholism.

At times the book makes you feel uncomfortable, in the same way you would by reading someone else's diary. What I love is that it's never self indulgent. Johnstone explores his self- destructive behaviour without making excuses or turning to God at the end. He's even honest about the lies he told.....this is not an author trying to portray themselves in a positive light.

This is a great exploration of depression (not teenage angst and moods, as some other reviewers have said) and addiction by someone who has experienced it.

It's a quick read but it's well worth doing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 13 April 2002
This review is from: A Head Full of Blue (Paperback)
This is one of the best books I've read about addiction. Whilst Nick suffered from alcoholism he captures the emotions of any addiction and the issues of depression. Anyone who has suffered from addiction or is an 'addict' or is depressed, or suspects they may be, will find terrific empathy in this book and moreover hope. It is written in a very unsentimental style. It is so 'to the point'. It's very rare to read such a book that just captures it exactly as it is. He doesn't attempt to show off or preach. He just tells his story; a story that is highly moving and optimistic. Good luck Nick and thanks for writing this book. You're an inspiration.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive, 13 Jun 2005
This review is from: A Head Full of Blue (Paperback)
A compulsive read. I started and finished in four hours! Don't read it if you expect an analysis of why the author suffered from his ills. Read it if you want to understand how clinical depression can tear people apart and how they respond to it. I take issue with some of the criticism in the reviews. As a sufferer of the illness I know the depths that depression can take you too, whoever you are, whatever you do and whatever your background - irrespective of external factors. This books tells it how it was for this man. Self indulgent? Maybe, but not in a narcissistic way. When this illness sweeps in and tears your life apart sometime you can't help become self indulgent - in that life becomes a quest to live or relive the good days, to get that spark back, to enjoy what you can see others enjoying. This book is this man's inside account of that battle. It's not heavy, its not academic and its a bloody good read. Buy and enjoy it for what it is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking and inspiring, 15 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: A Head Full of Blue (Paperback)
Nick's in your face style and fast paced writing will wear you out as he rushes through his addiction history that started, surprisingly, at an early age. I could not put this book down and read into the early hours. Without spoiling the ending (is there an ending?) I think this book shows you that the pain does not end when the drinking stops. But at least it lessens.
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A Head Full of Blue
A Head Full of Blue by Nick Johnstone (Paperback - 6 Jan 2003)
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