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4.6 out of 5 stars
Shoot the Damn Dog
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147 of 152 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2008
I have just finished sally's book and found it truely amazing. In fact i bawled my eyes out after reading the first few chapters when i realised her story was so like mine (and my family) and others who suffer from this truely terrifying disease. Like Sally herself, my brother had tried to kill himself recently. Thankfully, mercifully, i was never that ill.
The beauty with Sally's account is she just tells her story just as it is, and in total honesty, which is very brave. I commend her for standing up to the stigma, fear and ignornace that is out there about depression.
I love the way Sally offers some meaningfull tips and advice on how one can perhaps better cope with the disease on a day to day basis.She offers none of the usual patronising miracle cures which other so called 'experts' have often written about.

You must read this book if you know anybody who suffers from this 'black dog' or if you are a sufferer yourself. At first i was afraid to read it, but now i am so, so, glad that i did.
Truely immense.
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66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
i first read this book 18 months ago whilst in the deepest darkest pit of my depression, this booked helped me beyond words and it gave me comfort and help and relief that i was not alone.

i am currently re-reading this excellent, truthful, honest book as i am again within my darkest pit.

i can not explain why this book helps except to say that it is real, it is honest and it helps me beyond words. i have purchased 2 further copies for my families, as they do not understand and the book says it all.

thank you sally for having the courage and the words to write this book.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2008
This book is a must for anyone coping with depression, or living with someone who suffers from it.
Sally Brampton is painfully honest in her book, and you can really feel you get to know her warts and all.
I dont suffer from depression myself, but I have a huge interest in mental health and this read was both informative and enlightening.
I cannot recommend this book enough.
Get a copy I bet you will want to reread it.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2008
I wasn't sure what this book was going to be when I started reading. I was concerned that it may upset me more that help me. I need not have worried. This is a beautifully written book, which tells a powerfully uplifting story.

The author's decision not to force her book into a linear structure adds an oral story telling quality which, when coupled with direct addresses to the reader, makes the reading of the book more like a conservation with a wiser friend.

This is a book of hope and compassion which I would recommend to anyone who is suffering, or has ever suffered, from depression.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 9 May 2009
I read this book shortly before a member of my family suffered an acute pscyhotic episode and it really helped me, not only to help him (something I find very hard because it tears my heart out), but also to remain patient with members of the medical profession who, as Sally so vividly highlights, do not always appreciate that mentally ill is not the same as being:

(a) stupid
(b) a failure in life and;
(c) hearing impaired

One of the things Sally said that really struck a chord was that people she knew would not hesitate to send cards and flowers if she had the flu but would not think it appropriate to send gifts and would stay away if the illness was psychiatric. It made me realise that just making your presence and your love felt can make such a difference to someone in desperate straits. Like Sally my relative is a glamorous, high octane charmer; I always think the thing that will kill him is his ability to articulate what is happening to him - it blinds doctors to his terrible pain and need. Like Sally he loves words and will question the more facile aspects to treatment with a fluency and cogency that can actually seem threatening to professionals despite him being at his vulnerable.

One more personally applicable aspect to Sally's book that I took away with me was the duty that we all have to stay sane. As someone that sometimes has to care for someone when they are ill I have resolved to try everything that she has suggested in order to stay on top of things; as many of them help me too (yoga, acupuncture, finding the right drug/therapist, walking, gratitude). Obviously everyone will have their own methods and it can be as discipline in itself.

The only thing I would quarrel with about Sally's book is her assessment of her time at "Red" - it rocked when she was editor and I remember Elle in its giddly heyday too when she steered the ship. In case anyone reading this is wondering I do not know Sally and have no connection to publishing - I am just an incredibly grateful reader. Please buy this book there are lessons in there for everyone.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Finally a book I can relate to!

I do suffer from depression and find this book inspiring and useful to see there is a way to get through life!

Sally writes with honesty and factually about the illness and offers really useful personal advice, with a little light humour thrown in.

I am particually impressed that she writes through experience, which is what attracted me to the write up I saw in a magazine.

This is a book I would recommend to anyone suffering from any form of depression. Enjoy, learn and know you can do it!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2008
This is an important and powerful book. It treats what is often a taboo and misunderstood subject with a rare combination of knowledge, sensitivity and understanding, which flow from the author's direct personal experience. It is also a very brave book. To have the courage to describe an illness which often causes a stigma to be attached to the people who suffer from it - for the sake of promoting a wider understanding of depression - makes this an admirable book worthy of reading.

Sally Brampton writes a weekly column on relationship issues in the Sunday Times Style Section. For anyone not familiar with her work, Ms. Brampton is an extraordinarily perceptive and insightful 'agony aunt' with an uncanny ability to get to the heart of the matter in any situation. That she should apply her talents as a writer to providing such a frank and open account of her own journey through depression will help many people cope with what is a horrible and debilitating illness.

The author's style is both engaging and accessible. She is a brilliant communicator. But what makes 'Shoot the damn dog' such an effective 'self-help' book is the graphic descriptions of the pain and despair she felt. If you suffer from depression, it will help you see that you are not alone. More important, you'll find it is a source of hope and encouragement. Ignore criticisms of the technical content. These are important in self diagnosis. In particular, the Beck Depression Inventory and American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are important tools in objectively assessing whether you need help, (see Wikipedia for more info on these).

I read this book because my wife is suffering from depression. I didn't realize it at first. And when I did twig that she had a serious problem, I didn't understand what had happened, how serious it was or have any idea about what to do about it. This book helped me help my wife by giving me a proper fact-based understanding of the illness, including its symptoms and causes, and not just its effects. In fact, 'Shoot the damn dog' really does much to advance a wider understanding of depression. It is not an academic treatise, but a simple and practical description of its realities.

Ms. Brampton makes two very important points. One is that while 'victims' of depression often need help to overcome the physical symptoms of the illness - which really can be very real, such as the sense of being choked, or total lethargy, which Ms. Brampton felt. Two is that true recovery requires an ongoing commitment to understanding the issues that lead to depression, i.e. therapy with a trained counsellor.

I am no expert on depression. But my own second-hand experience of this illness together with Ms. Brampton's analysis convince me that it results when we bottle-up pain inside ourselves. It is what happens when we refuse to admit or express powerful negative emotions that come from childhood traumas or other negative experiences. We often have a tendency to bury such hurts, or we are not allowed to acknowledge them. But when we deny their existence, or hope that, if we ignore them, they will go away, they do not disappear. Instead, they fester like some deep wound and then explode when some other stress exerts a hold over us. When they do eventually come out, these repressed feelings attack us with interest.

Of course, it is different for everyone. But 'Shoot the damn dog' will provide a solid general framework that will allow you to develop your own understanding of the condition. And that is vital in getting timely help. Of course, it is not a substitute for the professional help of a trained psychiatrist/ psychologist, but for some it will be a vital step in realizing you need help as well deriving greater benefit from it when you finally seek it.

For others, this book will be a true friend and companion as they grapple with this illness. Another aspect that makes it so easy to endorse is that it addresses the shame people feel. You know what I mean: I can't believe this is happening to me. I'm sorry, but depression is no respecter of intelligence, wealth, class or social position. People don't want to admit they've got depression for fear of being written-off, so they suffer to the point of breakdown before getting help.

Ultimately, in writing this review, I believe this book is genuinely useful resource in coping with depression. I hope it will prove as helpful to you as it did to me. It was worth every penny.

Thank you, Sally Brampton.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2008
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.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 21 December 2010
I'd never heard of Sally Brompton before coming across this book in a search for enlightenment (yes, I really mean enlightenment) so, unlike other reviewers, I had no pre-concieved ideas which may have clouded my enjoyment of it. Sure, her background is in the Fashion industry and some may see that industry as shallow and consumer-based. But clynical depression knows no boundaries and a person's vocation has no bearing on whether they're likely to suffer, or whether (as a sufferer) their experience can help others. To be honest, until I read this book I seriously wondered what was wrong with me, and whether I could possibly be suffering from depression. Hence the title of this review, and the use of the word "enlightenment".
More eloquent reviewers have written much better reviews than I'm capable of, so I'll keep it simple.
The book does have a happy ending (for those that need one, and who doesn't?), so if you're suffering from depression (or wonder whether you may be, like I did), then the likelihood is that reading it TO THE END can help you. In many places, I found the similarities between what the author was feeling and my own feelings frighteningly similar.
If you think you know someone who is suffering from depression, then I'd also recommend you read it to the end. There's no doubt it will help you to understand what that person is going through, and (more importantly), it will help you to help them, if you love them enough.
These days I find it difficult to stick with any book to the end, but this one was no problem. In fact I marked several chapters to be read again, the most useful being 9; Fine is a Four-Letter Word.
Despite me being in another black hole at the time I read it, this book left me with a palpable feeling of optimism. I now know some of the reasons why I feel the way I do, and (crucially) I know I'm not on my own and I have some of the tools to help myself.
That's as much of a recommendation as I'm able to give, but it does deserve 5 stars from me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2013
A very personal account of the harrowing effects of severe depression. Enlightening in so many ways, not least in how the psychiatric industry is often clueless when it comes to the chemical management of "resistant" depression (i.e. increasing the dose/changing the tablet/adding another pill). As other readers have noted, there is a distinct air of "priveledge" that echoes through the book - Sally's throw-away remarks about what therapists are wearing, for example. As one who also peaked too young (I was a succesful magazine editor at 28) I could resonate with much of this stuff, also the observations about distant father/ alienating childhood. But I couldn't help thinking - I would love to spend 2 years pottering around the garden/ taking up yoga etc - but mundane bills make this impossible for most of us. Yes I know Sally was discharged twice from hospital because the insurance ran out, but there is an overwhelming sense of infinite finance behind all of this - like there is a magical force behind all of this, in a sense, dare I say it of enabling the illness. When Sally feels better she goes out and chin-wags with similarly weathy people in swanky Knightsbridge establishments. When most of us feel better we take a walk down the street, and check our council tax bill in case the bailiffs are due. With depression an epidemic in these current economic times, I found the class issue jarring. Which was a shame, because I became engaged with her plight, and I know the illness knows no boundaries of class or money. So, that is why I say this is a highly personal account of depression, with episodes I suspect many will relate to. I know that I did.
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