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Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book About Depression Paperback – 16 Oct 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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  • Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book About Depression
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  • Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression
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  • Depressive Illness: The Curse of the Strong (3rd Edition): Volume 3 (Overcoming Common Problems)
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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 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘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

From the Publisher

A profound, frivolous, practical and radical new perspective that makes life possible again. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Firstly, let me be clear: there is heaps, really heaps, about this book which is wonderful - the practical hints, the tone of voice and language, the short digestible paragraphs, and many, many of the insights. So I would not wish to put anyone off reading it at all. I found it sympathetic and uplifting, which, when you're in the throws of depression, are sensations you want to hold onto for as long as you can.

Because one of the most painful aspects of depression is the cycle of self loathing, the notion that depressions are learning experiences is extremely useful. When you're beating yourself up endlessly, this suggestion is a breath of fresh air, and the book should be read for that reason alone.

Indeed, this would be a 5* star book for me, but for one area it fails to cover off. Because to my mind there is one omission - it fails to take account of the enormous and real pressure many, many sufferers find themselves under to get well in a specific time frame in order to earn money and continue working. This can mean the cycle of depression is much harder to break, as not very many of us are able to take two years 'out' and just be. Unless I missed something, Lewis never mentions this need to earn one's keep. I can only assume she had some kind of outside financial support, masses of savings or a very sympathetic employer. She certainly has an incredibly supportive partner, and many sufferers are not blessed with one of those either. So in this regard she is fortunate and for some readers in the throws of depression her experience might seem at one remove from their own.

My conclusion: read it, please. But do so alongside Sally Brampton's 'Shoot the Damn Dog'. Brampton's personal experience of depression is deeper, more agonised and very prolonged, so her take is even more salutary. Together these books make a great double bill, and can illuminate a tentative path through the darkest of times.
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