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on 13 January 2012
This is an excellent and thought-provoking read. The Happy Depressive isn't another self-help book but then I don't think Alastair Campbell set out to write one of those. The book sees the author draw very candidly upon many of his own personal experiences, setting them in a context that will be recognised by most readers, whether or not their lives have been affected by mental illness. The book challenges the political classes to consider more carefully than ever before how policies impact the wellbeing of individuals, communities and countries. This is especially relevant in this period of austerity.

Where the book is particularly effective is in distinguishing between depression and unhappiness. Depression, like any other illness, pays no respect to relationships, income or lifestyle. If this book achieves just one thing, I hope it can help explain to sufferers and non-sufferers that a feeling of unhappiness is not the same as a state of depression and perhaps more importantly, depressives can feel great happiness. That's why the title of the book really works.

So I would thoroughly recommend this book to you if you suffer from depression or don't, if you are in a relationship with a sufferer or not, if you're a parent, a political animal or party animal! I hope this isn't the last time Alastair Campbell writes on these issues.
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I was lucky enough to hear Alastair Campbell give "The Happiness Lecture" in Birmingham last year, and reading this e-book reminded me just how much I'd enjoyed the lecture at the time. Although this is short, Campbell has much to say about his two main themes. Firstly, the role governments should play in happiness creation, and secondly, how and when individuals can be truly happy. Of course, Campbell's work as a journalist and within government and also his struggle with depression mean that his is a view that is worth listening to. He is very willing to draw on personal experiences to develop his arguments whether about the trial of following a football team that plays four hours away from where you live, the sheer panic of suffering a breakdown or the emotions felt watching a dear friend die of cancer. As others have noted, it continues Campbell's efforts break down the taboo about mental illness but it is also much much more. This is a quick read, packed with insight and I thoroughly recommend it as an antidote to the materialism and short-term gratification we all too often mistake for happiness.
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on 23 January 2012
What is happiness? That's the question Alastair Campbell tries to answer in this searingly honest account of living with depression.
Yes, the politics and policies that can contribute to our happiness are examined, but the most moving sections are his personal battles with the down days.

It's hard not to read the part about his breakdown, without tears. The picture of this strong, clever man, reduced to piling his possessions on the floor, and being arrested, is heart-wrenching.

As Tony Blair's Director of Communications, he was a formidable figure in British politics. You may like him or loathe him. But few would deny that it takes huge guts to admit things like his battle with alcohol.

The methods for coping are in here too -- with an acknowledgment that they're not always foolproof.

And he writes openly about the nature of friendship and family, including the death of close friends, that will make you think carefully about what and whom you value in your life.

I was reading it on a grim, grey, wet January morning. When I finished, I looked out the window, and a patch of blue had appeared. Read this, it will make you think, and be happier.
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on 19 June 2015
Rarely do you get someone so closely involved in politics and the press with such a genuine, warts'n'all opinion without preaching or sounding false. Campbell manages to convey the Utopia of an idealistic society based on happiness values rather than economic ones, as an achievable and realistic aim. Why not? We need to get back to basic human values rather than the false ones of greed and selfishness. Campbell writes in a way that you can identify with the challenges and feelings he has been through to a point when you feel that maybe our values could change and become more society based and genuine. We need an idealistic politician to be brave enough and strong enough to realise it though. Chances of that? Slim. Alastair - thanks for the refreshing honesty and for expressing opinions that probably more people believe in than you might realise. Here's to happiness!
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on 9 June 2015
Reading this book was a very moving and deeply personal experience. As one who suffers from clinical depression (thankfully, I'm moving on from my 'train crash' but I'll always regard myself as a depressive), I could relate to so much of what Alastair Campbell was saying in this book. I found myself smiling a lot, not in response to feelings of happiness but in recognition and understanding of his feelings and experiences. One of the similarities (and I did think this was something peculiar to me) is Alastair's tendency to cry easily. Perhaps it's a trait common to clinical depressives. I cry when I'm depressed, I cry when I'm happy, I cry when, like Alastair, I witness the success and triumph of others, tears roll down my cheeks when I listen to beautiful music...tears are never far away.

I commend Alastair's candour and openness. For me, putting it out there has been cathartic (I blog on the subject of depression, under a 'nom de plume', but it would be inappropriate for me to refer to the name of the blog in this review). That, for me, has been liberating and I'm sure that Alastair feels the same way. I also publicised my story to help other sufferers appreciate that they aren't alone, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and also to shine a light on the issue for those who still don't 'get it'. I have no doubt that Alastair has done the same.

Alastair's story illustrates the mistake we make when we judge a book by its cover (pun unintended). To the unsuspecting eye, Alastair Campbell is a man who has it all. Success and achievement personified, yes, but happy, 'sorted', comfortable in his own skin, at one with the world, no!
Clinical depression is an illness. Sufferers can no more pull themselves together than can an asthmatic pull him/herself together and breathe properly without an inhaler, no easier than can a diabetic pull him/herself together and get out of that coma without medical intervention. A person can have what outsiders think is everything, great physical health, job success, money, beautiful wife, gorgeous kids and be as depressed as the person who has none of it.

Thanks, Alastair. Sufferers, you are not alone. 'Outsiders', read, open your mind and try to understand.
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on 12 January 2012
As an insomniac packing a Kindle this one hit my brain before 9.00am on the date of publication and I can certainly think of worse ways to start the day. Alistair Campbell is a proper journalist and writer with a refreshingly rigorous, honest and (thank heaven) unsentimental approach. If you want to know how he has climbed out of a crappy place and found a way of living that encompasses an intelligent and pragmatic approach to dealing with life's biggest questions read on. If you want to listen to some wierdo with hairy socks and sandals talking about how lighting a candle and writing a rude letter to the people who bullied you at school will heal your troubled soul this probably isn't the one for you. Personally I could listen to this man all day and I don't even agree with his politics - I certainly don't agree with his football loyalties....
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on 30 January 2012
This is one of the BEST books i have ever read, it is well worth purchasing you will NOT be disappointed Buy it now it is an Amazing read !! My favorite book of ALL time remains ALL IN THE MIND by the same Author again a must read book !!!!
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on 17 January 2012
I felt this was an honest and thoughtful account by Alastair Campbell . I have to admit this was the first e book I have bought and wondered whether it would live up to my expectations and it certainly did. From the moment Alastair stated he wondered why he had been chosen to do a happiness lecture , I knew I wanted to find out and to find out what he felt. I wasn't disappointed. I found it an emotional journey , where I cried and laughed at times with his honest approach to his life . I thought , yes I feel like that at times !! I enjoy books that make me think , one's I can relate to and this book had all this. I don't want to give too much away as sometimes reviews can reveal too much. What I do say is , I recommend his book and I am sure you will enjoy the book as much as I did.
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on 14 January 2012
(Bought 13 January 2012 - Kindle)

"I hope that by the time I die I will have played a part in ending the stigma and taboo surrounding mental illness". Alastair Campbell, I think you've played that part already, and this book will help you do more to achieve this goal.

I bought this book on a whim, because a friend Tweeted that she'd bought it (internet marketers, take note: it wasn't even a review. It was a note that she'd bought it). And I'm glad I did. Loosely based on Campbell's Happiness Lecture at Birmingham University (my alma mater and ex-employer, but no, I didn't manage to get to the lecture), this extended essay is a very honest and personal discussion of what it's like to be depressed: what it's actually like, in detail. It's also a musing on what "happiness" is and whether a depressed person is every truly happy, and a discussion of the things that help Campbell, and might help other people. He's careful to avoid preaching and telling people what to do, but the concrete examples about how altruism, exercise and the application of his mind to new things help him will surely bring comfort to people who aren't so used to managing their depression. I'd forgotten he's a runner, but that made sense - running certainly keeps me sane, and not just because I've got a busy lifestyle. And there's much more to identify with, personally - I'm glad I'm not the only person to sob my way through Olympic or other major sporting events, for a start!

But it's not all personal stuff: the political features heavily, too - but that shouldn't put people off, as it's the author's main arena, or was for many years, and he has much to say that's of real and practical interest. I was pleased to find an actual explanation of the Bhutan Gross National Happiness idea rather than the usual glib reference to it - spelled out and explained, it makes a lot of sense with its discussions around sustainability and support. There's a fair treatment of Cameron's aim to improve happiness in the UK population, and a notable discussion of the way newspapers have become more and more negative, feeding, to some extent, a culture of miserable envy.

Brave, intelligent, moving - often funny - well-written ... the only fault of this book is that it's not long enough! I've already recommended it to someone looking for resources on how to explain their depression.

This should be required reading for anyone who deals with the political, medical and social implications of depression and other mental health issues. Anyone who is or has been depressed (I'll count myself in that band: this is about honesty, after all). Anyone who has a friend or family member going through depression. Oh: that would be everybody, then.
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on 19 January 2017
Ali Campbell, legendary frontman of Brum supergroup UB40 seems have sold readers a pup. Nowhere does he address the story of their 50 top 40 hits - instead he pretends to be a bagpipe playing depressive? That noise would get anyone down - get back to your radio-friendly reggae roots and lighten up for heaven's sake!
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