Writing in her hard-hitting, witty and conversational style, Gillian Bridge says it like it is in Sweet Distress -“ making it very clear that society's overemphasis on mental health is bad for us on so many levels. Controversial, but true.
She makes a very strong case for the need for us to build personal resilience, explaining how this is the ultimate antidote to mental ill health and to the culture of us being encouraged to talk about our emotional suffering far too often. We are also given brilliant examples of those who exhibit true grit and who have the ability to roll with life's punches -“ a thing which Bridge believes we should all be able to do.
She tears ferociously into the media, which has fuelled the current mental health frenzy, as well as the celebrities and universities, who she claims have been doing the same lamentable thing. She takes no prisoners. An outspoken critic of -˜safe spaces' and -˜trigger warnings', the author is an advocate of challenging experiences and of us moving out of our comfort zones. To sum it up, Bridge would rather we tell our child that -˜Grandma is dead' than -˜she has gone on holiday'. She does not mince her words, and backs up her opinions with references to scientific research to pre-empt the naysayers who will inevitably hate this excellent, much-needed book.
And when it comes to our current obsession with anxiety, which Bridge explores extensively, she is refreshingly scathing about the whole business. Instead of dwelling on our mental ill health, she wants us to be mentally and physically strong. Sweet Distress shows us how to achieve that end.
Importantly, the author doesn't simply criticise the current culture around mental health and how we make it worse by focusing on it -“ she also provides us with practical, evidence-based solutions to help us pursue a happier, healthier life.
This enjoyable, pacey masterpiece needs to be read by everyone, and we must all act upon its wisdom.