The Happiness Quest is written by Lana Penrose.
The Happiness Quest is written by Lana Penrose. Photos Contributed

Collaring the dog: An honest, engaging look at depression

Book review: The Happiness Quest, by Lana Penrose
Finch Publishing, RRP $24.99 paperback, $9.99 eBook

THERE is a persistent popular assumption that depressed people are depressing.

Yes, there are times that we hide ourselves away, perhaps out of social courtesy, perhaps because of the stigma of mental illness and a sense of misplaced shame.

But the people I know with diagnosed depression range from smart and witty to charismatic and brilliant.

So it is no surprise that this book, by and about someone with long-term, severe and crippling depression, is actually funny.

Lana Penrose, in a delightfully honest and engaging way, tells us of her years of trying to find a way to collar the black dog.

She takes us on an entertaining journey through her test drives of every imaginable answer, from medication to meditation, from psychology to shamanism, working her way through a veritable alphabet of therapies: CBT, EBT, EFT, EMDR, NLP, the list goes on. She uncovers a few charlatans but collects valuable learnings along the way - all while continuing to live her life, dealing with dangerous depressive episodes.

On the way she reveals some home truths about depression, its various types, its causes and its manifestations. Ultimately, she finds her own answers, which she is careful to acknowledge might not be yours.

I highly recommend this book if you, too, have spent repeated time hunched on the bathroom tiles, overwhelmed by the terrible weight of your life (however unrealistic that assessment might be) - or some similar horrible experience. It might help. At worst, it might give you some perspective and understanding of your condition.

I'd also recommend it if you think you know someone who might be depressed. The dog bites one in five women, one in eight men, so the chances of that are pretty high.