Content warnings: Internalised homophobia, suicidal thoughts and actions, frank discussions of mental health struggles.
- Written with the assistance of mental health professionals
- I was about 20 pages in when I realised how much internalised homophobia fucked me up as a teenager.
- Breaks the huge task of ‘mental wellness’ into smaller, manageable tasks.
- Just wonderful, truly, read this book.
“You are never alone. You are in control of your mental health and you
can make a change. No matter how dark it may get, if I can do it, so
can you. You will get through this night”
I needed this book when I was younger.
I probably would have read it when I was younger too, I’ve followed Daniel Howell’s YouTube channel since I knew what YouTube was. Which oddly enough means this is in many ways a difficult review to write. I tend to find that, when I have prior or personal involvement with a book or its author, it is more difficult for me to be objective. I recently read a book written by a relative of a co-worker and it would be impossible to claim that this didn’t colour my reading experience in some way. But then, having tackled a lot of the issues that this book aims to help with, it would have been a personal experience whether or not I knew who the author was. So here we go.
You Will Get Through This Night is in its simplest form a self-help book that focuses on practical short and long term ways to cope with and in so doing recover from feelings of anxiety and depression. Of the many things I admire about this book, the first and foremost among them has to be the opening – which states that if ever you are in a period of serious and immediate crisis, there are more direct ways of getting help than a book, and that you should contact a helpline or a loved one, and take yourself somewhere safe. It is clear throughout this book – even without his stating it, which he does to his credit – that Howell has worked with mental health professionals in providing helpful advice. I’ve read self help books, I’ve reviewed one on this blog that I famously could not stand, and there is a tendency however small to just offer advice without backup or proof. This book uses methods, terminology and time frames that I can say from experience are used in CBT therapy, because I’ve done it. There are short exercises scattered throughout this book that I highly recommend trying, from one-minute mindfulness to physical grounding techniques to tackle panic and the feelings of unreality and disassociation that often come with it.
Broken down into three sections: This Night, Tomorrow and The Days After That, this book takes you from short-term remedies to immediate issues through to how to maintain a positive mental health practice going forwards. It’s not just straight-up advice, Howell’s own story adds a personal and sometimes upsetting note to the book itself.
I was maybe 20 pages in when I had to put the book down, make a cup of tea and think for maybe the first proper time how much internalised homophobia fucked up my mental health during my younger years. I grew up in a relatively small town, where the only out gay person I knew was – no word of a lie – my hairdresser, and a man periodically stood in the middle of the town market square with a sign shouting the usual drivel about gays and our destination down below. He once printed those signs in the library where I worked, and I could not stop him. Loud, proud and a few weeks into my own happy gay marriage now, I spent years of my life ashamed, confused and afraid of myself. Homophobia is a poison, and when you inflict that poison on yourself daily it can do long lasting and sometimes permanent damage, an issue that Daniel Howell is very familiar with. This is not a book solely for young LGBT+ people, but it is one I would recommend to them specifically for the way it deals with this issue. I wonder how much could have been prevented had younger Charlotte had this book, these tools, to cope with her own brain.
And it is very much an emotional tool kit, opening with a section on how to use the tools provided throughout – and what sucks about self help and mental health recovery is it is very personally hands on. There’s no magic pill, though those can help, and you can’t just hand your brain over to a professional for a quick wash and blow dry before having it returned all new and healthy. Recovery takes work, ongoing work possibly forever and it is HARD. Some days I don’t even think about it, some days I have to use every grounding strategy I have just to get out of bed, onto the bus and through a work day without a full on brain-based meltdown. But looking back to before I learned these things (the majority of which are in this wonderful book)? Today’s bad day seems like the best day ever compared to, say, seven years ago. Recovery isn’t linear, and it isn’t a quick fix process, but my god it is wonderful.
This is a book I will keep around to re-read whenever I need a refresher course on how not to be horrid to myself. It is well-researched, charmingly written and – I believe – genuinely a brilliant book. So go on, build up your mental toolbox, be kind to yourself – because no matter what you may think, you do deserve it – and find out what is on the other side of this night. I hope it’s wonderful.