Sunday, January 29, 2017

It's All Absolutely Fine, by Ruby Elliot

Ruby Elliot has lived with depression, an eating disorder, bipolar disorder, and other struggles.  To cope, she draws.  She has shared her drawings and musings on the internet (, and now in an actual book, It's All Absolutely Fine: Life Is Complicated So I've Drawn It Instead.

Elliot's reflections on life are achingly honest.  She describes her feelings as a teen, just beginning to deal with depression:
No one wants to feel so desperate that they end up in a psychiatric ward being asked to rate their mood on a scale of 1-10 as they watch their laces being yanked out of their shoes and taken somewhere out of reach. But these were all things that happened to me because I was depressed.
For other young women who are struggling with some of the same issues, It's All Absolutely Fine will be therapeutic and empowering.  Elliot wants the reader to recognize that depression isn't just a matter of being in a bad mood, bipolar isn't just mood swings, and you can't tell by looking that someone has an eating disorder.

The odd thing about the book is how hilarious she is when writing about some pretty grim experiences and feelings.  Mental health is complex and, for some people, very fragile.  Elliot's work is entertaining for anyone, whether or not one struggles with mental health issues.  But more than that, I think it can be therapeutic for those who are depressed, bipolar, have body image problems, are self-destructive, deal with anxiety, etc., especially if they are women in the teen-to-twenty-something demographic.

Elliot succinctly describes her battle:
I forget that I'm a capable human who just happens to have a very thinky brain, and see myself instead as this awful, ineffectual lump of idiot. It's a very horrible and isolating place to find myself. And like all these things, it's an uphill battle developing insight into what's going on and in trusting that insight enough to harness it positively.
She has harnessed her self-awareness positively for the great benefit of her readers--as well as for a few laughs!  Carry on, Ms. Elliot.  You're doing great work.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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