The blurb from the back of the book
In first, we make the beast beautiful, Sarah directs her intense focus and fierce investigatory skills onto this lifetime companion of hers, looking at the triggers and treatments, the fashions and fads. She reads widely and interviews fellow sufferers, mental health experts, philosophers, and the Dalai Lama, processing all she learns through the prism her own experiences.
Sarah pulls at the thread of accepted definitions of anxiety, and unravels the notion that it is a difficult, dangerous disease that must be medicated into submission. Ultimately, she re-frames anxiety as a spiritual quest rather than a burdensome affliction, a state of yearning that will lead us closer to what really matters.
Practical and poetic, wise and funny, this is a small book with a big heart. It will encourage the myriad sufferers of the world’s most common mental illness to feel not just better about their condition, but delighted by the possibilities it offers for a richer, fuller life.
Some extra resources
If you’ve read first, we make the beast beautiful, you’ll know I promise a bunch of extra bits to be found online. Here they all are, in one nifty spot:
I’ve done a full list of science and source endnotes from my book. You might enjoy nerding up and clicking through to some of the articles.
Et voila, a full reading list of great anxiety books by mindful types. I know many of you have enjoyed this list.
Plus, the treatments that have helped my anxiety and where to find them.
If you haven’t bought the book yet and want to… simply click here.
A few insights into the book
- Yes, I have anxiety. It presents in myriad technicolour forms.
- The title is derived from a Chinese proverb I came across about twenty years ago in psychiatrist and bipolar sufferer Kay Redfield Jamison’s memoir An Unquiet Mind.
- It took almost two years to write this book. During this time I flitted between nine countries and moved house seven times. Anxiety spirals delayed the process regularly.
- I designed the cover. The idea has been in my head for yonks.
- I got a good bunch of leading psychiatrists to read it to ensure it was helpful for everyone out there. Here’s what Australia’s leading mental health voice Prof Patrick McGorry AO MD PhD, said about it: “…at once a nomadic journey, a cri de coeur and a compendium of hard-won wisdom…”. Phew, hey.
- My mate Rick asked me why I wrote the book. “Because I can’t help it and because I’m sick of being lonely.” Then I quoted something I’d read that morning from philosopher Alain de Botton’s School of Life: “We must suffer alone. But we can at least hold out our arms to our similarly tortured, fractured, and above all else, anxious neighbours, as if to say, in the kindest way possible: ‘I know.’”
Some endorsements for The Beast
“The best book on living with anxiety that I’ve ever read, and I have (unfortunately) read many. Sarah is full of expert advice while remaining grounded and incredibly human. Her vulnerability is her strength. And after reading, it will hopefully be yours too.”
Mark Manson, author of the #1 bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
“A witty, well-researched, and often insightful book about negotiating a new relationship to anxiety.”
Andrew Solomon, New York Times bestselling author of Far From the Tree
“Sarah’s book is indeed quite extraordinary, illuminating what is at once a nomadic journey, a cri de coeur and a compendium of hard-won wisdom flowing from a uniquely talented individual who has experienced a wide spectrum of mental ill health, and from her search for meaning and solutions. One gets the feeling her mind has operated like a vacuum cleaner sucking up all these experiences, experiments and extensive and deep reading and reflection. This is not just a self-help book, though there are many ‘whiffs of answers’ contained within its pages. Many are undiscovered gems. Truth, honesty and complexity shine through every page of what has been a lifelong struggle powered by a formidable energy. Sarah’s narrative shows why the conventional diagnostic framework doesn’t really work. It’s a tour de force.”
Professor Patrick McGorry AO MD PhD FRCP FRANZCP FAA FASSA, 2010 Australian of the Year
“Quirky, edgy and brutally frank. first, we make the beast beautiful is an exploration of the chasm between the public persona of a high-functioning media personality and her private struggle with ever-lurking, crippling anxiety. You’ll never read a more searingly honest account of mental illness than this.”
Hugh Mackay, social researcher and bestselling author of 17 books, including The Good Life andBeyond Belief
“I had some anxiety about whether I would be giving this gem of a book the endorsement it deserves. As a psychiatrist who spends time with my patients exploring meaningful connections and life balance, this book resonated. As a person with anxiety and a family history of mood disorders, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I found the beast indeed to be beautiful.”
Dr Mark Cross, consultant psychiatrist, SANE board member and author of Changing Minds
“By being so honest and real, you’ve made me feel like a friend. Every day I hurt but with your book I feel understood. Your book was a universal, anxious person sigh. One big sigh of relief.”
Sarah, 16, student; reached out via email from Italy
“I can’t stop thinking about this book. It’s for all the people who, like me, love the Sarahs of the world. It will help you understand them and love them more. Sarah’s raw account of her mental health issues is at times harrowing and at times uplifting. It will change the way you think about anxiety.”
Helen McCabe, journalist and former editor of Australian Women’s Weekly
“FINALLY someone gets it. My exact feelings put into words, on paper. That unexplainable unshakable feeling of restlessness, of always needing to do things. It’s an emptiness I’ve never been able to fill.”
Ange 31, office administration; reached out via Instagram while on a train
“Sarah’s story provides great insight into what I see people experiencing every day, and I admire her courage for sharing it with the world. She recognises that the road to wellness is about embracing and living a life aligned to our values.”
Dr Jodie Lowinger, clinical psychologist, Sydney Anxiety Clinic For Adults, Children and Adolescents
“Sarah’s life mission is to help us all feel less lonely in our pain. These pages are filled with authenticity and clear direction for how to return to our spiritual truth.”
Gabrielle Bernstein, #1 New York Times bestselling author of May Cause Miracles
“Thank you Sarah Wilson. This book is a beacon of reality in a sea of avoidance.”
Louise Androlia, artist, writer and emotional mentor
“Your book is a sigh of relief to my 13-year-old daughter. She has not put it down since I bought it for her and sees herself in almost everything you talk about.”
Aleta, mother, on behalf of her daughter Bayley, 13; reached out via Instagram
“Sarah is a brilliant and agile writer, who takes aim at under-exposed affections, helps us to understand them and shows us path towards a solution. First with sugar addiction and now with anxiety, she curates the latest research and takes readers on a journey that will change the way we think about the disease and the people who suffer from it.”
Dan Buettner, National Geographic explorer and New York Times bestselling author of the ‘Blue Zones’ books