This book came out in February 2017 and became a New York Times bestseller and #1 Amazon bestseller when it was published in the US and UK in April 2018.
The Chinese believe that before you can conquer a beast, you must first make it beautiful.
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 of 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.
First, we make the beast beautiful was published on February 28th, 2017 (Pan Macmillan Australia) and April 24, 2018 (US, Harper Collins) and is now published worldwide, in South Korean, Lithuanian and French.
Where to buy the book
I have also written a post that highlights various bookstores around the world that offer discounts on my books periodically. You can check it out here.
What people are saying
“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
“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 and Beyond 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
“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
Here’s where you find all the science and source references
I’ve written a full list of science and source endnotes from my book that you might enjoy nerding up on, you can find them here.
There’s a book club guide
I’ve put together this ace book club reading guide to help support these great discussions and get things flowing.
My anti-anxiety e-book
Some anxiety resources I recommend
Here’s a full reading list of great anxiety books by mindful types, which I hope many of you will enjoy and find useful.
Plus the treatments that have helped my anxiety and where to find them.
Finally, some great anxiety apps and sites you need to know about.
A few extra insights
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 had four leading psychiatrists and mental health groups, include Professor Patrick McGorry and SANE read it to ensure it contained responsible mental health information and would be most helpful for everyone out there.
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.’”