Anxiety? Books Help

Background

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.

Chances are you or someone you know deals with anxiety and depression. The two go hand in hand, and sometimes one leads to the other. 

I suffer from anxiety and depression. I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t on anti-depressants. For most of the past forty years, I’ve been in and out of therapy.

It’s normal for me to rehearse the conversation I’ll have when I order my morning coffee. I’m worried the clerk will judge me if I change my mind or ask a question, so I practice in my head.

If the anxiety is raging, then I end up replaying the conversation as I drive away.

It’s a shitty way to live; count your lucky stars if you haven’t walked that mile.

So, if a lifetime of medication and therapy hasn’t solved the problem for me, what has worked?

Books! Reading helps me understand that I’m not alone and that other people feel the same things I do. It’s taught me empathy not just for others but also for myself.

How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat is a book that rings true. The author understands what it’s like to deal with anxiety. I have the same thoughts her main character has. How cool is that?

The author gets it, and boy can she write. Anyone with a shred of empathy, who has dealt with anxiety, will relate to the main character. You will read to the end. Promise.

Clearly, I like the book. So let’s talk about it.

The Blurb

“Vicky Decker’s social anxiety has helped her to master the art of hiding in plain sight, appearing only to her best friend, Jenna. But when Jenna moves away, Vicky’s isolation becomes unbearable. So she decides to invent a social life by photoshopping herself into other people’s photos and posting them on Instagram under the screen name Vicurious.

And as Vicurious’s online followers multiply, Vicky realizes she can make a whole life for herself without ever leaving her bedroom. But the more followers she finds online, the clearer it becomes that there are a lot of people out there who feel like her — #alone and #ignored in real life.

To help them, and herself, Vicky must find the courage to face her fear of being “seen,” because only then can she stop living vicariously and truly bring the magic of Vicurious to life.

In this beautiful and illuminating narrative, Sharon Huss Roat shines a light on our love of social media and how sometimes being the person you think you want to be isn’t as great as being the person you truly are.”

The Book

The book takes place in a high school. You find the characters you would typically expect. Mean girls, nice girls, popular but misunderstood kids, average kids just trying to make their way in the world.

I work in an upper-level school, and the characters are true to life.

The plot is excellent because we care about Vicki, the main character. I wanted to know what happens to her.

The ending resembles a teen movie a little too much for my taste. But that’s a minor quibble.

Let’s focus on two things the author does a bang-up job on

  1. She shows that change happens as the result of many small choices. Our MC doesn’t suddenly get better; she doesn’t meet the perfect boy or girl who makes life great. There is no moment when the light bulb goes on, and the MC blossoms into a popular girl.

No, it’s many small things. For example, lending a pencil, talking to the person next to her, eating lunch in the yearbook room, and not the bathroom. One small step leads to another and another, and pretty soon, we start to feel better.

That’s exactly how things work for me. The dishes get done every day for this reason alone.

2. She shows that we all have some issue, that very few people judge us because we’re all wrapped up in our heads. Most people are too busy worrying about themselves to worry about others.

There is a popular girl in the book who visits the guidance counselor.

She has a locker next to the MC, who at first can’t understand why the girl who seems to have it all would need to talk with guidance.

This is a theme throughout the book. You, me, and the cleaning lady are all human, and if you are human, you are not perfect.

In the end, Vicki realizes that we all deal with something; some of us are just better at hiding it.

What an incredible life lesson and an important one to remember next time the anxiety kicks into high gear.

The coffee clerk has a million other things on his mind. Let’s end the overthinking.

Trust me, and trust me again by reading How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat.


Stuck for what to read next? Check out our Reading Recs page. And if you’d like to support our work, please consider making a donation via our Donations page. We’re trying to raise money for paid commissions, so any contribution will bring us closer to that goal. Thank you for reading!

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