It’s my stop on the blog tour for Feeling Blah by Tanith Carey. Before reading, I had never heard of anhedonia, which is when you feel more bad than good:
- You have stopped looking forward to activities
- While you are doing them, you don’t enjoy them anymore
- Afterwards, you tend to have a negative memory of them, so you don’t want to do them again
This book will be useful for people who know they are not depressed but yet feel like they don’t enjoy life as much as they used to. It might be a relief to know that there is a middle ground. That it’s not simply a case of whether you are depressed or not.
Tanith brings together a wealth of research and personal experiences to bring science to life. Part 1 tells us more about Anhedonia and helps frame it in the context of modern life. I know that periods of poor mental health can be hard to accept, and it’s easy to blame yourself. So this section will build understanding and perhaps lighten the load for sufferers. It also gives some simple ways to track anhedonia – which Tanith suggests could be the difference between letting your emotions control you and getting mastery over them. And I found the chapter How Your Childhood May be Standing in the Way fascinating. That section could definitely be a lightbulb moment for readers.
Part 2 is What Anhedonia Means for You, looking at your body and what’s happening. Includes sections on sleep, diet, menopause, thyroid issues and addiction. I like that it takes a holistic view on health, and doesn’t ignore other factors.
Part 3 is How to Feel Fully Alive Again, a useful resource which readers can dip in and out of as they work towards leading a happier life. This chapter reflected my experiences of recovering from burnout and FND and the ways I tried to improve my mood. I agree with the power of noticing good moments when they happen and that taking small steps is always better than doing nothing. Tanith highlights that research shows it can take as little as seven weeks of self-generating positive emotions to reduce symptoms of low mood.
There are practical tips on how to talk to your partner about your anhedonia. ideas on how to create a joyful home, and I’m also pleased to see she includes how beneficial it can be to spend time in nature. She says, “We pay a high price with our well-being when we cut ourselves off from the outside.”
Being an avid reader of health books, including some referenced by Tanith, I recognised much of the advice. Her tips were well-researched and easy to read and digest. Being the first book to tackle Anhedonia, it will appeal to many individuals who sit in the grey area between being happy and depressed. Many people sit in that liminal space, adamant they are not depressed but unsure how to regain their mojo. For them, this book could be a godsend.
This blog is written by Hannah Powell, book blogger, author and director of two garden centres. Her award-winning memoir, The Cactus Surgeon, compares her days in the concrete of London, leading to burnout, with her nature-rich upbringing in rural Essex. It’s a nature and health memoir full of mindful moments.