For my second book review, I chose a book that I first read about 10 years ago called “Hope and Help For Your Nerves”, by Dr. Claire Weekes.
By the time I read this book for the first time, I was 10 years or so into my anxiety disorder and fairly well into my recovery. I had decided to read it because I have always been interested in other people’s views on anxiety and I love finding new ways to look at it, and I had heard great things about this book on various anxiety message boards.
Well I read it and, “spoiler alert”……… I loved it. I knew that this was the best anxiety book I had ever read or ever would read, and when I started this blog and decided to do anxiety book reviews, I knew this book was going to be one of the first books I wrote about.
As I started reading this book again a few weeks ago, it immediately came back to me what a genius Dr. Weekes was. She was the true “Anxiety Whisperer”. Sadly, she passed away about 25 years ago and what a huge loss to the mental health world it is because there is nobody on Earth, at least that I can think of, who “gets” anxiety the way that she did. I have always said to myself that she should have won a Nobel Prize for her work in self-help and psychiatry, and after doing some reading on her the other day, I discovered that she actually was nominated for the Nobel……. twice. She was that brilliant.
Another thing I have wondered in the past, while reading “Hope and Help For Your Nerves”, is HOW Dr. Weekes knew what she knew. I knew she “got it“….but how did she “get it”? Anxiety disorders are a pretty difficult thing to grasp for people who haven’t experienced it themselves. I knew she was a well-educated woman in the field of mental health…..but how did she know anxiety so well?
I later found out that it is because Dr. Weeks developed an anxiety disorder herself while studying to become a doctor. She used her knowledge and personal beliefs about anxiety to heal from her “nervous exhaustion” and decided to use her experiences and knowledge to help others. What an amazing, remarkable happening it was that THIS particular woman happened to get an anxiety disorder. Without that happening, her interests in medicine and research may have steered elsewhere and hundreds and thousands of people may not have found the help that they needed.
Okay, back to the book.
“Hope and Health For Your Nerves” is brilliant not only for the information that it contains…but for the way that it is written. Dr. Weekes’ goal with this book is not to inspire, or motivate, or hold the reader’s hand. She is not trying to share the story of her life and “tell her tale of strength and courage”. There is nothing self-indulgent about her writing style. This book is about YOU….the reader.
This book was written to be an instruction manual for people who live with anxiety disorders. And it does the job beautifully.
If you don’t know why you are feeling the symptoms of anxiety, she is there to tell you why. If you don’t know how to make those symptoms better, she will tell you how to make them better.
I honestly think that every person who goes to the doctor with an anxiety problem should just be given a copy of this book, told to go home and read it and then call the office for another appointment if they still feel like they need some help.
I’m not sure all that many people would call back for another appointment.
Dr. Weekes says that she will show you how to “cure” your anxiety. I don’t think she meant cure permanently, because she herself admitted that she still lived with bouts of panic later on in her life. But I think this book could definitely cure you of the idea that there is something seriously wrong with you…and that is 90% of the answer to anxiety right there. She demystifies it so much, that it just all starts to make perfect sense and seem like a pretty “normal” thing. This book takes the “overwhelming” out of anxiety. It makes it a “real” thing that exists for a reason…as opposed to some strange force that comes in and blows your world apart.
“Hope and Help For Your Nerves” is so full of information that it practically bursts at the seams. Dr. Weekes discusses the physical aspects of anxiety, as well as the mental aspect. She touches on every anxiety symptom there is….depersonalization, jelly legs, palpitations, panic attacks, insomnia, morning dread………if you are experiencing it, chances are she has written about it in this book and will explain it confidently, swiftly and efficiently. Dr. Weekes does not waste a single space in this book with frivolous details. There is no fluff…..only substance. Every single word is there to serve one purpose: to teach.
She teaches in a way that makes it easy to learn and understand. Every anxiety topic that she covers is explained in a way that is so easy and simplistic that you almost feel a little silly for not having figured it out for yourself. That is where the beauty of this book lies. Dr. Weekes knows her reader doesn’t have the mental energy or focus to read a bunch of medical terminology and scientific explanations for why they have anxiety. She was a research scientist at the beginning of her career and could easily have chosen to use the same “textbook style” approach that some physician/self-help authors use…..especially those authors who were published back in the 1960’s, which is when this book was originally published. But Dr. Weekes understood who her reader was and knew that for them, a different, more simple approach would be the most beneficial. And that approach still holds up to this day. No matter how tired you are….no matter how anxious you are….this is a very readable book that will have you feeling better about your anxiety situation from the very first page.
In my opinion, this book gives you everything you need to know about your anxiety disorder. There are no questions unanswered. It will tell you how you ended up where you are, and it is the closest thing you will ever find to a map that will take you back to where you are supposed to be.
If you have an anxiety disorder, or a loved one with an anxiety disorder, I highly recommend this book to you. It’s not only a game changer….its a life changer.
“Hope and Help for Your Nerves” is available on paperback and e-book through Amazon.
Before you go, if you’d like to hear a little bit about Dr. Weekes’ thoughts on anxiety from the doctor herself, check out this great clip I found on YouTube.
Thanks for reading and please share your comments below.
Have a great day.
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