If You Feel Too Much, by Jamie Tworkowski

Tworkowski, author of the viral story "To Write Love on Her Arms" and founder of a suicide prevention non-profit of the same name, here presents a curated collection of blog posts, letters, and meditations arranged chronologically. I found it surprising, mainly because I thought the writing of an anti-depression advocate wouldn't depress me so much. The message is good: people need other people, and sometimes people need help, and it's okay to ask for help because needing and getting help doesn't make you less loved as a person. So why did Tworkowski's writing make me so depressed? Perhaps it's a quirk of my own psychology, but accepting my need of other people and growing to love myself had to be founded internally. Sometimes love can be a burden...sometimes someone telling you how much they need you can add to your sense of guilt in not loving yourself and your inability to love them the way they love you.

On top of that, I couldn't help but think the whole time I was reading that there are so many other tangible needs in the world. Of course we're all entitled to our feelings, good and bad, and of course depression and suicide are awful things. But with millions around the world starving, or lacking clean drinking water, or affected by preventable infectious disease, or living in abject poverty, should so many people's efforts really be spent on First World citizens who feel kind of sad? It's a cruel calculus, and likely many people disagree with me. Maybe it's easy to feel this way because I don't currently suffer from depression. I just worry that we here in the U.S. and other western countries lack perspective, and that if we worked as hard on loving the starving, homeless orphan halfway across the globe as we do on loving ourselves, the whole world would be a little bit better.

I'm glad people find Tworkowski's message hopeful and helpful, and he certainly does have a gift for writing, but I would have a very hard time recommending this book.


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