Book reviews, Mental health

Book Review: How to Tell Depression to Piss Off

Book cover: How to Tell Depression to Piss off by James Withey

How to Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life is written by James Withey, who has experienced depression personally and as a mental health professional, and is the creator of The Recovery Letters project.  He draws on both perspectives in laying out 40 different strategies that can be helpful in overcoming depression.

The author brings a light-hearted, humorous tone to the subject.  There’s plenty of British slang, which I loved.  There’s something about “Depression is a git.  Truly it is.” that just doesn’t sound quite as satisfying in North American slang.

The casual, non-clinical language makes this book very accessible for people who aren’t interested in psychobabble or therapist-speak.  While it’s not explicitly geared towards men, I think it would go over very well with male readers.

The book is broken into short chapters that don’t need to be read sequentially, which helps to make it depression-friendly.  Some fun illustrations are scattered throughout.

The author emphasizes the importance of getting help to get through depression.  The message that depression lies to you is a theme that comes up repeatedly throughout the book.  The reader is reassured you’re not the only one dealing with this illness; “there are many other crazies out there.”

One of the strategies suggested in the book is imagining your depression as something external (e.g. a cuckoo bird), and then giving it a beating.  “Take that you buggering stupid bird. You think you’re going to get in my head today? Well, you’re not.”

Another favourite of mine was the suggestion that you get angry at your depression “You are a selfish, deplorable, attention-seeking, lying piece of smelly vomit.”

The author addresses the issue of pill-shaming, and emphasizes the importance of good communication with your doctor so you’re well-informed.  There’s quite a funny script of talking to his rather slow on the uptake doctor using a metaphor for sexual side effects of antidepressants.  He also admits he got hooked on sleeping pills and the “withdrawals were like fighting a 75-foot dragon with a withering fairy duster.”

The book offers a good mix of suggestions, and the author effectively uses humour to convey the message.  Overall, it’s a great read.

How to Tell Depression to Piss Off is available on Amazon.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

You can find my other book reviews here.


book cover: Managing the Depression Puzzle by Ashley L. Peterson

My latest book, Managing the Depression Puzzle, takes a holistic look at how to put together the pieces of your unique depression puzzle.  It’s available on Amazon, other online retailers, and the MH@H Store.


This post contains affiliate links.

28 thoughts on “Book Review: How to Tell Depression to Piss Off”

  1. Thanks for the great review Ashley. I’ve seen this book around but haven’t read it. I like his comical take on depression and I’ve said similar in the past – that if depression was a person, I’d punch it in the face, so I think it’s something I could read — if I needed to lol 🙂

  2. That sounds fabulous!! I love the cognitive attach approach! Although beating the bird would scare me because dead birds are horrifying. I’d make the depression something else… beating the hippopotamus, perhaps? Yes, though, I wholly agree that depressed thoughts need to be attacked and treated as hostile! Like, okay, when I look in the mirror, I tell myself I’m sexy. Here’s the thing: I’m not convinced. Like, ever. I’m not sold on the concept that I’m sexy at all, and I never have been. HOWEVER. It amuses me so much that I start laughing. Better to laugh at some pretend idea than to get upset by telling yourself, “I’m ugly!” and feeling miserable, ya know? Cognitive approaches are key!! Death to negative cognitive schemas!

  3. This book sounds right up my street – I love it when they keep things quite informal and don’t go over the top with the jargon, and I especially love the use of humour too. Thank you for sharing this review, I wasn’t aware of this book until now so it’s gone straight on my wishlist 🙂

  4. One for my list! I’m currently reading The Body keeps the score… written by a psychiatric doctor. It really helps me to understand some of my reactions/triggers. Love it when a book speaks to you and isn’t just a load of cobblers written by people who don’t know anything. 🤔 xx

      1. A lot of people on a few ptsd groups I follow were talking about it. So thought I’d have a look, usually I get really triggered by things like that but it’s so good. 😌

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