The book begins with a note on the title, saying it’s meant to be motivational rather than being an asshole by patting you condescendingly on the head and saying there, there, just relax. Knight admits that she had generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, and says this book is for people dealing with anxiety of either the illness or non-illness variety. She mentions at one point that she takes meds, both regularly and as needed, and they help.
The tone is lighthearted, but the advice is good, and much of it boils down to either accept or act. Knight explains the book this way:
“Have you heard of the Serenity Prayer—you know, the one about accepting the things you cannot change and having the wisdom to know the difference? Calm the Fuck Down is essentially a blasphemous, long-form version of that, with flowcharts ’n’ stuff.”
Four faces of freaking out are identified: anxiety, sadness, anger, and avoidance, also known as ostrich mode. The strategies that are described throughout the book are presented in the context of these different types of freak-outs.
Knight encourages reader to replace “what if?” with “okay, now what?” Her “one question to rule them all” is “can I control it?”
She describes a shitstorm version of a hurricane scale, and the likelihood of a given shitstorm making landfall is measured on a probability barometer, aka a probometer (which sounds rather anal probe-ish, perhaps in keeping with the shitstorm). She likens the cognitive distortion known as catastrophizing to “willing a shitstorm into existence.”
Acceptance is a recurring theme throughout the book. Knight suggests that instead of asking why, or whose fault is it, you should ask what you’re going to do about it.
I’ve seen a few people mention Choose Your Own Adventure books lately, and they make an appearance in this book, in the form of “choose your own fuckventure.” Why not, right?
With short paragraphs, lots of headings, key text in bold, and diagrams, this book is very easy to read. The author has a good sense of humour, and does a good job of conveying meaningful information in a comical way. It probably won’t fix your anxiety disorder, but it will give you some good tips and make you laugh while you’re at it.
Calm the F*ck Down is available on Amazon.
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