Today I am delighted to be hosting the blog tour for What Doesn’t Kill You: Fifteen Stories of Survival a collection of inspiring essays edited by Elitsa Desmeadzhiyska
An explorer spends a decade preparing for an expedition to the South Pole; what happens when you live for a goal, but once it’s been accomplished, you discover it’s not enough? A successful broadcast journalist ends up broke, drunk and sleeping rough; what makes alcohol so hard to resist despite its ruinous consequences? A teenage girl tries to disappear by starving herself; what is this force that compels so many women to reduce their size so drastically?
In this essay collection, writers share the struggles that have shaped their lives loss, depression, addiction, anxiety, trauma, identity and others. But as they take you on a journey to the darkest recesses of their mind, the authors grapple with challenges that haunt us all.
This is such a beautiful book. Firstly the writing is just, just glorious. I found the stories themselves moving, thought-provoking and inspiring. Although the subject matter can be dark, reading the essays from these people and what they have endured and survived is incredibly uplifting. This is life. The suffering. The pain. The chasing the dreams that never quite turn out as you hoped. There is something here that every single one of us can relate to. I even found parts of each story reaching me – my soul saying ‘yes, I understand.’
Reading is a wonderful way to learn more about the world we live in and the people within it in a way that travel alone can never do. Through books we can lead a thousand lives and experiences. Just in this one book alone we can have an insight into fifteen. Fifteen very different experiences that help us gain a little more understanding (and hopefully empathy) towards subjects that can be surrounded in stigma and judgement. In her introduction Elitsa writes
The best way to educate, challenge opinion and remove stigma is to articulate experience through storytelling and personal experience. It is only through hearing the impact on an individual that you can truly start to empathise and challenge your own views.What Doesn’t Kill You – Elitsa Dermendzhiyska
The authors of each essay may be familiar to you, they may not, but each has shown great courage in sharing their experience with you. The names you recognise may surprise you and remind you that quite often what sits beneath the surface is complex. As has been said many time – you never really know what someone is going through.
Each story touched me in different ways but I found editor and short story writer A. J. Ashworth’s did particularly connect with me. She talks of anxiety and panic that has plagued her – something I have suffered with myself. I came to terms with the fact it is part of me and something I must live and manage myself and reading her account filled me with hope and helped me to look at things in a different way.
Eventually sunlight does arrive after night. But it doesn’t take away my dark, which is too far inside me to reach now. Like a black bulb buried deep that I cannot find the switch for. I carry it with me everywhere, without anyone else knowing. All through my childhood it will come on whenever it likes, when I least expect it – sitting and watching something lighthearted on TV, when playing card games with my grandparents, when eating an icecream I’ve been asking for but then have to abandon because I’m unable to eat when I feel like this.
This thing I do not understand punctuates my life, sometimes draining the light out of my days. It refuses to go even when adulthood comes, even when I know what it is and can speak its name. But panic is not Rumpelstiltskin, whose power leaves him when the girl who spins gold learns what he’s called. It is no fairy tale, no matter how much I might have wished it was. Still might wish it to be.Eight by A J Ashworth from What Doesn’t Kill You.
This may sound like a heavy read but it is hopeful, funny at times and so very, very human. It is wonderful. I recommend this to anyone who may struggle at times (all of us right) and anyone who is watching someone suffer with their demons. It reminds us that it’s part of what makes us kind, loving, passionate and human. It also reminds us that we can and do survive the bad times and hopefully will come out of it embracing the good times a little tighter.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Unbound for providing me with a digital copy to review. It is a stunning read and I will definitely be purchasing a copy for my forever shelf.
If you would like to find out more about the book and the contributors then do visit the dedicated page on the Unbound website here.
What Doesn’t Kill You is published on June 11th in paperback and ebook.
AbouT the Author
Elitsa Dermendzhiyska went from stock investing in Washington DC to a
technology incubator in south-east Asia, then joined the rat race in London and promptly burned out while building a tax software business. To avoid actually getting therapy, she spent the next two years interviewing therapists, psychiatrists, NHS clinicians, authors, artists and entrepreneurs from South London to Silicon Valley – this book is the result.
You can folloe Elitsa on Twitter at @EllieThinksNot