Review by Emily Fuller
For those of you who have read any of my previous pieces, you would know that I am incredibly passionate about mental health awareness and advocacy. In my own experience, it was quite a journey for me to get to a point of acceptance and understanding of my own mental health struggles due to the stigmatisation of shame surrounding the matter. Whilst we have made crucial leaps forward into a new stage of mental health awareness, there still remains a void of silence that often inhibits our collective consciousness whenever the subject of mental health arises. This is something that needs to be broken open through open dialogue between us and our loved ones, and even between ourselves and professionals.
Hence why I was so ecstatic to pick up Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk To Someone – a beautifully candid memoir about the psychotherapeutic process as experienced by both patient and clinician. Working in the field as a high-profile psychotherapist, Gottlieb had obtained the life she had always envisioned for herself – mothering a young son and happily settled with a partner whom she is madly in love with. That is, until one day her partner decides to leave without any forewarning – claiming that he cannot commit to another ten years living in a household with a child. Left in complete shell-shock and finding it difficult in knowing how to grieve, Gottlieb admits herself into therapy – a totally new experience for her despite her profession.
And so the birth of this memoir unfolds – a piece of work that reveals the intricacies of the human psyche from both sides of the couch, from patient to therapist. Gottlieb presents a completely transparent snapshot of the vulnerabilities, struggles and triumphs of the human condition – whether that be dealing with grief, self-esteem issues or anxiety, just to name a few. Her conversational approach to writing abolished any fears of pretentious formalities I had in reading a book of this nature. Her quick wit and charm put me immediately at ease, creating a seamless balance of empathy, pensiveness and humour. Even more, her laid-back nature works to demystify therapy and the stigmatisations surrounding it, regarding both the process and the rawness and complexity of emotion involved. Her intuitive care for her patients and her own therapist is truly heartfelt, illuminating just how much care and passion is involved in advocating for the mental wellbeing of others.
The only criticism I did have in reading this is that I would have been super interested to read how race, gender, privilege and power function within the vast spectrum of human experience and mental health. However, I am so appreciative of Gottlieb’s movement in opening up the canon of books on therapy – particularly from a modern and accessible perspective. As someone who is a huge champion for therapy, this book completely moved me – causing me to reflect on my own experiences in how I communicate about my experiences. This is such a heartfelt reminder that none of us get out of this life unscathed – in reading this I found myself smiling knowingly and ugly-crying and highlighting profound passages almost a little too enthusiastically. Not unlike the way Lori discusses whom therapy can truly help, I think anyone who is “curious about themselves” would benefit immensely from reading this memoir
Whether it is with a clinical professional or with a close friend in our lives, maybe we should all talk to someone.