Shoot the Damn Dog is a memoir very different from the ones I’ve ever read. It took me way too long to finish it and I had to stop reading many times to process Sally’s experience and be able to continue. Writing this, I feel slightly pathetic; it was almost too hard for me to read about Sally’s experience with depression and alcohol addiction, yet it wasn’t my battle. How bad it must have been for Sally, her friends and close family I’m unable to imagine, but after finishing Shoot the Damn Dog I’m closer to understanding the complexity of her struggles.
What makes Shoot the Damn Dog unique is easy to point out. First, it was written by Sally Brampton – journalist, author and magazine editor; someone who could be easily believed to be successful, powerful and therefore having no right to ‘feel bad’. Second, this memoir provides valuable and often unknown information from the inside of psychiatric units or AA meetings. Even though things are changing and public eye is more and more open towards unpleasant truths regarding human wellbeing, the stigma around mental health is still noticeable. We live in a world, where going to a hospital to undergo unnecessary cosmetic plastic surgery is more acceptable, than to get oneself admitted to a rehab or a psychiatric hospital. It seems like many people still don’t understand how much courage it needs and not to mention what kind of hospitals benefits society as whole more. I would rather have world full of happy, healthy people, wouldn’t you too?
While Sally’s story may seem way too familiar – divorce, death of a close friend and struggles in professional life being hypothetical triggers of her depression, Shoot the Damn Dog reveals fates of few more people struggling with depression and addictions what actually shows the only thing we know for sure; that we don’t know much. Depression can have various processes, medications, solutions and endings, its origin is still matter of research. There is no magic pill working for everyone, no quick solution, nor immediate strength returning therapies. As every patient’s story is different, the same applies for methods used to help overcome either depression or addiction. Someone may benefit from meditation, the others may feel being dragged down with every attempt they make. Sally’s long battles show many possibilities and coming from someone who felt there is nothing to lose by trying something new, it gives her experience even more credit.
What I took from Shoot the Damn Dog is much more information and understanding of both depression and addition issues. It is a brilliant book for people suffering by mentioned issues, and for these who want to get into the complexity of both. It broke my heart to find out that Sally lost her fight with the damn dog.
Additionally, I would like to appreciate the very last part of Shoot the Damn Dog. There, Sally provides readers her selection of books she found helpful and interesting, and also useful contacts to associations and charities offering help and support for those in need. Simple, but nevertheless important gesture.