Breaking Badly

Georgie Dent

Breaking Badly
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Breaking Badly

Georgie Dent

At 24, life was good for Georgie Dent. After graduating with top marks she had landed her dream job at a prestigious Sydney law firm and moved in with a boyfriend she adored. She had the world at her feet and no right to break. But she did. Badly.

Within a year Georgie was unemployed, back living with her parents and suffering such crippling anxiety that she ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

Breaking Badly is the story of a nervous breakdown in slow motion - a life that fell apart and what it took to put it back together again. Brutally honest and warmly engaging, it’s a must-read for anyone who sometimes feels close to the edge.

Review

Georgie Dent is an accomplished journalist and public speaker. She is the contributing editor of Women’s Agenda, and tweets on feminist issues. But while her memoir, Breaking Badly, details her career rise as a journalist and public figure over the past ten years, it predominantly focuses on the time she regarded herself as ‘breaking’ and ‘broken’.

Dent describes how she worked her hardest to attain good marks at school to achieve her dream of studying law. During her studies, she was aware that she overprepared and was prone to self-doubt. She was also facing a barrage of health complaints – she had been diagnosed with severe endometriosis, and was also battling a painful and debilitating stomach complaint that was later diagnosed as Crohn’s Disease. Dent tried not to complain too much, but when her symptoms expanded to include extreme dizziness, she was forced to take a leave of absence from her full-time corporate law job in Sydney and head back to her parents’ home for the care she needed. Feeling like a failure and a burden, Dent admits she was not an easy patient.

Aware that she was suffering mentally as well as physically, Dent had no choice but to accept a referral to a psychiatrist who suggested that medication and a two-week stay in a small, private psychiatric hospital would help. It was not something that Dent had ever imagined occurring in her life, but it did have profound and positive consequences for her.

Dent tells her story with warmth and humour. My only concern is the slightly self-blaming subtitle of the book – ‘How I Worried Myself Sick’ – as if she was personally responsible for her physical symptoms and illnesses. This book may well help anyone suffering from anxiety, and provides a useful perspective on the strengths of cognitive behavioural therapy.


Annie Condon works as a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.

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