Breaking Badly by Georgie Dent
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.