Stuff That Sucks – A Mental Health Book Review

Time for another book review!  This one is a little different from my last few.  Usually I pick one of my favorite fiction novels, as I tend to read when I’m stressed.  This time, however, I want to review a book we picked up for my daughter on a whim.

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Stuff That Sucks
is a teen self-help styled guide written by Ben Sedley, and it talks about exactly what the title suggests, a whole bunch of sucky stuff (including the stuff that makes the stuff that sucks suck more). Thankfully, he also talks about ways to accept this and not let it get in the way of what’s important to you.

Confused?  Let me clarify a little.

This book is based on a form of therapy called acceptance and commitment therapy, or simply ACT.  The main premise behind this particular therapy is learning to accept that sometimes things really do suck.  Sometimes you will be worried about something, or scared, or ashamed, or any number of awful feelings, and that’s alright.  The idea is to acknowledge the feelings, accept their value, and not let them get in the way of your goals in life.  That’s the commitment part.

ACT focuses on creating a value-driven life. Think of it like this: We all have something that we care about, a major driving force in who we want to be and something that gives us the reason to continue.  Those things are our values.  For me, teaching is something very important to me and it influences almost every decision I make in life. In order for me to live a value-driven life, I do things that uphold that value.  For instance, I regularly make time to tutor, and I always look for new ways of teaching and connecting with my students. I will even find ways to incorporate teaching into my daily life, from being open to answering questions, training at work, to this blog.  All of these actions bring me closer to my values.

Stuff That Sucks, in particular, focuses on identifying emotions as they occur, learning ways to feel and accept them. Once the reader has passed that point, the book walks them through how to identify their values and how to create a value-driven life.

Who should read this?

Stuff That Sucks is technically marketed as a quick help guide for teenagers, and I’d say they’re a good option. But beyond that, almost anyone could benefit from this book.  The fact is, we all go through things that suck now and then, and learning how to live with it is a giant step toward a better life. With that said, I would honestly recommend this for kids as young as 8 or so, depending on their needs.  The reading is not overly complex and the content could do a lot for an anxious or depressed child. As for adults, well, let’s just say I read it quickly, but I’ve also gone back to it again and again.

Needless to say, I highly recommend this book.

Who shouldn’t read this book?

Avoid it if you live a life without anything bad in it at all.  Or maybe don’t avoid it, because I suspect you have someone in your life that could really benefit from it.

A final note

This book is by no means a fix for all that ails you.  It is a great tool, but anxiety and depression often require more than just one tool.  Proper therapy, medication, and support are also often critical in managing chronic mental illnesses, so please keep that in mind.

Also, note that this is a “quick guide” and so it’s not going to cover everything that could be learned about ACT (which is also only one of many different therapies for chronic mental health conditions).

And with that, I say…

Go get this book!



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