If I were looking through Amazon or Barnes and Nobles for a new book to read, I probably would not be in the section this book resides. I have read very few biographies, auto or not, and I don’t think any of them were considered a memoir. The types of books I do read tend to be science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy. When I read non-fiction it tends to be in the form of articles about news, science or technology. I point this out because I would normally have no interest in a book like this, and had I not started doing reviews as part of my blog, I likely would not know this book exists.
I point all of this out despite all of that, I powered through Lia Rees’ “But I’m Not Depressed” the accounting of her life and condition in two days. I found that I could not stop reading, and did not want to (apart from one point, which is detailed below). The book is relatively short, clocking in at 110 pages (per amazon’s details, I had an e-book copy).
At the start of the book I find myself easily identifying with Lia. She recounts spending time in the library at school rather than outside. Escaping into books, particularly sci-fi and fantasy, my own favorites. She recounts her intelligence and how she used it to interact with others and how it directed her life.
All of this until she has a booster shot for the MMR vaccine. I feel the need to review this particular point. I nearly stopped reading when it became apparent that the problem was based around a vaccine. I tried to determine if the author was trying to link vaccines and autism, and if what I was reading was actually non-fiction. I did not want to allow my personal politics interfere with a story I had been given to review, but I have very low tolerance for fiction masquerading as non-fiction, particularly if it is to further a point that has been thoroughly debunked.
At this point in the memoir Lia says that she has a condition that causes her to be unable to track time properly. A quick search showed the condition could be caused by disease, satisfied that she is not necessarily trying to link MMR to autism, I continued reading. Later in the memoir Lia makes the point that she is not autistic, further allaying my fears. I point this out for two reasons. One, I don’t want others thinking this as a link for or against vaccines wherever you stand on the debate, Lia’s story is not related to that debate. Two, I don’t want others to make the mistake I nearly made and stop reading based on this.
The rest of the book details her struggles with her life that her condition has brought her. Her accomplishments in finding ways to deal with the “brain gremlins” and “brain fog” that become a part of her daily life. Finding new ways to find enjoyment in her life, all while trying to find answers and a way back to her old self while navigating the complexities of the health care system and trying to find doctors who will help her, rather than write her off as “depressed”.
I found the title to be very fitting. Throughout Lia’s telling, I never got the sensation that she was depressed, or complaining about what had happened to her. Throughout the book, she moves her life forward, through hard work and determination, forging a life for herself and making headway though a medical system that may not be equipped to handle her particular condition and does not seem to know how to manage it.
I found “But I’m Not Depressed’ to be a very enjoyable read, though I did have to stop a few times in order to look up a few words. This was due to not being familiar with the medical conditions Lia was talking about, and occasionally due to me not being British.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I finished knowing more about a world I didn’t know existed, and more about a person I never knew existed.
Lia says she wrote it to inspire the “walking wounded”, for those in a similar situation. I certainly hope her work does, but more than that her memoir should inspire all of us. It’s far too easy to see someone with a disability, a brain injury, or someone whom something is not normal (whatever that is). It’s too easy to cross the street, or simply ignore them and hope that they go away so that we can continue on with our lives.
It’s easy to do, I know I’ve been guilty of it myself. It’s much harder to look at someone in a different condition, and try to understand what is going on under the surface. What sequence of events brought them to this state, and what they might be going through, or how we can help them. So if Lia Rees’ work does anything I hope it inspires us all to dig a little deeper and try to understand what may be happening and perhaps how we can help.
This book easily earns 5/5 and my full reccomendation.
“But I’m Not Depressed” is currently available for purchase on Amazon for $2.99 as an ebook or available through kindle unlimited.