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BOOK REVIEW | Here’s the thing: living is bloody hard, let’s be ...

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BOOK REVIEW | Here’s the thing: living is bloody hard, let’s be honest

This collection of essays, beautifully tackling depression, family and online lynch mobs, could be sold as a humorous book, but its best moments are serious

Contributor and analyst

She was 11 when she first wished she were dead. But killing yourself takes a bit of work, and she could not figure out how to do it. At that very young age, she fantasised about her non-existence: “I have started to think of death. I start to think of suicide. I think of it often now. I want to leave my body, but I don’t want to go anywhere. I have no idea how to do that, how to escape myself. I have resorted to living with self-hatred instead.”

No child should ever wish they were dead. Nor should they replace suicidality with self-hatred. This happened, in part, because nothing she did ever seemed to please her dad. Her mom role-modelled stoicism but did not fully shield her from the constant rebukes. She was unable to figure out what occasioned dad’s fury and disappointment in her, and so she was left guessing that maybe he was unhappy that she was not the overachiever her siblings were.

This led to a miserable time at school and university. Suicidality and unhappiness, interspersed with nuggets of apparent familial love, became the recurring motifs of her early life. By the time she was in her 20s, journalist and author Haji Mohamed Dawjee was well acquainted with anxiety and depression, being misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, consuming a cocktail of antidepressants, trying to kill herself several times, but surviving to write about these various existential crises in her excellent first essay collection, Sorry, Not, Sorry, and in her latest offering, Here’s The Thing...

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