Wednesday, July 14, 2021

July Book Report - Susan Calman “Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate”

 If you don’t know who Susan Calman is, then you must not watch a lot of British panel shows. She’s the very short Scottish comedian who started out as a lawyer. She can stand up inside of a red post box with no problem. She loves Doctor Who and names her cats after strong fictional female characters. And she seems like a happy person.

But looks can be deceiving. Cheer Up Love is a memoir which follows Susan’s (I feel like I can call her Susan since I know her so well from seeing her on tv) life story framed around her depression. It is a book about how she deals with depression and what she wishes people without depression understood about people with depression and how to interact with them. Hint: It doesn’t involve telling people with depression to “cheer up, love.”

As a person who has struggled with depression for as long as I could remember, there was a lot in Susan’s story I could relate to. For Susan, and for me, depression has been a lifelong companion. Susan has personified her depression into something she calls the crab of hate. The crab of hate visits Susan, but also goes away sometimes. And it isn’t something she can control. It is external to her. External to logic.

I listened to this as an audiobook, read by the author. It took me several chapters to get used to the way Susan reads. She doesn’t have the natural “acting” quality to her voice. You can definitely hear that she’s reading. But I don’t think the book could have been read or performed by anyone else.

I highly recommend Cheer Up Love to people who are depressed, looking for commiseration and maybe some tips on how to cope, and I recommend it to people aren’t depressed. Her portrayal of what it is like to actually be depressed can maybe help the non-depressed people of the world understand depression a little better. Or, if nothing else, provide them with a list of things which they should never say to a depressed person.

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