Wednesday 9 December 2020

The Fear Talking by Chris Westoby @ChrisWestoby BLOG TOUR @RandomTTours @BarbicanPress1 #TheFearTalking


A compelling, heartbreaking story of a teenager, his family, and finding the courage to live with anxiety. It's an everyday story of life, friendship, love, going to school, and terror. The Fear Talking tells the true story of Chris Westoby, who as a teenager has a life-long anxiety condition, but he doesn't know it - no one does as he's undiagnosed. He wants to be alone, all day, forever, and swallows every aspiration that he has to complete his education, be a good boyfriend and live a life without perpetual fear. Deeply ashamed of his own thoughts, he juggles lies to friends and family to keep his anxiety secret. He seeks out secluded places in his hometown of Barton to avoid the world and find a way to get better. He begins investigating the patterns of causes and effect in his anxieties, the meanings and effects of the places that he goes to, the objects that he touches, the music that he hears and the words that he speaks. A sense of control might just be in reach, but it comes at a price that he doesn't know he's paying

The Fear Talking : the true story of a Young Man and Anxiety by Chris Westoby is published on 3 December 2020 by Barbican Press. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review for this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour.

I was really keen to read this book as I heard of the author through an event that he did with author Louise Beech. He also grew up in Barton and went to college in Scunthorpe which is not far from me. In fact, I worked in Scunthorpe with a charity working with young people at around the time that Chris writes about, it was all very familiar to me. 

Chris Westoby is a young man who has achieved great success in life. Reading his account of his late teenage years can be utterly heartbreaking at times and only emphasises how far he has come in life.
What I liked most about this book was Chris's natural voice.  Being a teenager is rarely easy; with puberty, changes in education, discovering sexual relationships, dealing with becoming an adult and all the related dramas that surround young people. Dealing with these, as well as being constantly anxious, feeling sick, worrying about travel times and how many tablets you have left can be almost impossible.

Chris's feelings of anxiety totally consumed his waking hours. For an observer, looking in and reading his words, it could be difficult to understand what his issues were. However, his total honesty, his descriptions of the effects of his thoughts are compelling and give such an insight into how anxiety can destruct a life. I felt his frustrations as he tried to explain what he was going through, and I could empathise with his parents who were often totally bewildered by his actions. This is powerful and educational at the same time. 

If there's one main thing that I took from this book, it is that anxiety is exhausting. Chris had techniques incorporated into his everyday life that were was absolute obstacle course to get through, just reading about his constant checking and ensuring and re-checking and doubting tired me out, and made me realise that being anxious if far more than a case of nerves before a presentation, or a job interview. This is serious serious stuff and I applaud the author for opening up his heart and telling his incredibly moving story.

A book that is hugely important, that will help other people with anxiety and will educate those of us who really never realised just how dreadful this can be. 

Chris Westoby was born and raised in Barton, on the Lincolnshire side of the Humber. 

Leaving home triggered unceasing visions of shame, distress, illness. 
It became unbearable to go anywhere, and impossible to explain why. 
He has written the book he wishes he could have read back then, to help understand what was happening and know he wasn't alone. 
He hopes it might get into the hands of others who need it. 
Chris obtained his Creative Writing PhD at the University of Hull, where he is now Programme Director of the Hull Online Creative Writing MA. 
He lectures in Creative Writing, guest lectures in subjects of mental health, teaches reflective writing to Mental Health Nursing Students, and runs cross-faculty writing workshops. 
He works in research, collecting the stories of others.

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