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Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,257 ratings  ·  204 reviews
A successful magazine editor and prize-winning journalist, Sally Brampton launched Elle magazine in the UK in 1985. But behind the successful, glamorous career was a story that many of her friends and colleagues knew nothing about—her ongoing struggle with severe depression and alcoholism. Brampton's is a candid, tremendously honest telling of how she was finally able to " ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 21st 2008 by Bloomsbury
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  2,257 ratings  ·  204 reviews

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Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Deeply scary stuff.

My wife has depression and until I read this book I could not understand the illness at all. Now, I'm not making excuses for my wife but since reading this book I have a much better handle on why my wife is the way she is, her mind-state generally, ler lack of motivation in almost all things...

I'd recommend this book for anyone who has a husband, wife, partner or loved one with depression. I honestly think it will help you understand.
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jennifer Tait
This is a biting, sarcastic, and incredibly honest portrayal of depression. Brampton refuses to pull any punches or give herself any slack. She describes how she was openly hostile toward treatment (with sometimes hilarious results -- as someone who's been tempted to derail Cognitive Behavioral Therapy out of sheer cussedness, I couldn't stop laughing about her stubbornness in group therapy), was frequently a dangerously noncompliant patient, and very nearly derailed everything by developing a m ...more
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book nails the experience of depression squarely on its head. Sally Brampton draws you into her world of darkness and pain and you find it hard to leave. To those of us who suffer from depression whether now or in the past, "Shoot the Damn Dog," puts words on it without a doubt. It is like you get inside Sally's brain and feel her emotions as your own. I never knew that depression could be so interesting and absorbing in its own right. She tries every avenue to cure her illness from the new ...more
David Pope
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I distinctly remember reading about Sally Brampton's tragic suicide in the paper and being so moved by it, that I felt compelled to buy the book. One of the main messages in "Shoot the damn dog" is to find and develop coping mechanisms for depression, as it is rare that depression simply "goes away". Ironically, reading this book was a great escape for me and certainly took me away from my own negative thinking. The more I relate to someone's story, the more I am hooked. There is so much honesty ...more
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
There is something to be said for a book’s ability to touch you.

When I first read this memoir, I was in the middle of a depressive relapse around the New Year of 2015. At that stage, I was undiagnosed with MDD and struggling with yet another relapse into my condition, and – after recently finishing university and moving away from my friends of the past four years and back into a home where my parents had little to no idea of my troubles with my mental health – I was feeling alone. For many years
Nick Davies
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, favourites
In terms of what this was - an extremely frank and honest memoir of one person's experiences of severe depression and subsequent alcoholism - this was excellent. Thought-provoking and compelling reading, Brampton writes with intelligence and wit, giving advice relating to her life and that if those she met. It's certainly a very powerful book which a great many people would benefit from reading, a lot of understanding to be gained from it.

As a personal journey, it did at times make me aware tha
Andrew Voysey
Jun 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This book was recommended to me on a Mental Health First Aid course and I could not recommend it more highly for literally everyone. Sally Brompton suffered from severe depression that was treatment resistant (ie no drugs - and she tried them all - made any difference, other than to make her worse). With her skills as a very successful writer, this is a brutally honest, captivating description of her journey through depression. With 1 in 4 UK adults suffering from some sort of depression in ...more
Jul 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
ms bramptons experience of depression involves alot of cashmere and gardeners and booking herself in to hospital ...

it didnt speak to me at all .
Rehan Abd Jamil
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Thank you Sally Brampton for this magnificent book!
Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
How odd that so many of the people reading/have read this are named Stephanie.

I admit, it was the title that got me - and I was really thinking about the amazingly annoying Jack Russell that lives next door and barks her little head off 24/7 when she is left alone.

But this refers to the black dog of depression (a term with which I was not familiar, despite my years of dealing with depression). I found the author annoying (not as much as a barking Jack Russell, but still...) but I loved what sh
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: charity-shop-buy
intially I found this to be good but lost interest later on - was comforting to read about someone having depression who wasn't stereotypical....this author was a high flyer - so made me feel as if it is the kind of illness that can strike anyone down - but I don't think I gained any personal insight into depression from reading this book ...more
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this book only for the title and the cover art. I needed a book with a curse word in the title for the book challenge. So I Googled and scrolled lists and this seemed interesting. Well 326 pages later, I am grateful that this book found me. Although somewhat frantically written, it is beautiful in it's honesty and delivery. This memoir of the author's battle with severe clinical depression was difficult to read at times. The author does an excellent job at intimately walking you through ...more
Jun 09, 2008 rated it liked it
I do not read many memoirs, so it took some time for me to adjust to the style of Brampton's writing. My first impression was that this woman is completely self-absorbed. And then i came to two realizations. Firstly, oh yes, this is a memoir, a woman's story about herself; and second, oh yes, this is a memoir about depression, a condition that traps the writer in her own personal prison, unable to relate to or communicate meaningfully with others.

At times, the writing can suffer from seemingly e
Sue Young
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A book about depression that sometimes makes you chuckle out loud with recognition even while you ARE depressed has got to be worth recommending!

Having suffered plenty of depression over the years, although not as debilitating as Sally's, this book was a good companion - a little recognition that we're not alone, that others suffer and struggle through life and manage to keep going, sometimes despite even worse attacks, and that laughter can often pierce the darkness, even if just for a moment.

Noah Oanh
Reading this one is like going through a dark tunnel that you know for sure there is a light at the end of it. Sally and her book have opened my eyes with so many "obvious" fact about depression that I thought I know but I am surely not know enough. For someone who used to talk to love ones "why you are upset all the time?" "why you don't be happy?" etc, I recognize it is the most cruel/ useless way to talk to depressives and I sadly did it so many times in the past. It is like you can't tell th ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was impatient with the first half of the book, finding the detail of her illness and decline somewhat repetitive. I wanted to understand why she was behaving in this way, rather than read about the symptoms. I concede, however, that the road to recovery would make less sense without the beginning of the story.

Of most interest to me is her analysis of her treatments, of the trial and error process to a pathway to eventual recovery. Along the way there are many missteps and indictments of system
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, old-bk-grp
An excellent memoir.
I was really impressed with this book. It was brutally honest about the desperate condition known as depression, yet it also gave hope for sufferers and practical tips to direct those who can see no way out. Written from first hand experience by a sufferer who does not respond to anti-depression medcation (30% of all depressives), and who reached the depths of despair that were hard to read about, let alone live through, it still managed an upbeat note towards the end.

Sally B
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reading Brampton's descriptions of depression were very healing for me because they were very similar to my own, and it was moving to read this and relate to it so much. Some descriptions of medical theory or therapy were overly long for me, but this is because I'm very familiar with the field. I think this would be a good book for friends or family of someone with depression to read, because it offers a lot of insight. ...more
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
This books jumps around from mental health topic to mental health topic and, similarly, anecdote to anecdote. The reader does not get a chronological story of depression in the author's life, but rather a survey of what parts of her life may relate to various mental health topics. (There are some exceptions later in the book, like chapter 16, 19, 22 and 23.) It does this in a way that is similar to Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon, a far more comprehensive and rewarding book. I would recommend ...more
David Hudson
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sally Brampton takes us from the really low to the hopes to the feeling-better and through her entire journey.

It feels like I was her. And for a while I was, which is perhaps why I could relate to the story.

This is a brave book which, thankfully, was completed. It is insightful and powerful and extremely well-written. Wise and helpful.
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very relatable. Obviously the author is quite privileged, but so am I. Reminded me of my years of depression. Reminds me to keep my mind healthy.
Sophie Walker
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A work of pure generosity

Reading this book in the knowledge Sally lost the fight gives the insight within its pages a sense of urgency. Keep digging out.
Sep 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, depression, 2012
This book was both great to read and extremely hard to read. It was honest, funny and sad. It is a story of despair.

I started reading this book back in September and have only just finished it. I've had my own ups and downs over this time and this made it hard to read such an honest book about exactly what I'm going through (without the suicide attempts and alcoholism though, just to clear!).

The feelings Sally Brampton describes were so familiar that I felt like I was reading exactly what was ha
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Reading Sally Brampton's memoir illuminates how depression is at its core a disease of one's mind telling lies, as evidenced by Bramptom's lived experience of utter worthlessness in contrast to her having achieved success by so many outward objective measures. Tough to read knowing that despite the optimistic place Brampton was in at the conclusion of the book, she went on to lose her battle with depression. ...more
Doreen Yun
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very stubborn and one-sided view on the depression and mental-illnesses, although was loosened up to a certain amount towards the end where she speaks of her recovery. However, I felt it was one of the most in-depth, realistic yet haunting experiences of depression that I have come to read. As a clinically depressive myself, it was a struggle to read the book, considering how much detail she added of her frightening episodes. In the end, though, it really helped to know what she went through a ...more
Justin Taylor
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book. Bought it on a whim when I couldn't find anything to read in a local bookshop. I then realised that the book was about depression.

I found it fascinating to go into the mind of someone who struggles with severe depression. It has given me new eyes to see the disease and a deeper understanding of sufferers.

Recommend it highly.
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
This book is a combination of facts, findings and personal perspective. There is a clear divide between what is and what isn't opinion. Her writing particularly resonated with me, it was right up my alley. I often find myself too negative to relate to in literature, even with the likes of Goethe and Wilde out there, imagine that. But Sally Brampton was just as agitated as I often find myself and she has this beautiful talent for expressing her feelings. For someone who complains of a "throat mon ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Having diagnosed with depression myself, I find this book rather difficult to read. Not because it's bad but because it's too damn relate-able. The emotions, the feelings... at times I had to put it down because it gets too heavy.

All depression cases are different and I felt that this book gave quite a bit of insight to the illness. That being said, I find that the book gets too technical sometimes. Especially when it comes to whether the illness is hereditary and all the antidepressants the au
Aug 18, 2018 added it
I would recommend this. Sally Brampton, a writer and the founding editor of Elle, describes her experience of severe depression in the early 2000s, and how she found her way back to normal life, although it's more about her illness than her recovery. I've never read anything by Brampton before, but I liked her style a lot. It's a very personal account, and she came across as honest and intelligent. The book was published ten years ago, in 2008, but I think that there are still not enough memoirs ...more
Mar 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
Sally Brampton is a successful writer and magazine editor in Britain who suffered from crippling depression for years. This book is a memoir of her struggle to deal with this depression. So far, so good. Or not so good, depending on how you feel about depression. The problem I had with the book is that Ms. Brampton spent most of her formative years living abroad since her father worked all over the world. When this successful writer and editor described herself as an "ex-patriot" rather than exp ...more
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Sally Brampton was an English journalist, columnist, magazine editor, and novelist. She launched the French magazine ELLE in the UK as editor-in-chief. In 2008 she wrote about her personal effort to overcome clinical depression in her book Shoot the Damn Dog. It is believed Brampton committed suicide by walking into the sea. The Sussex Police said there were no "suspicious circumstances". She was ...more

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281 likes · 266 comments
“Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer. We don't kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, "He fought so hard." And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wrong.” 1455 likes
“Sometimes," says a fellow depressive, "I wish I was in a full body cast, with every bone in my body broken. That's how I feel anyway. Then, maybe, people would stop minimising my illness because they can actually see what's wrong with me. They seem to need physical evidence.” 184 likes
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