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Breaking & Mending: A Doctor’s Story of Burnout and Recovery

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  423 ratings  ·  64 reviews

An intimate, urgent account of doctor burnout and life as a psychiatrist from bestselling author Joanna Cannon

"A few years ago, I found myself in A&E.

I had never felt so ill. I was mentally and physically broken. So fractured, I hadn't eaten properly or slept well, or even changed my expression for months. I sat in a cubicle, behind paper-thin curtains, listening to

Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published September 26th 2019 by Wellcome Collection
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Average rating 4.34  · 
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Carmel Hanes
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I was told compassion is something to be desired and applauded. But compassion will eat away at your sanity. It will make you pull up in a lay-by on the journey home, because you can no longer see the road for the tears. It will creep through your mind in the darkness, and keep you from your sleep, and you will find that the cloth from which you are cut will begin to suffocate you."

"This disapproval of emotional reaction exists in everyday life too. Certain corners of society maintain a
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I didn't get to read The Trouble With Goats and Sheep or Three Things About Elsie, so I had no idea of anything about Joanna Cannon.

By reading the paperback Breaking and Mending I found out the pressure that Joanna went through being a junior doctor. One thing that will stay with me about Joanna Cannon is how kind and caring she was when a patient died.

If you buy this book do please make sure you have a box of tissues ready.

I'm going to pass my book to my daughter who works in a doctors
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant book. Loved every second of it.
Sandra Armor
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just finished the audiobook of #BreakingandMending read by the author, @JoannaCannon. An intensely moving memoir. I sobbed at several of the patient stories. It’s heartbreaking, but reinforces how much we owe to all those who care for us when we cannot. A must read or listen.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“I learned that returning a life to someone very often has nothing to do with restoring a heartbeat.”

Joanna Cannon is a consummate storyteller, having had two best selling novels under her belt – and her gift for writing is amply demonstrated in this profoundly moving memoir of her training as a doctor and early medical career.

She was chosen by the Medical School admissions professor as a ‘wild card’ candidate to study medicine – a mature student without the usual privileged educational
I read the first 30 pages and skimmed another 12. Cannon left school at 15 and came to medicine late, starting her training in her 30s. Her father had died not long before then, and she initially had trouble with dissections because it reminded her of his dead body, the last she’d seen previously. A compassionate registrar got her involved in hospital autopsies so she could become used to being around corpses.

I’ve read so many doctors’ memoirs now, and this one doesn’t really cut the mustard:
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I finished the last sentence of ‘Breaking & Mending’ and sat in silence, once again in complete and utter awe of Joanna Cannon. I have been a huge fan ever since I read an early proof copy of ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’. Joanna Cannon’s skill with words always amazes me. She is an author who has that rare ability of conveying so many things in just one five word sentence. As someone who always waffles and scrambles around for the right words, I am always amazed by those people who ...more
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a paramedic, this book massively resonated with me, especially in relation to dealing with suicide, and the feelings of inadequacy. Jo is brilliant at writing about people and their emotions & I felt my eyes filling with tears at several points. I do think I found it more emotional because I can relate to it, but I certainly recommend a read. It’s a book that will stay with me for a very, very long time.
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
I knew that Joanna Cannon was a novelist but I did not know that in her 30s she trained as a doctor and worked in psychiatry. This is a memoir about her time working in the NHS, a job which caused her to burnout. It covers similar territory to This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor, and both are excellent but they are quite different in tone. The easiest way to explain the difference is to think about how Adam Kay now works as a comedian while Joanna Cannon works as a novelist. ...more
Callum McLaughlin
This anecdotal memoir focusses on Cannon’s time spent as a junior doctor, working on both A&E and psychiatric wards. Its primary aim is to humanise the overworked and underappreciated staff who keep the NHS afloat in times of unrest and austerity, and to explore the ethical grey area between maintaining professional protocol and extending the hand of human kindness. From heart-breakingly tender interactions with patients, to moments of gut-punch trauma, she highlights the physical and ...more
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
When Profile Books gifted me the copy of Breaking and Mending by Dr Joanna Cannon I was very grateful and excited to read it. Not only because it had an interesting premise but because Dr Joanna Cannon is the author of one of my favourite books that I've read this year "Three Things About Elsie" and I couldn't wait to delve into her memoir of being a junior doctor.

This book is definitely not a fluffy, rose-tinted look at junior doctors. This is a memoir filled withgritty tales and insightful
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her thirties, Joanna Cannon decided to enter the world of medicine. This memoir is of her time as a junior doctor before she moved fully into psychiatry. It's brutally raw at times, full of emotion, and shows how much dedication NHS staff have.
Ellie (bookmadbarlow)
A beautifully written and moving memoir about the authors experiences of being a Junior Doctor. I felt for her as she described her experiences and cried more than once, having to put the book down as it all felt so raw.
Joanna Cannon has put her heart and soul into this book and I couldn't help be moved by that. I know its a good book when I have to get the tabs out.
There was nothing political or jarring just a gentle reminder to be kinder to people, and to try to understand what others are
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A slim but profound volume. We see the joys and despair of practising medicine in the NHS today and are given a reminder of how to be human
Breaking & Mending is the latest in what feels like a conveyor belt of medical memoirs but I am happy to say that it holds its amongst those that I have read so far (This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor & With the End in Mind: Dying, Death, and Wisdom in an Age of Denial).

Joanna Cannon was a 'wildcard' into her medical education, a mature student much older than those around her, having taken her time to decide what she wanted to do with her life. This is the account
I was familiar with Joanna Cannon as the author of two popular novels. I didn't know she was a doctor. I discovered her novels through my favorite book blogger Simon Savidge, and he also alerted me to this excellent memoir.

Cannon decided to become a doctor when she was in her 30's. Medical training in the UK is quite different from the US. The education begins after secondary school in the UK, while in US, students must have a 4 year degree, usually in pre-med studies such as biology or
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have followed Joanna Cannon's writing journey for a long time now. I used to read her blog and was always touched by her ability to portray such emotion, and such compassion through her writing.
I think most people know her story; she wrote her first novel during her breaks when she was working as a psychiatrist in a busy NHS hospital. That book was The Trouble with Goats and Sheep; one of my favourite books of recent years. Her second novel; Three Things About Elsie was another huge success.

Sarah Bates
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I started by wondering a bit about this. Some of the presentation on the page is a bit odd. As a patient I thought I might on occasion have a slightly different perspective or even conclusion. The first chapter or so is quite challenging for those who perhaps have depressive friends and I did wonder who I might recommend it too. But thinking and talking about it made me realise that there were a couple of extraordinary attributes to this book. The descriptions and language are stunning. The ...more
Tara Russell
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Humane, compelling and beautiful.

This is one of my top reads of 2019.

There are many moments that resonate in the book, many many Kodak instances, as the author describes them, snapshots that stick in your memory.

It's hard to read it and not come away with a profound reaction to the experiences of junior doctors and the almost unimaginable rigours of life in the NHS.

Also, I don't think I'll ever forget the scene where the author is trapped in a corridor with an aggressive, disturbed patient,
Claire O'Sullivan
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
4.5 stars . Very readable, but it made me sad at how hard our Drs work and how poorly they are treat .
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
thank you for speaking about all the things that are so easily swept under the rug ...more
Jackie Law
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“medicine is all about people, and people are made out of stories”

Why would anyone wish to become a doctor? It is a question most potential students applying to medical school will be asked. Perhaps they wish to save lives, to make a difference. Perhaps they come from a family of medics and it has always been expected of them.

It costs around a quarter of a million pounds to train a doctor in the UK, a significant proportion of which must now be borne by the student, often in the form of debt.
Desmond Reid
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2020
‘ can never be the doctor you wanted to become, because the doctor you wanted to become would not be able to survive’

When an elderly professor took a chance on his ‘wild card’’ Joanne Cannon entered medical school. In her memoir we follow along as she confronts her first post mortem, witnessing those final moments of life. She discovers that in the enormity of saving lives it is the spaces in between, the words we use and the small acts of kindness that have power to mend.

Yet, the faith we
Amanda Jones
I found this absorbing and beautifully written. Having been through medical school, including student rotations in psychiatry (loved it also!), 36 hour work days during internship and A&E as a house officer, so much of this was entirely relatable. It took me on a walk down memory lane.

I too was much more of your 'cardigan doctor' yet my emotional experience was vastly different. Leaving the stories, even the most memorable and sad ones at the hospital was easy for me. I've held them in my
A more thoughtful, kind and considerably less whiny, misogynistic, disingenuous and funny book about the bloody awfulness of being a junior (ie sub consultant) doctor than Adam Kay's big hit. He made a lot of very important points but ultimately, on the basis of his writing, he is not a loss to obstetrics (even discounting the precipitating sequelae to a tragic event). But Joanna Cannon is a loss to psychiatry and this book shows why. Although the book felt a wee bit sewn together it was an ...more
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Words are never, ever, just words.” Joanna Cannon writes this in the context of giving a diagnosis but it could equally apply to her writing. There is no spare word in this book, no word which doesn’t carry the reader forward on their journey as they join her on a retrospective reflection on her life as a medical student and junior doctor.

This is one of the most thought-provoking books I have read in a long time. Dr Cannon lays herself as bare as the cadaver that accompanied her through medical
Dec 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Bentley
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not a monogamous reader. I cheat on my books all the time. It is very rare for me to sit down with one book and pore through it from beginning to end but that is exactly what happened when I picked up Joanna Cannon’sBreaking and Mending.

I spend a lot of time at hospitals due to my Colitis but Joanna Cannon made me feel like I was a junior doctor experiencing the highs and lows of hospital life along with her. I broke down along with the author and I fell for patients and their families. I
Ronnie Kettle
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am lost for words. The discernable, profound feeling of warmth from satisfaction from inside. The unfeigned delight reading such a beautiful, honest account of a junior doctor from the lecture halls to reality on working in the NHS. Resulting in her demise in character, self believe, self worth and values.

I have a sense the author is unpretentious. Her perpetual kindness, wanting to connect with patients at a deeper level beyond the barrier which should not be crossed as a doctor.

Cen-sational Reads
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Breaking & Mending by Joanne Cannon published by @profile.books
Out on 26th September 2019.

This is a relatively short book only 176 pages long- but it is packed with so much detail.

Joanne gives us an in depth, intimate, raw, real, straight to the point yet shows compassion about her life as a mature medical student and junior doctor.
It is a very thought provoking book and the reality of the lives as a junior doctor in an A&E environment.
I really did feel sorry for her and others as
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Librarians note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Joanna Cannon is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, which has sold over 250,000 copies in the UK alone and has been published in 15 countries. The novel was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, shortlisted for The Bookseller Industry Awards 2017 and won