This journey is what I do now I bump along, in fits and starts, on a perpetual path to finding better ways for me and my mate, Anxiety, to get around It s everything I do.Sarah Wilson bestselling author and entrepreneur, intrepid solver of problems and investigator of how to live a better life has helped over 1.2 million people across the world to quit sugar She has also been an anxiety sufferer her whole life.In her new book, she directs her intense focus and fierce investigatory skills onto this lifetime companion of hers, looking at the triggers and treatments, the fashions and fads She reads widely and interviews fellow sufferers, mental health experts, philosophers, and even the Dalai Lama, processing all she learns through the prism her own experiences.Sarah pulls at the thread of accepted definitions of anxiety, and unravels the notion that it is a difficult, dangerous disease that must be medicated into submission Ultimately, she re frames anxiety as a spiritual quest rather than a burdensome affliction, a state of yearning that will lead us closer to what really matters.Practical and poetic, wise and funny, this is a small book with a big heart It will encourage the myriad sufferers of the world s most common mental illness to feel not just better about their condition, but delighted by the possibilities it offers for a richer, fuller life. Pitched as a new story about anxiety, this underwhelming book has moments of cut through which are almost lost in celebrity name dropping and privileged advice There are the seeds of interesting ideas within the narrative, but each time one is approached the strangely stilted structure interferes The chance to genuinely engage with anxiety in a new way is lost We yearn for something even if we don t know what it looks like or if it actually exists Sarah Wilson is a journalist tv presenter best known for her many books about quitting sugar Her knowledge about and passion for topics of nutrition is abundantly clear The sections where she talks about her own health journey, her Hashimoto s disease diagnosis and the multitude of ways in which what we eat impacts our mental health are the most compelling But if you have read any of her other books or like me, skimmed the odd article she has written on the topic occasionally not much will be new to you.This book attempts to blend memoir, research, and self help around the central theme of anxiety In some case this works well I enjoyed reading about the concept of mental space versus time , having a deep look into one person s experience of anxiety connected some dots about my own experiences, and there were some terrific quotes from thinkers on various topics By all accounts Wilson s struggle with anxiety has been, and continues to be, at the extreme end of the scale She talks about her various suicidal moments, her autoimmune disease, and how anxiety has impacted every corner of her life But having struggled is not the same as having something new to say, and by the end of the book I d decided I simply was not the target market.The most obnoxious parts of the book were the celebrity name dropping and the tone deaf advice Amongst the genuine suggestions that are accessible to most though not all , like walk slowly, or meditate even if you don t have the perfect peaceful circumstances, there were some woefully off base ones like have a think week, live somewhere slow and the suggestions to train those around you by setting an aggressive out of office on your email account Those suggestions might be fine if you have the means, or the job stability to do so, but for the majority of people they range from ill advised at best to virtually impossible.I can t end this review without mentioning the awful editing The structure of this book made no sense, the chapter titles further confused things, and the strange numbering system down the margins seemed completely arbitrary There were whole sections which could have been rewritten in a single sentence Memorably there was this line which combines dreadful editing and name dropping The Happiness Project s Gretchin Rubin shared the trick with me over the phone during one of our chats I think she refers to it on her blog or in one of her books, too I own a copy of Rubin s book and I have access to the internet In less than 5 minutes I was able to confirm that she does indeed mention the trick on her blog, than once Why was that sentence allowed to remain in the finished book Aside from making it sound like the book was dashed off in a lunch break which it wasn t, given it took her over 2 years to write, and she discusses her process elsewhere , it also is not helpful for the reader, the direct opposite of what that section is supposed to achieve.I am taking from First, We Make the Beast Beautiful some additional context around my own anxiety, and the identification of a few behaviours which are connected in ways I hadn t realised I m also taking away reminders of what has worked for me in the past and will hopefully work in the future a reminder to keep going, and it will always pass On the flip side I won t be picking up another book by Sarah Wilson, and I have an increased justification of my caution around celebrity memoirs. The Chinese believe that before you can conquer a beast, you must first make it beautiful This is the author s honest and vibrant account of her struggle with anxiety and what she has done to cope or manage it throughout her life I consider it part memoir and part self help book.I found the book interesting and helpful In it, Sarah Wilson references books and quotes from other authors such as Matt Haig, Glennon Doyle, Louise Hay , and Eckhart Tolle whose book The Power of Now I ve read at least three times She also mentions research and studies about the subject, this I found fascinating, give me interesting facts and figures and I m hooked.The author describes the positive effects that meditation, hiking, decluttering, and quitting sugar among other changes have had in her life We ve heard about these steps from other sources about a thousand times, but when Sarah describes it she does it in a sincere and candid voice which I found compelling.Overall, I recommend this book. I m not reviewing this one A book on anxiety that made me anxious Not for me. Pro tip Don t write a memoir like a self help motivational book The reason It patronises the reader and makes the author seem entirely entitled and self centred Some of the the thoughts and suggestions she gave about managing anxiety were nauseating to someone who has an anxiety disorder Some suggestions rely on the privilege she has in her life and shouldn t be toted as necessary salves to anxiety If she wanted to write about her anxiety and what she s finds interesting about the condition, then she should ve stuck with that instead of heralding her methods as evidence of capability to cope with anxiety To be honest, this book made me irritated because it made me feel like I was failing because I can t manage my life in similar ways to her This reaction isn t all me and it was heavily influenced by the way she chose to structure and write this book She made it seem that if you couldn t follow her easy to manage suggestions then you aren t trying hard enough to manage anxiety and you almost deserve your situation.Not my cup of tea In all likelihood, this wasn t written to inspire the chronically anxious, but the middle to high income women straddled with anxiety from everyday life. Purposeful, creative, bold, rich, deep things are always beautiful I feel like books covering mental health topics are quite personal what works for you may not work for another Luckily this one really worked for me Wilson is funny and relatable, and she describes anxiety in a way that I truly understood It s unapologetically raw and personal, and I was sad to finish it.It s written in a very conversational style, the structure is a tad chaotic and repeatedly jumps around to different things but that does appeal to me as my brain is very much like this It means that I never got bored She covers triggers and treatments, as well as her own personal anecdotes and little quotes and tidbits from fellow anxiety sufferers.However, what I loved most about this book were the parts where Wilson tried to approach anxiety in a positive way, in other words make the beast beautiful And she s right For all the negativity that anxiety can bring to our lives, it also makes us the people we are If you simply removed my anxiety from my personality, I would be a very different person That s not to say that you shouldn t receive treatment or counselling if it is impacting your life in a hugely negative way, but there s something to be said for how anxiety can be beneficial in some ways For me, it means that I am extremely efficient and organised time management is my jam, even if it also turns me into a little bit of a control freak.Near the beginning of the book, Wilson states that this isn t a self help book, it s an account of her experiences with anxiety But I would disagree I found so many tips in here and just being able to relate and agree with her about so many things provided some help in itself.It s an awkward one to recommend because reviews seem to be quite mixed Like a lot of things targeted towards mental health, I think it s really down to personal preference And hey, even if you hated it, the book itself is GORGEOUS 4 stars Review copy provided by publisher FIRST, I m going to tell you this this book is NOT for people in crisis and is NOT for people with severe anxiety who are not working with a physician or therapist It is NOT a recipe for fixing anxiety and it s NOT a cure all actually, it s not a cure anything.I went into this book with a strong affinity for the title and the concept of turning anxiety from an ugly beast into something beautiful, without completely obliterating the beast itself And I did get that message from Wilson that anxiety can be embraced and is a part of our unique personhood I appreciate a lot of her thoughts about FOMO social media technology social situations, and can relate so closely with so much of what she writes about isolating oneself in a time of anxiety The unique style of this book is perfectly matched with the struggles that are described within the book, and the author tells us at the outset that it s not linear or organized I read it much as a memoir with some recommendations for things that MIGHT help others than as a self help book It is meandering and philosophical and disjointed much like my brain, in all honesty and I really enjoyed that it wasn t laid out like a workbook with here s how to fix yourself Because that s the whole point Wilson doesn t think anxiety IS something to be fixed Her thoughts on meditation and it not needing to be pure or perfect are much appreciated as well With all that being said, here is what could be potentially harmful for some readers Wilson is very vague about her actual practice at this time regarding medication, but does at many times throughout the book discuss going off meds with no medical oversight, and describes how she lives better unmedicated While she of course can do whatever she wants with her own body, this book should NOT be taken as medical advice or a recommendation that unmedicated is the preferred state for anyone else That is between any given person and their medical provider Luckily she does admit that her stance is controversial and includes John Green s statement about NOT abandoning medication Her entire business was she just shut it down I think to focus on other things completely based on quitting sugar, and she is an adamant and vocal proponent of eliminating sugar from your diet I won t get into my backstory here, but suffice to say that I don t agree with her on this and chose to completely ignore all references to it throughout the book However, I m far enough into my body kindness journey that I am able to do that If you are at all susceptible to diet culture, this could be harmful to you, so please be cautious.Wilson is not at all shy about her fear of being fat, and while she does not at all admit to this in the book, my years of reading and work on this issue are telling me that she has an eating body image disorder, and I deeply hope that she finds peace with herself in her lifetime If you are vulnerable to messages such as this, and would be negatively impacted by mention of fat phobia, I would avoid this book The reason I settled at 3 stars for this book is because of the raw and open nature of Wilson s story and her willingness to admit just how flawed she is She isn t presenting this book as a look, I m fixed Here s how I did it manual She s telling things that have worked for HER and offering them up to readers, within the context of her very personal journey I hope I have given you helpful guidance in whether you should be one of those readers Sarah Wilson has long irritated me, often with no discernible reason, yet I have eagerly bought every book she s written That should tell you where this review will ultimately head I loved it and I was often times irked by it For some time now, I had suspected the reason Sarah Wilson both intrigues and weirdly repels me is because she reminds me, too much, of myself When I learned she had a brand new book out on anxiety, my own longtime friend, I first thought, Ugh Must she really quickly followed by, I need to go buy that book immediately After reading First, We Make The Beast Beautiful, I can confirm my love irritation relationship with Sarah relates to how I have always identified with her, specifically how much of my earnestness, perfectionism, neuroticism, perpetual striving and idealism I had recognised in Sarah In short, she was a fellow anxiety warrior.And thus, first and foremost, I want to offer a massive congratulations, thank you and well done to Sarah for writing this book It s a raw, personal and honest account of her most intimate personal struggle, and I commend her so highly for having the courage, determination and vision to pull it off.The book itself is a beautiful buy, and one I will love having on my bookshelves The cover art is enchanting, the solid want to run your hands all over it feel of the hardcover is just delicious, and the format and typesetting is aesthetically pleasing and easy to dip into at random, or at whim This is something Sarah Wilson does particularly well her books are always stunning They even smell great I went into this book during a non active phase of my anxiety For me, anxiety is an accepted part of who I am, like the dark side of my bright moon Over the last 7 years of my life, through so much self analysis, reflection and growth, I have acknowledged anxiety has always been a part of who I fundamentally am It s just been given different names at different stages of my life, and by different people in my life, until we finally all recognised it for what it really is I have am managing my anxiety with exercise running , CBT, meditation and relaxation, SLEEP, journal writing, reading reading reading, staying extremely active with my writing, my sheer love of and obsession with yellow, and perhaps most importantly, my faith Because I am very settled in how I work with and through my anxiety, I didn t begin this book desperately hoping for answers or new avenues of assistance Instead, I embarked on this journey with Sarah in curiosity Almost immediately it was reconfirmed for me, for the millionth time over, that there is no such thing as one definition or experience of anxiety, there are as many different shades of anxiety as there are people with anxiety Certainly the way Sarah experiences anxiety is vastly different to how I do There are important, often eerie similarities, all the way through, but her journey is distinctly hers Straight away, however, I understood I was reading the memoir of a self aware, analytical and conscientious person with an unswerving drive to understand , all the time.This account of anxiety is not tightly and methodically structured, written rather with a meandering, insightful, self reflective tone This makes, thankfully, for a gentle reading experience, taken at leisure, with no pressure to implement anything This is no nagging self help book It feels, instead, like the kind of late night DM you get into with an equally yearning friend It s a ruminative, contemplative exploration of anxiety Which is not to say there aren t useful strategies and ideas in here In fact this book is chock full of ideas to try, all methods which have specifically helped this author The beauty of the this format means the reader can dip into the novel briefly, at will, and come away with a hopeful little gem.Did I gain much from this book For sure There were plenty of aha moments for me in the reading of Beautiful Beast Ironically, however, most of those light bulb insights were not related to me, but to my husband who has chronic insomnia but no anxiety and pertinently, to my gorgeous 9 year old daughter, who has anxiety I gleaned lovely tidbits for her sake from this book Often I read snippets of this book excitedly aloud to my husband, glad to have a facet of how my daughter thinks or behaves better elucidated.During those moments, I LOVED this book.Unfortunately, the book also had some terribly irksome moments which genuinely detracted from my reading of it For example, there were contradictions aplenty Chapters or sections advising something Sarah does or recommends, are in confusing contrast to other parts of the book or even other things I had seen Sarah post online before This was frustrating to me, but may actually be the result of the two year writing period, editing issues, the meandering and non linear structure, and also the fact this Beast is indeed a contradictory, paradoxical creature.There was also, frankly, so much, I mean SO MUCH the author does for her anxiety, it was almost disheartening for a reader I mean, if Sarah has tried ALL THESE methods plus all the other unmentioned things I d read about at various times I ve seen her posts online and it s still such a hugely ongoing battle for her, then what hope is there for the average, busy with life anxiety warrior Undeniably for me, there were some problematic parts of the book which spoiled the vibe for me at times theories or methods I plain didn t agree with, or were too woo woo, and sections that just didn t make sense.For example, her quick dismissal of CBT is most worrisome in an anxiety book, considering CBT is actually the gold standard in the treatment of anxiety Further, the author s cringe worthy appropriation of an explicitly Christian notion, Grace , with the disclaimer that she wants to leave aside the Christian notion and yet going as far as to use, word for word, the Christian definition of Grace as pretty much what I m talking about while still asking the reader to substitute out any references to God Why not just create another word or concept for the experience then rather than trying to de Christian an essentially Christian term Further to that theme, there was another apology to readers for sounding religious on page 294 This would have been fine in itself even if it seems to indicate Sarah was largely writing to a secular audience but it s quickly followed up with an accusation that religious scripture is dangerous, numb doctrine This is a disappointing statement to read in a book which purports to be about and strives so hard to reach personal spiritual enlightenment Ie, the Something Else Sarah so often talks about The passage was a brief yet alienating moment for a reader of faith who finds her faith such a deeply comforting, in fact the most comforting, aspect of the anxiety journey This book does not end with an ultimate answer or a healed writer And that is to be expected If I have learned anything about anxiety, it is that anxiety is not simply an awful bout of flu you get over, once and for all, with the right healing combination.Don t come to this book expecting actual hard science or the magical answer to your anxiety, because Sarah doesn t have it Instead, this is her very intimate, warts and all account of her anxiety, along with her coping mechanisms, paraphrased research she has resonated with, and a wide variety of healing and soothing strategies or ideas There is plenty of scope for inspiration in this book, many deeply insightful moments, padded out with some fluff and woo and contradiction, but at its heart, a vibrant, courageous, eccentric, imperfect and utterly vulnerable human character who has generously shared her struggles with the world. This book isn t for everybody, but it was 100% for me It seems people didn t like the meandering structure or the conversational style, which is a ok, obviously You do you But I wanted to write a review because I found the book SO beautiful and helpful, and I was sceptical before buying it, so I wanted to speak directly to my fellow sceptics.I have read many many books on related subjects the last ten years, and I find most have a tiresome do these 10 simple things and your anxiety will be gone D D D tone That tone pisses me off Nothing is easy with anxiety nothing is straightforward or simple I was worried this book would be of that What it is, in fact, is someone grappling with the heartbreaking, lonely, always difficult daily and lifelong reality of anxiety Someone fully upfront about the bullshit, the inconsistencies, the lack of logic, the awfulness, but fronting up and doing the work, bit by bit I hadn t read a book that really got into it all as much as this one did And yeah, there are science based tips and advice like the other books, but I appreciated the acknowledgement that most of the stuff you are advised to do is or feels near impossible when you are anxious I was grateful to be implored to try, gently, anyway I also liked the reference to both medical science and spiritual tradition Basically, I liked the complexity of her approach Most books don t deal with the complexity, the interrelatedness of high achieving and anxiety, of body, mind, trauma, disorder, soul, etc I also think knowing the details and reality of others experience of this harrowing, incredibly painful, and mostly isolating condition, only helps.I m not saying it s a perfect book Bits seemed a bit far out for me Other bits were boring Yet other tiny bits didn t seem to track with my understanding of the science Whatever I don t think a book needs to be perfect to be wonderful And this book, for my context and experience, was wonderful For context, to see whether you might have a similar experience of the book to me I am 29 and I have had anxiety and depression my whole life I am a lifelong high achiever driven to put work before health, to the point of near suicide on several occasions, and now complete burnout I revere science but have a bit of faith in what science doesn t know yet I have been on 12 13 different drugs for my disorders, none of which helped than their side effects hurt I m not on drugs now, and am trying to restructure redesign my life to allow for my disorders, instead of trying to ignore and suppress them. I loved this book The inconsistency, the raw honesty and the unapologetic nakedness of the author was beautiful It reads much like an anxious persons mind some facts may not add up, backtracking, random side notes popped in It felt like much being in my own brain, as if sometimes I was reading my own thoughts I would not say this is a self help book, just a recap of the struggles of one person who recalls their own attempts to calm their life, and bring meaning.