book review: Finding Peace Amid the Chaos

finding peace

Finding Peace Amid the Chaos by Tanya Brown. Publisher: LangMarc Publishing (March 2014). Nonfiction. Memoir. paperback. 248 pages. ISBN 978-1-880292-49-5.

“As I eyed the pills, the significant losses in my life that brought me to that rock-bottom pit clicked on, playing slowly and nostalgically in my mind like an old, crackling silent film. I could see Nicole’s beautiful shining face smiling at me, but that was immediately wiped out by the blood at the crime scene, the funeral, the tabloids, the helicopters hovering over our home.”

Part-memoir, part self-help book, Tanya Brown chronicles her mental breakdown a decade after her sister Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder. It’s been 20 years this week since Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder and the OJ Simpson white SUV chase broadcast on CNN. Tanya (at least a decade younger than Nicole) internalized her pain and mental illness until she had a major outburst and took too many pills. I’m not fond of the book’s subtitle: My Escape from Depression and Suicide. There’s really no escape. It takes maintenance, patience and hard work when you have depression or another mental illness.

There’s a reason for the stigma associated with depression and mental illness. There IS no cure. Instead one learns tools to cope, tools to interact with others and tools to survive. Medication may or may not play a part in one’s stability. As someone who personally struggles with depression, I can relate in many ways to Brown. She initially says that she’s not addressing OJ in this book but then spends quite a bit of time on OJ or the trial and her thoughts on him. How can she avoid it? Now a life coach, Brown utilizes the book’s second half to provide tips for others. Clearly Brown studied psychology. She provides exceptional definitions of key psychiatric terms such as breakdown point, meditation and triggers.

Brown’s useful tools to maintain one’s mental health and ideally prevent further issues are worth reading. Anyone who’s been in a partial program or behavioral health program will recognize them. She suggests scheduling everything down to the smallest thing and checking each task off as you accomplish it. She reminds us to remain present. Mindfulness is a key concept for depression. Remain in today, in the now and don’t focus your attentions on the bad events in your past. Brown implores people to break away from negatives, express feelings [avoid the bottle up that could lead to a blow-out and breakdown], commend yourself, pay attention to nutrition and be sure to exercise. She also addresses identifying and managing your thoughts via a mood journal or daily journaling. All these tips take time to work in to your lifestyle. Brown shares some of her methods with readers. For example she avoids driving with the radio on and takes nearly daily walks with her mom. In the epilogue she provides contact information to book her as a speaker or to hire her as a life coach (a bit unusual for a memoir). Worth reading although a bit rough around the edges despite being written with a co-writer.

On the breaking point:

“Each of us has a mental breaking point. It’s that undignified moment caused by the overwhelming stress and aggravation of a volatile situation, when we finally wreak emotional havoc on those around us.”

On holding her feelings in:

“I, on the other hand, bottled up everything, kept my opinions to myself, and stayed in the background as I felt everybody wanted me to do. I worried more about pretending to be happy instead of taking care of me. Our polar opposite ways of dealing with the loss of Nicole eventually came to a head.”

Advice from Nicole:

“Delete the need to understand. We don’t need to understand everything. Some things just are.”

On meditation:

“Meditation, misunderstood by many who don’t do it, can be sitting in silence, meditating on scripture, doing yoga, listening to a guided imagery CD, or doing some deep breathing. It is something you do by yourself that puts you in a state of calmness, a space of solitude and peace. It’s a place where answers come to you because your mind is still, quiet, and calm. It’s a surefire way to shut out the technological distractions of the world and focus.”

RATING: ***/5

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from LangMarc Publishing.

purchase at Amazon: Finding Peace Amid the Chaos: My Escape from Depression and Suicide

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