The Story of My Self

Author: Nell Flowers

Date Of Publication: 31/05/2018

Trauma, anorexia, anxiety – Nell Flowers has experienced it and survived it, and this is The Story of My Self.

Looking back over 40 years, Nell introduces the reader to her journey of fluctuating mental health, supplementing the insights of a straightforward narrative account with diary entries and blog posts. But she also keeps us rooted firmly in the present, explaining how she copes on a day-to-day basis, including some self-motivating mantras, behavioural control techniques and mindfulness, which readers can choose to try out themselves.

Nell’s story will be familiar to many readers. The anxiety, the sadness, the questioning of your own mortality and the attempts at self-encouragement will certainly resonate with those who have suffered from such health issues or known someone who has. Nell writes about her emotions with honesty in a way that is often touching, and which could help those who don’t necessarily understand poor mental health issues, offering insight into the instabilities of living with them. However, Nell doesn’t go into much detail when it comes to the trauma she experienced, or her behaviours, which constructs a tiny but not insignificant barrier between herself and the reader. She does explain her reasons for withholding this detail (which is of course well within her right) and we can’t simply expect that she will share it. Instead, Nell delves deeply into her resulting emotions and takes the reader on her rollercoaster journey of positive and negative reflection. She reviews the present and future, rather than the details of the past, which will suit many readers. 

Written in a short, snappy and very digestible style, The Story of My Self is easy to read and easy to refer back to. Nell also provides suggestions for further reading and recommends authors she has found particularly inspirational (I would have liked to hear more about why these authors were inspiring), which eager readers can follow up.

But, of course, as with any book about eating disorders, it comes with a trigger warning. There is a section that details weights and food eaten within a diary timeframe, which may be used as a “diet plan” for some people – so be cautious if you want to read the book but could find that kind of content triggering. However, the book is written with sensitivity, so triggers are not too great a cause for concern.

The Story of My Self isn’t a story with a happy ending, but it’s a book about hope, perseverance and mindfulness in the face of negativity, let-downs and your own worst enemy: yourself. Encouraging and honest, this book is well suited to those who thrive on inspirational quotes and motivational speeches. Nell’s commitment to helping other people through her own experience and encouragement is admirable; if more people spoke out with honesty and a matter-of-fact approach, like Nell, then mental health issues such as these would probably be less stigmatised. Let’s hope Nell doesn’t stop motivating and encouraging others to share their stories!

Rebecca Wojturska