How Are You?

Title: How Are You?
Author: Atman Azlan & Atman Ari
Publisher: Iman Publication
Publication year: 2019
ISBN: 978-983-2423-74-4
Price: RM30

How Are You? is a book that gives an insight into what mental health is like. The book further explains about stress, anxiety and depression.

Mental health issues can be a huge topic to talk about. It’s really complicated and sometimes can be quite difficult to understand. A great thing about the book is how the authors use simple sentences to discuss the topics, making it much easier to understand.

The authors first introduce readers to the three topics concerned: Stress, Anxiety and Depression. It is very well-written, complete with explanation, facts and analogy.

The book gives basic explanation on mental health issues and shed lights on the mental health situation in Malaysia. Moreover, it also discusses the misconceptions and myths regarding mental health issues.

Written by assistant psychologist Aiman Amri and youth motivator Aiman Azlan, the duo share simple and good tips on how one can cope with stress, anxiety and depression. They also emphasise that seeking professional help can prevent the situation from getting worse.

Readers can find some interesting takes from the authors’ point of view. For instance, concerning stress, each and everyone faces stress. It could be anytime of the day. One may wonder why we have stress? Can it be avoided? Is stress good or have negative effects on us? It can be good or bad, and it is just a part of life and won’t go away.

And what if we do need some stress? Interesting, right? There are actually two types of stress that people need to differentiate — the “good” stress called eustress and “bad” stress called distress. The authors said the existence of stress has a very important function of triggering a person to shift into action mode.
The authors said, “When stress hits, it leads you to move away from the source of discomfort and pain in order to reduce the stress level back to normal. When you are back to normal, you will feel calm and collected again. The source of discomfort and pain can be a life or death situation. Without stress, you might not feel the motivation to move away from danger. Hence, you will end up hurt or worse, dead.”

However, having too much stress — causing one to have excessive feelings of worry — can lead to anxiety. Anxiety is the fear of future pain, and people with anxiety issues can see their lives as overwhelming to a point where they believe they are stuck in situations where they cannot change anything. The feeling can be too overwhelming to a point of paralysis and hopelessness, which can possibly lead to depression and death.

The authors pointed loud and clear that depression is not a sign of weakness. It never was and never will be. So is it an illness of just a feeling? Everyone feels depressed from time to time. Giving an example, the author said one will feel gloomy, blue and a sense of melancholy due to relationship problems or issues at work.

However, when situation changes, the mood improves and one will feel happy. But this is not the same for those with Depressive Disorder, where the excessive mood or sadness becomes too much and affects daily life. Thus, it will then turn to an illness that affects one biologically, psychologically, socially and spiritually.

So having to face all these — stress, anxiety and depression in life. Readers may ask, “Am I normal?” The authors said having to encounter this in life is nothing related to being crazy, weird or weak. But at times when it is too much for us to bear, we may break down, and the authors reminded that help is important and that people need each other to look for solutions.

Indeed, in life there are many things beyond our control, but the authors advice that we list down the things we can improve and strive to achieve something that we are good at. So stop worrying and start living!

Another part of the book which I found interesting are the myths of depression. Often we see in movies or maybe in reality, mental health issues would somehow be associated with the work of the dark side — devil or black magic.

They also addressed stigmas that people often assumed: that depression is the work of jinn; people with depression are weak and cannot rise up to the challenge; mental illness patients should be isolated from society; depression can be cured by being patient and thinking positively, and having mental illness makes you a crazy person.

Technically, there are medical explanations to all of these and more awareness need to be raised so that there is a better understanding about mental health issues and those who suffer from mental illnesses.

Having said that, the only thing I wish for the book is that for it to include more illustrations or infographics so that it is more interesting rather than just words all the way.

To round up the review, the book is very well-written from the introduction to the conclusion and it gives me a new light on mental health issues. We may face challenges in life; we are not made in a factory to be perfect; we have to keep going on no matter how hard and do not be afraid to ask for help when needed because after all human beings need each other’s support.

I strongly recommend this book to those who want to know more about mental health; those who want to help their loved ones or even those who are suffering from these issues. It is suitable for the general public — be they teenagers, older readers, counsellors or psychologist.