Fire on All Sides
Insanity, insomnia and the incredible inconvenience of life
By James Rhodes
Life is messy and imperfect for us all, and when your mind is on fire and you feel like you're trapped in a terrifying blaze with no way out, sometimes the only way is to embrace the fragility of the human condition.
For many of us who suffer from depression or anxiety, the simple act of endurance, of having to appear 'normal', is a daunting, painful and heroic task.
Getting out of bed, packing the kids off to school, showing up for work, preparing dinner... These can be astonishing achievements when it sometimes takes a superhuman effort simply to stand upright.
How do you keep going? How do you do what you do, day in, day out, conforming to people's idea of you and functioning in the way society expects you to, when all you want to do is disappear and hide?
In Fire On All Sides, Rhodes attempts to find how to make the unbearable bearable in the most exposing circumstances imaginable. As he embarks on a gruelling five-month concert tour, performing in front of thousands of people, the tortuous voices in his mind his constant companions, he has no choice but to face these wild, mad ramblings head on.
Luckily, there is the music. There is always the music. Bach, Chopin, Beethoven - they are his holy grail, his mechanism for survival. Just.
This is an important, urgent book. It's about going through your day feeling like you can't find a way out of the crazy, it's about not setting the happiness bar too high, it's about accepting the messy imperfection that is life.
Rhodes explodes the myths surrounding depression, anxiety and stress - the plagues of our society - into a million pieces, then sticks them back together again with his characteristic thought-provoking, laser sharp and humorous style.
The really good news? It's going to be OK. Just.
James Rhodes was born in London in 1975. A keen piano player, at eighteen he was offered a scholarship at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, but went to Edinburgh University instead. James stopped playing the piano entirely and dropped out after a year. He ended up working in the City for five years. After a devastating mental breakdown that led him to be institutionalised, he took the piano up again. He is now a professional and applauded concert pianist, writer and TV presenter. His memoir, Instrumental, was published to great critical acclaim and became an international bestseller.
- Other details
- Publication date:
23 Aug 2018
- Page count:
brave and unflinching — The Sunday Times