Saturday 26 February 2022

Book Review: The Craig Lewis Guide to Surviving the Impossible

Book Review: The Craig Lewis Guide to Surviving the Impossible

Review by Casey Douglass

The Craig Lewis Guide to Surviving the Impossible Cover

The difference between being alive and actually living can sometimes seem as vast as the cosmos. When another day dawns and you’re instantly swamped with feelings of overwhelm, illness and despair, it can be easy to forget how living compares to simply existing. Craig Lewis knows this feeling all too well, and in his book The Craig Lewis Guide to Surviving the Impossible he uses poetry, rousing words and to-the-point worksheet questions to help the reader gain some insight into their own possible way forward.

Early in his life, Craig had horrendous experiences with the mental healthcare system, being misdiagnosed, mistreated, and failed by the people who should have cared about him the most, or at the least, others who should have noticed what was going on and stepped in to help. Craig has had a lot of clawing back to do, to regather himself and the things that he cares about in his life. He is honest enough to admit that he still struggles frequently, but it seems that he is in a far better place now than even a few years ago, which is good to see.

The first few pages of The Craig Lewis Guide to Surviving the Impossible feature introductions by people who know Craig in some way, people who paint a picture of how helpful they find his words with their own troubles, and also of the kind of person Craig is. When we get to Craig’s own introduction, he reveals the reasons that he wrote the book: to help his own healing and to also help others. From this point forward, the book alternates between a poem or small essay on a particular topic, followed by worksheets consisting of a handful of relevant questions that the reader can ask themselves.

I think this mixture of emotive writing followed by questions is a fantastic way to engage the reader. Sometimes, being in the head-space or emotion of a particular issue doesn’t come easily, and sometimes, if you aren’t ‘in it,’ you can’t question it or learn about it, in my experience at least. Whether poem or brief essay, Craig’s words set the scene for the questions to come, the mental equivalent of keying a wall so that a new layer of plaster has something to stick on to. Words reflecting on what it means when someone tells you to “love yourself more” followed by questions about how that makes you feel and what you want to do about it seems a very apt way to approach things.

Even if you can’t answer the questions asked, whether you just don’t know how you feel, or you sense some kind of inner resistance, that can be instructive in and of itself. The “love yourself” concept was one that I personally didn’t really have an answer for, just a nebulous host of feelings that ranged from numbness, to annoyance, to the envying of anyone who can actually “achieve” this feat of self-love. Yet it has stayed in my mind as something to ponder, and I suspect that there is value in that too. This isn’t a comfortable, all-encompassing book that will lead you by the hand or couch its words as it tries to help you. It’s possible that you won’t like your answers to the questions and that you won’t really know to do with that, which is something to keep in mind. They are often simple questions but they might have complicated answers, depending on who is reading them.

The Craig Lewis Guide to Surviving the Impossible is a 50 page book that expresses Craig’s rebellious spirit, and also his drive for his experiences to possibly help others, whether by showing them how he channelled his wounds into creative expression, or by giving the reader self-reflective prompts that might help them to find their own way through their circumstances. I read this book at a time in which I find myself struggling in a variety of ways. I’m still struggling, but I appreciate Craig’s words and his candour in expressing his struggles and there is value in seeing how someone else views some of the important issues in their own recovery. It’s food for thought and a bit of fiery motivation to think along lines that might not have occurred to you. It is the spiky, raw flowing of Craig’s fight back, which is something that I’m sure he’d like you to join him with.

I was given access to a review copy of this book.

Book Title: The Craig Lewis Guide to Surviving the Impossible

Book Author: Craig Lewis

Publisher: Better Days Recovery Press

Released: March 2021

ISBN: 9781716778735

RRP: $12.99 / £13.39 (Paperback)