A Way Out by Michelle Balge

A Way Out: A Memoir of Conquering Depression and Social Anxiety by Michelle Balge

**I received this book in exchange for an honest review.**

A Way Out

“Don’t give up.  Please don’t give up.  There are people who love you, people who care.  Some day one of those people will be you.”

**I’m going to start this review with a little trigger warning.  This is obviously a book about some dark issues and I’m going to include a story that may trigger some people who have dealt with depression and anxiety in the past and I would hate to upset anyone.  So if you are having a tough time or think reading something about these topics may be hard for you, please do not continue.**

I was contacted by Michelle just a few days about about reading her memoir after she read my review of Turtles All the Way Down.  I devoured this book in 2 short sittings.  When I read a book, especially one that involves heavy topics, I like to let it simmer a bit before I write a review.  I want to make sure my review is up to a standard for such a sensitive subject.  I finished this book last night and decided to think on it before I wrote my review.  Little did I know that within 12 hours of finishing, something would happen that would only intensify the issues highlighted in Michelle’s memoir.

I got to work this morning at 10am.  I work at a used book store that is in a fairly large shopping complex that includes a Kroger, Dollar Store and a new antique store that just opened a few weeks ago, among other stores.  I pulled into the parking lot and was met with several police cars and a fire truck that were surrounding a red truck.  It looked like another vehicle was near the truck and I just assumed it was a fender bender.  People drive like maniacs in our parking lot.

I tried to park in my usual spot which was near the commotion.  A police officer approached my car and asked me to park on the other side for a little while.  I did so and walked towards work.  Standing outside was my boss, one of the maintenance men for the shopping center and the owner of the new antique store.  There was also another police officer walking up and down the sidewalk clearly looking for something.

I approached my boss and asked if she knew what was going on.  The antique owner informed me that when he showed up to open up shop today, he saw the red truck in the parking lot, a truck he noticed last night as well and was concerned that maybe someone had slept in the truck overnight.  He approached the truck and noticed there was a man in the driver’s seat with a shotgun in his mouth with blood all over the inside of the truck.  The man had taken his own life at some point last night.

The poor man was visibly shaken.  My boss had also noticed the man there last night and at one point saw another car approach and since drugs are so bad in the area, she thought maybe there was a deal going on.  That was clearly not the case.

Now, it’s impossible to know what was going on in this man’s life to feel that this was the only option he had left.  It is so easy to think that it is a selfish thing to do, but no one knows what kind of horrors he has experienced in his life and what sort of difficulties he was going through.  All I could think about all day was this man and the book I finished just last night.

Michelle’s memoir focuses on her life and the depression and social anxiety that she has dealt with for her entire life.  Anyone who has never dealt with anything like that can easily pass it off as being sad or just having a rough day.  But Michelle, like the man today, had other things in their life that many people are not aware of.

This book was hard to get through.  I had to set the book down multiple times because it’s such a tough subject to read about especially if you’ve experienced any kind of mental illness.  I know I touched on some of these subjects with the other review but this was completely different.  This was a real story with real incidents that completely broke my heart.  It is so awful to read about someone who thinks that their life is not worth what it really is and that no matter what anyone says, their view of them self doesn’t change.

I applaud Michelle for having the strength to overcome her mental illness and have the courage to share her story with the world.  The more people who are aware that they are not alone in their struggles the more people will seek the help that they need.  This was one of the most powerful stories I have ever read.  It’s one of those books that I feel will always be with me.

Michelle did an amazing job of telling her story and sharing how she overcame her illness.  Depression and social anxiety are things that will always be with you if you experience them, but there are ways to try and live a normal life and there are people who are there to help you through it and just be there for you.  The important part is understanding that you are not alone and that there are options.

Whether you’ve experienced mental illness or not, this is such an important book to read.  It shows the deeper side of mental illness and the perseverance that Michelle had to overcome that hardships and how she learned to love herself and realize how special she is.

The truth of the matter is that it is impossible to know what a person is going through.  There’s a line from one of my favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird that comes to mind.  “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

I cannot thank Michelle enough for not only letting me read her story but also sharing it with the world.  You may not realize how many people you will reach and help but it will be more than you think.


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