Book review : Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell
Updated: Feb 9
On the cover of this book, the title reads ‘Chase the Rainbow’ and underneath ‘one man’s journey with mental health and the woman who loved him.’ When I told people I was reading this book, I was often met with faces of discomfort or an ‘oh god, that sounds depressing.’ And while it wasn’t the easiest read (I normally read on my commute and I had to take a few breaks from it, as the journey is heavy enough as is) it was well worth it.
The author, Poorna Bell, is a journalist and ex-editor of HuffPost UK, so her storytelling is compelling throughout. It centres around her relationship with her husband, Rob, who suffers from depression and his struggles with addiction. Despite the nature of these topics, I really couldn’t wait to get stuck into this book. Mental health issues affect us all, even when people deny they’ve never suffered with issues or that they don’t know anyone that struggles with their mental health, I truly believe no one can go through life without understanding the true nature of our minds.
Early on in the book, you find out that Poorna’s husband committed suicide, but this book was not written for sympathy or heartache. Bell dedicates this book to help us understand the complexities of mental illness. One of the things that stayed with me after the book is an analogy she uses to describe how society treats mental illness. During a bout of depression where her husband spent hours in bed, she willed him to ‘get up and go for a walk’ or ‘get out of bed and go for a workout.’ However, when she started to understand more about this disease, and started seeing it as a medical condition she realised just how wrong this was. She likens it to going into a cancer ward and telling patients that going for a walk will make them feel better. No one in their right mind would do that, yet every day people believe that they can cure depressed people by getting them up and out of the house. This analogy made me realise how warped society’s view of mental health is and how unwilling we are to take it seriously.
And it SHOULD be something we take seriously. Bell addresses the stat that suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK. She also begs the question, if it were another disease claiming so many lives, wouldn’t we be paying more attention to it? Really think about that statistic.
Aside from learning a lot about mental health and really deconstructing what we’re taught to think about it, this book is a story about real love and relationships. Some of the best parts of the book are about her family dynamics, the support from her friends and the complexities of loving someone and yet wanting to look after your own wellbeing too.
Read this if: You know anyone struggling with their mental health. It’ll give you a fresh perspective, even if you already have quite an open mind, like myself.
Favourite bit: The authors honesty. I haven’t read many books where I’ve seen openness to this extent. Her willingness to tell the absolute truth really lifts the lid on real pressures and complexities of being with someone who is suffering from mental illness.
Any parts I didn’t like? There are brief interludes of heavy description which, for me, broke the flow of the story.
Stars out of 5: 4 stars