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So-Called Normal: A Memoir of Family, Depression and Resilience

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A vital and triumphant story of perseverance and recovery by one of Canada’s foremost advocates for mental health When Mark Henick was a teenager in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, he was overwhelmed by depression and anxiety that led to a series of increasingly dangerous suicide attempts. One night, he climbed onto a bridge over an overpass and stood in the wind, clinging to a g A vital and triumphant story of perseverance and recovery by one of Canada’s foremost advocates for mental health When Mark Henick was a teenager in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, he was overwhelmed by depression and anxiety that led to a series of increasingly dangerous suicide attempts. One night, he climbed onto a bridge over an overpass and stood in the wind, clinging to a girder. Someone shouted, “Jump, you coward!” Another man, a stranger in a brown coat, talked to him quietly, calmly and with deep empathy. Just as Henick’s feet touched open air, the man in the brown coat encircled his chest and pulled him to safety. This near-death experience changed Henick’s life forever. So-Called Normal is Henick’s memoir about growing up in a broken home and the events that led to that fateful night on the bridge. It is a vivid and personal account of the mental health challenges he experienced in childhood and his subsequent journey toward healing and recovery. 


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A vital and triumphant story of perseverance and recovery by one of Canada’s foremost advocates for mental health When Mark Henick was a teenager in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, he was overwhelmed by depression and anxiety that led to a series of increasingly dangerous suicide attempts. One night, he climbed onto a bridge over an overpass and stood in the wind, clinging to a g A vital and triumphant story of perseverance and recovery by one of Canada’s foremost advocates for mental health When Mark Henick was a teenager in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, he was overwhelmed by depression and anxiety that led to a series of increasingly dangerous suicide attempts. One night, he climbed onto a bridge over an overpass and stood in the wind, clinging to a girder. Someone shouted, “Jump, you coward!” Another man, a stranger in a brown coat, talked to him quietly, calmly and with deep empathy. Just as Henick’s feet touched open air, the man in the brown coat encircled his chest and pulled him to safety. This near-death experience changed Henick’s life forever. So-Called Normal is Henick’s memoir about growing up in a broken home and the events that led to that fateful night on the bridge. It is a vivid and personal account of the mental health challenges he experienced in childhood and his subsequent journey toward healing and recovery. 

30 review for So-Called Normal: A Memoir of Family, Depression and Resilience

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Whitaker

    Very good honest observation of his own life and struggles. Does not preach or advise, yet opens your eyes to some truths.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susmita

    Nice

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ann Douglas

    From the pre-publication review I sent to the book's publisher: So-Called Normal takes the reader on a journey inside the head of a young man who is struggling with debilitating mental illness. We journey with him as he tries to make sense of a normal that simply isn’t working for him -- and we celebrate with him as he begins to imagine a new and better life for himself. The result is a fiercely honest and highly relatable memoir that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading. Highly From the pre-publication review I sent to the book's publisher: So-Called Normal takes the reader on a journey inside the head of a young man who is struggling with debilitating mental illness. We journey with him as he tries to make sense of a normal that simply isn’t working for him -- and we celebrate with him as he begins to imagine a new and better life for himself. The result is a fiercely honest and highly relatable memoir that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading. Highly recommended for anyone who has ever struggled with mental illness themselves or who has watched someone else they care about struggle in some way. In other words, it’s a book for pretty much all of us. - Ann Douglas, author, Parenting Through the Storm

  4. 5 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    So-Called Normal is a must read book for everyone and should be made available to all those in the mental health field and beyond. First and foremost I must say, "Thank You" to Mark Henick for this generous 'signed copy' that was sent air mail to me from Harlequin in Canada. Secondly, I must note that I happened upon this book by chance on Twitter and found this author's work to be captivating and I felt compelled and drawn to reach out to Mark in requesting a copy. This book spoke to me from the So-Called Normal is a must read book for everyone and should be made available to all those in the mental health field and beyond. First and foremost I must say, "Thank You" to Mark Henick for this generous 'signed copy' that was sent air mail to me from Harlequin in Canada. Secondly, I must note that I happened upon this book by chance on Twitter and found this author's work to be captivating and I felt compelled and drawn to reach out to Mark in requesting a copy. This book spoke to me from the very first page to the subsequent last and everything in between with precision, clarity, and heartfelt raw human emotion. It's an empath's job to feel emotion and when I saw this memoir pertained to family, depression, and resilience - I knew it was a book that required my undivided attention and above all else had to take precedence. I come from a long line of scapegoats, blackmails, abuse, childhood trauma and married into much the same. As the black sheep I would often find myself alone in my thoughts and emotions and being the only girl in a family of all boys didn't help. As I grew older I learned the technique of compartmentalizing, growing toughened outward skin, and ignoring feelings for acceptance. Therefore, safe to say nothing ever goes as planned nor is life easy. As we see here in the expertly written work -So-Called Normal is riddled with those struggles between childhood fears, trauma, triggers, anxiety, depression, and the latter stages when it encompasses and snowballs into suicidal thoughts, self harm, and worse dreams and nightmares that revolve around death and feelings of inadequacy based upon insecurities. I could relate to this on many levels because as a child I struggled with ADHD and an inability to grasp concepts such as time and or money that for my fellow friends was second nature. I had to learn things in a different light , often backwards or from the bottom up, and learned that fitting in wasn't all it's cracked up to be. As an adult after years of being the black sheep, the scapegoat, and the neglected I became a former shell of myself and sought the very same love, attention, affection that was often discussed in this book. Thankfully, I was able to escape the lonely times in a rural area and head to college while holding down several jobs and living independently from my family. This provided the much needed courage to succeed even though it was short lived upon marrying a malignant narcissist. In this case with Mark Henick he had a rough time with his living arrangements surrounding his mother's relationship after divorcing his dad but also with her new relationship that was forged with Gary. Gary was rough, harsh, and often abusive yet he was the next best thing to an on-sight father figure. Including in this mix was his siblings (Raymond and Krista) respectively. As it turns out Raymond was the middle child who was the 'smart' one with Krista being the 'feisty' one and of course, Mark was the 'sensitive' one. Sadly, Mark grew up being bullied in several schools and also faced dating mishaps along the way all while hiding the fact that he was once molested at just seven years old. My heart literally broke for all that Mark has been through and as I was engulfed in his writing I couldn't help but to think how difficult and trying these times must've been on such a young and impressionable child much less growing into adulthood without that proper footing and foundation of support and guidance we all crave to receive. Without the proper boundaries and enforcement what we find is a boy turning into a man without much guiding force. A young man in and out of the hospitals and psych wards. A man removed from schools for inner turmoils, trials, and tribulations. Several other issues also arose including the mental illness and how his mind worked in mysterious ways as well as his body with tremors and seizures. It's amazing just how the mind and body become interconnected and play off one another during these stressful times of grief, loss, and human components such as those above. Mark Henick's writing literally continues to draw you in with each sentence. He eventually entered therapy at the young age of thirteen, had thoughts of suicide at twelve, and had a whirlwind of emotions that followed including an event that nearly took his life in Sydney. Major depressive disorder is what resulted but it wasn't until his mother suddenly passed at 3am in the bathroom upon entering the bathtub from an apparent seizure that his life became focused with a legacy of memories and flashbacks including his marriage and his children. His mother was a beacon of light and at times it seemed her struggles rested upon his shoulders as she never left this relationship with Gary. She became a grandmother several times over but in the end it was little Noah (his son) asking if his daddy would die. How deeply touching and emotionally compelling it is to read these statements knowing the love he feels for his family as his primary source of enjoyment. Mark notes, "I'd lost a lot of faith after she died-but sometimes habits are hard to kill. I'm not sure how much he remembered of her, either. Still, I reflected on how it's not the things we remember that define us, but the stories we tell ourselves about the things we think we remember." Our lasting legacy is what matters. Not the race to the finish. Nor crossing the finish line. But rather that dash that signifies your work mattered. You mattered. Your story matters. In writing his story he has helped many of those suffering from mental illness and related issues such as depression, suicide, and triggering events to heal. That is a WIN in my book! In closing, I must also note two things to the author - My grandmother's last name was Hanick and my kids all attended a Catholic private school called Holy Redeemer. The significance is uncanny but the fact that I was blessed to read this book was a true calling to higher grounds and I'm eternally grateful for your kindness and generosity as well as your written words. I hope everyone has a chance to read this novel as it's a must read!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    (I wrote this review when I was half asleep, so please cut me some slack.) I became aware of Mark Henick during my mid-teens. As a young person living in Nova Scotia, who also struggles with mental health issues and thoughts (and attempts) of suicide, his tale of survival and perseverance appeals to me and gives me hope for the future. So when I found out that he was publishing a book, I knew I had to read it. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy! And, needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed (I wrote this review when I was half asleep, so please cut me some slack.) I became aware of Mark Henick during my mid-teens. As a young person living in Nova Scotia, who also struggles with mental health issues and thoughts (and attempts) of suicide, his tale of survival and perseverance appeals to me and gives me hope for the future. So when I found out that he was publishing a book, I knew I had to read it. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy! And, needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. Mark’s book gives you a detailed description of what it’s like to struggle with your mental health from a young age. He provides you with a much needed trigger warning at the beginning, then doesn’t hold back. There is no shame in his writing. The frank telling and observation of his own life is what makes this true story so compelling. At one point, Mark writes a quick line about how you shouldn’t meet your heroes. Well, if this book were a meeting, than Mark Henick is the exception to that old adage. Reading this book gave me perspective on my teenage role model. It didn’t change my glowing opinion of the man, but rather how I viewed him. Mark’s writing is deeply human. If you only know him from his TedTalk, then you don’t really know him. Being able to read and understand the events that led Mark Henick to the infamous bridge moment (and all the events afterwards) has been my privilege. I’m so happy and honoured that he has allowed us this look inside his head. I really cannot recommend this book enough.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dayna Burnell

    Can't recommend this book enough. So honest, open, and raw. Can't recommend this book enough. So honest, open, and raw.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gracen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. *I read an advanced copy of the novel, some changes may have been made* This memoir takes you through Mark’s life from childhood into adulthood as he struggles with mental illness. The memoir is beautifully written with such raw detail and emotion. Mark highlights how horrible the mental health system is in Nova Scotia and not much has changed since then, it still continues to fail children and adults. I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with mental illness or anyone who has childr *I read an advanced copy of the novel, some changes may have been made* This memoir takes you through Mark’s life from childhood into adulthood as he struggles with mental illness. The memoir is beautifully written with such raw detail and emotion. Mark highlights how horrible the mental health system is in Nova Scotia and not much has changed since then, it still continues to fail children and adults. I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with mental illness or anyone who has children/grandchildren. Parents and grandparents don’t often realize how much their behaviour affects their children and this memoir goes to show how much more stressful children’s lives can become with poor home environments. I first heard about Mark’s life in 2018 on Sickboy Podcast, I recommend listening to his episode titled “Suicidal thoughts at 10 years old - Depression w/ Mark Henick”. As a fellow Cape Bretoner, my heart goes out to you Mark. Your book gave me hope.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carly Morrison

    This book is an amazingly beautiful swan song. 100% a must read!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    A fantastic, honest read. Mark's Cape Breton roots shine through in relatable ways that will remind readers from Cape Breton of the nuanced nostalgia that is home. Mark's story is truly his own, but he writes in a way that is accessible to those with lived experiences of various kinds, from mental health challenges, to difficult family relationships, to the insular culture of rural island life. A page turner, for sure. A fantastic, honest read. Mark's Cape Breton roots shine through in relatable ways that will remind readers from Cape Breton of the nuanced nostalgia that is home. Mark's story is truly his own, but he writes in a way that is accessible to those with lived experiences of various kinds, from mental health challenges, to difficult family relationships, to the insular culture of rural island life. A page turner, for sure.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrée Charron-Martin

    I am so fortunate to have won the Advanced Reader Copy of Mark Henick's memoir "So-Called Normal". This book beautifully and devastatingly illustrates the author's struggles with anxiety and depression. He depicts his internal pain with hindsight and clarity by pinpointing the events and triggers that lead to his deteriorating depression and suicide attempts. He demonstrates that the mental health field still needs a lot of improvement, that "be a man" is never good advice, that it's OK to strugg I am so fortunate to have won the Advanced Reader Copy of Mark Henick's memoir "So-Called Normal". This book beautifully and devastatingly illustrates the author's struggles with anxiety and depression. He depicts his internal pain with hindsight and clarity by pinpointing the events and triggers that lead to his deteriorating depression and suicide attempts. He demonstrates that the mental health field still needs a lot of improvement, that "be a man" is never good advice, that it's OK to struggle with your emotions (as you're surely not the only one) and that you should never be ashamed to ask for help if you cannot handle it yourself. The best part: he proves that it is possible to overcome your demons. Everyone should read this book! Everyone should know that words and actions can affect/trigger a person more than they let on. Everyone should learn to be nicer, to be patient and empathetic because you never know what kind of internal battle someone is fighting. Everyone should work towards admonishing the stigma around mental health. No one should be afraid to speak about their feelings or ask for help. May this book pave the way to better and happier world.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura A. Barton

    I've been excited for this memoir since it was announced, and it definitely didn't disappoint. Henick has a flair for storytelling, and his story captured me emotionally from the start. From beginning to end, he does a masterful job of retelling his personal narrative in a way that brings it to life and hits hard. His honesty and vulnerability were palpable, and there were many points that brought me to tears. His is an incredible story, offering a first-hand look at mental illness, family, the I've been excited for this memoir since it was announced, and it definitely didn't disappoint. Henick has a flair for storytelling, and his story captured me emotionally from the start. From beginning to end, he does a masterful job of retelling his personal narrative in a way that brings it to life and hits hard. His honesty and vulnerability were palpable, and there were many points that brought me to tears. His is an incredible story, offering a first-hand look at mental illness, family, the healthcare system, recovery, and hope.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Mommy Booknerd http://mrsmommybooknerd.blogspot.com

    I am always so impressed by the courage that people show when sharing their personal stories with the world. I am further impressed and in awe because they allow themselves to become vulnerable to hopefully help others facing similar struggles. I was easily drawn into this story and was fascinated how the journey went for Mark, it was both heartbreaking and hopeful. It is a must read for those that love powerful memoirs that truly capture what resilience looks like while examining complex family I am always so impressed by the courage that people show when sharing their personal stories with the world. I am further impressed and in awe because they allow themselves to become vulnerable to hopefully help others facing similar struggles. I was easily drawn into this story and was fascinated how the journey went for Mark, it was both heartbreaking and hopeful. It is a must read for those that love powerful memoirs that truly capture what resilience looks like while examining complex family relationship and the power of depression and so much more!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Macdougall

    This book is very eye opening to the struggles people face when dealing with anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. It is sad how some in the helping profession labeled your pain as attention seeking! I think this book should be read in high schools so students know the weight their words can have on fellow students. Wonderful book, Thanks Mark for sharing your story! I hope it helps those struggling realize with help and resilience you can overcome your pain.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shaimaa

    ❤️

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Moore

    Enjoyed! You won’t be sorry !!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Salma Hussain

    Stellar. Breaks your heart then pieces it back together. Beautifully written.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Reynelda CB

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. good

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sigal

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dk Singh

  20. 5 out of 5

    Linda Mckenzie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Saheed Abdulazeez

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  23. 5 out of 5

    Raj Patel

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shiv Kumar

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sultana Jesmin

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anil Kumar

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

  28. 4 out of 5

    Khoniker Musafir

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mar Gimenez

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

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