Out of the Madhouse

out of the madhouse

3 out of 5 Stars

I’d like to thank Netgalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for a copy of the boo in exchange for an honest review.

This is the story of the Maitland family and their battle with metal health issues. Notice that I don’t say Michael Maitland’s battle. With mental health it is a battle for the whole family and everyone involved in Michael’s life.

The story is a mix of excerpts from Michael’s diary from when he is brought into the Priory to start to deal with his issues with depression, anxiety, OCD and anorexia after he reaches a low of 44 kilos (97 lbs) as a 6′ tall male and has an oedema and a collapsed lung. With insight from his father and the fallout within the family and dealing with Michael’s problems.

It is explained best in the preface of the book itself

Out of the Madhouse tells the story of Michael Maitland, and that of his family –dad Iain, mum Tracey, younger sister Sophie and younger brother Adam, plus Bernard the family   dog. Michael went to university in 2007 to do a degree in Illustration and, whilst there, he suffered from depression and anxiety which led eventually to anorexia and, finally, hospital and the Priory. That’s where our story begins, in the Priory in the late autumn of 2012. It is a story with a mix of happy and sad times, highs and lows –and tragedy. The story comes to an end in 2017. The book is divided into three parts –Into the Priory, Back Home and Inside the Maitland Family. Michael’s diary and notes form the backbone of much of the book and let fellow sufferers and their parents and loved ones see inside the head of someone with mental illness and understand how they think and feel. Alternating with Michael’s words, I write about the effects upon and feelings of the family –if you have a loved one with mental illness, you are not alone and will recognise much of what the Maitlands experienced over the years. I also offer self-help thoughts and ideas through the book that will help those with mental health issues, and those who love them, to manage depression and anxiety and related issues. This is a memoir, a self-help guide and more –happiness, sadness, stupidity, regret, pain, shame, embarrassment and so many other emotions are all here. So too is love –angry, frustrated, irritated, worried and more –but always love. It is a strong and golden thread that runs from the start, right the way through to the end, and beyond.

I liked the personal touch in this book with the actual diary entries from Michael and his thoughts and feelings at the time of his lowest points. It was good to have a book that actually had that point of view. But, I don’t think I was the targeted audience for this book because, being a sufferer myself this book seemed to be written more for the families and friends surrounding those suffering from depression and anxiety than the actual person suffering.

There is some insight from the family about how it was hard to understand what was happening with Michael. He stops going to University, but won’t get a job and barely leaves his house. They just think that he’s a freeloader and they’re being too nice helping him pay his way in the world and they don’t think about how there could be a bigger problem.

They have some good tips for family members to help them recognize that something may be going on with someone close to them

“Look for patterns of changing behaviour”

“Watch for changes in demeanour”

“Keep an eye on physical changes”

And the biggest one being “DON’T KEEP QUIET!” I know that no one wants to push a loved one away by prying, but if you don’t confront this person they may not get the help they need before it’s too late. Sometimes this person may not even understand what is going on with them, and sometimes they may even be hoping you take notice and help them. I think that was the best advice that they gave in the book.

My issue with the book was some of the advice they gave to deal with the symptoms of depression and anxiety, especially their tips on panic attacks. As one who has suffered from many I found myself getting angry at their advice to “Think ahead” , “Learn to relax” and the best one, “breathe deeply” . Now, again I say that this is actually good advice for family members who might witness a panic attack as it gives them something to say to try to soothe the person suffering… but, telling someone having a panic attack to “just breathe deeply” would be like if I shoved your head underwater and told you to “just breathe deeply”  ….it isn’t as easy as this book made it seem.

The other issue that I had with this book was that when it came towards the end of the book and giving suggestions on where to get help they were all based out of the U.K, as that’s where the family was from. This in and of itself wasn’t my main problem, it was the fact that Iain (as he was the one writing this portion) didn’t even seem to TRY to do any research into other organizations in North America, where much of his audience will probably be from, as his publisher also had a branch in the U.S.A. He would say “Just contact the NHS, or dial 999” and when he does refer to how references in different places will be different he just says “your GP can direct you to the Community Mental Health Team, or whatever it is called where you are” . Now, I don’t expect him to come up with all of the names. But, either a few from main places where people may be reading your book, or an appendix at the end of the book to refer to for other possible help in different places would have probably been helpful and not a huge amount of work. It really would have made the book seem a bit more authentic and helpful.

I do really like the description Michael uses as the mental health issues as a tentacled monster. The stories written about this and the analogies were very fitting. It is definitely a beast that can easily strike a person with many arms but stem from the same problem.

I hope that someone who has a family member or loved one with mental health issues will read this book as I think it will be more helpful to them than it was for me. I’m thinking of getting my man to read it for his opinion because it did have some great tips for dealing with your loved one and with dealing with yourself. The one thing that I really took to heart to remember for the future (because those with mental health issues seem to be the ones who need to be taken care of) is that your family dealing with you need to take care of themselves as well! Sometimes they need to walk away from the person in need of help and take a breather and some time to themselves, because their health mentally and physically matter too!

Out of the Madhouse is Best Served with

A Shirley Temple

I know, I know… a MOCKTAIL?! Nicole, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!

I just couldn’t get behind recommending a cocktail or alcoholic beverage with this book as it is very important to remember that alcohol IS a depressant and those with issues should really try to keep their consumption in moderation or it could be a slippery slope! (I would know!!) So, what better than that childhood favourite, the Shirley Temple!!?? I’m not a fan of sweet things, or grenadine, but this drink took me right back to those nights where I would go out for dinner with my grandparents and they would let me order one of these and I felt like the fanciest girl in the world!! (And I forgot how much it almost tastes like an ice cream float!!)

Anyways, on with the show!!



  • 1/2 oz Grenadine
  • 8 oz ginger ale or lemon lime soda (or 4 oz or each if you like a mix!)
  • maraschino cherry to garnish


  1. Fill glass with ice
  2. Pour in grenadine
  3. Top with soda
  4. garnish with cherry if you wish
  5. CHEERS!!!

14 thoughts on “Out of the Madhouse

Add yours

  1. Great review Nicole, the NHS here is struggling with funding for mental health, but is the only recourse for free treatment. A person would have to be referred via his/her GP. He maybe should have done a bit of research as to what’s available in the private sector.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He actually did that. It’s just that I live in North America (where A LOT of people will be reading this book) and it would have been nice if he had some suggestions for us, even at the back of the book, for places that we can look to instead of saying “this is what we have here… I have no idea what you guys have anywhere else”. It just seems a loss of a VERY large audience as the things he suggested wouldn’t be much help to us here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. EXACTLY! And judging by a lot of the bloggers I’ve met there may be a lot of people from the U.K on Netgalley… But there are A LOT of people from North America. That is where I got the book (Damn, I was so intent on my review that I forgot to write that! Lol!) so, that is where a lot of people will be recommending it! I feel that it was a big missed opportunity for the writer and that it really would not have taken much more research to throw a few suggestions our way.


  2. As someone who has also had to deal with quite a few panic attacks in the past, it always amazes me to no end that people always end up with advice like that. I know that they really mean well…but it really isn’t as easy as “breathe easy” . But it is true though: as someone who has faced depression twice now (one time with my own father, the other time with my best friend) , sometimes it’s almost forgotten that the people that try to help them (or want to help them) also can have a very rough time with it. Loved this post, and it was a great review 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I did this post because it’s always nice to hear from people who understand from both sides of the mirror. I almost lost my man through issues I’ve had in the past and not understanding the pressure that I was putting on him because I’m too lost in myself. I saw a lot of that in this book and THAT really made me think. If you’ve had people in your life dealing with depression this would be a pretty good read for you! It was very helpful in that respect. But, yes the advice sometimes wasn’t the greatest. I mean, breathe? WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?? Lol! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting review, Nicole. It sounds like this book is a mixed bag, some good advice, and yet some that isn’t particularly helpful or perhaps too broadly applied. The more we understand about mental health, self-care, and helping others, the better off we’ll all be. Thanks for the thoughtful review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It had some useful comments, exercises that may actually be good tips. I think the nice thing that it reminded me is that my issues affect others and I have to remember them and try not to get so wrapped up in myself when things are bad. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that there are people there for you.

      Liked by 1 person

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