Review: Building a Life Worth Living

Review: Building a Life Worth LivingTitle: Building a Life Worth Living
Author: Marsha M. Linehan
Genre(s): Non-Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: Borrowed
For: Recommended
Sexual Content: 0.5 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP, tells the story of her journey from suicidal teenager to world-renowned developer of the life-saving behavioral therapy DBT, using her own struggle to develop life skills for others.

My Thoughts

If you’re a frequenter of this blog, then you probably know my history…. I have been in therapy off and on since I was 16 to treat a myriad of problems–depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, PTSD from sexual trauma, etc. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in 2020 and spent a week in the hospital in March 2021 for overdosing on lithium that my psychiatrist and therapist at the time recommended I find a DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) program. I graduated from that program in May 2022.

In one of my recent conversations with my current therapist (a DBT-trained PsyD), he recommended I read Marsha’s memoir. I had been struggling with depression and anhedonia due to health problems. Instead of using the skills I learned in DBT to help me cope with them, I started falling back into my old behaviors. I was severely discouraged, thinking I’d have to deal with the same mental health problems for the rest of my life. I wanted a magic pill to get rid of them for good.

You can’t think yourself into new ways of acting;
You only can act yourself into new ways of thinking.

Reading Marsha’s memoir was very eye-opening. Before I read her life story, I knew one thing about her–she developed the life-saving behavior therapy known as DBT. What I did not know is that she used her own struggles with depression, anxiety, self-harm urges, and suicidal ideation to develop these life skills to help others. She explained that when she clawed her way out of her own personal hell, she made a vow to God and herself that she’d find a way to help others out of their hells too.

She not only used science and research to create easy-to-use skills to help highly suicidal individuals, she also sought help from different spiritual advisors along the way. She, a devout Catholic, spent months in Zen monasteries, learning the skills of mindfulness, acceptance, and willingness.

She persevered through countless setbacks of invalidation from her parents and skepticism by colleagues. She endured sexism and outdated Freudian ideals in the psychological industry. And, she persisted in publishing her findings despite rejection after rejection due to being deemed a poor writer.

I’m so grateful she was so determined to fulfill her vow. DBT has changed my life. As I mentioned above, I still struggle with the same urges and extreme emotions I had before going through DBT. I also feel more confident in my ability to cope and work through my struggles. I know if I use the skills I’ve learned, I can build a life worth living.

Have you read BUILDING A LIFE WORTH LIVING? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for suicide, suicidal ideation, cutting, and institutionalization.

About Jenni Elyse

Hi, I'm Jenni. I’m an eclectic reader. I mostly read fiction and I favor fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery, thrillers, and romance. The more kissing in a book the better!
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12 replies
  1. Wendy Williams
    Wendy Williams says:

    Wow, I’m so glad you found this book useful. I have a close family member who suffers from PTSD and depression, and I will be recommending this book.

    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      Thanks, Wendy! 😀 I think this meant more to me and was so useful because I’ve been through DBT. If your close family members does read this, I hope it’s helpful.

  2. Karen
    Karen says:

    It’s hard to stick with the methods. When things are going well you think you don’t need it ad when they go bad it’s like starting over again.

    I haven’t done DBT specifically but books like this are always a reminder to stay the course. And knowing she went through it herself and the origins of DBT are particularly helpful.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      Exactly. Fortunately, I’m starting to come out of it. Well, the depression and anhedonia. But, I’m finding my desire to blog a bit lackluster. We’ll see what happens, lol.

  3. Leah's Books
    Leah's Books says:

    I had no idea that Marsha Linehan had written a memoir, or that she struggled with mental health issues personally and based DBT principles on her own experience. I’ve worked in the mental health field and utilized some DBT techniques, and have seen the difference that a full DBT program can make in a person’s life. I’m glad to see how this program has turned your life around, and hope that it continues to help you. Thank you for this review.


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