The 'longest day' is the name of the 243 kilometre one day event of New Zealand's Coast-to-Coast Multisport World Championships, but also an apt description of how journalist Matt Calman was experiencing his life. No longer choosing to use alcohol as a crutch, he was battling anxiety and depression. The Coast-to-Coast race became his goal for recovery and in this easy-to-read memoir he details just how gruelling the training is and the challenges of the event itself.
Open and honest, this story of hitting rock bottom and then reaching for the top, step by step with the support of friends and whanau, is a constructive and hopeful addition to understanding men's mental health issues. [Larger font]
We enjoyed this book and it spawned great discussions around the perception of mental health and how it is changing, the resolution of the Maori/Pakeha origin of the author, and the idea that mental strength can be built by focusing on the process or the journey - rather than the goal. We discussed the major themes of connection and gratitude as being masters of mental well-being. We were all in awe of the author's wife and family and how loyal and supportive they were through some fairly difficult times...
Matt's story provoked a lively, long discussion - the NZ alcohol culture, teaching resilience at a young age ( accepting imperfections) and acknowledging that combating/dealing with depression is reliant on having a very supportive family and community. The title of the book, we felt, was summarised well in just the last chapter.
We all loved this book, what an inspiration! We all agreed that it's not about the winning or the end result, but the journey itself.
We all wanted to hear Ranui's (wife) story as the time and effort and expense of training for the 'Coast to Coast' is immense, and it can be viewed as quite a selfish pursuit. We also couldn't understand why he didn't attempt the 2 day event which is a lot more attainable with the same benefits for his mental health.
Half thought there was too much about his depression and mental problems, but enjoyed hearing about the race. The other half felt it was very motivational, and admired how he talked about his depression. They felt it was well-written and an interesting journey. Certainly had a good discussion.
Lots of talk about how depression affects people and those around them.
Discussion was interesting. Most did not enjoy this book although a couple really did enjoy it. Quote of the evening, "It could have been a one-page Stuff article".
Great inspirational book, very well-written. Virtually all of our group really enjoyed reading this book as most of us had either had personal involvement with 'Coast to Coast' or knew of people who had.