**NOW: Playing Hurt – by John Saunders

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Quick click: The late ESPN announcer provides in-depth revelation on his lifelong battle with depression.

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Playing Hurt – by John Saunders, published 2017, ~295 pages

What I learned from this book

I learned the same message we’ve heard from childhood that still rings true – “You never judge a book by its cover.”  Or, “Not all things (or people in this case) are as they appear.”  Who would have ever thought that the sportscaster we watched and enjoyed for so long was having such a difficult time even as we watched him?!  

John Saunders really drove home the point that we must all take a step backwards to understand the depths of depression and its effects on an individual.  It is not our place to judge or attempt to “lighten the person’s load.”  This only exacerbates the person’s condition and circumstances. Mr. Saunders explained it as the equivalent of “encouraging someone without use of their legs to get up and run around to improve your outlook on life.”  Hopefully, this is something we all should agree on NOT to do.

What I liked about this book

I liked Saunders’ transparency in detailing his entire experience.  I thought that the book would not have impacted me as much had he held back in any way.  He divulged painful details from dealings with his physically and emotionally abusive father – and an insecure, enabling mother.  The dysfunctional family is no stranger to those of us who grew up in the same era (the 1970s).

However, he managed to do his best to survive as long as he could and made a pretty decent situation out of a disastrous start.  He put to use the same courage that it takes for all of us to rise above a wall of adversity. It’s just a shame that he still ended up passing away in 2016 – still very productive at the age of 61.

What I disliked about this book

This book contains very little for the reader to dislike.  About the only thing I can think of is it was a bit repetitive in the middle section.  However, I’ll give Saunders the benefit of the doubt because he was very committed to divulging “the entirety of everything.”  We all can get a bit wordy when attempting to drive home a point to our reader, right?

Whom would I recommend to read this book

Of course the main demographic I would recommend to read this book would be those who either are suffering from depression or have loved ones who are.  Though disturbing to deal with, I agree wholeheartedly with Saunders in that mental illness is unfortunately considered a “taboo subject matter” in this world that only drives the problem underground and causes more damage than it should in the end.

Any thoughts?

A.N.

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