Letters to the editor: I don’t believe I’ve had depression and anxiety all this time

To send a letter to the editor, simply write in. You’ll get a reply and we’ll anonymise any blogged version.


Hi Robert,

I’ve just read your book Escape Everything! I don’t want to blow smoke up your arse or anything but I think it’s changed my life. I feel like I’ve been handed the golden ticket to the Chocolate Factory, and therefore, I thought I better write a thank you letter to Willy Wonka.

I’ll tell you why I enjoyed it so much. I’m approaching 30 years old, and at my last count (just now) I’ve had 30 different jobs, moved to different parts of the UK searching for something but not exactly knowing what. I’ve been on pills for anxiety and depression and all the time struggling to explain to my peers and family what is wrong. Embarrassed. I’ve had most jobs you can imagine and hated every single one of them. I’ve done undergraduate and graduate degrees and saddled myself with huge amounts of debt in search of a better job (utopia).

I’ve quit most of them or made some lame excuse about them and even lied about being sacked in a few of them, and at times even got myself sacked on purpose.

I joined [a government agency] last year and finally thought I’d do a proper job, until the pointless paperwork, double standards, and general negativity all day got the better of me. All to the amazement, amusement and astonishment of my peers and family.

For years I’ve been walking sheepishly around the self-help section in Waterstones and my local library, trying to find something to help me fill the void, make sense of the world, all with limited success. I’ve watched countless YouTube videos and TED Talks all imparting some trite, American, positive-thinking, right-wing drivel.

It wasn’t until I read your book that I started to think there might be other people in the world who share the same thoughts and aspirations as me and are actually serious about walking the talk. Of course, if you ask most people they hate their jobs but they just get on with it because that’s just what you do, should do, or what society, family and friends expect you to do.

It’s a funny, well-written and comforting book, which has given me clarity for the first time in my adult life.

I don’t believe I’ve had depression and anxiety all this time: I’ve had work depression and I’m sick of it. This new perspective is going to see me make some difficult decisions that will probably let everyone conclude that I’ve definitely lost my marbles. I simply don’t want to work for another 30-40 years for the man, for 40 hours a week with people I can’t stand, just to be bullied in to buying some shite that I don’t need. I’m looking to dedicate my life to the cause of blissful, minimalist idleness and I’d like to help others do the same.

Thanks for writing the book and I wish you all the best for the future,


★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at www.wringham.co.uk/about.

5 Responses to “Letters to the editor: I don’t believe I’ve had depression and anxiety all this time”

  1. Mark says:

    What a wonderful response to receive for your new book.

  2. Richard says:

    To F:

    I totally empathise with everything that you’re saying. I’m 50, have worked for nearly 30 different employers and have experienced most of the same issues that you mention above. The discovery of the Idler many years ago was a huge help (as were Tom H’s books How to be Idle and How to be Free) and I started to realise that there was a whole subculture out there asking the same questions that I was.

    When a friend introduced me to New Escapologist a year or two ago, I was thrilled (particularly as the Idler has, shall we say, diversified a little in recent times), and I’m looking forward to reading Robert’s book.

    My own solution to the work issue in the last few months has been to reduce my working hours and to survive on less money. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to try this option. It’s made such a positive difference in terms of work/life balance and I no longer feel that work completely controls my existence.

    Most people can’t identify with my attitude at all (either that, or they feel that it is completely impractical and/or immoral and therefore unjustified), but hopefully one day society will become a little more enlightened (though I’m not holding my breath).

    At least I know that there are others out there who share my views.

    Best wishes


  3. Joe says:

    I really relate to this post. I have suffered with depression and anxiety for most of my adult life. It has always seemed that the only two permitted explanations were that it’s simply a chemical imbalance (i.e. bad luck) or an inability to cope with what life inevitably entails (i.e. weakness). The Escapologist approach seems to offer a third explanation: that our work/consume/die culture is perhaps not entirely healthy and that depression and anxiety are perfectly understandable, perhaps even healthy, responses to it. As sad as this fact is, I find it *incredibly* empowering because it seems to boil down to two facts that have previously eluded me: 1) it’s not my fault… BUT… 2) I can do something about it right now.

  4. Jen says:

    I too identify with this, having had lots of jobs and wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn’t “stick with it”. Robert, your book has been a huge eye opener, affirming the path myself and my husband are on but also giving us new ideas and practical ways to move even further in the direction we want to go in. This letter and responses also reminded me of this quote

    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

    Thanks all 🙂

  5. Wow. Thanks Jen. And that is a very good quote. Reminds me of Orwell saying “Sanity is not statistical”.

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