Running From Hippos

A Memoir of Trauma and Depression

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
252 Pages
Reviewed on 11/23/2021
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Author Biography

I first began writing this book to help lay the ghosts of my past; to help me heal the trauma which haunted my life and caused my depression. As my story unfolded I began to think that maybe it could help others that find themselves in similar situations.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Running From Hippos: A Memoir of Trauma and Depression by BD Timmins is a moving, powerful autobiography about surviving the darkness of trauma. Starting with the early days, the author takes you back to the beginning of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, onward through the turmoil of depression, self-harm, and suicidal ideations, then into the light of triumph. It wasn't an easy journey, but if you've been there or know someone who has, you will relate on a personal level. If you feel alone in your suffering or feel that the ghosts of abuse are still haunting you as an adult, you will get empathy and advice that will help you and touch you. Timmins covers her experiences in a comprehensive, relatable way, from how it was at home and school and how it affected her as she grew into adulthood.

Not everyone has been abused so it can be hard for those people to understand what it's like for the author and others that have experienced it, but this book opens a window into the real, day-to-day life of one living in an abusive situation. Timmins explains how she called on her "stronger self" to endure a lot of her pain in great detail. But she did learn to confront her oppressors and brought herself to a place of healing and life. Though her story is explicit, there is a place for it in a book about abuse. But along with the powerful emotions and tears come a few humorous parts. The chapter titles give a small hint at what you can expect in each one, and though the subject matter is tough, the style is easy.

No doubt this book was cathartic for the author, but it can be for readers too. You will come to abhor the abuse and admire the author for her resilience as you read. As a former social worker, I recognize it must have been extremely hard for the author to relive those moments. Some may assume that victims are rendered weak, but it takes a strong person to survive abuse and rise above it. This would make a great book club selection and would benefit those in support groups. If you're looking for a good resource on trauma, be sure to read Running From Hippos by BD Timmins.

Jennifer Ibiam

Running from Hippos by BD Timmins is a nonfiction memoir that follows the life of Bren from childhood until adulthood. One would think that a rosy life lay ahead of Bren as the only child of two divorced parents. But her experience was on the highest spectrum of the opposite. Starved of parental love, exposed to a toxic family environment, and likely abused by a parent, Bren needed an escape. She loved school and was a stellar student, but being born psychic and with astigmatism had its pitfalls in the 1950s and 60s. Bren went through an endless bout of bullying, betrayals, rejection, discrimination, and assaults of every kind at home, school, in relationships, and the workplace. Her ordeal culminated in trauma and terrible depression. Would she sink or keep fighting?

Running from Hippos by BD Timmins is an intense and emotionally charged memoir. I felt overwhelmed but couldn’t stop reading because Bren is an intriguing person. Bren, being a curious and adventurous child, had a powerful spirit that helped her survive. She had enough adventures to last four lifetimes! I kept wondering about her state of mind while writing this book, especially when she switched to third-person narration. Bren is honest, raw, and bared her heart without fear of judgment while telling herself some hard truths. She is also very kind and trusting, albeit a terrible judge of character. I felt like the only good people in her life were Mr. B, David, her Dave, and David T. By the end of this memoir, I asked a lot of “whys?” that I cannot capture here. I hope that every victim of abuse finds their silver lining someday. Thank you for sharing your story, BD Timmins.

Irene Valentine

BD Timmins was born in 1949 into an emotionally scarred, economically weakened post-war Britain. Outwardly mild-mannered, her father had a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Their home was rarely peaceful. The author recalls lying in bed at night, trembling during her parents' horrendous arguments. Her mother was unaffectionate. BD Timmins's desperate need to be loved would lead to violent physical abuse. Brenda blamed herself for her mother’s unhappiness. Those feelings of inadequacy plagued her throughout her life. Her earliest self-awareness was that she was strange. At 18 months old, she was diagnosed with astigmatism. Her right eye was almost blind and stared permanently at her nose. The approach at that time was to cover the left eye to force the right eye to correct itself. This resulted in her bumping into things and frequently falling, which led to her being bullied at school. She was often locked in the dark larder cupboard by her half-sister, 10 years older. Happily, this relationship improved when Brenda reached junior school and the sisters sang the latest songs together. They met celebrities at the London Palladium. At that time actors and singers were more accessible, making themselves available backstage to meet their fans and provide autographs. She adored hippos, always the highlight of their peaceful family outings to the zoo. Something about those big hulking creatures made her feel safe. But a few years on, when her hippo dreams turned to nightmares, she started having mixed feelings about them.

Running from Hippos: A Memoir of Trauma and Depression has taken BD Timmins more than a decade to write. Reliving a lifetime of memories and questions was extremely difficult. To help distance herself from some trauma that is quite graphic, the author has written in the third person as Bren, her inner stronger coping self. For those who have also experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, depression, and self-harm, this book will help you know you are not alone. BD Timmins says you may never totally forget. Yet, you can distance yourself from the trauma. You can learn to forgive yourself, and stop hating the perpetrators. You can find hope and courage. You can embrace gratitude and choose to move forward and rebuild your life, as she has done.