Friday, December 11, 2015

Book Review: Beyond Blue

Although I picked up this book as research for the main character in the novel I am writing, it really provided more personal benefit than assistance with fleshing out a character. As a person who has struggled with clinical depression, this book was a blessing. It is so helpful to hear someone else articulate the frustrations and the deep lows experienced at the hands of the disease of depression. It was refreshing to hear it identified as a physical disease, not just a tendency to get blue over life's difficulties.

In Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes, Therese J. Borchard chronicles her journey into the pit of despair and offers up hope to others who might be battling the same demons. The demons of depression and anxiety are real. They are not simply a weakness displayed by individuals who cannot cope with life. The body does a number on you and suddenly you are incapacitated by overwhelming symptoms of grief and despair. Often, there is no real reason for a struggle. You could have a decent life, beautiful children and spouse to live for, pleasant activities and everything, yet still struggle with the immense desire to cease existing.

Although I didn't really learn anything new about the disease or its treatment, it was such a blessing to read someone else's journey and know that I am not alone in the battles I have faced. Moreover, I'm not alone in facing the varied responses others have to the manifestations of illness (try this, try that, if only you'd do this, if only you focused entirely on God, etc ...). Thankfully, like the author, a psychiatrist was able to come up with the right balance of medicine to help me counteract the imbalances in my brain and hormonal chemistry. But, like the author, I wish there was greater understanding of the illness and less stigma attached to it.

It would be wonderful if I could go back to the person I was prior to my miscarriage and three births, prior to the imbalance. There are those (I'm not naming names) who look at me in wonder and say, "She was such a go-getter, productive and dynamic, and now she accomplishes so little" - as if productivity equals worth. Even with the medical cocktail that gives me a degree of normalcy, I still battle the demons and thus, I was able to fully relate to Borchard's very personal, very raw and honest portrayal of her experience. I marvel that she has maintained such a wonderful sense of humor through it all. The book is not only insightful; it is downright funny, at times. If you have struggled with clinical depression, you will find comfort, inspiration, and understanding in these pages.

No comments: