I’ve read a lot about depression and mental illness from a first person point of view; but Rachel’s memoir is unique. It’s both a diary and a guide; it tells you her story but with added suggestions of what you can do to help in times of difficulty.
Rachel has a life many of us would dream of: being a journalist with The Times, living in a lovely area of London with her well connected husband and two young children. She studied at Oxford, married her teenage sweetheart and has a wide circle of friends and a close family. Then one night, it all falls apart. Within three days of having a sleepless and difficult night, she becomes bed-ridden and crippled by depression.
Her work shows exactly what mental illness is; it’s not only reserved for those who suffer intense trauma and sadness in their lives. It can hit anyone, and we still don’t know why. Rachel is brutally honest in her writing. She tells of her exact feelings in her life; how she would rather die than carry on like this, her numbness towards her children and her questioning of her doctor’s suggestions. I appreciate how stark the writing is, and how quickly you can grasp Rachel’s experience.
The memoir is broken up by poetry. Rachel has always felt an affinity towards poetry, and it is one of the tools she uses in her recovery. While I’m not the greatest poetry fan, this added another layer to the novel. Although I must admit I did at times skip through some of them.
At times I did feel as if this would have more impact for someone struggling with depression; however I still gained so much from reading. I would recommend anyone to take a look, whether or not you have any first-hand experience. You will learn so much from Rachel’s words.