Andrews draws on her experiences to offer strategies for living with depression in this memoiristic self-help guide.
Suffering from depression for her entire adult life, Andrews had her first manic episode at age 47 and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Her brother also suffered from the condition, which, because it appeared much earlier in his life, led to him being institutionalized. Andrews’ son has been diagnosed as well. Now retired, after a successful life of work, children, and only one manic episode, Andrews shares her relevant experiences in the hope that they might help others: “I write this book for all those who find themselves depressed...to let you know that someone understands how you are feeling and that you are not alone in your suffering.” She takes the reader through her history of various treatments, from support groups to medication to counseling, some of which proved quite helpful and many of which did not. She details her personal scale for depression and how she reacts to it on days when she is at Level 1 versus days when she is at Level 10. The things she won’t do—smoke, eat junk food, wallow—are often as important as the things she will do. Andrews also invites the reader on a tour of her experiences with the disease in both herself and in her family (the famous Tolstoy quote “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” makes an appearance), analyzing the moments that tipped her life toward the place she’s ended up. In this short debut book, Andrews eschews the navel-gazing that one might expect from such a memoir, getting down to the bones of her disease and the ways she has managed to work through it. Her chapter on “Strategies for Escape” is particularly helpful, offering advice as practical as list-making and as long-term as writing. (For Andrews, poetry was a particular boon.) The greatest takeaway from the book is what an individualized experience depression is and how each person must struggle to find a way out of the cloud. Luckily, there is help.
A short, empathetic, and helpful work about coping with depression.