Ramprasad chronicles her harrowing journey through depression, from which she emerged with the light of hope to become a mental health advocate.
Now the head of ASHA International, a nonprofit organization that promotes wellness, the author writes that 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. While 60 to 80 percent of those diagnosed “can be effectively treated with antidepressant medications and brief, structured forms of psychotherapy,” fewer than 25 percent receive such treatments. The author begins with her idyllic childhood in a loving family in India, which came to an end when, as a teenager, she began to suffer from crying spells and outbursts that escalated in college. Unable to eat, she spent hours in bed crying, but the doctor found nothing wrong with her. Due to the stigma attached to mental illness, Ramprasad began a cycle of denial, secrecy and shame. Eventually, she entered into an arranged marriage with a successful Indian engineer, Ram, and joined him in America, but she lived in fear that he and his family would learn of her “crazy” bouts and disown her. So she continued to hide her symptoms, but after the birth of their daughter, she sunk into a postpartum depression that could not be concealed. While in India visiting her parents with the baby, she suffered a nervous breakdown that resulted in a diagnosis of chronic depression. She received electroconvulsive therapy and medications that offered little relief. Thankfully, Ram remained loving and supportive, but antidepressant medications and cognitive therapy failed to stop the suicidal thoughts and violent outbursts that landed her in a mental hospital. It was in her lowest moment that the author realized that the keys to her wellness were within her, and she began searching for other remedies. Breathing techniques, meditation, exercise and openness about her illness slowly helped her climb out of that dark place.
A well-written, novellike story offering hope for recovery for families in the throes of mental illness.