Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Beast: A Reckoning with Depression by Tracy Thompson

As the title suggests, this is an autobiographical account of one woman's struggle with depression. Tracy Thompson is a journalist, and chronicles in some detail the episodes of her life, including her relationships, her job as a reporter, and the cloud of depression that rained (and reigned) over these elements. Thus, if you are expecting the book to deal solely with depression, you will soon find that, as does any life, Thompson's life includes much more, with long stretches devoted to these other parts.

Thompson deals with serious, clinical depression, which is at once gratifying to those who also struggle - many will find validation here - and harrowing when you witness and consider the effect of one particular relationship in her life with a man who is many times less than compassionate. Though he does help her get the medical attention she needs, his actions and reactions are overall further damaging.

Again, those who also suffer with depression will find much validation in this work, yet personally, I was disappointed (jealous?) of certain aspects, including her ability to, overall, continue working despite her struggle (with the exception of time she spent in the hospital) and the apparent cure she finds at the end with an anti-depressant. It should be noted that many of us mentally ill find it a far more difficult time to work, or maintain any semblance of normal life, or to find a medication, or medications to help. A worth-while read nonetheless. Thompson's all-out honesty is particularly appreciated. - 4 stars

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