In this extremely brave look at depression from a firsthand perspective, Lana Penrose does far more than share her illness with the world, she offers hope to all who suffer from this debilitating condition and in many ways takes the ‘stigma’ out of a condition which is serious, can have fatal consequences and destroys lives.
One in five women suffer from the condition in one form or another and more than one in eight men which makes this an illness which deserves a higher recognition than it gets: it is an illness which deserves to be taken out of the closet and given light, so that there is a far better understanding of the effects it has on the sufferer and all those around them.
With a humorous twist this tricky subject has been well presented using her personal journey from what turned out to be mid-level depression bought on by a series of life’s little horrors; that of divorce from the ‘love of her life’, followed by the trauma of discovering her new love had a serious heroin addiction.
Moving countries several times and then eventually returning to her family in Australia was all it took for her to fall into the chasm, and doubt that she would ever be able to crawl out.
As an author she decided to keep a diary on this period of time in her life, with the idea of possibly turning it into book which may reach out and help people towards a better understanding – to help remove the stigma that is mental illness.
Many, many times Lana made a gigantic effort to put the misery behind her, going to seek medical help but discovering that the drug therapy regime was not for her, it simply made coping at all impossible.
Commencing with ‘A” ,she gives us a detailed description of what it is like to spend just one day in the life of someone who is suffering from depression, setting the standard for the remaining 25 chapters. Using each letter she details another aspect of the frequently misunderstood condition; the ups, downs and the serious downers which make up this mental bog, or mire if you like, of this mental and physical illness.
She looks at the various therapies, treatments, options, and alternatives on offer to help treat and heal this condition, giving each therapy trailed a score at the end of each chapter.
Her determination not to spend the rest of her in complete misery remained steadfast and as she worked her way through a list of options over more than two years she found she was finally beginning to find some reprieve from the ‘black dog on her back’, that she was beginning to realise that some of the days were happy.
Now more than four years on she has emerged from the gloom, a woman anew, with a fresh focus in life, that of reaching out to others.
She states very clearly this is her journey and this is what worked for her: it may not work for others; it is a case of trying it and finding out the results. But the one thing that comes through time after time is that of her determination not to give in entirely; to try her best to face up to the things causing the problem, painful though they were, in order to heal and let go. If you need a shaman, a five point acupuncturist and cognitive behavioural therapist amongst others to help you get there, well so be it!
This is a work which is both a fascinating read, as well as presenting an understanding of this complex condition that the layman can relate to; it also shows sufferers that there is, and can be a happy ending.