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  Afraid of the Day: a daughter’s journey, chronicles my family's ordeal with my mother's recurring bouts of major clinical depression. It recounts her roller coaster journeys into the deep dark hell of the disorder and back, and what it was like to be forced along for the ride. The creation of this site is but an extension of the journey I have been on since I emerged from my mother’s womb more than 40 years ago and the book that it catalyzed.

 My mother is not a woman of accomplished status. She is an ordinary mother, and we her ordinary family. Yet, as Kathy Cronkite wrote in her conversations with celebrities who have battled mental illness (On the Edge of Darkness), depression is the great equalizer. On the grounds of this fundamental simplicity, Afraid of the Day: a daughter’s journey, is intended to validate the experiences of those whose lives have been ravaged by depressive illness. It describes how my mother’s clinical depression manifested itself upon our family, at a time when the illness was predominantly treated in isolation of spouses and children. It traces our efforts to disentangle ourselves from the insidious web of her cycles of depression, ill-equipped as we were to cope with her repeated hospitalizations, failed treatment attempts and frequent suicide watches.

 My mother’s depression had so long organized our lives, we knew of no other family dynamic. Thus, the story continues. In the years of my mother’s relative wellness, the legacy of her illness lives on, as revealed by the more covert, secondary webs of reactive depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and estrangements that have cleverly interwoven themselves into the primary meshwork of our family.

 I have chosen to write the book from behind the frightened and confused eyes of a child- caregiver, who weathered the storms of her mother’s depression; from the perspective of an insecure, self-destructive teenager, whose own issues were intuitively repressed; from the vantage point of an adult daughter, a veteran of her own battles with depression and substance abuse, who struggles to come to terms with the wreckage of the past, in a conflicted attempt to achieve relative sanity and live an authentic life.

 It is written from the vantage point of a daughter who bares witness to her mother's courage to keep coming back from the edge of despair. Because the experience of depression is not an uncommon one, the emotional and psychological havoc it wreaks upon all members of a family is frequently underestimated.

 My Mom, Dad, brother and I still do not openly talk about the years of my mother’s depression and how they shaped us as a family. It is to our detriment that we allow the proverbial elephant to swallow up so much space in our lives. For better for worse, the writing of this book has been my way of talking.

Nancy Graham Copyright 2003 [Afraid of the Day]. All rights reserved.

Afraid of the Day at Women's Press

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06/18/10 01:43 AM