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“You have written a fine book and it breaks new ground. It is fascinating, poignant and sticks to the bones. I am left with great admiration for your ability to see your parent’s whole – not so much as damagers as damaged themselves. Your generosity is the background healing chorus throughout the book.”
June Callwood, writer, journalist, social activist Toronto Ontario
" Congratulations Nancy! As Holden Caulfied once said via J.D. Salinger," 'What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call her up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much though.' " I guess I'm pretty lucky."
Jean Kowalewski, Branch Head S.Walter Stewart Branch, Toronto Public Library
“I have been very moved by your story and I certainly think others would be too. It’s well written and has many powerful passages. Your feelings of having caused your mother’s depressive illness are quite heartbreaking, and your personal struggles to achieve sanity and to live an authentic life are poignantly told. The passages quoted from your own diary are wonderful.”
Helen McLean, writer and painter Toronto, Ontario
Your book!!.....I don't have the words to describe what I'm feeling Nancy...your writings, words in e-mails and newsletters have always had the gift to invoke feelings, thoughts and memories for me, yet this book Nancy has allowed thoughts, memories and feelings for me to be tangible, to be real...as if I can hold the memory or feeling in my hand and look at it for the very first time in my life. As I go further and read more, it's as though I am shaking a snow globe and watching my feelings surround me....
I know it sounds weird but this is a wonderful feeling for me as I've not had memories of many things .....and your words have brought them to me. Your mother with her clinical depression; my mother with her binge drinking, locked away for weeks on end, have seizures/hallucinations when stopping.....there are many parallels..
So, you may think you have given me the gift of a manuscript for my 8 years sober but in reality, you have given me the gift of learning who I am. I've struggled a lifetime because of missing years.....you've put me on the path of recovering them, and for that, I thank you...
I'm reading it slowly Nancy and must put it down and go back to it....it is difficult for me to read because of what it is bringing up for me....however, please realize that it is a GOOD thing. I've spent years in therapy, talking and getting nowhere.....the first 3 pages of your book did what every shrink and therapist tried to do with me but failed...so, it is a good thing.....and for that I will forever be grateful that you had the courage to put to paper your experience and share it with the rest of us.
Carol Garry, Intake Clerk, Webmaster Jean Tweed Centre, Toronto, Ontario
A friend of mine has a husband and son who are extremely depressed. Her son is suicidal, and thinks he is the only kid in the world who is depressed and with a family like his. Understandably, she is very interested in your book. As is another aquaintance who has a friend..... I think the connections go on and on.
Sharon Day, Boulder Book Club, Boulder, Colorado
It's not often for me that as a professional in the field of addiction treatment I have the opportunity to read a book that so poignantly and eloquently chronicles the impact of depression on a family.
Written from the perspective of a daughter who bears witness to her mother's descent into a vicious cycle of chronic depression which began as a postpartum episode, this book simultaneously manages to describe the horrific impact on the entire family buy in a way that you want to keep reading to find out what happens. Ms. Graham's mother undergoes hundreds of electroshock treatments over the years, numerous hospitalizations and all the while, the medical establishment consistently and miserably fails to address the impact on the family and to find an effective means of helping her mother.
It is only decades after the initial episode that her mother finds a semblance of peace after finally being prescribed lithium. However, the damage have been wrought on the family and Nancy Graham writhes of the individual impact on each of the family members in a way that is heartwrenchingly honest, candid and with compassion. The book handles enormously difficult material laden with emotion but is so well written you are compelled to keep turning the pages.
Most of the information treatment providers encounter is factual and informative. What Afraid of the Day manages to accomplish is to convey the facts but in a way that touches your heart and creates a lasting impression for how you might do your work differently in dealing with depression, substance abuse and many other issues.
This is a book that is a must read for both service providers and those who might have experienced the same devastating experience.
Nanci Harris Community Development Director The Jean Tweed Centre
Nancy. Just wanted you to know that I sat down and read the entire first part of your book in one sitting, could NOT put it down. You have captured so intensely what it was like that I can only once again marvel at the unbelievably courageous journey you have put yourself on this last decade. And to feel such unutterable sadness at the bungling of the mental health and medical systems that kept your family mired in a hell that was to a large degree preventable or able to be more manageable.
Nanci Harris, Community Development Director, Jean Tweed Centre, Toronto, Ontario
"I have read your book. For the first few days I could only read a few chunks at a time and then I'd have to take a break - it is so tragic in the beginning - I found it quite difficult perhaps because I know what depression feels like - as well as a sense of alienation from a mother - of course our circumstances were not the same, but either way, we were not connected to the very people logic tells us we should be - it is difficult to bear - still your book ends on a hopeful and positive note and the last half was easier reading than the first - I loved it."
Severe depression afflicts between five and 10% of the Canadian population at any given time, yet the illness largely remains a taboo subject, one that elicits far less sympathy and support than such maladies as cancer.
Writing about depresson in an accessible format is tricky too, as many readers are likely to avoid the topic. Nancy Graham hopes to change all that with her deeply personal story of a mother-daughter relationship whose parameters have been defined by a debilitating condition that caused family chaos and a lifetime filled with the emptiness of loss.
Like many women of the 1950s and ’60s, Graham’s depressed mother was often told by callous doctors to “snap out of it,” her depression seen as a uniquely female fault best treated by a growing regimen of pills and electric shock. Graham documents the embarrassment, fear, and anger of growing up with the terrible secret that had no name, and certainly no foreseeable cure. In doing so she gives readers a rare glimpse into the lives of those suffering from depression.
Told through old journal entries and memories salvaged in adulthood, the book itself is a catharsis for Graham, an act of therapy that she hopes will assist her fellow sufferers. In handling an enormous number of issues with great sensitivity, from the dynamics of her family life and her sexual awakening through self-abuse to an eating disorder and the eventual road to understanding and dealing with her own demons, Graham makes the reader an engaged participant.
At a time when depression is still easily brushed aside by those who don’t know any better, Graham’s compelling read is a valuable contribution to the growing body of works calling for understanding and empathy for this terrible illness.
Reviewed by Matthew Behrens (from the July 2003 issue of Quill & Quire )
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