Like Romany, I’ve written poetry in self defence for a long time. It’s cheaper than therapy and as methods for bleeding out pain go, it’s a lot safer than many of the available alternatives. I have old books full of dark, angry, wounded words, and I would not share them. There are many kinds of exposure I will brave, but this isn’t one of them.
Romany’s book is a brave sharing of a tough journey, through poetry that clearly spans years. There’s not much autobiographical detail to pin it to – and that works well, because if my reaction was anything to go by, this is a book that manages to transcend the individuality of pain and speak to long dark nights of the soul in a way anyone who has suffered depression might recognise. It is a very odd feeling, to look at words I could have written, and see that it isn’t just me. I can think of a number of times in my life when a book like this would have eased the terrible isolation that deep depression creates. Depression helps a person feel like no one else could possibly bear to hear much less be able to understand, and Romany demonstrates that it isn’t true.
I suspect anyone dealing with the depression of a loved one will also benefit from this book, because it gives a fair idea of what it’s like to be inside a dark place.
It’s no good telling a depressed person that things can get better, because depression takes away the scope for believing this. It’s also often no good telling a depressed person what they should do to be less depressed – they are unlikely to have either the will or the energy or the necessary belief. I know, when I am down, how pressured I feel by the need to be well and functional, and it’s so easy to add to that, with the best possible intentions. There are no cures here, no magic solutions, no instructions, and there are times when that’s really helpful. There’s the catharsis of sharing and recognising, and there is a woman on a journey to a better way of thinking about things, and you can just go with her, and see what happens. No demand, no pressure, no guarantees, either.
If any of this chimes, you might want to pick up the book –