Shoot the Damn Dog

This was the book that started me off on my reading biographies kick.  I didn't know it at the time, but I'd be back for many more…

Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression by Sally Brampton. Sally worked in the fashion industry in the UK for many years before launching the highly successful Elle magazine in the U.K. in 1985.  Most would probably consider this a fantastic life, and it was filled with many of the trappings of the high life that the very wealthy typically lead.  But behind the successful and public persona was a woman living with severe depression, drug abuse and raging alcoholism.  Few knew or even suspected there were problems.  For this was still in the dark days of mental illness where the general public viewed metal illness as something that one brings on themselves and simply isn't dealing with.

Sally struggles to maintain her public life as well as her marriage and raising her daughter all while the outside world sees nothing but tremendous success.  But the battle with her inner demons and self-medicating with finally leads to an attempted suicide to end the pain.  Unable to cope, Sally can no longer work, raise her daughter and her marriage also crumbles.  Sally survived suicide, wound up in and out of a mental institution for four years, but continued to struggle with alcohol as her primary medication of choice.  Psychiatric also care brought her an endless stream of the available mental health drugs of the day, all to no avail.  

Over time she finally begins to confront her situation.  From there you are lead on a long and winding road of her putting her life back together.  In the end she not only begins to live a happy and healthy life, but also begins to speak out about her condition in an effort to help others.

This isn't a book I probably would have considered reading if I had just heard about it, but the title and then cover caught my eye.  After looking it over it seemed of great interest to me.  As I told my wife Mary Lou when she saw it and raised and eyebrow —as this is certainly not something she wouldn't expect for me to read, "It spoke to me."

And speak to me it did, because this was right around the time I was beginning to get a handle on my own lifelong depression (Dysthymia. And although my situation was far different and not nearly as severely debilitating, there were many things I could certainly relate to in this book.  It's always good to know you're not the only one who's suffering, because you eventually learn that it doesn't have to be that way.  So there you go, I've now confirmed what you always knew, I'm officially one of the "crazy people". ;)  It's taken me a lot of time and a lot of work, but I'm in a better place now than I've ever been.
August 30, 2010 @ 07:07 am | Category:
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