Finding Hope in the Age of Melancholy – Cut pages, cut heart

My copy of Finding Hope in the Age of Melancholy by David S. Awbrey is stunning! The pages are cut along the edges … you know how I love that! Also, they’re of high-quality, thick ivory paper. The cover has a matte finish in gold and blue…

As if the look of the book is everything, eh?

But ya know… sometimes – okay, often – it matters to me. What can I say? I’m shallow. Kidding. We all know I’m a navel-gazing deepster, which sounds nasty but isn’t. It also isn’t a real word. Apologies.

Yes, it’s a book about depression (or melancholy as it is also known). Yes, it is spiritual and yes, it is cultural and yes, it is ultimately the story of a man who went into a midlife crisis and came out the other side. And yes, it touched my heart.

Though Awbrey doesn’t call it a memoir, it really is! And though it’s excellently written, it’s an easy read! As a former journalist, he is at heart a researcher (as am I!) and it shows in this book. He takes what he’s learned in differing disciplines and weaves it together.

Side note: Awbrey also shows us how depression can be a positive thing… and I have to stop here because when I read about it in the jacket cover, I almost tossed the book.

Reminds me of a story.

About fifteen years ago, when I was at a supremely low point and trying to figure out how this life in Canada, my marriage and my sanity was going to withstand the trials and tribulations, I belonged to a message board filled with women. We all talked a lot about what was happening in our worlds and some of us gravitated toward each other, as you would expect. Others, not so much, as you would also expect.

I had just shared about a heinous month of immigration concerns, financial concerns,  (we had recently lost both our home and our car and were just coming out of it – but it was tenuous and scary), employment concerns (I could NOT find a job in my field and ended up at Donut Diner flipping burgers and cleaning bathrooms) and we were doing laundry in our bathtub. Yeah, it was that bad.

Then – to add insult to injury- our indoor cat got fleas from the neighbors downstairs. That was the last straw. It had been a hellish three years and this was IT.

Some well-meaning person wrote this:

Bloom where you are planted.

And they put a little photo of a flower beside it like I have. How sunny and happy, right? NO. NOT RIGHT. Was it helpful? No. Incredibly UNhelpful, actually. Talk about pablum! Barf!

There are times when positive-thinking will not save the day. That was one of them. Ahem. Anyway.

So, no, as it turns out, this isn’t a diatribe on positive thinking. Instead, it is the narrative of Aubrey’s descent into -and climb out of- depression.  And while he’s at it, he discusses spirituality, Jung, medicine, history, therapy, psychology, mid-life crises, and his views on how the state of the world (especially since the recent turn of the century) has facilitated chronic depression.

PHEW!

And, oh yeah, hope.

So, it’s a book I will be keeping in my collection.

To end, I’d like to share a stanza I found in the book, from TS Eliot:

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time. 

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