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

My copy of Finding Hope in the Age of Melancholy by David S. Awbrey is stunning! The pages are beveled 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.


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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