It hides in plain sight—in the colleague who drinks too much, in the friend who keeps canceling nights out, in the teenager who won't leave his room. It is frequently found running in tandem with other life-threatening diseases. It is in our colleagues, in our friends, in our families.
Depression has afflicted Tracy Thompson most of her life. To the outsider looking in, she was a happy person with a rewarding career, a beautiful family, and a large circle of friends. But lurking beneath the veil of contentment was a dark, inexplicable, and all-consuming despair that she would later dub "The Beast."
In this unflinching chronicle of her continuing battle against "The Beast," Tracy Thompson writes with ceaseless candor on her struggles, on the internal war that pursued her from youth to adulthood, undermining relationships, complicating her career, and threatening her family. Thompson recounts this most personal and vital battle to reclaim her life before depression could take it from her. A seminal work on depression at publication, THE BEAST remains an essential read to the millions of Americans enduring depression, in either their loved ones or themselves. It offers an insightful perspective on the disease, and a glimmer of hope.
"Absorbing...powerful...It's a frightening tale that will strike a nerve in anyone whose life has been touched by the agony of mental illness."—PEOPLE MAGAZINE
"In that resilient genre, the autobiography of melancholy, we hope for courage, honesty and the texture of the particular. Tracy Thompson supplies all in generous measure." —Peter Kramer, author of LISTENING TO PROZAC
Thompson spent years traveling through the region and discovered a South both amazingly similar and radically different from the land she knew as a child. African Americans who left en masse for much of the twentieth century are returning in huge numbers, drawn back by a mix of ambition, family ties, and cultural memory. Though Southerners remain more churchgoing than other Americans, the evangelical Protestantism that defined Southern culture up through the 1960s has been torn by bitter ideological schisms. The new South is ahead of others in absorbing waves of Latino immigrants, in rediscovering its agrarian traditions, in seeking racial reconciliation, and in reinventing what it means to have roots in an increasingly rootless global culture.
Drawing on mountains of data, interviews, and a whole new set of historic archives, Thompson upends stereotypes and fallacies to reveal the true heart of the South today—a region still misunderstood by outsiders and even by its own people. In that sense, she is honoring the tradition inaugurated by Wilbur Joseph Cash in 1941 in his classic, The Mind of the South. Cash’s book was considered the virtual bible on the origins of Southern identity and its transformation through time. Thompson has written its sequel for the twenty-first century.
Very quickly Thompson realized that virtually everything she had learned up to then about dealing with depression was now either inadequate or useless. In fact, maternal depression was a different beast altogether. She tackled her problem head-on, meticulously investigating the latest scientific research and collecting the stories of nearly 400 mothers with depression. What she found was startling: a problem more widespread than she or any other mother struggling alone with this affliction could have imagined. Women make up nearly 12 million of the 19 million Americans affected by depression every year, experiencing episodes at nearly twice the rate that men do. Women suffer most frequently between the ages of twenty-five and forty-four—not coincidentally, the primary childbearing years.
The Ghost in the House, the result of Thompson's extensive studies, is the first book to address maternal depression as a lifelong illness that can have profound ramifications for mother and child. A striking blend of memoir and journalism, here is an invaluable resource for the millions of women who are white-knuckling their way through what should be the most satisfying years of their lives. Thompson offers her readers a concise summary of the cutting-edge research in this field, deftly written prose, and, above all, hope.