Black Rainbow
Posted by
14th May 2014

SANE supporter Sarah kindly shared her thoughts on Rachel Kelly's memoir Black Rainbow. Below you can read of her impressions on finishing:

When I was asked to read and review a book about depression, I’ll be honest – I was a little skeptical. I am an avid reader, but tend to avoid books about personal experience and/or trauma. For me, they can sometimes be a little triggering and whilst well written and well intended I find they can be a little difficult to digest.

However with Black Rainbow I was pleasantly surprised; and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The book follows the story of Rachel who finds herself in the grips of a depressive episode amidst the busy have-it-all life of a journalist, mother, wife, provider, housewife, friend, hostess....the list of dedicated roles (as always, in life) appeared endless. It looks at the depth and darkness of depression and the toll it takes on all aspects of your life and well being. Without giving too much away, her journey to recovery involves re-examining her life, her new relationship with her mental health, and taking the time to get to know herself once more; forming a new path forwards to her future.

As well as personal accounts from Rachel, the book includes insight from those around her along the way and the poetry that pulled her through to present day. For Rachel, poetry was her saving grace and there even in those darkest of days. It also includes references of research and studies which make for an educating read as much as an enlightening one.

What stands out most for me (reiterating something I tell all those I meet with mental health conditions) is that recovery really is out there; if you know where to look and how to ask. For Rachel it was faith and family amongst other things – but most of all it is was a culmination of factors mixed in with a lot of hard self-work.

Everyone deserves happiness, everyone deserves good mental health, and everyone deserves the support they need to reach their goals.

Karl Jung once said “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become”, and for me Rachel’s story resonated with me on that level. Someone once told me that depression for them was like trying to erase a pencil mark on a crisp white sheet of paper. No matter how hard you try, it will always be there. Of course, I said. Perhaps it always will be – but there is nothing to stop us drawing something inspiring and fulfilling over the ‘blotch’ or incorporating it into a picture that is equally beautiful and worthwhile. Life, can indeed be what you make it – whatever blotches you acquire along the way.

After reading Rachel’s book, I feel as though she has embodied that path and way of thinking. Rather than erasing her depression, she made it part of who she was with acceptance and treatment and relishes the life she now has. She took that piece of paper – and painted herself a rainbow.

If you have depression, or know someone that does – give Black Rainbow a read. You won’t be disappointed.

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