Best-selling poet turns eye toward depression |

Best-selling poet turns eye toward depression

Susan Polis Schutz, author of such uplifting poetry books as “To My Daughter, with Love, on the Important Things in Life,” always had “an incredibly positive and uplifting attitude.” That was, until she got depressed.Three years ago, she “crashed into a severe depression and ‘mental breakdown,'” for which she turned to medication and therapy to treat. Being a holistic-minded person who rarely took aspirin and who was terrified of medication prescribed by a psychiatrist, she had to be willing to try anything to lift her from the deep despair and anxiety, which kept her in bed for three months.Throughout her three-year journey of recovery, she kept a journal, hoping she might help other people understand depression. “Depression and Back: A Poetic Journey Through Depression and Recovery” is the result of her self-examinations. Four chapters revolve around: depression, pills and therapy, the start of recovery and recovery.The poems about depression are heart wrenching and real, from short lines reading, “I’m just living (barely) in a fog of tiredness and apathy” to longer pieces describing the torture of depression. After about 14 pages, she turns to pills and therapy, depicting touching moments with her therapist and family, as well as rational and irrational thoughts about medication.Her “beginning of recovery” poems reveal how she feels like a baby “shocked with a crippling stomachache who can’t control the sensation and who can’t explain it except with tears.” She talks of a two-steps-forward, one-step-back journey to a sound mind.Her recovery chapter is absolutely beautiful. Perhaps the simplest, but one of the most profound poems opens the chapter with the words “I am alive,” followed by a vertical repetition of the words “thank you.” Affirmation comes in such poems reading, “It’s a gorgeous day. The demons can’t take that away.” Her last poem doesn’t end with an easy cure but rather states: “Good morning to me, a person I am just getting to know.”After writing the book, she created a documentary, which will air on PBS Wednesday, titled “The Misunderstood Epidemic: Depression.” In it, she interviews people who have experienced depression and delves into topics including symptoms, suicide, stigma, stress upon relationships, the loss of the ability to work, the pros and cons of medication and types of therapy.Through both the book and film, she provides an intimate look at how depression affects people, in order to give them, and those close to them, understanding and hope.

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