So-Called Normal: A Memoir of Family, Depression and Resilience

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In this captivating and brutally honest memoir, Mark Henick shares his personal journey through depression and anxiety. He lifts the curtain and invites readers into the intimate experiences of his childhood and young adult years in Nova Scotia. His mom is a nurse who loves and supports him, although she’s away at work many of his waking hours and suffers from insecurities of her own. His dad leaves when he is young and desperately in need of a father who loves him. To make ends meet, Mark, his siblings, and his mother move in with a man she’s been dating. He’s vindictive and doesn’t believe little boys should show emotions. Mark feels unwelcome and belittled. Instability churns inside him, and he finds himself in an abyss of darkness.

After months of contemplating suicide, he conveys the depth of his turmoil to a school counselor and is checked into a psychiatric hospital. This marks the beginning of a series of hospitalizations, and although he has intermittent periods of normalcy, his condition remains fragile. At the age of seventeen, he decides suicide is the best option. He walks to a nearby bridge and prepares to jump into the oncoming traffic. As he gathers the courage to let go, a gentleman wearing a brown coat comes and saves his life. From this point onward, Mark’s view of the world, as well as of his existence in it, changes markedly for the better. He starts down the path to recovery and a future full of hopeful possibilities.

So-Called Normal: A Memoir of Family, Depression and Resilience is a story of sadness, loss, grief, healing, acceptance, and renewal. The author provides readers with direct passage into his experiences as well as the confines of his heart and mind. This enables them to view, through unfiltered lenses, the path that leads him down the road to self-destruction and a horrifyingly close brush with death. He describes in great detail the time he stops and asks a teacher for a knife to cut a cake for his class, and how he chooses just the right one to make a clean cut on his wrist. He also elucidates the care the man on the bridge takes to calmly speak to him, to listen to his story without passing judgment, and to keep him hanging on long enough for aid to arrive. His ability to be introspective about his struggles broadens the window through which readers can see, allowing them a better look at the complexities of depression.

This book is ideal for those interested in learning more about depression, anxiety, and suicide. It may also appeal to those who have always wondered what it might feel like to see the world through the tainted glass of depression. Family members and friends of those suffering, as well as therapists and other medical professionals, are also likely to benefit from this insightful and self-reflective account. Those still in the midst of dark days will want to wait and read this one later due to the descriptions of frequent suicidal ideation. Overall though, it’s definitely a worthy read and a positive contribution to the literature on mental illness.

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Star Count 4/5
Format eBook
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher HarperCollins
Publish Date 2021-Jan-12
ISBN 9781443455039 Buy this Book
Issue January 2021
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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