Monochrome Days: A First-Hand Account of One Teenager's Experience with Depression

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Overview


If you are one of the nearly twenty percent of adolescents who experience the symptoms of major depression before the end of high school, then you are probably already familiar with the sadness, isolation, and confusion that depression can bring. You may have questions about symptoms, medications, treatments, and how to deal with depression at school and at home. Monochrom Days: A Firsthand Account of One Teenager's Experience with Depression was written specifically for you.

Cait Irwin was diagnosed with major depression at the age of fourteen, and she nearly lost her battle with the illness before she was able to receive the treatment she so desperately needed. In Monochrome Days, Irwin, now an adult and a successful artist, shares her experiences as a young woman who suffered from a crippling depression but was able to recover with the help of a supportive family and expert psychiatric care. In telling her remarkable story, Irwin and science writer Linda Andrews explain what is currently known about major depression in adolescents, demystifying the often confusing science behind the illness. In easy-to-understand language, the book also
-Provides an accessibel yet in-depth look at the causes, treatment, and management of depression
-Discusses such difficult topics as psychiatric hospitalization and antidepressant medications -Offers tips on how to deal with depression both at school and at home, and how to talk about it to teachers, family, and friends
Thoughtful, inspiring, and full of practical wisdom, Monochrome Days is both a compelling memoir and a useful resource that will help to ease the pain of major depression. Cait Irwin's story is one that offers hope and guidance that you yourself can use to overcome the challenges of this illness, and go on to lead a healthy, productive life.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Vikki Terrile
By the end of high school, one in four teens will experience some type of depression. Depression is one of several mental illnesses most likely to occur initially in adolescence, leading to its study by the Adolescent Mental Health Initiative and this book for teens. The book combines the firsthand experiences of the author with medical information and recommendations for teens struggling with depression. Although the information is clear and easy to understand, the emotional impact that one would expect from reading about Irwin's experiences is lacking. It may be that more than a decade has passed since the author's diagnosis as a teen, providing a sense of distance and analysis that does not ring true for someone in the midst of such a crisis. Sidebars also provide brief looks at how several young men experienced depression. The medical information, resource guide, and further reading will be helpful for teens and parents unsure of what to do next or confused by what they are hearing from medical professionals. Overall this book may be more helpful to parents, siblings, or friends of a young person with depression than to the teen struggling with the disease. Books for teens looking at other adolescent-onset mental illnesses are also planned.
KLIATT - KLIATT Review
While this is not Cait Irwin's first book about her experience with major depressive illness, it is both a summary of what she experienced and a direct attempt to aid other teens who suffer through a major depression. She does not write alone in her attempt to communicate with other teen depressives, but has on her writing team a psychiatrist and a journalist, who specializes in writing on mental health issues. Each chapter has two sections. In the first, entitled "My Story," Irwin recounts in sometimes-painful detail the saga of her downslide into a deep depression in the summer between the 8th and 9th grades. In the second section, "The Big Picture," she shifts into an analysis of what was happening to her, suggestions for appropriate actions, and possible treatment alternatives. Thus, this little book is also a manual, a guide for teens experiencing depression. Toward the end, there is an FAQ section and lists of resources and service organizations. While Monochrome Days does not in any way provide all the help needed by a depressed teen, it certainly demonstrates to the reader that he or she is not alone in the experience of depression and that there are people and methods available to help. Age Range: Ages 12 to adult. REVIEWER: Patricia Moore (Vol. 42, No. 1)
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up
In eighth grade, Irwin began experiencing symptoms of depression, including hopelessness, despair, and a stifling cloudiness of mind. This book chronicles her experience with "the dark force that had seized control of my life," covering early signs, thoughts of suicide, inpatient treatment in a psychiatric hospital, and readjustment to high school life. Aimed at adolescents who struggle with mental illness, Irwin's story provides a road map to recovery that she describes as "a graph with lots of peaks and valleys, but an overall trend that was heading upward." Her voice is that of an older, wiser friend who empathizes with what depressed teens are going through. Chapters are divided into two sections. In "My Story," Irwin details her personal history with depression. "The Big Picture" includes more general information on symptoms, risk factors, treatment, and a "Guy's-Eye View" sidebar. This format is highly effective for balancing the author's autobiographical perspective with scientific input from her coauthors. Additional features include FAQs and sources for more information. This title is an excellent choice for readers of Brent Runyon's The Burn Journals (Knopf, 2004) and Gail Griffith's Will's Choice (HarperCollins, 2005). Sadly, the unappealing cover may deter browsers, but this book is well worth a close look.
—Amy PickettCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

From the Publisher

"Sometimes, only those who have been in dark places can provide the light for others to get out. Cait Irwin provides a wonderfully clear-eyed and brave look at depression in teenagers, which is so often undiagnosed or shrugged off as 'moodiness.' Without melodrama or self-pity, she takes us through the whole experience, and shows how medication, therapy, love and the creative spark can combine to heal a ravaged mind." -Tracy Thompson, author of The Beast: A Journey Through Depression

"An honest, helpful, and hopeful account of one teen's journey from pain to promise. Monochrome Days takes the mystery out of depression and provides real guidance to teens who may struggle with this illness, as well as to their friends and families."--Jerry Reed, MSW, Executive Director, Suicide Prevention Action Network USA

"This book is of great value to people of all ages-however, particularly to adolescents. Cait skillfully manages to make 'fear of the unknown' - so often experienced by teens when diagnosed with depression and other mental illnesses -- a non-issue. This book leaves no stone unturned. While sharing her story, Cait quite effectively combats the stigma and misconceptions so often associated with mental illnesses, especially for teens. She shows that depression is a real illness with mental, emotional, and physical implications and conveys the enormous importance of early diagnosis and treatment."--Darcy Gruttadaro, J.D., Director, NAMI Child & Adolescent Action Center

"No one can understand the mind of a young adult better than a young adult herself. In Monochrome Days, Irwin uses personal experience and professional insight to arm teens with the tools they need to conquer the beast of depression. The book includes information about the thoughts and feelings teens are experiencing or see their friends experiencing, with suggestions as to how to talk to parents and other trusted loved ones. By conveying this information by telling her own story, Irwin arms young adults with the most important knowledge of all: that through it all, they are not alone... With so many teens facing challenges to their mental health every day, this book is a must-read for all teenagers and the adults that love them." -Alison Malmon, Founder and Executive Director, Active Minds, Inc.

"Aimed at adolescents who struggle with mental illness, Irwin's story provides a road map to recovery that she describes as a graph with lots of peaks and valleys, but an overall trend that was heading upward. Her voice is that of an older, wiser friend who empathizes with what depressed teens are going through. Chapters are divided into two sections. InMy Story, Irwin details her personal history with depression. The Big Picture includes more general information on symptoms, risk factors, treatment, and a Guy's-Eye View sidebar. This format is highly effective for balancing the author's autobiographical perspective with scientific input from her coauthors. Additional features include FAQs and sources for more information."--School Library Journal

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Cait Irwin is an artist and lives in northern Wisconsin. She also serves as a spokesperson for the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, and is the author of Conquering the Beast Within: How I Fought Depression and Won and How You Can, Too, an illustrated book about depression.

Dwight L. Evans, M.D., the medical adviser for Monochrome Days, is the Ruth Meltzer Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He is the lead author of If Your Adolescent Has Depression or Bipolar Disorder: An Essential Resource for Parents.

Linda Wasmer Andrews is a freelance health and psychology writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is the co-author of If Your Adolescent Has Depression or Bipolar Disorder: An Essential Resource for Parents as well as the author or co-author of eight other books, including Stress Control for Peace of Mind. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Self, Parenting, and Psychology Today.

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Table of Contents

Foreword

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