Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within

Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within

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by Gayathri Ramprasad
     
 

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As a young girl in Bangalore, Gayathri was surrounded by the fragrance of jasmine and flickering oil lamps, her family protected by Hindu gods and goddesses. But as she grew older, demons came forth from the dark corners of her idyllic kingdom--with the scariest creatures lurking within her.

The daughter of a respected Brahmin family, Gayathri began toSee more details below

Overview

As a young girl in Bangalore, Gayathri was surrounded by the fragrance of jasmine and flickering oil lamps, her family protected by Hindu gods and goddesses. But as she grew older, demons came forth from the dark corners of her idyllic kingdom--with the scariest creatures lurking within her.

The daughter of a respected Brahmin family, Gayathri began to feel different. "I can hardly eat, sleep, or think straight. The only thing I can do is cry unending tears." Her parents insisted it was all in her head. Because traditional Indian culture had no concept of depression as an illness, no doctor could diagnose and no medicine could heal her mysterious malady.

This memoir traces Gayathri's courageous battle with the depression that consumed her from adolescence through marriage and a move to the United States. It was only after the birth of her first child, when her husband discovered her in the backyard "clawing the earth furiously with my bare hands, intent on digging a grave so that I could bury myself alive," that she finally found help. After a stay in a psych ward she eventually found "the light within," an emotional and spiritual awakening from the darkness of her tortured mind.

Gayathri's inspiring story provides a first-of-its-kind cross-cultural view of mental illness--how it is regarded in India and in America, and how she drew on both her rich Hindu heritage and Western medicine to find healing.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/17/2014
From the president of the mental illness activism group ASHA International comes this memoir of struggling with depression and the disease’s stigma. When her first bout of depression strikes as a teenager in Bangalore, Ramprasad’s strict father tells her to “buck up” when doctors can’t diagnose her frequent vomiting and crying spells. Her devout Hindu mother tells her to pray harder to evade the evil eye. Because mental health treatment is so rare in India, for years Ramprasad doesn’t even know what her disease is called. The diagnosis—given by an Indian psychiatrist—comes abruptly, but naming the problem is not a magical cure. Even when Ramprasad moves to America and begins to see Western doctors, she continues to suffer intense anxiety and suicidal ideation, often brought on by the very medications prescribed to cure her. Though the book would have benefitted from more analysis to balance the immersive experience of reading about the author’s experiences, Ramprasad admirably offers an honest depiction of depression as an ongoing struggle. She reminds readers that not all cultures deal with mental illness in the same way, and her hard-won triumph makes it easy for readers to support her crusade of hope. Agent: Susan Lee Cohen, Riverside Literary Agency. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

"Ramprasad admirably offers an honest depiction of depression as an ongoing struggle. She reminds readers that not all cultures deal with mental illness in the same way, and her hard-won triumph makes it easy for readers to support her crusade of hope."
--Publishers Weekly

"A well-written, novel-like story offering hope for recovery for families in the throes of mental illness."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Mental illness recognizes no borders, yet few books have explored the difficulties of individuals dealing with cultural differences and none has done it better than Shadows in the Sun. Beautifully written, Gayathri Ramprasad chronicles the devastating impact that depression wreaks on an entire family and then brings us into the light with her inspiring story of recovery. This book is a true gift to all those struggling with a mental disorder and those of us who love them. In writing it, Gayathri Ramprasad establishes herself as an international voice of hope."
--Pete Earley, author of CRAZY: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness

"Gayathri Ramprasad writes eloquently about depression, and about building a meaningful life in the face of mental illness.
--Andrew Solomon, National Book Award-winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

“Everyone who struggles with a mental illness, or who knows anyone with depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, must read this engrossing true story of courage in the face of heartbreaking adversity."
--Dilip V. Jeste, M.D., President, American Psychiatric Association

"Gayathri's story of self-transformation is a marvel and inspiration for all of us--those who suffer, those who serve--that even at the darkest moments, hope, recovery and peace are possible."
--Christopher Gordon, MD, medical director, Advocates Inc.; Associate clinical professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

"She has broken the silence for Indians across the globe and makes it possible for all of us, and especially our children, to embrace their most powerful experiences as opportunities for extraordinary transformation."
--Chacku Mathai, STAR Center director, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

"Shadows in the Sun is an excellent source for any clinician, patient, or family member to understand the disease of depression and the cost that keeping the disease hidden is having on all family cultures."
--R. Murali Krishna, MD, president, INTEGRIS James L. Hall, Jr. Center for Mind, Body & Spirit

"Her unflinching honesty is a powerful weapon against the experience of depression which so often eludes language and is shrouded in silence."
--Clare Miller, director, Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, American Psychiatric Foundation

"A tremendous contribution to our understanding and appreciation of the evolution of depression, in the context of culture and the impact among cultures."
--David Satcher, MD, PhD, Director, Satcher Health Leadership Institute Morehouse School of Medicine, Poussiant-Satcher-Cosby Chair in Mental Health, 16th Surgeon General of the United States

"Gayathri pens a memoir about an anguishing mental illness that ends in redemption and grace."
--Therese Borchard, author of Beyond the Blue

"A testament to the power of perseverance, and a must-read for anyone looking for living proof that all things are possible."
--Jeff Bell, author, Rewind, Replay, Repeat: A Memoir of OCD; Founder, The adversity 2 advocacy alliance

"Living proof of the healing power of understanding."
--Brandon Staglin, schizophrenia survivor and Communications Director, International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO)

"Anyone reading her book will gain valuable insight into what it is like to struggle with serious emotional and mental disorders, as well as receiving a most precious gift--reason to believe that such a harrowing journey can lead to hope and healing."
--John Head, author of Standing in the Shadows: Understanding and Overcoming Depression in Black Men

"Shadows in the Sun illuminates us all with fierce truth and beauty, and inspires us to our core."
--Janine Francolini Founder, The Flawless Foundation

"Shadows in the Sun fights the stigma and cultural misunderstanding of mental illness on a global scale. A must read, even if mental illness has not touched your family."
--Jessie Close, BringChange2Mind

"Highly recommended--You don't have to be depressed or have experienced depression or mental illness to read Shadows in the Sun. It is an utterly fascinating, compelling, passionate memoir that also offers a great cultural perspective on life in India and what it's like to be an immigrant."
--Bookfoolery.blogspot.com

"The struggles that [Gayathri] and her family underwent through will help others feel less alone as well as isolated and perhaps this book can help break barriers down so people who suffer won't be treated badly."
--Svetla-randomblog.blogspot.com

Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-28
Ramprasad chronicles her harrowing journey through depression, from which she emerged with the light of hope to become a mental health advocate. Now the head of ASHA International, a nonprofit organization that promotes wellness, the author writes that 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. While 60 to 80 percent of those diagnosed "can be effectively treated with antidepressant medications and brief, structured forms of psychotherapy," fewer than 25 percent receive such treatments. The author begins with her idyllic childhood in a loving family in India, which came to an end when, as a teenager, she began to suffer from crying spells and outbursts that escalated in college. Unable to eat, she spent hours in bed crying, but the doctor found nothing wrong with her. Due to the stigma attached to mental illness, Ramprasad began a cycle of denial, secrecy and shame. Eventually, she entered into an arranged marriage with a successful Indian engineer, Ram, and joined him in America, but she lived in fear that he and his family would learn of her "crazy" bouts and disown her. So she continued to hide her symptoms, but after the birth of their daughter, she sunk into a postpartum depression that could not be concealed. While in India visiting her parents with the baby, she suffered a nervous breakdown that resulted in a diagnosis of chronic depression. She received electroconvulsive therapy and medications that offered little relief. Thankfully, Ram remained loving and supportive, but antidepressant medications and cognitive therapy failed to stop the suicidal thoughts and violent outbursts that landed her in a mental hospital. It was in her lowest moment that the author realized that the keys to her wellness were within her, and she began searching for other remedies. Breathing techniques, meditation, exercise and openness about her illness slowly helped her climb out of that dark place. A well-written, novellike story offering hope for recovery for families in the throes of mental illness.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616495312
Publisher:
Hazelden Publishing
Publication date:
02/11/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
137,524
File size:
1 MB

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