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

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

by Gayathri Ramprasad

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616495312
Publisher: Hazelden Publishing
Publication date: 02/11/2014
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,078,267
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Gayathri Ramprasad is the founder and President of ASHA International, a non-profit organization promoting personal, organizational and community wellness. She has received undergraduate degrees from Bangalore University, India, and George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, from where she also received an MBA.A Certified Peer Specialist (CPS), she is also a member of the Global Speakers Federation, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (past Board member, NAMI Oregon), and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.Gayathri is the winner of the prestigious Eli Lilly Welcome Back Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Voice Award for Consumer Leadership sponsored by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).Gayathri lives in Portland, Oregon.

Read an Excerpt


I grew up in a world anointed by the sweet scintillating fragrance of jasmine, and sanctified by the Hindu gods and goddesses that graced and guarded our family. Ganesh, the elephant-faced God, removed all obstacles and impediments. Saraswathi, the goddess of learning, blessed my efforts in school. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, was generous to us, and always, we revered among others the righteous Lord Rama, and his devout consort Sita, the epitome of womanhood. Mine was a world of otherworldly tales, castles, flickering oil lamps and fragrant sandalwood dreams.

At some point in a fairy tale life, I suppose it should come as no surprise to discover dragons, demons, and dungeons in the dark corners of the kingdom. What was surprising was to discover that all the scariest creatures were within me, and that the castle of my dreams could become a prison from which the only escape was death. Later I would discover that these demons had names— anxiety disorder, suicidal depression, postpartum depression, mental illness. But for nearly three decades of my life I had no words for it. “It” was me. In that fairy tale life, I turned out to be both dragon and dragon slayer, but it did not start out that way. In the beginning I was a princess….

Chapter 4: American Knight

My father arrives home from work one evening, excited about an opportunity to become the General Manger at a new textile mill in Tanzania, Africa. After weeks of serious discussion, Amma decides to accompany him, but only after getting me married, she insists. Barely twenty-one, I am considered to be at my prime in the marriage market. I wonder, however, if my mother has gone mad. I cannot believe she thinks she can find me a groom and get us married in less than three months. Within weeks, however, her prayers and persistence pays off.

“Wait until you see the picture of the handsome Prince who will marry you Gayathri,” Amma’s co-conspirator, my aunt Shubha teases, waving a picture at my face.

My sister Chitra leaps at my aunt, and grabs the picture from her hands, almost knocking her down. She studies the photo, grins, and runs. I chase her begging to see it.

“After all, he is supposed to be my husband,” I say, tackling her to the ground.

“What is all the commotion about, girls?” asks Appa, coming home from work.

“You will never believe our luck!” Amma grins, clapping her hands together.

“I went to propose Gayu to Shekar, a scientist working in Mumbai. But, his grandmother took one look at Gayu’s picture and insisted that she would be perfect for her other grandson, an engineer living in America! Can you believe it? AMERICA!!!” she gushes.

Apparently, the young man was returning home to Bangalore shortly to attend his younger sister’s wedding and his family decided this would be an opportune time for him to marry as well. “His name is Ramprasad,” Amma continues. “They call him Ram at home.”

I marvel at both my mother’s efficiency, and her luck. Ramprasad literally means the gift of Rama. “Well done!” Appa notes, “He is named after your favorite God.” Amma’s grin widens.

“And he was a gold medalist in the engineering program at the Indian Institute of Technology” – India’s Caltech and MIT – “He has not one, but two masters degrees in computer science. And, he is working at Intel in Portland, Oregon. He also comes from a prominent family,” Amma sighs, deeply content.

I stare at the picture in my hand, unsure if the man staring back will be my future husband. His curly hair is parted in the side and combed neatly. His wide forehead, a sign of intelligence and nobility I am told, sharp nose and pronounced chin, makes him look studious, even a bit too serious. But, his smile exudes a boyish charm.

I wonder if he will like me. I wonder if we will fall in love.

My mind spins into a world of its own. I had always known that my parents would arrange my marriage as my mother’s had been, and her mother’s before her. But, swept away by romantic classics and Bollywood movies, I had secretly dreamed of one day being swept off my feet by a tall, dark knight, a handsome hero all on my own. Today, very slowly, young Indian girls and boys are falling in love and choosing their own partners, but not then. Now my mother pulls me briskly out of my reverie, like a magician pulling a cloth from a beautifully laid table.

“I left a picture of Gayu and her horoscope with Ram’s parents,” she tells my father as though I were not in the room. “They have promised to consult their priest and call us back in a few days. I have given them Mrs. Nair’s phone number.” Mrs. Nair, our next door neighbor, will be the intermediary for this piece of business.

“The boy’s grandmother loved Gayu’s picture. She thinks she is perfect for her grandson and life in America,” she adds, beaming.

Over the next couple of days my mother prays often. Finally, on the third day, just as she finishes her morning prayers, the much anticipated call arrives. Ram’s mother informs Mrs. Nair that their family priest has found our horoscopes, Ram’s and mine, highly compatible, and that she and her family would like to visit us the following Sunday.

Ecstatic, my mother plunges herself into sprucing up our house and preparing what amounts to a small feast for our honored guests. “Taste it and tell me if it is good,” she pesters my sister and me every few hours, sweating over the stove.

Sunday morning, I cover the table with a white lace cloth and set a brass vase filled with colorful croton leaves and calla lilies in the center. Chitra helps me arrange the brand new set of stainless steel tiffin plates and cups, tall steel tumblers for water and little steel tumblers for coffee. I fan the spoons around the plates, and Amma sets out the kesaribhat and uppama along with a thermos filled with piping hot coffee.

“How many times have I asked you to grow out your hair, Gayu?” my mother studies me for a moment, one critical eye arched as she slowly waves a wooden spoon at me. My short, bob cut hair, trimmed with my America loving father’s blessing, makes me look more striking and contemporary, but is now a deficit to this master plan. Sweeping it into a bun on top of my head, Amma encircles it with a strand of sweet smelling jasmine blooms and secures it with scores of bobby pins. “I hope it will not fall apart before they come,” she frets.

“My head hurts Amma” I say, “I feel queasy.”

“Silly girl, you are just nervous. It’s perfectly normal. Don’t worry. You will be fine,” she dismisses as she consults her watch. “I remember when your father and his family came to see me for the first time. I was so shy and scared that I sat with my eyes glued to the ground the entire time. It wasn’t until our wedding night that I even got a good glimpse of your father. Imagine that! Just be your normal self. I am sure they will love you,” she advises.

But, as we all know, there is nothing normal about me. There hasn’t been for years now and all this discussion about marriage has managed to completely cloud the real issues this planning and wishful thinking presents. The constant paranoia that I am going mad, the ants burrowing under my skin, my racing thoughts, my pounding heart, the nausea, the vomiting, the endless tears...we are all pretending it never happened, or that it somehow stopped. But we all know better. Am I ready for marriage, I wonder? Worse, there is deception and deceit at work here. The young man and his family have no idea what they may be taking on with me. I think about honesty and fairness and our family’s good name, a name that has always stood for decency. And then I think, can Ram’s family return me if I turn out to be damaged bride?

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

Prologue xv

Part 1 Bright Beginnings

1 Diwali at Rama Iyengar Road 3

2 Mantras and Miniskirts 15

Part 2 Veil of Darkness

3 Tomb of Terror 31

4 American Knight 55

5 Passport to Paradise 75

Part 3 Shadows in the Sun

6 A Welcome Respite 95

7 Blessed Motherhood 111

8 Postpartum Blues 123

Part 4 Descent into Darkness

9 Breakdown 139

10 Prisoners in Paradise 165

Part 5 Awakening

11 Finding the Light Within 197

12 On the Road to Recovery 221

13 From Adversity to Advocacy 237

Epilogue 253

Glossary of Indian Words 257

Resources 263

Disorders on the Depression Continuum 265

About the Author 269

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Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 61 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The novel-like readability of this memoir immerses the reader in the darkness and terror of mental illness. I came to care deeply about Gaythri and her family. Gayathri's story is important. The stigma of mental illness keeps far too many people unaware of treatment that could save their lives.
Alphabet More than 1 year ago
I learned so much about depression, India, and the plus is that this book is inspiring. Perhaps you might like to know more about mental illness and the families it effects.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a penetrating view into the life of someone with mental illness and it helped me to understand something of what is going on for someone close to me. It also left me with hope. Very readable.
bloomingtonbabe More than 1 year ago
THANK YOU FOR THIS FREE FRIDAY OFFERING! What an amazing journey this woman has had. Make sure you have time to sit down and read this book--you won't want to put it down. Easily one of the BEST Free Friday offerings in the last year!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was not expecting the degree of honesty nor the beauty of the engaging prose I learned things I have needed to understand for years I will purchase in book form and reread Thank you B&N for I would not have known this book existed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tells the personal horror of mental illness in the "first person". You'll go thru her life with her becoming immersed in her life as she knew it----There IS hope!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely wonderful! Well written, very insightful, and very helpful to me in understanding more about mental illness from the afflicted person's perspective. Thank you, Ms. Rampasat, for sharing your very personal and inspiring story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extremely well written and informative.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story of the author's battle with depression and her Indian culture made for a very worthwhile read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed her openess and vulnerbility as she shared her story. Very informative. Heart touching.
MRR62 More than 1 year ago
With depression in the family, I expected this book to feed on insecurities. Rather, I found it to be a very helpful portrayal of a young woman's experience with clinical depression, and how culture and tradition worked both to help and to hinder her understanding of it and her ability to live well. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves anyone who lives with depression, for professionals who work with people in depression, and others who want to expand their understanding of heart/brain/emotion/intellect issues.
PMM1 More than 1 year ago
Beautifully raw and honest. So many lessons to be learned from this woman's incredible journey. The author shows the reader that there is hope from helplessness, understanding from ignorance, and light from darkness. A thoroughly engaging and educating read.
happyasalark More than 1 year ago
Having just finished another book on mental illness, I found this glimpse into the ways people from India deal with depression and mental illness. Obviously, they deny it exists and therefore Gayathri suffered immensely from their lack of understanding feeling they could "pray" it away. It was sad and enlightening and I recommend reading it. What I learned from this book is we all have a little "crazy" in us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I learned a lot about depression in this book. It really took you on a journey through the pitfalls of mental illness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting and good story on her life.
DivaDeluxe More than 1 year ago
Couldn't get into it. Was tool depressing for me.
Pitollie More than 1 year ago
Wow. Did I LOVE this book. Now only do you get an insight into southern Indian customs and foods, you learn a lot about clinical depression and mental disease. This book really changed how I felt about all mental diseases. This powerful story does not hold back in its description of the authors 10 year battle trying to 1. determine what is wrong with her and 2. find a way to live with her disease in a way that works for her. With her loving family by her side, she describes how a person - who appears to have it all- is afflicted with clinical depression and how she and her family cope. As a bonus the description of the Indian food was tantalizing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very easy to read, it takes the reader on a journey through the life of one woman and her battle with severe depression.
jvandix1 More than 1 year ago
Mrs. Ramprassad gives a voice to those who so often are unable to speak. Very well done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly wonderful and touching
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good end for those that want to understand what depression is all about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DarleneRN More than 1 year ago
This book offers so many insights into mental health: pain, hope, abuse, faith, relationships, advocacy, family.  This author openly shares her story and she tells it well. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago