Friday, 8 February 2013

Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields

I just recently gave birth to my 5th child on Jan 29th and am at risk for developing postpartum depression because I have suffered from severe depression in the years since having my last child. Because I have never experienced postpartum depression, I wanted to read about women that have so I know what to look for.

I think Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields is possibly the most well known book about postpartum depression. I read this book years ago, but had no understanding of depression at the time and found her description of her pain and extreme thoughts melodramatic. They aren't. I now understand what Brooke went through to some extent. 

The parts that were about her experience having postpartum depression were excellent. I was also captivated by her account of her traumatic birth experience. I had normal healthy vaginal deliveries with all five of my kids so I was truly shocked by what Brooke experienced. Her description of what she went through emotionally were no holds barred. I have yet to be so frank about my thoughts during my struggle with depression so I applaud her for baring it all. It took a lot of courage to write and publish her story.

I also enjoyed her account about what it took for her to even conceive a child. How and when she learned that her first pregnancy was no longer viable was absolutely horrifying. (I don't want to give any spoilers.) She is an unbelievably strong woman.

Unfortunately, she is not a strong writer. While the subject matter is intense and the book was considered a breakthrough at the time it was published, this book is far from polished. So much of it is repetitive. It seemed to have been assembled piecemeal and desperately needed editing. These less than stellar parts read almost like they were from her diary or journal.

I wish Brooke had included more about her experiences on Paxil. It's interesting that she talks about the various side effects of this drug and how it's not addictive. Current research shows the exact opposite. It has some serious side effects and the withdrawl from it is a nightmare from what I've read. 

What I wish Brooke had left out was the last few sections that talked extensively about her relationship with her mother. The subject matter didn't seem to really fit with the topic of postpartum depression. It felt almost like filler, like she was trying to reach a specific page count and had nothing more to say about her actual postpartum depression experience.

Her postpartum depression experience also seemed very shortlived. This is not a criticism but I'm interested in reading about someone who did not have such easy access to help. It's hard to deny that Brooke's money was a key to how quickly she was able to receive treatment. However, I found it odd that other reviewers complained about her nannies helping her. In reality, she only had a nanny for two weeks while she was suffering from PPD. That's hardly someone that is living in the lap of luxury. 

What shocked me was that while it was shortlived, I didn't realize PPD could come on so quickly. I've always heard it doesn't occur until a few weeks to a year afterwards. Brooke's suffering seemed to start within hours of giving birth. I could relate to the fear and anxiety about her depression coming back. I can't help but wonder if only a person that has suffered from depression or knows someone who has could truly appreciate this book.

Overall this was a good book but it could have been a great one with some good editing.

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