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Black Rainbow review poetry in a moving account of depression

A journalist and mother charts her descent into illness and the slow rebuilding of her shattered self

One horror of depression is how walled-in it makes the sufferer feel. Advice from outside can seem meaningless; perhaps the greatest gift a depression memoir can offer, therefore, is the small comfort of comradeship, the reassurance that the writer has walked the same dark path and survived. Rachel Kelly's memoir goes one better: to an account of her own shockingly sudden descent into depression in the midst of a seemingly fulfilled life, she adds a selection of the poetry that helped her articulate something of her despair.

Kelly, a journalist and mother of five, describes the fierce battle to maintain an outward semblance of normality, even as her grip on her own sanity crumbles and the effort required to maintain the fiction of her competence at work and home pushes her further towards catastrophe. Though she tries a variety of treatments, her recovery is a slow and painstaking rebuilding of her shattered self, in which the solace of poetry often becomes a lifeline. Black Rainbow is a moving addition to the body of depression literature, written with compassion and insight.

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