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The Devil Within: A Memoir of Depression [Paperback]

Stephanie Merritt
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

7 May 2009

'I was nearly twenty before I understood that there was a name for what sometimes happened to me. Later, I learned that it has gone by many names - the black dog, the bell jar, the noonday demon, darkness visible, malignant sadness - but in my teens I'd just assumed that my fierce highs and days of disproportionate, isolating despair were part of every teenager's repertoire - how else would Morrissey have sold so many records? These pitches in mood were something I didn't speak about to anyone, because I was afraid of two things - either that it was nothing serious, and I would be told to pull myself together, or that it was serious, and I would be told that, yes, I was a mental case.'

Stephanie Merritt has a career as a novelist and journalist, a beautiful son and a supportive family. Why then did she want to kill herself at the age of 29? Why could no one, neither the system of GPs and health professionals, nor her closest family and friends help her?

Reading like a hybrid of Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation and Rachel Cusk's more sober A Life's Work, Stephanie's unflinchingly honest memoir explores areas of experience commonly associated with depression such as love, solitude and self-medication through the prism of her own experience.

Beautifully written and intensely honest this is an extraordinarily moving, life-affirming book about a debilitating illness that affects one in six people in the UK alone.

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The Devil Within: A Memoir of Depression + Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression + Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book About Depression
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vermilion (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091917468
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091917463
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This powerful memoir will speak to anyone who has suffered bipolar disorder or depression" (Observer)

"Merritt's attempts at self analysis are bravely honest and provocative...This is a brave and eloquent book" (Telegraph)

"With a skilled touch, Merritt subtly unravels depression's 'knot of contradictions', blending informative research with an insightful personal account ... [she] has found an eloquent voice with which to shed light onto dark matters" (Independent on Sunday)

"A moving and powerful account of possibly the most hideous emotional problem - bipolar disorder" (Oliver James)

"A balanced and brave view of a struggle for sanity...Merritt is an elegant, stoical and informative observer of her own predicament, with an admirable line in grim comedy" (Evening Standard)

Book Description

A highly-acclaimed memoir of depression

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 8 July 2008
By Tony R
This book is a fantastic read. Stephanie's own story of living with depression is a real page turner. The topic might suggest it makes for a depressing read but it really doesn't.

She does a very good job of describing some of the many issues society has towards depression. For example, she reminds us of how people debilitated by ordinary illness such as flu are forgiven from family and social obligations. Not, though, for those that are suffering from mental illness.

Throughout the book Stephanie also shares with the reader those views that other people, present and past, have expressed towards depression, and how this relates to her own experiences. She is clearly not alone.

The other fascinating aspect that is so well portrayed is how one can go through life struggling to cope with seemingly awful episodes of depression, yet manage to fool everyone (family, friends, work colleagues, health visitors) that all is perfectly under control.

Read it if only to understand better those around you who may be, or have been, battling with depression.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this could be me 19 Jun 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A wonderful book that seemed at every page to be detailing my own life's experiences, including even my work pattern. What makes it different to other similar books is the vivid recollections, searing honesty and, above all, the beautiful writing. This is a fabulous book even if you aren't interested in depression. The beauty of the prose, particularly in the sections where Stephanie finds love, is inspiring.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read 9 Sep 2010
Like many others I read this book and it was as if I were reading about my own life through the pages. I was determined to finish it, and I did just that, the first book that I have managed to complete in over 3 years!
(Another frustrating symptom of depression).
As everyone else has noted, it will not offer a cure, but it does help to offer some explanation and clarity about the depths of this illness.
Personally, it has been an invaluable help to me and I congratulate the author on this excellent book.
It may also help family and partners to understand the illness if they were to read it too.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful read 20 Aug 2010
By Evsie
Stephanie Merritt writes eloquently about feelings I have been unable to put into words for longer than I care to remember. Her description of the state of depression, the "absence of hope" and the all-encompassing need to let loose when the hypomania strikes are strikingly familiar to anyone suffering from bipolar disorder or depression. The mix of science with personal experience works well, as does the approach she takes when talking about her reaction to various treatments. Her own drive and determination to beat this illness shine through, and show us that maybe, just maybe, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you're suffering with depression or bipolarity (or even just think you may be) then please read this book - it's cathartic in a way, and hopefully it will inspire you to seek help as it has with me.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunningly honest work 28 Nov 2009
By AGC2070
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book prompted me to do something I have never done before - I posted a letter congratulating the author. Whether or not it will reach her is a different matter! Anybody who has suffered from depression will feel a huge empathy in reading this book. Right from childhood bullying to methods of coping in one's early 30s it is like staring into the mirror and seeing one's own thoughts reflected back.

The author is clearly a successful woman by most people's standards, yet even when she speaks of jetting over to New York or working on a screenplay, it still feels like reading the diary of a friend. The anecdotes create vivid and lasting images in the mind. You get the feeling that the author is holding back on nothing. Be warned though, you may just find yourself evaluating your own life after reading.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit too religious ... 29 July 2011
By Bewill
Having suffered many of the same things as the author I thought this book would help me manage my condition. However, there is a lot of emphasis on religion and the church, I didnt read this book expecting it to replicate my own life. However, I found the importance of religion to the author's story meant I found it difficult to relate to. still easily read though and you can tell a lot of research has been done for this book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a depressing read 1 Oct 2008
By Monkey
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dont expect the author to come up with miracle cures or good clear suggestions of overcoming depression, more of an account of the experience. Takes a very objective view of different treatments; showing that all different kinds of treatments are not for everyone and that people react differently to treatments. Though, an amazing read with a superb ending that has changed the way I think about he world! The last chapter is the best, though good throughout aswel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing. 4 Mar 2012
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I couldn't put this book down and didn't want to finish it. Stephanie is inspiring and honest about her own experience but I'm sure it speaks for a lot of people who have or are suffering. Stephanie voiced things that I would not normally have seen as part of the illness, I thought it was just the way I was and it lifted me and gave me back hope.

I have never been able to put into words how I've felt, as often it sounds too dramatic or selfish but the way in which it's described in this book tells the reader 'you are not alone'. I could not believe some of the things said as I have said them myself, thinking it is just me and the way I am but this book tells you that it's not just the way you are, it's the illness.

I would love my friends and family to read this just to get an insight into the pain and delibilitation that the illness brings and that it's real and we aren't faking it.

The best book I have ever read on the subject, I will keep it and reread it, which is not something I usually do.
Thank you Stephanie for this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to read....
This book is good, however, if you are like me and rubbish at english it is very difficult to understand and to keep track of what is being said. Read more
Published 16 months ago by H
1.0 out of 5 stars More about religion than depression
I had hoped to gain from this book a memoir of Stephanie's depression, her struggle with it and how she eventually coped. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mrs. S. M. Blackburn
2.0 out of 5 stars okay read
I was hoping for another 'shoot the damn dog' type read from this as it was released around the same time. Read more
Published 24 months ago by worldjazzstore
5.0 out of 5 stars The Devil Within: A Memoir of Depression
Quite an intense book but also very insightful and i do not regret buying this. It is an interesting insight in to one persons experience of depression
Published on 29 Oct 2010 by Ms. K. James
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and well written
I can only echo what has been said in previous reviews. This is not a self help book, although of course different treatments and their effects are discussed from the authors point... Read more
Published on 15 Mar 2010 by GothicWench
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly brilliant
It's not just a great book about manic depression. It's a great book. I can't quite understand why it hasn't received more attention. Read more
Published on 7 Aug 2009 by Clarissa
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This is an excellent well written book about living with depression.
Stephanie Merritt is a gifted author.
Highly recommended.
Published on 18 Mar 2009 by Richterô
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