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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Devil Within: A Memoir of Depression
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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on 8 July 2008
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
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2010
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2009
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2010
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 of view and experiences, this is a brutally honest story of one woman's hellish battle with depression. If you are depressed and feeling alone or someone you love is suffering from mental health problems, I would wholeheartedly suggest reading this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2015
I have read reviews deriding this book's religious aspect - not that much in fact - and that it is polysyllabic. These are hardly decisive criticisms of a perceptive, starkly honest account of Depression by a Cambridge-educated product of a Comprehensive. Her account of being bullied there is thorough, plausible and vital reading for anyone in management or teaching as its insidious nastiness is well captured; a frightening teenhood well described. Merritt is driven and has always been; her account of her youth rang many bells with me and doubtless any half intelligent, bookish type will find a kinship in this unstable, easeful-seeming narrator who knows that she is in deep trouble; of bullying I am grateful for my peaceful youth but glad to be better informed. Yes evangelical Christianity, unusual in Britain where it is largely irrelevant, intrudes it must as a family legacy and her story is perforce influenced by it; the account of an individual at seeming ease but struggling beneath the surface will be familiar to many and is well drawn in this eloquent, expressive narrative. I was often reminded of Al Alvarez's 'The Savage God' and the compelling account of living without hope, a central feeling for any Depressive; others, once called Manic Depressives now Bi-Polar, feel also a wild excitement as uncomfortable as the Darker moods. All of this is well-caught in Merritt's story and doubtless will enlighten many a sufferer's friends and others. That she refers to the avowedly secular Oliver James shows how limited her religious affiliation is and no one should be put off by the putative wordiness, any more than they would by Kay Redfield Jamison. I read it through in one sitting and will be back for more. Highly readable, intelligent, important. I saw her at a Freedom of Speech libel-law reform meeting a while back and when I do once more I will be able to congratulate her on this fascinating autobiographical account.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 2011
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 17 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2008
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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