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4.8 out of 5 stars
Black Rainbow: How words healed me: my journey through depression
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2014
I would never choose a book about depression, and have never fallen in love with English poetry (despite long feeling that I should) but I was given this book and I’m glad I read it. It has upended how I think about and talk about people with depression. The book struck home for me as someone of a similar age and stage to Rachel Kelly at the time she was first struck by depression, and the shocking thing was how suddenly and physically it struck. It is a (sometimes painfully) vivid account of how an outwardly successful life can be suddenly shattered, and it portrayed the reality of depression as an illness which can rear up unexpectedly, overcoming the strongest wills and support networks. It also raised questions about the pressures that modern life and peer groups put people under to always be perfect, and made one wonder how many people struggle under their perfect veneers. While I’m still not won over emotionally by English poetry, it gained a new power through the description of how it seemed to someone in moments of darkest despair, and it shone rays of light into what could have been an unrelentingly harrowing story. A beautifully written book, and fascinating in its thoughts about the connection between our physical, mental and spiritual lives, it makes one relish life, and particularly the life of the mind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 October 2014
This was a very special book for me and I stumbled upon it at just the right time. I have recently recovered from my first encounter with depression and I had struggled to deal with so many aspects of the illness. One of the hardest things for me was trying to explain to people just how I was feeling - the emotions I was struggling with were new to me so how could I relay these to other people?

This book said everything I would have said if I had been able to put a voice to my feelings. It was reassuring to know that someone truly understood how I'd felt - without being too corny, it literally felt like someone was holding my hand and telling me it was okay to have felt the way I had.

For the very first time, I felt encouraged to contact a writer directly in order to express my gratitude for her book - something I've never done before. If you are suffering from depression or know someone who is, please buy a copy of this book. For myself, I have passed the book onto a friend who is also suffering. Thanks again Rachel.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2014
This book is a raw and personal account of what suffering with depression is like. The opening few chapters offer an insight into how quickly depression can send one spiralling into decline and lose all self-confidence and belief. The writing is fiercely emotional, making clear how painful depression is and how difficult an illness it is to overcome.

Nevertheless, as Rachel Kelly takes us through her slow recovery, the tone of the narrative becomes more positive and uplifting. Kelly's description of how words helped to heal her makes for moving and thought provoking reading. The poems and prose passages that are included in the book are themselves wonderful sources of inspiration and comfort.

All in, this is an amazing first book. It is written from deep within the heart, full of warmth, honesty and optimism about how anyone can recover from depression with the simple power of words and perseverance of mind.

After reading, I was excited to discover that there is also a Black Rainbow App available, which I would definitely recommend. It contains a beautiful selection of poetry and prose aimed to offer guidance and comfort for anyone feeling down, as well as many other features to help beat the blues. Like this book, it is in aid of the mental health charities Sane and United Response.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2015
This is a very moving and beautifully written book. It may be a little difficult to read if you are a sufferer of depression as it brings back, in minute detail, the pain and suffering of very dark days. When I started to read about the second depressive episode, I didn't know if I could follow the writer there again, so I flipped through the book and read from the back (the part where the healing takes place) and then resumed my place mid-way through. The darkness of the black rainbow, ends with the finding of Sarah, the counsellor, who illuminates the pot of gold, which is Rachel's authentic self.

What is amazing about Rachel's account of depression is the clarity in which she expresses every side to it; from her own point of view to that of others. Depression is an all-consuming disease and often misunderstood. So many people (including those who suffer) can't understand why you just can't 'snap out of it'. Rachel's descriptions of that helpless panicky feeling explain the turmoil of thoughts that bombard the mind of one who is depressed.

It is quite astounding to read that the author did not come from a broken home, nor have awful things happen to her as a child to make her vulnerable to the disease. Instead we learn later in the book that she was over protected as a child and never allowed to work things out for herself. She became a high achiever but always trying to be the best. The central theme running through the book depicts a woman from todays time trying to do too much which leads to burnout. The most important thing, we learn, is to recognise and be true to the authentic self.

Rachel's love of poetry became a lifeline on which to focus, which would eventually lead her out of her prison of depression. The book contains many helpful suggestions for sufferers of depression, and the poetry is one of the most beautiful collections I have read. I will be copying them out for my journal as they will be a useful aid to my own journey through the dark night of the soul. Thank you Rachel for giving us all this wonderful gift of a book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2014
It is extremely moving in the early parts because it is both beautifully written and much more honest than most of us would dare to be. Beyond that, it makes one wonder how such a person in apparently such good circumstances could suddenly become so depressed? Is it chemical/biological/genetic or is it psychological? I don't know. But no book has previously made me think more about what it must be like to be a woman in modern society. What pressures there are: to be a career success, a good mother and a good wife all at the same time. And some women feel they should be perfect in all these roles and one or two extra ones too. Does that kind of pressure begin to tell? Does keeping up several performances prove too much of a strain?

Many of us may be able to relate to the way she describes suddenly seeing everyday objects and life in a different way - heightened or more distant or both. But the sudden acute depression she experienced is something that most of us will never experience, we hope.

It is a superb book - not only for those who have experienced depression but for others, too.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2014
A few useful tips but I don't think this would help anyone recover.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2014
In a book which should grace the shelves of all who have suffered from depression or who need to grapple with this little -understood illness, Rachel Kelly takes us on a viscerally personal journey. At times harrowing in its detail, her darkest hours begin when "A few black thoughts had been replaced with a lowering darkness of thousands of wasps devouring the insides of my skull, swarming relentlessly and stinging me with furious hate-filled abandon". The hours of agony turn into days, the days into months and the months into years. It is an exquisitely crafted book, infused with poetry, occasional levity and tender moments with her mother and her husband, Sebastian. This is no misery memoire. As the narrative unfolds, we come to understand that the sharing of her quest for self-knowledge; her love of poetry and her sheer determination to wrestle her depression into submission, enriches all who read it. And when she eventually sets her face to the sun, we all glory in her tentative joy as she discovers a new awareness. In the final pages, the first verse of Derek Walcott's poem 'Love After Love' sums up her journey's end beautifully: 'The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other's welcome'. This is a generous gem of a book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2014
There were times during Rachel's book that I almost stopped breathing. Whoever thought her story could be so utterly gripping. It's like reading an account of sailing round Cape Horn or climbing Everest, hovering on the edge of your seat wondering to how to God she is going to make it. Reading it has armed me with a whole new understanding of anxiety suffered by so many. Ironically no sooner had I put it down than I found myself rescuing a friend, knowing we needed to "catch” her before she fell too far. Rachel has written the manual. And above all it is beautifully written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2014
Every family should have this book on their shelves to read and refer to.
Rachel Kelly has taken us by the hand and led us through the agonisingly turbulent waters of her 2 nervous breakdowns which brought her to the brink of suicide. And she has thrown light on how to navigate them.

She has shown us that with drugs, support, love and in her case, the healing quality of poetry, there is light at the end of this darkest of tunnels. Above all she has taught us not to despair.

We are all touched by mental health; many of us, as Rachel points out, are like “ the man swimming in the sea; we think he is cheerfully waving at us but in fact he is drowning”.

Drawing from her own torment, Rachel has analysed her plummeting descent into mental illness which she only just survived.
She has shown us how she and her devoted family managed the illness; how to recognise the early signs; how to understand the stresses and pressures that lead to it. By revealing every intimate tortuous twist and turn of her harrrowing journey, by baring her soul, she has helped us understand how to preempt and ward off this illness.

I couldn’t put the book down and was moved by every paragraph.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2014
If all “power hungry” women could read this book, sit down a minute and relax!!!
Nothing is wrong with wanting more & more, it is human nature! But this “cursed” generation of women wants everything and now! Everything is about physical beauty, power and money: but where is the money?? Too much pressure, no way out!!!

Depression? Hmm some mental failure, more drama and more crying: that’s how i perceived depression before reading this book..
Even when my partner living abroad had a breakdown and stopped working for months, i was convinced a bit of regular gym could avoid everyone the drama!

But now, because of this book, i have a different view about the condition.

In the case of Rachel kelly, i wonder who should be happy she won the battle!!! The husband? The family? The children?
Imagine if it was a couple with no roots, no family around, no financial stability....
And just around the corner, the children at the mercy of crap services such as “children services” or “cafcass” or family courts’ comedy!!!
Everyone should thank God the breakdown did not affect the family structure. Not many families are lucky enough to win the battle!
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