Undercurrents: A Therapist's Reckoning with Her Own Depression
Depression transformed Martha Manning from a happy, healthy, and successful wife, mother, professor, and psychotherapist who "lived with the innocent arrogance that [her] life was the simple product of [her] effort, will, and design" to a sleepwalker haunted by thoughts of suicide, "a house of cards, held precariously by the fragile conspiracy of wind, weight, and angle."
Undercurrents chronicles this transformation through Manning's startlingly funny, deeply affecting, and always honest journal entries. Outlining the depths and dimensions of severe clinical depression, Manning's quick wit and razor-sharp powers of observation allow us to laugh at and empathize with the mounting disarray in her life: insurmountable household clutter, nightly insomnia, manic, caffeine-fueled efforts to meet deadlines. We understand her terror as she evaluates a new patient only to realize that she herself meets all of the textbook criteria of depression, and feel her nowhere-to-turn despair as she is forced to acknowledge that the love of her family, the support of her therapist, and the exhaustive drug treatments administered by her psychiatrist are not succeeding in stemming the tide of her disease. Finally, Manning agrees to electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT. Notorious for its past abuses, its safety and efficacy open to debate, this controversial treatment becomes her last resort and only hope.