'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.
Stephanie Merritt was born in 1974. She graduated in English from Queens' College Cambridge in 1996. She has worked as a critic and feature writer for various publications including the Times, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, Arena, TLS, Zembla and Die Welt, and since 1998 has been Deputy Literary Editor and a staff writer at the Observer. She is the author of two novels, Gaveston (Faber) which won a Betty Trask Award in 2002, and Real (Faber, 2005), for which she is currently writing a screenplay. She has appeared regularly as a critic and panellist on Radio 4 and BBC7 and appeared as interviewer and author at various literary festivals, as well as the National Theatre and the ENO. She is currently at work on a third novel.