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S. J. Parris and Stephanie Merritt

The Devil Within

A memoir of depression

The Devil Within

'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.

Shortlisted for the Mind Book Award, 2008

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