Sunday, June 20, 2010

Step on a Crack: Overcoming Depression, a Memoir (Review)

From Publisher
Jill Byrne's inspirational memoir Step on a Crack shows how her indomitable spirit and sense of humor helped her survive childhood neglect, divorces, chronic and clinical depression, a psychotic episode, and a revolving door of therapists. Following her completion of the Hoffman Quadrinity Process, she removed the psychiatric gum from her shoe forever. In Step on a Crack, Jill tells of her recovery and offers hope to the millions in America who suffer from depression's anguish.

My Take
The author is a product of an unwanted pregnancy (although her parents are married with a teenage daughter) and lives in the shadow of the knowledge she was unplanned and unwanted by her mother. She details the unfairness of her treatment in chronological order and includes incidences from both home and at school. I found this portion of the book laborious and unremarkable. It is far too easy for any person to revisit their childhood and recall how s/he was mistreated by parents, siblings, or children at school. I didn't find her mother's behavior exceedingly cruel - just thoughtless. However, the author offers explanation later in the book. She is not a child of horrific abuse, but a child who perceives that she is treated unfairly (which she probably is). 

What makes Jill's story compelling is that she struggled with mental illness long before treatment was well researched (beyond Freudian psychotherapy) and having a therapist was taboo. Jill's struggle with depression is very real which makes her persistence even more remarkable. Her humor continues to provide the book with enjoyment and the reader finds herself drawn in to her quest for peace and happiness.

I didn't love the book although it is extremely well written. I tire of the mantra that "I'm screwed up because my parents were mean to me" although the author does not explicitly say as much.  I thought it was implied whether intentional or not. I do not discount the author's perception of neglect and abuse but I think it should be further noted that the bigger issue is genetic predisposition for depression and anxiety. The author finds out much later that her mother suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder.

That said, I admire the woman who realizes her parents were human, made mistakes but seeks to become a better person. In this case, the author found a treatment that not only worked for her but she gained enough peace that she continued with her education to help others with mental illness.


CountessLaurie said...

I tire of the "it's all my parents fault". Yes, to a point, now move on and take responsibility for your life. It sounds as though she is doing that.

Thanks for the review.

Marilu said...

I really liked the review. Previous to reading it, I had not heard of this book. I just added it to my wishlist!