Title: Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within
Author: Gayathri Ramprasad
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Cultural (South Asian)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Gayathri Ramprasad grew up in Bangalore, India, well loved and cared for by her family. Therefore, none of them could understand why Gayathri would slip into fits of blackness, unable to find any joy in life. Indian culture doesn’t conceive of depression as an illness, and therefore Gayathri suffered alone. She was later married, and started a grand adventure in the United States with her new husband, but her depression continued to plague her. This memoir serves as a candid discussion of Ramprasad’s depression as well as a cultural view of the illness through an Indian lens.
I’ve always known that Indians don’t exactly have the most enlightened view when it comes to mental illnesses such as depression (though indeed, many Americans don’t either), so I was curious to see what Ramprasad had to say about her experiences dealing with depression in India in Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within. It’s really fascinating to see how she was treated—as someone being selfish and making a fuss, rather than someone who needed serious help. Ramprasad’s descriptions of her experiences are vivid, and though the sheer depths of her despair are sometimes difficult to comprehend, this underscores the fact that she is dealing with a mental illness. While her immediate family is neither supportive nor helpful, her husband is understanding and tries to get Ramprasad the help she needs. It’s interesting to see that, in the end, it’s not medicine that helps Ramprasad deal with her depression, but rather meditation and mental exercise. If you’re interested in mental illness, especially from a cultural perspective, this memoir is easy to read and interesting, with a sympathetic person at its core to tell the story.