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May 9, 2022

Book Review: Depressed: A Story of Struggle and Inspiration

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

Book Review: Depressed, by Yoni Palmer
I knew Yoni Palmer way back when, in the early days of RBS. We did some community work together (he much more than me) back then. We lost touch over the years, especially when he moved out of RBS, but even before that. I have not seen Yoni now in a bunch of years, and I had no idea he was suffering through this depression.

Reading Depressed: A Story of Struggle and Inspiration by Yoni Palmer was both enlightening and difficult. My brother died of mental health illness (that included depression) less than two years ago and I must say I honestly never really understood it until I read this book. Even now I probably don't fully understand it, or even close to fully, but I think I now have a much better grasp of what people with these illnesses suffer through.

Depressed is a very different book than other books already on the market about depression and other mental illnesses. Most books on the topic, other books on the topic, are from a clinical perspective with experts talking about what it is and how to handle it. Books written by someone suffering from depression, describing what it is like, how he handled it, how it affects his family and job and friends, how he descends into thoughts of self-harm, and all that also including Torah sources on the matter - that seems rare and unique to me.

Palmer describes the events that led up to his illness, how he suffered, how he got diagnosed and treated, how he came out of it and how he repeatedly suffered from it again and again over the years. One thing that struck me is how he discovered many others suffer similarly without talking about it - he was able to pick up the signs from some that he previously didnt identify, and others told him so as a fellow sufferer. When I was sitting shiva for my brother, and for some time after, I too discovered that so many suffer from mental illness or have someone in their family that does and it was a shocking revelation, especially considering how quiet it is kept and how little it is talked about. 

Yoni's purpose in writing this book, as he himself says, is to raise awareness, to show others what it is like and to help even one individual who might read the book and finally understand what is happening and get some guidance. I never before understood the depths of the level of pikuach nefesh and danger people who suffer mental illness go through, sometimes on a regular or extended basis.

I really connected to and learned from Yoni's experiences as documented in Depressed. And I feel like I already had my eyes opened and had some understanding - I see how little I understood, and still understand, but I have a better understanding now. If someone suffers from cancer or diabetes or heart failure, we get it, but if it is mental illness, we just dont get it. And even if we accept it and sympathize, we still dont really get it and dont see or understand the depth of suffering. This book really opened up my eyes, at least somewhat, to what people with this illness go through.

Depression and other mental illnesses need to be destigmatized, but even if you are not prepared to open up more publicly, reading Depressed will help you understand more what you or your friend or relative might be going through, and it might help you pick up some of the signs and allow you to be more helpful and understanding of what your loved on is going through. 

buy Depressed on Amazon.com

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

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1 comment:

  1. In recent years, there have been more and more books and memoirs published by people who suffer from depression. Many of these are published independently. Yoni's book, which I have not yet read, only an excerpt, is unique in that it describes depression from the viewpoint of a religious Jew.

    One person (non-Jewish, as far as I know) who publicly exposed his depression a few years ago and works to promote awareness of it, is the actor Wil Wheaton. I particularly like his statement that "Depression is a liar!" (It tells you that there is no hope, etc.)


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