Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Folly - Post Partum Depression

A friend who's following the book group (but hasn't read the book) complained that the book sounded so darned depressing from everything I've posted. He's right. The book starts out terrifically depressing. After all, Rae is crazy. Certifiably nuts. Medicated. Terrified. Twitchy.

The reason I like this book so much is it's not depressing by the end. Rae is pretty much well. We've discovered that a lot of the triggers for her mental illness were induced externally by someone who wished her ill. Her house is up and beautiful. She's reconciling with her daughter. The person who's actively trying to harm her is discovered.

The other reason I loved this book is I learn so much from it! King always brings up thoughtful issues.

We've heard a lot in the recent past out mothers harming their children, as a result of postpartum depression. One of the reasons Rae lost custody of the infant Tamara was Rae found herself standing over the intemperately screaming infant with a hammer, and walked out, leaving Tamara alone.

Rae had never told David that, instead of raging and ranting at her for this extreme irresponsibility, he should have gone down on his knees in gratitude for her self-control. She had never told anyone of her urge, not even after she had discovered how many other women went through the same thing, particularly those who were young (she had turned twenty the month before the birth), who'd undergone hard births (hers was a thirty-hour labor), who had uninvolved husbands (David worked long hours), and who had no support system (all her family and friends had been left behind on the East Coast). All Rae knew was she couldn't be trusted with her own daughter, who hated her anyway. It was a feeling she had never shaken off.

Interestingly, at the end of the book, Rae discovers that Tamara has been harboring her own guilt over the years.

Intellectually, Tamara knew she had not caused Rae to go crazy that first time; she had read enough about mood disorders over the years to know the biochemical inevitability of depression. Nonetheless, her heart was convinced that it was her fault. After all, David, David's mother, and Tamara's great-grandfather, William had all told her at one time or another that her mother had been fine until her birth. How could she help believing that Rae had exchanged her sanity for her daughter's life?

Oh, the unthinking harm we cause, with thoughless comments that we never expect our children to notice or remember.

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