There is a scourge that does not discriminate, regardless of gender, race, nationality, or sexuality. It often finds its way to victims through social media. And it does not watch a clock–it hits some people during the prime of life.
Depression tightens its grip on Josh Hartley when he goes away to England’s Southhampton University. He watches fellow students have the time of their lives, but for him, university life heightens the loneliness and despair he has experienced for years.
In The Boy Between: A Mother and Son’s Journey From a World Gone Grey, English novelist Amanda Prowse describes her struggle to lift her son from the depths of depression. She gains new hope as he heads off to university.
In alternating chapters, mother and son describe the journey. Josh’s narrative is especially powerful as he buries his shame under the covers of his bed. How do you come clean that you are not perfect? That you failed in college? Or, he asks himself, is it easier to check yourself out? For Josh, the book was a way to open the mental health conversation, especially for boys and men, with a message. He encourages males to say “I cry,” or “I suffer” and admit, “I need help.”
He is thankful he has a loving family to support him, but he and his mother now know those who have depression must lead their fight to get better. He pleads that other sufferers hang in there. “You are not alone.”
This is a book for the mentally ill, but also for those who want to understand an illness that affects so many. It holds a message of hope. It offers education through a story that relates the pitfalls of ignorance, like when someone tells a suffering youth to “Man up.”
As a sufferer of anxiety and depression as long as I can remember, I have found solace and much more on the long-distance trails of Europe. Like Josh, I told my story in a book (Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows), which was cathartic for me. I am most touched when readers write that my story helped them with their own struggles. Like Josh writes, we are all in this together.