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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Transcending Depression: Quest Without a Compass is a nonfiction mental health memoir written by Larry Godwin, Ph.D. Godwin shares journal entries written over the 49 years he’s suffered from depression and thoughts of suicide. He discusses the medications he’s been prescribed and the reactions he’s had to them. He also expounds upon the alternative treatments he’s tried including nutritional supplements, natural foods, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and exercise. Godwin found he inevitably suffered adverse reactions to many of the pharmaceuticals out there and even fine-tuning his dosages to micro-levels failed to protect him from the inevitable physical and mental issues that would result.
The author shares the impact his depression has had on his life, his interactions with family and friends, his ability to function in full employment, and his need for space, time, and privacy for healing. His history and life were shaped in no small part by his dysfunctional family background, primarily his mother and her behavior, coupled with the absence of his father, and it’s something he’s worked to offset throughout his adult life. As well as his carefully curated journal entries, Godwin includes Appendices listing the psychiatric medications he’s been prescribed, a Depression Survival Guide listing over 30 steps and suggestions, and Chess in the Labyrinth, an article which imagines mental health and the struggle with depression as a chess game and offers strategies for dealing with it.
Larry Godwin’s Transcending Depression is a frank and fearless look at the author’s life and struggles with depression, which he shares in the hopes of helping others to find their own way through the dark times and stay alive. The seduction of ending it all is a sad and constant thread throughout his entries. Godwin’s persistence in surviving, despite the disappointments stemming from the medications which fail to resolve his issues and the difficulties he faced in dealing with interpersonal and professional relationships, is inspiring. His is an important work that may indeed save lives. Highly recommended.