Parent Hacks is the fourth stop on the MotherTalk Blog Book tour for The Ghost in the House: Motherhood, Raising Children, and Struggling with Depression by journalist Tracy Thompson.
My own transition to stay-at-home motherhood was rocky, and at one point I searched out literature by women whose experiences echoed mine. I read every book, article, essay (and later, blog post) I could find by mothers who were brave enough to reveal their struggles. Suffice it to say that when it comes to literature about motherhood, I'm well-read.
When The Ghost in the House arrived in the mail, I blithely assumed it would be another memoir detailing one woman's difficulty adjusting to motherhood. My jaded attitude surprised me. I am so grateful for the growing body of literature detailing the complexities of motherhood (many of which fly in the face of its popular portrayal), especially those shining light on the demon of postpartum depression. And yet, I found myself resisting reading another story about maternal struggle, perhaps because I've so recently left much of mine behind.
Thank goodness my commitment to this review caused me to crack open the cover, because by page 2, I was hooked.
The Ghost in the House is an important book that explores the connection between motherhood and depression in ways I've never considered before. This book not only frames the discussion of why so many mothers are depressed and may not even know it, it talks about how and why depression tends to run in families (it's more than genetics), and what women can do to break the cycle.
Thompson is a wonderful writer. Her description of the stress brought on by the intensive multi-tasking motherhood requires — much of which is invisible — had me nodding and underlining each page. What I appreciated most, however, was the book's combination of memoir, research review, and journalism. Thompson skillfully weaves her own story of maternal depression with that of her mother's, and of the hundreds of women she interviewed and surveyed on the topic. Her first-hand experience with depression lends power and context to her examination of the medical research, as well as to her suggestions for both coping with depression, and resisting the tendency to pass "depressive thinking" to one's children.
No pat answers here, no quick fixes. But any mother dealing with depression will come away from reading this book feeling understood, and hopefully, able to take the first small steps toward healing.