Willow Weep For Me

There is a good possibility that there are a ton of excellent books that depict depression that I simply have not heard of or read. Though, the excitement I’ve seen around the few I have heard of makes me think this probably isn’t true. I understand why this may be. Who wants to read a story about someone that can’t get out of bed, kind of smells bad, and never sees or talks to anybody? The main action of the story would be the person deciding if talking to another person is an appropriate price to pay for pizza or if they’ll just eat Cheerios again. It wouldn’t exactly be a page turner. So, while I think it sucks, I totally get why there aren’t a ton of novels and memoirs depicting depression. It’s also why I’m extra impressed by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah’s Willow Weep For Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression. 

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Depression is, by it’s very nature, hard to talk about. When you’re in the thick of it it is impossible to articulate because it throws a sort of black veil over all reason. When you’re out of it, it’s the giant pink elephant in the room that might not trample anyone if you just act like it isn’t there. Pile on the boat load of societal pressure to be ok and just feel happy and an unhealthy dose of people not understanding and you’ve got yourself a tough topic. I think these facts of depression make it impressive when anybody writes down a map of their experience with it. When they can do so artfully, like Meri Nana-Ama Danquah does, it is a treat that feels full of possibility for more like it.

Danquah’s memoir is at once relatable and eye opening. It is worth noting that it was published in 1998 so there has probably been some progress in the areas of mental health, sex, and race…though more of her story rang true and recent, than not. Mental health is being talked about a bit more, but I hesitate to say that it has been completely de-stigmatized. Race and sex has been a topic of much contention these days, particularly with the advent of the newest president. Again, I hesitate to say there has actually been any progress in these realms. If anything it feels as though we are taking tiny steps backward.

Except, and I say this knowing that “except” must now be a word fully loaded with hope, Willow Weep For Me does exist. The hope here is that people will read it and benefit from Danquah’s life story and vulnerability. She has put her very life into her art and I refuse to believe that that sort of commitment and investment can exist with no rewards and returns. If people read this book and are inspired to get help, help others, or simply be open about their own experiences, then maybe that can be one more little step forward.

Commonplace Book Entries

“Our reality often comes to us in fragments.”

Willow Weep For Me by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

“And, given the oppressive nature of the existing language surrounding depression, perhaps for black people there really aren’t any.”

Willow Weep For Me by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

“The illusion of time is that it heals all wounds but the ones that have not been attended to only fester.”

Willow Weep For Me by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

“Healing is about much more than remembering. Healing is about reinterpreting events, aligning the fiction with the fact. I had created so many lies to erase my misfortunes and my mistakes. The biggest and most damaging of which were my silences.”

Willow Weep For Me by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep listening. Keep creating.

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