Bewilderments of the Eyes by Theresa Sopko is a fascinating and heartfelt exploration into the crippling effects of depression.
Twenty-year-old Quinn Aldredge just wants to take back control of her life, but depression holds her captive. Can she find a way with the help of friends and loved ones to come to terms with her illness?
Mental illness, even in today’s world, is mostly a taboo subject. Sufferers, more often than not, feel ashamed. Those who aren’t afflicted, struggle over how to support loved ones or even how to broach the subject. However, thousands of people in the world have some form of mental illness, including depression.
While the subject matter is serious, Sopko infuses her characters and scenarios with doses of humor and compassion. Quinn and her struggles are front and center, as they should be, but they are dealt with care and honesty. She’s a sympathetic character, while at the same time, she can be frustrating. This is true to life. Living with depression or living with someone who has depression is not easy and the everyday difficulties come through loud and clear in Sopko’s storytelling:
When you’re twenty years old with a privileged life and you can’t seem to manage talking on the phone, getting your homework done, doing your laundry, meeting new people, or getting out of bed on the weekends—the things that normal people can manage—you think you must be alone.
The novel is a realistic account of what depression does – how it suppresses pieces of people, bit by bit. It also highlights how frustrating it must be for those who are witnessing a friend or loved one slowly disappear. One thing is clear: depression doesn’t magically go away and will always be a factor in the person’s life.
Reading Quinn’s story really makes the reader think how lonely and exasperating it must be for those with mental illness. She’s constantly reminded by her parents, friends, and even herself that she should just snap out of it. Try harder. Let the person she used to be to come out:
My first mental breakdown is so vivid in my memory that it’s tough to remember a time before it.
But it’s not that simple, even if on the surface it seems like it should be. Sopko’s ability to convey both sides of the story transforms Bewilderments of the Eyes into an important novel that should be read by people dealing with depression, whether they are sufferers or know someone who is. This novel is a powerful story that conveys the depth of Quinn and her struggles.
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