As part of our Mental Health Matters ongoing blog series, we invited Zac Brewer to talk about what connects him to his new book, MADNESS.
MADNESS, the newest novel from author Zac Brewer, is an emotional and honest novel about a girl who believes she’s beyond saving—until she realizes the only person who can save her is herself. Zac Brewer has a deeply personal connection to this story and has battled with depression and thoughts of suicide. Here’s Zac’s moving and inspiring account of how he made it through this difficult time in his life.
My Dearest Minion Horde,
The ugly truth is, writing MADNESS took much longer than I imagined, because I thought this book was going to kill me.
I joke about it now, but the truth is, I was writing it during a three and a half year period in which I was at my lowest point and thoroughly planning my suicide—the apex of a five-year bout of depression. I have clinical depression, so the idea of sharing my view appealed to me. But if I’m honest, this book wasn’t just an account of fiction when I began writing it. It was a goodbye letter.
Thinking about it stirs up feelings of shame, guilt, and self-loathing. But I’m on the other side of the tunnel now, thanks to a six-month therapy program that’s designed to give tools to combat depression and hold suicidal ideation at bay long enough to ask for help. Before therapy, I wouldn’t ask for help. Because I knew that no one could help me.
Brooke also knows that no one can help her. Like me in my teen years, she’s made an attempt on her life and failed. Her view of reality is blurred through the lens of her depression. Her story begins with the yearning for an end.
Though I used Brooke to tell this story, what you will watch unfold mirrors my reality in many ways. And not just my reality—an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Maybe you’re one of us. Maybe not. But please trust me when I say that having depression is nothing to be ashamed of. I’m willing to bet that you know at least one other person who suffers from this disease. It’s more common than you think.
Love saved me from my five-year bout of depression. The love of my husband and children, my friends and colleagues, my Minion Horde. And love for myself—a concept I’ve struggled with over the years. Brooke will also find love as a guiding light as her story unfolds.
If you see someone you believe may suffer from depression, please reach out to them. Don’t let the worry of upsetting them stop you from potentially saving their life. If my husband hadn’t pushed through and urged me to seek help, I never would have finished writing this book. It would remain an unfinished, unsigned goodbye letter. But he did break through, and if I can make it through that dark tunnel…well…anybody can.
Now, grab my hand. Squeeze it as tight as you like. If you need tissues, I have them. If you need resources, I have those too. And if you need someone to understand, I do.
You are not alone.
All My Love,
If you or someone you know is in a suicidal crisis or emotional distress, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Brooke Danvers is pretending to be fine. She’s gotten so good at pretending that they’re letting her leave inpatient therapy. Now she just has to fake it long enough for her parents and teachers to let their guard down. This time, when she’s ready to end her life, there won’t be anyone around to stop her.
Then Brooke meets Derek. Derek is the only person who really gets what Brooke is going through, because he’s going through it too. As they start spending more time together, Brooke suddenly finds herself having something to look forward to every day and maybe even happiness.
But when Derek’s feelings for her intensify, Brooke is forced to accept that the same relationship that is bringing out the best in her might be bringing out the worst in Derek—and that Derek at his worst could be capable of real darkness.
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