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Reading with the AU: Madness: A Memoir - Kate Richards

Madness: A Memoir- Kate Richards

“Madness is a real world for the many of thousands of people who are right now living within it and dying within it. It never apologises.”

It’s a sad but true fact that most people will have been affected by depression, whether it’s their own or that of a loved one. According to Beyond Blue, up to one in four females and one in six males will experience depression in their lifetime. It’s the leading cause of suicide, yet it’s often not recognised or treated. Despite how common mental illness is, we still really don’t know much about it.

Kate Richards does. She experienced it first hand, dealing with symptoms of psychosis and depression from the time she was a teenager. Despite a loving family and being a trained Doctor (graduating in a medical degree with Honours), she struggled to keep work going around her breakdowns.

Her memoir is a brave and honest recount of her periods of ‘madness’. Right from the first page I was hit with horror and a deep sadness that the brain could lead someone to a state in which they were able to treat themselves like this. The book is made up on the many notes Richards made while in her mad stages. She recalls conversations, observations and ideas, often very strange to a mind not going through depression, and transcribed into a memoir with very few changes.

Pages of these notes are pictured throughout the book, and you can tell a lot from the handwriting; Scribbles, frantic crossing out, sentences that somehow make sense despite having skipped a beat. Richards often interjects her stories with the harsh, hateful voices of the demons she was always hearing inside her head, which pestered her until the only relief was self harm. She often seeks professional help, but often it is useless, or worse, takes advantage of her situation.

This memoir is a gripping, honest look into what it’s like to be one of the many people dealing with a mental illness. I couldn’t put it down, while at the same time wishing I could close my eyes because hearing of such hurt can be painful- but I think it needs to be more common. As a society we need to read more memoirs like this, we need to understand, as well as we can, about mental illness. Treatments are much more effective now than when Richards first went through this, but there is still so much room for improvement and understanding.