Saturday, June 09, 2007

Book Five: Inconsolable by Marrit Ingman

266 pages; reading and writing: 4 hours

Inconsolable by Marrit Ingamn. Seal Press, 2005 (978-1-58005-140-8) $14.95

I've been typing in quotes as I've read this book, and as I get towards the end of the book and the end of the book challenge and am increasingly tired and punchy, I keep finding much wiser, much funnier quotes. Too bad. I'm tired and punchy. Go to the end of this non-review and read the link to Marrit's "Kid Rock" piece and she can speak for herself. And if you've read Alterna-Dad, I think she would want you to know, she wrote "Kid Rock" first.

On to the book:

"I'd discovered from my own experiences socializing with other mothers that we could talk about just about anything other than mental illness. We could eat braised puppy and defecate on each other before the topic of PPD would come up."

Tell me about it.

This memoir about post-partum depression can be a harrowing book to read--perhaps especially for me, because I sorta know the author and I know she's not bullshitting us, this stuff really happened. But even if you discount 50% of it as exaggeration, it's still one scary book. So why read it? This is how Marrit explains why she wrote it:

"It meant something real to me to hear words put to this maelstrom of feeling. To have something crafted from madness implied a reason beyond it, a purposefulness I could regain somehow. Something inside me was capable of creation, of explication. If I felt the desire to obliterate myself, stronger than the urge to vomit, I could separate it from me by naming it. There was a self inside me that was not sick, that could reason."
"And I began to write."

That applies to us readers, too, especially those who have experienced post-partum depression. Words put to this maelstrom of feeling. Yes, please.

But no, no, no, it's not all about awfulness. Inconsolable is also about "trying to get out of this mothering thing not only alive, but with my personality intact." That's where the funny comes in, since Marrit's personality leads to situations like having some of her fifteen-month-old's first words be "butt plug." And not minding particularly.

Here's some general wisdom about depression:

"When you're depressed you reach a point when you cease to be a rational beingmaking a series of decisions; rather, you fluctuate violently between Success and Failure at every turn. Every moment is literally either a victory or a crisis. You are understimulating your child or smothering her. You are feeding her hazardous pesticides. That Infant Tylenol and Motrin might be destroying her liver. And so you are locked in a cycle of anxiety, which feeds you depression, which impairs your ability to cope, which increases your certainty that you are the shittiest person alive."

And here's some specific weltschmarz about dealing with a special needs kid:

"Our first task is to eliminate the latex from our environment. It's not unlike eliminating the nitrogen from the Earth's crust. Everything that is wholesome and good in this world is bad for my son. Soon we'll outfit him with protective silicone goggles and enclose him in a Lucite bubble. We'll have to wrap him with aluminum foil and poke him with a fork so he doesn't explode."

Perhaps my favorite part of the book is the description of different kinds of mothers. I especially liked Indie Mother: "Wears skirt made from a purse; carries purse made from a skirt. Eats the most parodoxical of foods--vegan queso. Births at home with a midwife; swaps placenta for black CDs. Children are named Bright Eyes and The Incredible Moses Leroy. My score: MEDIUM. I think about doing all this stuff. But then I don't actually do it."

Marrit then goes on to say, "Needless to say--I hope--you've realized that these categories are all actually bullshit." Doesn't mean we can't laugh.

You can see that this book skips around some and covers a lot. It's about having PPD. It's about having a kid with serious issues. It's about the many varities of craziness that comes with the mom territory, even without PPD and special needs. It's real. It's truths that needed to be spoken.

Want some more Marrit? You can find one of the most entertaining pieces from the book here. And check out her website. And buy her book! Now I'm going to bed.

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