From Despair to Hope and Healing: One Woman’s Journey
by Barbara K. Mezera
LitFire Publishing

"Hidden behind a wall of silence – strong
and thick.
I lay tightly curled, withdrawn from life.
Hiding my beauty.
Hiding who I am."

As its title suggests, this book of poetic reflections traces the author’s journey through her battle with depression. Divided into seven sections beginning with “Wrestling with the Big D,” she explores mental illness, family, health, occupation, shyness, relationships, and “Random Musings.” Writing with honesty and clarity, Mezera traces what she calls her “companion on my life journey” from the time she was nine through her search for an effective therapist and the right medication, beginning at age thirty. Her poetry includes subjects such as suicide, anger, and violence. Not only does the author delve into her lifelong depression, she also touches upon her diagnosis of MS and subsequent disability with poems about pain and loss. However, the book is one of triumph as readers share her journey through trials, her search for self, and ultimate acceptance.

Mezera’s is a harrowing journey, told in poignant verse that brings the reader into the mind of one fighting a relentless enemy. Yet, she handles her nemesis like a warrior as in “The Demon and I”: “So I wage an inner battle. / Fighting and sometimes hurting myself. / Someday maybe he and I will be friends.” Her poems about depression and thoughts of suicide are especially moving in their raw honesty. This is seen in poems like “Hopeless” and “Final Solution” which invite readers into the heart-wrenching thought processes of one’s struggle with suicidal thoughts. Though the subject of the author’s poetry is heavy and at times quite dark, there is hope found within the pages of this volume, and readers will find themselves cheering along as each battle is waged and won.

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