… and make the black line go
By Deborah Brockbank
Key Themes: autobiographical fiction, adolescent depression, diary, support, age appropriate therapies
Imogen Baxendale is a normal girl (if any pubescent girl can be called normal), living quite a normal sort of life of going to school and weekly riding lessons, until unexplained fatigue and emotional turmoil begin to dominate her life. Numerous trips to the doctor and specialists result in a diagnosis of depression. ‘IF I COULD CALL A GENIE and make the black line go’ is Gen’s own, intensely private, journal which takes the reader through her journey with childhood/adolescent depression. Aimed at the older child/young teenager this book will provide solace and empathy for anyone experiencing depression themselves, and insight and education for anyone accompanying someone else on that journey.
Written as fiction, with all the characters being fictional, it is written by someone with personal experience of childhood depression and, in that, it is very autobiographical. The author revisited many of the feelings and experiences of her teenage years to capture an authentic description of the emotions and desperation often felt. It is, however, framed in contemporary society with up to date medical and therapeutic interventions.
This book is very timely. We are living in a society where increasing levels of childhood depression are being recognized and where statistics suggest that 10% of under 16 year olds will experience some form of mental health problem. The character of Gen Baxendale will give these children someone to identify with, a friend with whom to travel through their own experiences. Someone who understands and knows that wishful thinking is not enough to make them better:
About the Author
Now in her early fifties Deborah Brockbank has had a life which has been both troubled and enriched by periods of depression. Particularly difficult were her teenage years when she was first diagnosed with severe endogenous depression. Aware that there are increasing levels of childhood and adolescent depression, Deborah wanted to use her own experiences creatively and ‘IF I COULD CALL A GENIE and make the black line go’ is the outcome. She hopes that this expression of her own turbulent teenage years will provide solace and empathy for anyone experiencing depression themselves, and insight and education for anyone accompanying someone else on that journey.
Deborah lives in Worcestershire, is registered disabled due to a life time of health problems, but is a full time carer. Having left school at fourteen due to her depression, Deborah always thought she was a bit of a ‘dunce’ but has recently graduated from the Open University with a First Class Honours Degree in Health and Social Care.
Tuesday 11th September
It was a weird day. Skool was okay and I got a merit in Chemistry. But I didn’t feel up to tennis club and came home on the bus. My legs ache something bad. Gossip: Saz sat next to Paul C. on the bus…watch this space. Loads of homework.
Guess wot? Saz and Paul sat together again! Is she blind or what? It rained ALL day and I got soaking walking home from the bus. But the raindrops are so amazing…each one its own little universe of H2o. I wonder how many raindrops fell in Downham Market today. Billions and Trillions. If they all fell in one place, like a bucket or something, then they would be incredibly deep.
I managed to drag myself out of bed in time to ring the bells this morning, but I sneaked home after ‘cos I didn’t fancy sitting through Revs sermon and all the other bits. I reckon God understands. And if He doesn’t then He isn’t the sort of person I’d get on with. Why is He a He? I went to the stables. Did sum mucking out and took a leading rein at 12. Came home after. I was sooooooo tired. Sometimes I wonder wot’s the matter with me.
Had bad gut ache. Didn’t want to go to skool but Mum sort of insisted. Double English and Mr Baines read my Oliver Cromwell essay out to the class. Embarrassing or wot. No homework so went to stables for an hour or so. Just sassed about.
Still bad gut ache, like a stitch in my side. Stayed at home and clutched hot water bottle all day. Mum at work in the afternoon. I watched Lord of the Rings. Mum says I have to go to the doctors if guts don’t get better.
Thursday 20th September
Doc Spademan thinks I might have a grumbling appendix. Grumble grumble. Take paracetamol – I find them so hard to swallow ‘cos they are dry and taste foul if they dissolve in your mouth.
Back to school. Guts not right but could be more wrong. Saz and Paul at opposite ends of the bus today – not speaking. Didn’t think it would last. Saz came home with me and we groomed Hermione and mucked out her shed.
Woke up this morning with blood at top of my legs – apparently this is IT. So that must have been wot the gut pain was about. I’m meant to feel a WOMAN now. But I don’t. I feel like a 12 year old with belly ache. Mum gave me some pads and has packed me off to school. Am writing this in free period. Period! But wot if the big girls climb up and look over the toilet partitions – its one thing them watching me pee but I don’t want them to see me changing bloody pads. Sometimes I wish I was a boy. I’m not sure who else has ‘started’, I know Saz hasn’t. My legs still ache.
Cont’d at home- in bed. Well, it went okay. I really prayed that no-one would be looking in the loos, and they didn’t. Not sure if that’s coincidence or an answer to prayer. Perhaps they wouldn’t have been looking even if I hadn’t prayed. So do I pray again tomorrow, or do I leave it to chance? Its one thing expecting God to understand me not wanting to sit in a boring old church, but another thing to expect Him to understand about periods. Unless, of course, He’s a SHE.