If there ever was an argument for the power of self-publishing, Jan Wong’s memoir is it.
“Out of the Blue: A Memoir of Workplace Depression, Recovery, Redemption and, Yes, Happiness” is the story of how an accomplished newspaper reporter has her career and her life turned upside down in the aftermath of a news story she wrote about a school shooting in Montreal. She experienced death threats, and her editors failed to support her. Suddenly, or “out of the blue,” she spirals into clinical depression and is unable to function, in a newsroom anyway.
I found her story fascinating for many reasons, not the least of which were the descriptions of newspaper functions and politics, which I remember, oh so clearly, from my days long ago as a journalist. Wong incorporates a good deal of research about the history, origins and treatments of depression; the prevalence of the disorder makes this information interesting and helpful.
Wong is a masterful storyteller but what I found most compelling were her reasons for self-publishing. I would not have read her story at all if she had not overcome the gag orders initially demanded by her newspaper and the publishing company who initially accepted her book. While I didn’t agree with her on every point, thank goodness for her stubbornness and courage. I’m so glad I could read her version of the story. It made me glad I bought a new copy of her book — she deserves every penny.
I was also gratified to read how she felt about the book when she completed it because, having written my own memoir about a difficult time in my life, I couldn’t agree more:
Many people assume there is something powerfully therapeutic in writing about depression. I haven’t found it so, not while I was writing, anyway. … I felt the therapeutic effect eventually when the book was done. Completing it felt liberating, peaceful even. I could finally forget about it, knowing that, if I ever needed to remember what had happened, the record was there.