The Silent Scream: An Anthology of Despair, Struggle, and Hope is put together by Maria Alfieri. There are 10 other contributors to the book using their full names, including myself, and other writing anonymously.
In the introduction, Maria writes:
“It is through our vulnerability that our liberation from our inauthenticity starts. Through honest conversation we break down that fourth wall, which traps us in the illusion of our shame and isolation. We are never alone in our experiences. We are not broken, merely flawed, imperfect and messy, the same as any other human being on this planet. In sharing our stories we can become active observers of our thoughts and feelings, rather than passive passengers of our unconscious behaviours.”
The Silent Scream serves as an antidote to the shame that silence breeds, offering hope in the shared experience of suffering.
The book includes photographs, art, poems, and narratives. I was expecting evocative writing, but I was surprised and impressed by the calibre of the photography. Raw emotions were shown throughout.
A multitude of sources of human suffering appear in the book, including childhood sexual abuse, abusive relationships, suicide (which I wrote about), depression, addiction, cancer, and miscarriage. There is talk of trying to recover from the past, as well as fearing the future with a chronic illness.
There was also hope and optimism, as well as talk about things that helped, like medications and meditation.
A theme of being your genuine self runs through the book. Crystle said in her piece This. Is. My. Truth.:
“And today I am sharing this with you, to show you that you are not alone, that you have no reason to be ashamed and to use your rage to fuel your fire and fight your fight. To be you – unapologetically – and fuck everyone else!”
It’s always interesting to see the words people use to describe their own experiences. One contributor wrote that “If I hadn’t self-harmed, I doubt I’d have coped, and would have probably successfully committed suicide.” Another, writing as a survivor of someone lost to suicide, expresses concern about the term “committed suicide,” and spoke to the stigma that’s associated with being a suicide survivor.
It’s remarkable that a group of contributors can have lived through so much and chosen to turn away from the safety of silence and be vulnerable by sharing their stories and poetry and visual art.
As Maria wrote in her final message, “Like one candle lighting another, our stories spread hope.”
A Silent Scream was actually published earlier this year, but I didn’t read it until now, as I was waiting for the release of the Kindle edition. I hadn’t seen any of the other contributors’ pieces before this, and they were impressive. I’m not just saying that because I’m biased; this is really a great book.
The Silent Scream is available on Amazon (affiliate link). Profits from the sale of this book will go to the charity Heads On (Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust).