Have You Heard the Sound of Your Own Voice is a memoir by Krithika Chandrasekar about her experiences with depression. The title refers to “the language of silence” that people with depression speak as they carry their burdens.
The book covers the author’s teenage years in India and her time as an undergrad at Purdue, but the focus is her time as a graduate student in engineering at the University of California in Santa Barbara, when it became clear that she was experiencing depression.
Like so many people with depression, the author didn’t realize at first that that’s what was happening to her. She does an excellent job of capturing the process of trying to figure out what was going on, and why she was having symptoms like headaches and difficulty sleeping, weepiness, and “sudden laziness.” She writes about getting to the point where she could no longer find her familiar self. It wasn’t until a friend pointed it out to her that she realized she had depression.
I thought the author was also very effective at narrating the negative self-talk that went through her mind, along with the guilt and self-hatred; it provided an intimate look into the depressed mind. The book also conveyed how difficult basic things like eating and sleeping can be while depressed.
The author also writes about having to figure out what to tell her family and how to manage her friendships. She describes feeling like a burden: “They did not sign up for a pestilential friendship. I decided not to impose on them anymore.” She also talks about what it was like to have friends telling her how much more she should be doing and achieving.
The book contains a lot of vivid imagery and quite poetic descriptions. I quite liked this one: “The sun was molten gold yellow. Light spilled through cloud quilts onto the calm waves.” The writing style is very honest and vulnerable, like the writer is allowing readers direct access into her mind.
The author explains that faith played an important role in helping to counter-balance the negative pull of depression. Finding a source of hope was also very important for her, and the book ends on a very hopeful note. The author has also chosen to pursue further training to be able to help others in their own recovery.
I thought this book was really well done. It paints a vivid picture of the shades of darkness of depression and a light of hope for recovery. I definitely recommend it.
Krithika speaks about the issues covered in her book in this talk for the ECE Graduate Student Association at Purdue University.
Have You Heard the Sound of Your Own Voice is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.