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That sinking feeling: A review of Inside a Dark Box

Inside a Dark Box is a peek into what depression can feel like to an individual

 
By Aditya Misra
Published: Sunday 21 June 2020

The image below is of the first two pages of Inside a Dark Box. The comment-with-illustration format stays throughout the 30-odd pages of the book. Slightly larger than a pocket-sized dictionary, Inside a Dark Box depicts through such comments and illustrations the daily struggles of a depressed mind.

The author has not talked about depression — a global epidemic but still widely considered stigmatic — in a clinical sense. With barely 500 words, cover to cover, this was not the aim of the book. All it has is a message: People who have depression feel lonely and trapped, and that this feeling of helplessness can be overbearing.

You try to fight, but it keeps coming back.

The comments are like a sympathetic talk from a friend. One gets a sense that the writer has faced depression first hand and is now trying to reach out to others. But it could just be her understanding of the subject or the phrasing of the comments that gives this impression.

The charcoal-black-and-white illustrations add to the feel of the book to such an extent that they become its most important feature. The use of the grey shade and the box motif to depict feelings of being sad and trapped is not lost on the reader. One can call the book a visual representation of depression.

The tone of the comments never becomes preachy. Neither does the book attain the character of a self-help guide. The only advice Inside a Dark Box offers is that there is a need to keep looking for solutions.

Even if they are not visible at first in the dark box of depression.

This was first published in Down To Earth’s print edition (dated April 1-15, 2020)

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