"When my parents got divorced," writes Melissa White in a harrowing account of abuse and depression, "any semblance of a family fell apart." In her senior year of high school she lived with her dad, a prison guard who physically and emotionally abused her. She made plans to "run away" to her mom, who seemed to care little for her, ninety minutes away in Chico. But her father, whom she refers to as "the Monster," retaliated. It is a heartbreaking story.
Today White lives in Chester with her husband and two daughters. The birth of her first, Hailey, produced a depression in Melissa that wouldn't go away. In her late twenties she began counseling with Lisa Jellison, a Chico-based licensed clinical social worker. The results form the basis of White's first-person account, "It's Not The Baby Crying: A Woman's Struggle With Postpartum Depression" ($11.99 in paperback from Tate Publishing; $9.59 in Barnes & Noble Nook e-book format).
The author, who recently signed books at the Chico Barnes & Noble store, is a courageous chronicler. Violent thoughts would assail her, always about Hailey. "As I transfer dishes from the sink to the dishwasher, I find myself being extremely careful with the steak knives. As I gently place them into the silverware holder in the dishwasher, placing them pointy-end down, I catch myself in the following thought: The sharp end of the steak knife is plunging into my daughter's abdomen."
Melissa began to practice the "stop sign technique," saying no--out loud if need be--to those nightmarish thoughts. From moment to moment she was imagining all the terrible things that might happen to her daughter--and trying to protect her. But this was ultimately about her father and the "fear of my father walking through my front door and shooting us dead in my living room." It was "not a rational thought" yet Melissa succumbed to terrible fear.
Then, hope. "I learned that in order to recover, you must clean up all the broken pieces. If you leave the mess on the floor, you could walk through life continually stepping on those sharp shards of glass." Counseling saves her life; her faith sustains her.
And she must face the question: Can she forgive her father?