Winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir
Jeffery Smith was living in Missoula, Montana, working as a psychiatric case manager when his own clinical depression began. Eventually, all his prescribed antidepressant medications proved ineffective. Unlike so many personal accounts, Where the Roots Reach for Water tells the story of what happened to Smith after he decided to give them up. Trying to learn how to make a life with his illness, Smith sets out to get at the essence of—using the old term for depression—melancholia.
Deftly woven into his own history is a "natural history" of this ancient illness. Drawing on centuries of art, writing, and medical treatises, Smith finds ancient links between melancholia and spirituality, love, sex, music, philosophy, gardening, and even our relationship with the earth's landscape.