Book Review / Young Adult
The memoir of Ashley Richardson, Smile, Like You Mean it, is the story of a twenty three year old whose life takes an awful turn down the road of self-destruction and severe depression when her family is shattered by a divorce at eighteen years old. Every time she said to herself “things can't possibly get any worse” another family secret and another layer of hurt surfaced, leaving her feeling even more alone. The constant rejection and lack of a support system was eating her heart away as her severe depression continued to spiral. She began to wonder if there was a way out. Forced to move out and transition into the “real world” without any support left her feeling trapped with only self-medication and alcohol as a means coping. Despite having traditional medicine to ever relieve her depression, her life was saved taking a miraculous turn for the better by a combination of one inspiring therapist and revolutionary therapy option: Neurofeedback/Biofeedback. Neurofeedback therapy is part of a new frontier in our brain wave modification. It uses complex computer software and electrical stimulation to modify brainwave activity.
This is a story of rediscovering the ability to forgive, recover, and heal.The loss of her primary role model, a mentally unstable mother with a troubled childhood of sexual abuse, created new obstacles in Ashley's path to self-actualization. With no guidance, our main character finds herself feeling confused and abandoned, caught in a vicious cycle of self-hurt. Ashley attempts to self-medicate with alcohol and cover it up with her smile and bubbly personality, but this unfortunately only numbs but does not put an end to her struggles. At age twenty one she hits rock bottom and is overwhelmed with hiding the pain any longer, and is ready to face the hurt and start to mend the damage on the road to recovery and forgiveness.
After seeking out a number of therapists and alternative medications she decides to give it one last try, with a promising therapist, to finally re-build the close relationship she once enjoyed with her mother, as well as start to bond with her father for the first time in her life. This groundbreaking story speaks from the heart with a miraculous turn-around that will touch and inspire the lives of others and give hope to those struggling with depression and addictions.
Amendment, an annual literary journal at Virginia Commonwealth University will publish an excerpt of this book in the Fall of 2011.
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