This post by Debra Easterling
I am in the process of writing my “opus” entitled: “HE WHO BROKE THE CLOUDS.” I have been waiting years to write this story and I’m so excited, but it is one of the most difficult stories to write in many ways. The story takes place in 1917, at the very beginning of mental health psychology. It is a story of a wealthy young man, Randolph Fitzroy, who suffers from severe depression. His psychologist, Dr. Jacob Snow, is a Native American who has seen more than his fair share of prejudice during WWI and the depression of other soldiers. When Dr. Snow decides to return to his Iroquois village to establish an educational reservation, he takes the young man with him. Throughout the story, young Rand tries to get Dr. Snow to understand just what depression is and how it feels. It isn’t a choice. But, Dr. Snow comes from a world where life is precious and nature cures all. He struggles to understand Randolph, and shares ancient Native American wisdom and teachings to help break through the clouds within the young man’s mind. The two develop friendship and understanding that changes both of their lives.
Now, I wasn’t around in 1917, although I feel 100 years old at times. I need to search for every detail of hair styles, clothing, police techniques, plays in NYC, automobiles (the use of the term “car” wasn’t done until the 40s), the fears of the times, the language, the slang, the names of various places in existence in 1917, government programs of the time, governmental treatment of Native Americans during WWI, the sports teams, etc.
I need to research Native American philosophies, dress, herbal cures, customs, etc. The Iroquois nation consists of six different tribes that merged their customs with each other. Tons of research continues in what custom belonged to what tribe and how the tribes are united.
Researching treatment for depression in 1917 is a nightmare. Tons of info can be found from the 1950s and up. Lots of information of medication can be found, but that medication wasn’t created until much later. In 1917, little was known of depression and how it affects an individual. It was considered as a “melancholy problem” that was either viewed as pure selfishness/laziness or as a mental condition. Treatment was in transition from severe methods of water boarding, shock therapy, and lobotomies, to simply ignoring or locking the victims up. In 1917, the world was changing.
I know that when this book is complete, it will be a work that I will consider my finest. (Although my book, Moshe’s War, will be hard to beat.) I have been interviewing doctors, Native American historians, and I have gleaned a pound of knowledge for every line I’ll actually write from the net and several books. All the research I am investing for this book will make me proud someday. Most of all, as one who suffers from clinical depression, it will allow me to share myself with readers. I hope there will be plenty of them. “He Who Breaks The Clouds” will be a work-in-process for quite some time. I can’t wait to announce to you when it is complete. I’ve toyed with a book cover, just for fun. What do you think?
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