"My family has a grand tradition. After a woman gives birth, she goes mad." That's the first sentence of "Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood" (Free Press, $23) by Adrienne Martini.
Although it's a serious book about postpartum depression and bipolar disease, Martini tries to keep it light as she examines her family's experiences with mental illness.
After her baby was born, Martini couldn't stop crying, nor could she find a reason for her constant crying. She wondered whether the birth of the baby started the depression, or if it was generations of genetics. After all, she also cried constantly earlier in her married life when her husband, Scott, was away for a short time.
Her flirtations with death in the past had been minor. In high school, she stuck pins in her fingertips to see how far she could push them before feeling something. For three months, she ate only 380 calories a day. That was about six saltine crackers or a small bag of M&Ms. This ended when she got really hungry.
In college, she developed such a fear of flying that she was horrified at any type of travel, including driving the car.