Internally, Garson said, she was falling apart and basically going insane.
“There was something elemental about watching my mind come apart before my very eyes,” Garson, 59, said in her book, “Southern Vapors,” a memoir published in July.
She never set out to write a book, she said, but her experiences in and out of hospitals, including a low-income mental institution she calls Alexander, moved her to “jot things down on napkins and backs of envelopes.”
“I couldn’t help myself. It was like falling through the rabbit hole, and seeing the Red Queen and teacups running around,” Garson said.
Of the characters she met during her stay at Alexander, Garson wrote in her book, “I retreated to my room to consider how I could possibly have thought of killing myself when life was so endlessly entertaining.”
A native of Buckhead, Garson grew up on West Paces Ferry Road in a large white plantation home with servants, and attended the Westminster Schools as the only Jewish student.
In her book, Garson reveals a difficult journey of depression, an eating disorder and a “30-year-long affair with drugs,” she said.
In her late 20s, after she graduated from Emory University School of Law, Garson said she finally came to terms with the fact that she needed a therapist.
“The book touches the core of how baby boomers have high expectations that our lives would just be this upward curve,” she said.
Garson got married in her 20s, and had a son and two daughters, who are now 24, 22 and 16.
“Depression really hit me after I got separated and got divorced,” she said.
Amy Weil, of Buckhead, said she got to know Garson in law school and was surprised by her book because Garson appeared to be “flying high” in law school.
“The thing that struck me the most was how open and honest it [the book] was, having grown up in Atlanta, essentially in the same background, knowing how things are in the South — they are very hidden,” Weil said. “We were of the generation where you put the fine laced tablecloth over a crack in the table.”
For the past two years, Garson said she has “made it back” to a physically and mentally healthy life, and works as a healthcare attorney for McKenna Long and Aldridge in downtown Atlanta.
“It was an epic search to try and dig my way out of this hole I kept falling in. … People say, ‘Well yes, how do you do it?’ … There is no answer.”
She said she still works every day at “correcting the old tape” in her mind by practicing self-awareness, patience, writing and going to therapy.
“It was facing my fears, though, that I finally locked onto as the way out of the darkness and back to the light,” Garson wrote in her book. “I spent 20 years getting [screwed] up, 20 years for it to calcify, 20 years undoing the damage, and, If I am lucky, I have 20 years to run for the roses. I don’t intend to waste them mired in fear.”
Garson will be speaking as part of the Southern Writers Showcase at the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta in Dunwoody Nov. 4 at 10 a.m.
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