Tag Archives: Bipolar Disorder

Questions to Co-authors of High Tide Low Tide: A Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder P2


High Tide Low Tide

Ok World, here we go with P2 while you could read P1 if you missed that

3) The Writing

  1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)? If yes, why?

Many books and writers inspired us! Although not a direct influence, the book most relevant to ours is Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston. The Stigma Fighters Anthology, edited by Sarah Fader, inspired and challenged us to keep things honest in our writing.

  1. Did you have a writing mentor?

Not as such, but we had superb support throughout the writing process from many people. Without their help and guidance our book would not be what it is: indeed, it might never have been completed at all. Some people reviewed early drafts, others edited chapters, or suggested approaches to take with agents and publishers. It is hard to single out individuals (we recognise many in our Acknowledgements page) but we are especially grateful to Julie A. Fast and Rachel Kelly, who contributed so much, and gave generously of their time and expertise.

  1. Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your book and why?

The most challenging to write was chapter 2, “The Illness Experience: Understanding Your Friend’s Diagnosis and Symptoms.” I’d imagined it would be pretty straightforward to describe the illnesses Fran has to deal with (bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia). In fact, it involved a lot of research and editing to describe these complex conditions succinctly but accurately, and in a way relevant to our readers.

  1. Which if any was your favourite chapter to write and why?

Our favourite is chapter 7, “The ‘S’ Word: Being There When Your Friend Is Suicidal.” That might seem an odd choice, but it’s a topic we feel passionate about and wanted to cover as honestly and thoroughly as possible. We hope we have contributed to a wider conversation about suicide and suicidal thinking.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing your book and if yes, what was it?

Martin: I learned that writing a book and getting it published is hard work! Joking aside, our four year journey taught me a great deal on many different levels. I learned how to plan, write, and edit a book, and how to query literary agents and publishers. I took courses including Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). I read widely, focusing on personal accounts of mental illness. I also learned to listen. To Fran, yes, but also to other people. Meditation, NVC (Non-Violent Communication) and other techniques helped with that. I gained hugely in confidence. I learned I had a voice, and something worth speaking out about.

Fran: Absolutely! Writing this book I really opened myself up from a vulnerability standpoint, to share everything with the world. That was really scary but there was also a freedom that I gained from doing that. It also helps us in a practical way. Just the other day when I was in depression, Marty read to me from our chapter on depression and it helped remind me what we can do to shift out of it.

  1. How long did it take you to write and get the book published and why?

High Tide, Low Tide was published almost exactly four years after Fran first suggested the idea to me. That included planning, drafting, writing, researching, editing (and re-editing and re-editing!) the manuscript itself. It also included writing a full book proposal (which took far longer than I imagined it would), as well as querying literary agents and publishers. The later chapters draw heavily on our personal correspondence. It took a lot of time and effort to locate, organise and select from the many thousands of lines of our Skype, Facebook and text (SMS) messages, as well as letters, emails, and my personal journal. By the time we found our publisher (Nordland Publishing) our book was completely written and edited. Things moved ahead swiftly from there: High Tide, Low Tide was published within three months.

4) The Message

  1. Do you have any advice for other writers especially on challenging subjects like mental health?

My main advice is to keep it real. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to include everything but it does mean being honest about what you put in there. Can readers tell the difference? I think so. We are very open about how things are for us, both individually and as friends. We cover some challenging subjects including stigma, discrimination, rejection, mania, depression and suicidal thinking. We include transcripts of many of our conversations, so people can see first-hand how our friendship works under these kinds of challenge. We also include times when things didn’t go so well. That’s important because it would be wrong to give the impression I always know what to do, or handle things perfectly. We get things wrong all the time! Real life is messy. How you handle the messy bits and get back on track is what matters most.

  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Fran expressed it really well at the end of our book, highlighting the difference we can make if we are there for those we care about:

“There are many like me who live in invisible institutions of stigma, shame, and silence, the walls built by others from without, or by ourselves from within. Dismantling these walls invites connection. Be the gum on someone’s shoe who has one foot inside and one foot outside. Stick around. It may not be easy but you can help someone make a life worth living. Maybe even save a life. One little bit by one little bit. A smile, a wink, a hello, a listening ear, a helping hand, a friendship all work together to interrupt the grasp of illness. Be open and honest, with your friend and others you meet. Judge not, for misunderstandings abound. Acceptance, understanding, and kindness can pave another way. Let’s.”

One reader wrote to us and said, “Your journey as friends reminds us that mental illness doesn’t change what friendship is all about: being there for those we love.” That’s a great answer too!

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging etc?

We blog regularly at www.gumonmyshoe.com and elsewhere, including The Good Men Project, The Mighty, Time to Change, Men Tell Health, I’m NOT Disordered, and Julie A. Fast’s blog at bipolarhappens.com. Fran has written for the Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram. An open letter to her psychiatrist was published in The Maine Review. We love having guests on our blog, so if you’d like to write for us, check out our guidelines (www.gumonmyshoe.com/p/contact.html) and drop us a line!

  1. Where can your book be found?

High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a wide range of other retailers. You can find further details and links on our website (www.gumonmyshoe.com/p/book.html).

Thank you very much Martin and Fran for answering my questions. I must admit your answers will genuinely help me write a comprehensive review of your epic book.

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Questions to Co-authors of High Tide Low Tide: A Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder


High Tide Low Tide

 

Hello World, I love doing interviews with authors who have written on mental health, especially about their personal experiences living with any mental challenges or supporting someone living with them. It is with such profound feelings that I interview co-authors Martin Baker and Fran Houston. Their book High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder is probably to my soul like none other I have read before in this genre. I will be doing a review of their book in the following days but I wanted the authors to enlighten me and hopefully you my readers and followers some more.

1) The Profile

  1. Let’s start with a brief introduction of yourself, your background, and a tiny bit about your childhood:

I will go first (Martin). I was born in Liverpool in the north-west of England, where I lived until the age of eighteen. I graduated in Pharmacy from the University of Bradford in 1983 and spent the next three years doing postgraduate research at The Parkinson’s Disease Research Centre at King’s College London, before moving to Newcastle upon Tyne in 1987. I’ve lived here ever since. I had very little experience of mental illness until I met Fran online in May 2011. Despite us living three thousand miles apart, I am Fran’s main support and caregiver. Our transatlantic friendship has taught me a lot about living with illness, but more importantly about what it means to be a good friend.

Fran: Me next! I graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1991, and worked as a successful electrical engineer until I was overtaken by illness. I was diagnosed with major depression in 1994 and with bipolar disorder in 2003. I also have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. I used to live on Peaks Island in Maine. Inspired by the island’s rich history, I interviewed and photographed long-time residents. The photos and interviews were exhibited locally and also published as For the Love of Peaks: Island Portraits and Stories, a Collection. This led to me appearing on Maine Public Broadcasting Network and National Public Radio to talk about my book and the challenges of living with illness. I was also a columnist with the Island Times. I was still living on Peaks Island when Marty and I met. I moved to Portland, Maine, in 1993. I love Portland and my many friends who love me dearly. I live with a beta fish named Jewells who often makes me laugh and gives me a reason for living.

2) The Soul Journey

  1. Martin, why? I mean, I have heard of a sibling who tried to help and even gave up, but I have never read of a friend of someone living with bipolar disorder.

That is really why we wrote our book, because there is nothing else out there specifically for friends. Each chapter starts with a question. The final chapter asks exactly what you just asked: “Why do you do it?” There isn’t one single answer. Our friendship enriches my life as much as it enriches Fran’s. I have gained so much in the time we have been friends. I believe I am a better person because of it. Ultimately, Fran is my best friend, and that’s what best friends do—they look out for each other.

  1. Fran, did you feel guilty at any point for your mental health and the impact it was having on your friendship? If yes what did you think or do, if no please explain for us.

This is a great question, Marie! I do wonder how Marty is doing when I’m not well but I never feel guilty about it with him. Not in my mania or in my depression. I have felt guilty about it with some others. Safety and guilt go together for me. I feel safe with Marty, that’s why I don’t feel guilty. With other people, I profusely apologized for myself and my behavior when I was manic, but I also expected them to be responsible for their behavior.

  1. Martin, can you tell us how your wife and son appreciate your having a friend like Fran, who could need you at any hour?

My family has been incredibly supportive, both of my friendship with Fran and the book we have brought out together. My wife contributed a piece to the book, and it is through my son that Fran and I found a publisher! More generally, they are very supportive of the help I am able to give to Fran and others, and the other work I do these days in the mental health arena, such as online work and volunteering with the UK anti-stigma charity Time to Change.

  1. Do you two think the distance is helping your friendship stay alive or killing it slowly?

In some ways living 3,000 miles apart limits our friendship. Fran can’t invite me round for a meal, say, or meet me in town for a coffee. I can’t help her with chores, fetch groceries, or give her a ride to appointments like I would if we lived in the same city. On the other hand, we get to share a great deal just as easily as if we lived close together. Social media and instant messaging mean we are never really out of touch. We meet on webcam almost every day. We talk (a lot!), watch movies and read books together. In some ways it enhances our relationship. As long as there’s an internet signal we can connect, no matter what time of day it is, where we might be (at home, out about town, on vacation etc.) or what we might be doing.

  1. Do you have any candid advice to friends of people with a bipolar disorder diagnosis? I will appreciate advice from each of you.

Martin: The key advice I’d offer is to keep the channels of communication open. For us that means daily chat conversations and Skype calls. That might be too much for some people, but however you “do the talking thing,” be someone your friend knows will be there for them no matter what happens. (And yes, that might include taking a phone call or responding to a message in the middle of the night.) Be someone your friend can trust not to turn away when things get rough. How do you do that? We sum it up as “Be who you are. Do what you can. Embrace the journey.” Don’t try and be someone you are not. You don’t have to do everything. Find your role in your friend’s support team and make it yours. There will be some bad times for sure, but also lots of good times. Share it all.

Fran: Three things come to mind. Commit yourself to your own self-care, keep healthy boundaries, and have understanding and empathy. Self-care means remembering to take care of your needs as well as your friend’s. Like taking some time off if you need it, or having someone to talk to or support you when things are hard. Keeping healthy boundaries is linked with self-care. What happens sometimes is friends get all enmeshed with the bipolar person. Someone manic can be interesting and exciting, but it can be toxic if you are not careful. Healthy boundaries means being aware of what is going on and not doing things you don’t want to do just to keep them happy. It’s ok to say no. Don’t go down the drain with your bipolar friend! Understanding and empathy means listening to your friend, to what is happening with them, and not trying to fix things or do everything….

Stop by on Wednesday for Part 2 of this exciting and yet so soulful interview

Book Review: Bipolar Disorder My Biggest Competitor by Amy Gamble


Just like in a boxing ring, Amy took many blows but still won


This memoir is not only captivating to me because it sheds so much light on mental illness especially on bipolar disorder; but it is equally captivating because of the author’s life and journey itself. With this said, I confess that once I started reading this soulful and resourceful memoir,  I didn’t put it down until I finished. It took me 8 hours to read, I was on the go and actually grateful for the traffic.

This is a memoir which shares the author’s resilence as she in her own words ‘refuse to relinquish the title of my life to mental illness’. A game of basketball or team handball or raquetball is easy to play because there are clear rules of the game. No matter how fierce the competition in these games, you know after the game life goes on and you can compete in other encounters and lose with dignity or win why not. No, not with mental illness. First of all it is no game although it plays you around like on a chess board. Secondly, if to be compared to any game, it is in my opinion best like boxing. Amy herself tells how in the ring with bipolar disorder, ‘my face was bloody, my eyes blackened, my nose broken, and my pride destroyed’. The bravado here is that: ‘Each time I got knocked down, I got back up again’.

Amy Gamble is an Olympian and so staying on top of her game, being in good spirits and shape were very important to her. Indeed, when the signs and symptoms started setting in, so too did denial big time. Who Me? No way was her fierce reasoning. Yes mental illness could run in her family even if never talked about you know, yes she could burst with such unquenchable energy to literally move mountains and other times sink into such debilitating depression, but no she couldn’t come to terms with the words bipolar disorder. The erratic life and actions on the spur in several instances, the wanderings and all which caused her two painful run ins with the law and a sting in jail not to talk of the massive financial and emotional devastation still didn’t sink in well with her. She near gave up especially after losing so many close people like her dad and co, her loyal dogs and even some invaluable relationships.

At the 8th or 9th round, the bloodied athlete in her through a series of divine interventions and other circumstances, started to recover. She looked her opponent in the eye, felt the bruises through her body, spirit and soul, grieved for what was and what should have been, and then gave her opponent the final blow. I say final blow because even though bipolar disorder is still out there and can rear up its dragon self anytime, Amy is fully prepared for any further competitions. The light Amy Gamble sheds on mental illness not only lightens our paths but hers above all.

About Amy Gamble

Amy Gamble

Amy Gamble is a small town girl who has always had big time dreams. She followed those dreams all the way to the Olympic Games. Facing competitors on a world stage, she learned how determination could overcome all the odds against her. Amy needed that strength and those lessons when she faced the biggest challenge in her life-bipolar disorder. Amy is now the Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Greater Wheeling. She is a Certified Mental Health First Aid instructor and a mental health speaker. Amy has over 18 years experience working for Fortune 500 companies in sales, marketing and leadership. Amy has a M.A. in Organizational Management and a B.A. in Communication. Her mission in life is to help those who live with mental illness and their family members find help and hope. She strives to eliminate stigma by sharing openly her struggles and triumphs of living with bipolar disorder and educating audiences of all ages.

postscript

I am very honoured to write this review. When I discovered Amy’s blog and reached out to her to write a forward to my own memoir about my mental challenges, she did so the same day. I didn’t know Amy was past 50 years, she looks like 45 at most. Amy’s story is indeed a captivating one, the closest to any celebrity’s own I have read about their journey and battle with mental illness.

An interesting editorial Review (found on the amazon)

“Amy Gamble is a champion for mental health, advocating for awareness, improved care and the removal of stigma. In her book, she painstakingly describes the details of her own battle with bipolar disorder that led her from the U.S. Olympic team to a prosperous career for a top Fortune 500 company to a small jail cell in Montana and — eventually — to recovery. Amy’s firsthand experiences with the obstacles of our own health care and justice systems are chilling. And just when you think her nightmare has to be over, it starts all over again. You come to understand that mental illness truly levels the field: No amount of money, prestige or physical strength can protect you from it. But her survival instinct, her faith in God, and the work ethic she developed growing up on a West Virginia farm and honed as an Olympic athlete kept her trudging onward through her darkest days. The book is in part a cautionary tale — a “what not to do” — for the health care industry, as well as for families of those who are mentally ill and sick individuals themselves. Above all, it is a story of Amy’s redemption, a reclaiming of the life she thought she lost and the emerging of a true champion who dares to dream again. Mental illness won far too many battles in Amy’s life, but through her own education, proper care and sheer determination, she won the war. By sharing her story, she has ensured that her struggles were not in vain and many people will benefit from her victory.”      –Betsy Bethel, Life Editor, The Intelligencer and WheWheelingNews-Register

 

Questions to an author: Molly McHugh P2


bipolar-1-disorder-how-to-survive-and-thrive-by-molly

Hello world, Let’s continue with the second part of our interview right? You can refresh on P1 right here

3) The Writing

  1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?

    No. I wrote it how I wanted it to be, played a bit. And though it does have a nice creative style and feel that many (not all!) have commented they enjoyed, it was a bit crap at the start. I was too full of myself, too thrilled with getting it finally done (much was written in notes 20 or so years earlier and saved in email). It needed a lot of editing (I did all editing myself) and it needed to be filled out with more detail.

    I recently even did a minor update with a few things that needed to be fixed and added in a couple of resources. Just want it to be of value to whoever takes the time to read it. And for it to help someone heal their suffering. Give ideas of things that may help.

  1. Did you have a writing mentor?

    No. A few were very kind to check out the earlier version (and honest enough to tell me it needed a ton of editing!) but that was it.

  1. How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published?

    I had a bunch of notes I had written years before and saved in my email. It just felt right to do it, and I was ok being public as my son was older. First version I put up on Amazon as a kindle book took maybe eight months to complete. Updated that a little and then published as a paperback book via Createspace maybe six months or so later.

4) The Message

  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

    I shared as much as I could. My blog is full of more info on a ton of topics that didn’t fit into the book. And my way of learning and connecting with others, helping to affect change. Speaking out abou the overdiagnosing and overdrugging, etc. I learned not too long ago about the death of children who are erroneoulsy being given BP diagnosis. So sad. They have health issues, but no, they should not be on psychotropic medications. The doctors fueling this new targeting of children – some have been sued after the child become completely disabled or worse, dies – should be in jail is my line of thought.

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging, business etc?

My bipolar blog I mentioned above – a much different voice than most of what is out there.

My freelance writing business – info here:  I’d love to help someone write their memoir! Special discount for mental health focus 🙂

  1. Where can your memoir be found?

On Amazon here as a paperback and kindle book.

Thank you very much Molly for answering my questions. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects.

Any questions for Molly or ideas for my questions to an author series please leave them in the comments! Thank you for reading; Mind your Mind and take good care of your mental health.

Questions to an Author: Molly McHugh


bipolar-1-disorder-how-to-survive-and-thrive-by-mollyHello World, during this month of May which is Mental Health Awareness month, I am as you must have noticed, doing interviews with authors who have written on mental health, especially about their personal experiences.

I have done a modest review of Molly’s memorable memoir on my blog, and it is my honour to interview her too. 

1) The Profile

  1. Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:

    Sure. Born in U.S., youngest of five kids, mom a nurse, dad (after 4 years in WWII) owned own insurance biz. Very athletic (probably saved me from having worse mental-physical health issues), soccer in college, diagnosed Manic Depression freshman year after a psychotic break and hospitaliztion. Normal middle class kid. Loved animals, loved nature, loved being active. Did well in school. Always in one sport or another. Had close friends, the first boyfriend, first kiss, pajama parties, dance parties, prom night… plus some other things I will refrain from mentioning. Lol.

  1. About your Memoir, how did you come up with this audacious title?

I had a FB group for e-book authors, and I asked for feedback on my book title. One of the earlier ones was “A Brain Gone Awry”… everyone hated it. I of course, thought it was brilliant. Ha! More ideas for a title not that great according to my helpful ‘more experienced writer’ critics either.

Then someone told me I had to be more clear, and that folks want to ‘solve a problem’. So I realized my gift to share was to focus on BP-1 (the classic Manic Depression) and to talk about the alternative care that I did over the years that helped me. And helped me not be on psych meds – which is huge. Most folks want that. Hence the title about BP-1 and how to thrive.

2) The Soul Journey

  1. Going from the assumption therefore that you are surviving and thriving, what is your take about mental health?

I am doing well. I’ve suffered – and still do – like anyone who has to deal with these issues but have had many wonderful things in my life as well, so am thankful.

My main issue is that the ‘Chemical Imbalance’ theory used to put folks on drugs has to end. Sure, these meds can help someone suffering with an epsiode of illness (bipolar is episodic in general – with normal periods of functioning) stabilize, get back in control, but are very harmful with long-term use. And no – there is no such thing as an identifiable imbalance they correct. They affect brain chemicals (like anything you ingest into your body) but are neurotoxins with many distressing side effects and create new ‘illness’ issues i.e. side effects.

Mental health is a huge term. It would take a long time to write my thoughts. But the main issue for me is to identify underlying causes of the symptoms someone is experiencing, if possible. And then search for ways to treat. I still deal with quite a bit of fatigue… but not severe, debilitating depression like I had in my younger years. God that was awful. And the improvement is from learning about and treating some of my unique health issues (thyroid, allergies, detox from toxic exposures, etc). Others can do this too.

  1. Did your diagnosis help or hurt your mental wellbeing in the long term?

What an excellent question. I’m not really sure how to answer this… as I had no ‘choice’ in being diagnosed. I didn’t read a book and think ‘oh, this is me’ or spend a bunch of time in therapy then get told I was bipolar. I had the classic onset with a manic episode in late teens and was hospitalized. And no, I was not doing cocaine or any recreational drug that caused it.

A diagnosis is just a label describing symptoms, is one way to look at it. I kept it pretty under-the-table from my outer life as much as I could when younger. But I had to have treatment – had severe depressive episodes and mania. So in that respect, it was needed I guess. Though I fought for other ways to be well and learned much, and healed much on my own with regular docs – what I share in my book.

I can say if I had bought into the ‘I have a chemical imbalance and have to take psych meds’ for life nonsense I would be dead by now. No question in my mind. And also I would not have had some of the amazing experiences I’ve been fortunte to have: college degree, healthy baby, well paid professional work, rasing my son as a single Mom, travel the world, etc. All of this while not on any psych med(s).

  1. Can you tell if there was a difference in the way you were treated and the way you perceived stigma before and after you got a diagnosis?

    I definitely have experienced stigma (personal relationships, being treated differently, fewer job opportunities) – was forced out of a four-year university program due to knowledge of my medical history. Stigma is real, and I am not sure how it can be changed.

    I had a fair amount of emotional cruelty too – the “tough love” approach is how some describe it. To deny what it really is. When I was severely ill, living on the street, wealthy family with multiple apartments unoccupied didn’t intervene. I spent Christmas in a homeless shelter miles from everyone else secure and safe in their home. Of course it was my fault I had become ill, my fault I was forced out of college then crippled with student loan payments, my fault I’d somehow not fit into the cultural norm everyone felt comfortable with, my fault I was raped, my fault I was mugged, my fault I somehow didn’t miraculously emerge a rock solid twenty-something making tons of cash.

    At it’s essence, stigma is really a form of emotional cruelty. And there’s plenty of cruel people in this world.

  1. If you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us about motherhood with a fragile mental health like yours?

Fragile is a bit offensive of a word… though I know you do not mean it that way. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Surviving what I’ve survived I look at as an inner strength, something in my makeup that no one will ever take away. It is a part of me and will be when I leave this earth. I’m vulnerable in ways some others are not, but not fragile. And never have been.

I loved being a mom and was like many other single moms. I was on no psych meds, never hospitalized, worked for many years, eventually went on disability but still worked to provide a better life and opportunities for my son. We lived and traveled abroad, he is bilingual, has had a ton of amazing experiences.

The only thing that is very different about me – that really would not be noticeable to others – is I have to keep stress down. Limit social time. Had to focus on my son, staying well. Most don’t have as much of those concerns. But most haven’t Manic Depression with a history of psychiatric hospitalization either.

It was always on the back of my mind that I had to stay focused and be careful not to trigger any severe episode. For the most part I was successful. No parent is perfect. My son was raised with more love and caring attention that many children are.

P2  – the conclusion of this lovely interview comes up tomorrow so stay subscribed lol & Thank you

Book Review: Bipolar 1 Disorder : How to Survive and Thrive by Molly Mchugh


bipolar-1-disorder-how-to-survive-and-thrive-by-molly

A mental illness definitely strips a person of so much; yet there is hope!!!

Introduction

I wish to begin my candid review of this epic memoir by expressing my gratitude to Molly for having stuck through with writing this memoir. She kept this dream alive for 20 years and I find this generous. Generous also because of all she shares in there – from a very personal and equally professional perspective. Here is someone who fell sick; lost her mind on some occasions; got diagnosed with one of those dreaded labels; witnessed the system’s ‘stagnancy approach to mental health’ from both sides (as a care worker and as a mental health consumer’, and was ‘kindly’ harassed into withdrawing from medical studies with no one held accountable. But, the deal for me is reading on to find out how she survived and is now thriving as best as she can. I have learnt so much not only from reading Molly’s memoir, but also from interacting with her online.

The personal narration

Brought up a catholic, Molly probably knows the dogma of retribution being a direct consequence of our sins or ‘short comings’. It is easier to blame a mental illness on the person suffering same, or their family and upbringing. In this respect, a lot of prayers are said by the family of such a person in total faith and hoping for a miracle. This is some of Molly’s journey although this approach doesn’t work out well and Molly goes from one misadventure to the next. Her personal narration equally covers her ‘merry go round’ with the search for ‘balancing the chemistry’ in her brain through some psychotropic drugs with each having its of pros and huge cons. Physical ailments join in the mix or maybe were even there all along and just can’t take the toxic chemical assail any more without crying foul. Molly is lucky to find a doctor or two who is patient and thoughtful enough to go to the bottom of her physical predicaments to prescribe some alternative treatments. These alternative treatments, including those Molly researched by herself and even natural ones like the sun and thyroid supplement, are all part of the big wrap which enable Molly to survive her Bipolar 1 diagnosis and eventually thrive.

The Scientific narration

Molly’s memoir is not only about her personal journey, it is also about a lot of scientific information and material the average mental health patient and yes even some doctor may be unaware of. Molly shares insights into her research both off and online in her quest to better understand what the ‘heck’ is going on in her brain and life. She also makes a strong and corroborated case for the need for both the scientific and mental health community to be and stay informed of the evolution of psychology, psychiatry and pharmacology mindful of the giant pharmaceutical industry. Molly seems to point out something I had baffled at when I visited the US – Mental illness seems to be all about pills regardless of how bleak statistics are turning in. Fortunately, there are voices of hope out there, although they may be threatened a drown – they are there.

The debilitating narration

I refrained from including this under Molly’s personal narration because it seems to be the trend for many suffering from a mental illness. That mental before the big word illness does so much disservice to the person, their family and even community as a whole – perplexedly unlike with physical illness. Once you get a mental illness diagnosis be it of bipolar 1; 2; Schizophrenia; borderline… you name them, a lot is stripped off you. If you are lucky to be treated as a human being any more, you still come to realize you belong to the category next to guinea pigs or pets for whom either despise or exaggerated pity is the new kindness. There is so much stigma and the community is hyped with fear of this mental ‘nuts’ roaming the streets instead of being locked up for good. You learn very quickly to not mention the word mental again if not relationships will keep being jeopardized.

My appreciation

This is one more of those books I wish I had read a few years ago because it would have helped me and a sibling. The book is very easy to read because of the simple English used and even the anecdotes to fruits in the scientific narratives. Molly’s sense of humour probably helps her survive and thrive, but it will sure keep the reader interested in reading till the end. Although a mental illness strips a patient of so much, it is possible to face the ‘mental beast’ head on as Molly has done. Indeed, she has not only brought into the world a healthy and full of energy young man now in his young adulthood, but she has been able to go back to finish college and start a freelance career in communication. She is over ten years from her last hospitalization and is ageing gracefully. Who says there is no hope once you get a mental illness diagnosis? Read on, I whole heartedly recommend this memoir and give it a 5/5.

About Molly

molly-and-son

Molly is much more about bipolar than I could do her justice. Here is a glimpse in her own words; check out her website for your freelance writer jobs:

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Aww it has happened again; Grief strikes our mental health community, join us in solidarity


I love this and have always done my best to practice that.
I love this and have always done my best to practice that.
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Ulla’s dog Solo – ending up Solo for real?

I called her john, I now know her name was Ulla. This makes no difference to me, my grief is once more unbearable. I could hardly sleep last night.

I had thought I was done with blogging, hung up my blogging boots: But how do I not revert to where I found so much solace two years ago when I lost my one and only brother to this same Bipolar Monster?

And guess who was there to help me so very much on with my grief and healing process? Guess who selflessly offered to review My brother’s journey which I maniacally wrote in 30 days? Oh Ulla where do I begin?

You were my hero and heroine and am humbled I wrote you a blog to let you and the world know .

Oh no, what a sad coincidence, that a vigil is planned for you on September 10th 2016, exactly 2 years when I published that post?

Ah our poor, battered, tattered and shattered mental health community… who will research and share all the information with us again?  Oh dear, you cheered us up and fought so hard… even letting us know when things were seemingly so tough your way, that you were still alive.

The grief is still so hard, kindly join us on BLAHPOLAR’S blog come September 10th, to pay her a deserving tribute:

Here are some other blog posts from her other kindred spirits, I know many more others don’t even have it in them to write …

Losing Ulla

An Invitation: JOIN ME on SEPT 10th to Honour ULLA’s Death — Our Lived Experience

Don’t what? Shut up.