Monday 26 August 2013

A Brilliant Madness: living with manic depressive illness, by Patty Duke and Gloria Hochman

I have just finished reading Patty Duke’s book A Brilliant Madness: living with manic depressive illness. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I found myself in tears again and again, reading her story. The book is especially effective because the chapters telling her personal tale are interleaved by chapters by Gloria Hochman providing background on the condition, its impact on those with bipolar (called manic depression throughout the book) and those who love and care about them.

As I told Fran just now: “Patty Duke’s story isn’t yours, of course, but it helps me see a bigger picture. I don’t know her at all. I couldn’t pick her photo out in a line up or recognise her in a movie or a show if I saw it. But I love this woman. Her courage and heart and honesty... I know those... I recognise those...”


Thursday 15 August 2013

Don’t be shy

Make the effort to introduce yourself to some of the people in your loved one’s support team. It is not necessary to become friends with them all but it can be reassuring to know who they are and to have their contact details to hand. Early in our friendship I exchanged details with a few of Fran’s closest friends.

  • Name and address
  • Email addresses (work and private)
  • Telephone numbers (landline, mobile and internet)
  • Social networking accounts

Fran has a more formal list of “just in case” contacts built into her Travel Wellness Plan. I have never had cause to “press the panic button” but it is reassuring to know who to contact should the need ever arise. I recommend also keeping to hand some emergency crisis line numbers such as the Samaritans, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA). Befrienders Worldwide ( maintains a directory of international helplines. You will also find the following details in the Resources and further reading appendix.

Samaritans (UK and Ireland)
08457 90 90 90 (UK)
1850 60 90 90 (Republic of Ireland)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA)
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Gum On My Shoe
Draft chapter 1
August 2013

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Through the Eyes of a Manic, by Lesley Watson

A few days ago I was on Amazon and chanced upon "Through the Eyes of a Manic" by Lesley Watson. It is a short enough read, a very real, very harrowing account of one woman's life suffering not only manic depression but rape and abuse.

I finished reading the book this morning and went back onto Amazon to leave a short review. It was then that I noticed the single (one star) review (entitled "Impossible to read") that had been left there some time ago. It had not caught my attention at the time I saw and purchased the book for download.

Reading the reviewer's comments, I was shocked and stunned. It is one thing to find fault with a published book, quite another to berate and deride its author in personal terms. I can scarcely imagine how the author, having had the guts to write and then publish her life story, must have felt to have it scorned by someone by their own admission had not even finished reading it.

I hope the review I left goes some way to redressing the balance:

"Powerful and compelling: My best friend is bipolar and I came across this book whilst looking to increase my awareness of the impact of bipolar disorder / manic depression. I was not disappointed. The account is frank, powerful and compelling and I would recommend it to anyone. The author's story is harrowing, but told plainly without self-pity. Ultimately the message is one of hope, I hope the author's life has continued positively from where the book ends.

"I feel compelled to mention the single other, intensely negative and frankly abusive, review here on Amazon. I am glad I did not notice it before buying and reading the book. Having read the book myself now I can recognise none one of the criticisms this person makes. The book may not be perfectly formatted and there are a (very) few typos, but that in no measure detracted from my engaging with the author's story, which moved and affected me deeply. The reviewer has a right to their opinions of course, but I am left gasping at their utter lack of empathy or understanding. The review says far more about the reviewer than it does the book."