Book Review: “Wishful Drinking”

May “The Force” be with you while reading this review!

Title and why I chose this book:

It’s April, and there’s a day this month that breaks my heart when I think of Jake. I am not a “Star Wars” fan, but I chose “Wishful Drinking” because he and his brothers grew up watching the movies. Carrie also had bipolar disorder, as Jake did, so this was another reason for the pick.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

If you are a fan of Carrie’s work, then this is a good read. Again, I am not a “Star Wars” fan- I’ve never watched a minute of any of the movies. I was a bit lost on some of the references, but I read the memoir with full knowledge that it would be mentioned. If you like memoirs, like I do, this can be an interesting read.

What did I like about the book?

I liked that Carrie wrote this in a conversational tone and in a way that most people can understand. It is very lighthearted and funny. I wasn’t expecting such a tone. I did like that she listed others who shared her struggles with various substances and bipolar disorder, and even those who had ECT as treatment. That’s pretty cool- readers can see that and know they are not alone. Some of those people listed are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lindsey Lohan, Mark Twain, and Britney Spears.

Carrie told her story honestly and in her own way. That’s the way memoirs should be written.

What I didn’t like:

I was hoping the memoir would be a little longer, but then, I didn’t write it.

Plot:

The book actually starts right when Carrie finishes ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy, which is commonly used for severe depression when other treatments aren’t effective.) and she basically jokes on herself about her faulty short-term memory.

If you want to learn more about this treatment, please read A Brief Look at ECT

I do the same. Short-term memory loss is not fun, no matter how you end up with it.

Carrie starts her story at the very beginning of her life- her parents were Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, two very popular actors at the time. She grew up with her brother in California. As she got older, she struggled with hyperactivity, or so that is what her first psychiatrist thought she had. Her second one, years later, finally diagnosed her with bipolar disorder. Carrie was 24 at the time.

She became angry with this one and stopped seeing him because he wanted her to try medication along with therapy- she got married a month later. Two years later, she overdosed. After this, she got sober, had a few relapses, and finally got serious about her life and mental illness with her third psychiatrist.

I won’t ruin the ending for you, but as we all know, Carrie died in 2016 at the age of 60. Her mother died the next day.

Quotes that I loved:

“If you have a need to be comfortable all the time- well, among other things, you have the makings of a classic drug addict or alcoholic”

Carrie was not far off with this thought. Life isn’t always comfortable and happy- at least mine isn’t. Is yours? If so, please send an email and let me know your secret! Feelings are meant to be faced, even though they can be excruciating. When you’re using drugs and/or drinking, those feelings are numbed, but only for so long.

I numbed a lot of pain for about 4 years until I got sober. I had to re-learn in therapy to face difficult feelings again. I had to finish grieving without drinking and that was not an easy task. When we feel like things are too hard, of course, we want to escape it. There are better ways of doing so without using drugs and/or drinking.

Happy reading and come back for next month’s pick!

Book Review: “My Bipolar Mind: You Are Not Alone”

This month’s book review is on a book that I was sent by a follower. Samantha emailed me her book in December after I accepted my job and already picked out January’s book.

I am delighted that she approached me with her writing and I enjoyed it. If anyone else wants to do the same, please send me an email. It may take a while to read and review, but I am open to it. My reading list is pretty much never-ending.

**Trigger Warning: This review does discuss abuse, mental illness, and alcohol. Please read with caution.**

Samantha’s book, “My Bipolar Mind: You Are Not Alone” reads like a very intimate diary. She starts with a background of her not-so-easy childhood. This is not an easy part to read, but it may help you understand who Samantha is.

She chronicles her manic and depressive episodes in her writing and what she needs to do to improve herself. She also suffers from panic attacks. Some of those ideas include calling someone in AA, making a gratitude list and other things.

This shows that Samantha wants to improve but yet is stuck. She doesn’t have a lot of support. Her family and longtime boyfriend are less than supportive.

Writing is Samantha’s main coping skill. It is also mine. There is something about being able to get your feelings out on paper or a computer screen and know that you will feel better. Even if it isn’t a diary, it takes your mind off your troubles for a while. She begins ghostwriting and questions her talent (“I just don’t see it in myself due to my ultra-low self-esteem”).

Samantha is honest and relatable. How does her story end? Do things work out with the boyfriend? Read her book.

Samantha’s book can be found at this link: My Bipolar Mind

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Book Review: “The Warner Boys: Our Family’s Story of Autism and Hope”

This month’s book review is early, but thanks to the holidays and other events, this should have been done long ago. My apologies to Sabrina, the publicist for the Warners. I forgot to mention this to her, but I’m a Seahawks fan. #GoHawks!

Curt Warner is a former Seahawks running back who met his wife, Ana, while out shopping. Ana is from Brazil and was working to make ends meet after moving back from her home country. They quickly fell in love, got married and started a family.

After the devastating loss of their first son, Ryan, Ana and Curt welcomed another son, Jonathan, then twins, Austin and Christian. Later, they adopted a daughter, Isabella.

The boys began to show signs of autism as early as toddlerhood but were not officially diagnosed until elementary school.

It’s extremely difficult to hear that sort of diagnosis, so it is not surprising that Curt and Ana were devastated. They dealt with their sons’ autism differently.

Ana was able to stay at home while Curt worked and immersed herself in trying for a cure. When that wasn’t a possibility, she tried for perfection. This led to a crippling depression that made her suicidal at one point.

Austin and Christian faced struggles that many kids with autism do- lack of danger awareness, obsessions (Disney movies), issues in school and diet issues.

Jonathan, their older brother, is also featured in the book. I liked this- siblings of children of special needs should also have a voice. Sometimes they intentionally get left out.

Ana and Curt tell their story alternately, with a lot of heart and description. Their sons went through good and bad times, like many other children. The good thing is, they never lost hope in them. Austin and Christian will be taken care of their whole lives and for that, they are very lucky young men.

Any parent that needs a word of encouragement through a rough patch can get just that from this novel.

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info

Book Review: “Sybil Exposed”

I have reviewed “Sybil” previously, it can be found here.

It may be helpful to read that review if you aren’t familiar with the story.

I was baffled at all the HIPAA violations that were shared within both books, more in this one than in “Sybil”. There were also so many unethical things that occurred, as in Sybil living with Dr. Wilbur, her psychiatrist, for many years. Dr. Wilbur worked for free with Sybil, paid her college tuition and other expenses.

Any medical professional that was known to do this now would lose their license and might even face criminal charges. I’m no expert in HIPAA but I’ve had to learn a lot about it due to working in mental health facilities and other various settings. I’m sure if I had read this at a different time, maybe when this occurred, I may not feel the way I do.

Sybil exposed book cover

Sybil, born Shirley, had a verbally and reportedly physically abusive mother. Her father looked the other way and until his death, denied ever knowing that his wife did anything to hurt their daughter.

As a young child, she began to escape these events through daydreaming and playing with dolls. At first, Shirley was thought to have anemia and had what was thought of as manic episodes. She was secluded at her home at one point and had basically shut down. Dr. Wilbur came into the picture at this point.

The author discusses Dr. Wilbur’s early life and her path into psychiatry. While treating Shirley, she developed countertransference- unconsciously projecting her personal feelings onto a client. This can become damaging to both parties involved.

In this case, Dr. Wilbur treated Shirley as her daughter instead of a patient. She was very unhappy about having to move to Louisville, KY due to her husband’s dental residency at the University of Louisville’s dental school. She knew that she and Shirley, by this time known as Sybil, would be separated without a plan to reunite. They didn’t see each other again, professionally or otherwise, until 9 years later, in New York City.

Sybil didn’t feel comfortable with anyone else helping her so she went without therapy until she once again found Dr. Wilbur. During this time, she got through with sleeping pills and positive thoughts, even though she had begun to have dissociative episodes.

The author pays close attention to detail and the research for this book was well done because otherwise there would have been many holes in it that couldn’t be filled. The story wouldn’t make sense.

Once the two women met again in New York City, Dr. Wilbur began treating Sybil again. This time, however, she became addicted to the various medications that Dr. Wilbur readily supplied- Demerol, Seconal, and other barbituates.

She began to decline, both psychologically and physically. You can see that Dr. Wilbur encourages this decline because she wanted more details for the book that she was trying to get published. She wanted to feed her growing curiosity, not really help as she had been entrusted to. At one point, she referred to Sybil as an “excellent research project”.

I’m almost certain had Dr. Wilbur’s ethics been called into question, she may have lost her license- Sybil worked for her, she bought her a pet, paid her rent- basically supporting her. This is not allowed in any way by today’s standards. Sybil’s parents died and even with an art degree, she could barely support herself.

Dr. Wilbur was beginning to tire of supporting Sybil but didn’t know what to do. The novel “Sybil” eventually came out and it made them a fortune. Unfortunately, her real identity was exposed, and Shirley moved from New Mexico, where she was teaching. People began talking and she became scared.

Shirley ended up in Lexington, KY, where Dr. Wilbur had settled. What happened after that? Did she finally find peace? Read the book to find out.

Book review "Struck by Living"

Book Review: “Struck By Living”

This month’s book choice is “Struck By Living”, written by Julie Hersh, a mother of two. She tells the story of her battle with depression, which began in childhood. Her older sister suffered from depression, which she saw as she came home from college a totally different person than she’d seen before.

Julie was not close to her mother- she felt as if she couldn’t talk to her mother because she was so wrapped in herself and work. Julie also felt as if she couldn’t please her father no matter what she did.

Julie reflects on these relationships as she goes through life events such as her own college years, dating, marriage and the births of her two children. She took care of her children and later, her husband’s grandparents, but not herself. She didn’t take much time for herself. Her husband, Ken, becomes angry when Julie has nothing left for him.

As Julie approaches her 40th birthday, she realizes that she doesn’t want to celebrate the upcoming day. She had withdrawn into herself, had lost weight and her husband had become unsure of what to do next.

She had already been hospitalized and received ECT (electroshock therapy). This had required her to stay in a mental health facility the night before and for a few days after. She was left feeling sluggish and with some memory loss. (These effects are common.)

Book review

Julie attempted suicide and Ken reached a point in which he became very serious about his wife’s treatment. Later in the story, she goes to a treatment facility for a month, and even while there, she forced herself to act well because she didn’t want to be there. She just wanted to be “normal”.

This story does end well- she is able to come home and be with her family. Julie tells her story so well that I could relate to it. It is common for many with mental illness or just ongoing stress to want to be “normal” and not have to deal with what’s going on inside them.

Her story is like millions of others that should be read. I believe if more people read first-hand stories like Julie’s, it would be possible for understanding to improve. That, in turn, can help end the stigma that people with depression and other mental illnesses face.