Here are five great reads.
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.
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!
I have decided to restructure my book reviews a bit. I hope you enjoy it, please let me know what you think in the comments!
Title and why I chose this book:
“I’m Just Happy to Be Here”
I chose this memoir for these reasons: I love memoirs, and I thought that this one would be a good one. It looked interesting and I was absolutely right.
Who do I think this book is intended for?
It is probably good for anyone that is currently experiencing issues with drinking, reflecting on their past or is close to someone that has either of those issues. It may create a better understanding of that person’s thought patterns.
What I liked:
I loved Janelle’s honesty. It’s all over the memoir, from beginning to end. I also like how she discusses her childhood and what led to her drinking, not just starting with the drinking. I enjoyed her vulnerability because that is important in a story like this.
What I didn’t like:
The story’s timeline jumped around a bit. That’s the only thing that bothered me.
Janelle grew up with her mom. She was a Mormon, whose family converted after missionaries showed up at their door. Her mom became inactive later (this means she stopped attending services and didn’t go on a mission) but when Janelle was 9, she was baptized into the Church.
As a teen, she started questioning the Church, as many teens do. She didn’t believe that she was the good person that everyone thought she was, plus, she hated the rules.
For sheer example, I’ve seen an older version of the BYU honor code (circa 2003) and it was not easy for me to consider living by, but then, I also wasn’t raised Mormon. At some point, Janelle started experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
This eventually equated to drinking wine while making dinner. She would drink while cooking and then have a cocktail with dinner. I used to make dinner with a glass of Pepsi of juice with a splash of Fireball. The kids knew not to touch my glass.
She discusses a difficult experience with PPD, which borderlined on psychotic, which she was medicated for. After she and her husband moved out, she began counting down the hours until she could drink.
There is something comforting about knowing when you will feel better about your day, or maybe your whole life. This used to be in the form of alcohol for me. Now, it’s probably yoga or writing.
Janelle’s story takes many twists and turns throughout four pregnancies (yes, she does stay sober throughout) and her tumultuous marriage. I was intrigued throughout and read it over a weekend because I couldn’t stop.
It wasn’t until her second child was 6 months old and she relapsed that she began to think that she could possibly be an alcoholic.
Does Janelle get a happy ending? Find her book online or at a local library. I don’t want to spoil it for you!
Quotes that I loved:
“It made it worse because I knew he simply did not have what I needed.”
At one point, my husband did not have what I needed. I needed to know that I was a good mom, person and not just a sex doll. I needed more than just my own strength.
My depression became a lot worse once I realized that he did not have it in him to give me what I needed. My drinking also got a lot worse.
In case you can’t tell, I highly recommend this book. Come back for next month’s pick!
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
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, 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.