Posts Tagged bipolar

book reviews: fancy a twisty psychological thriller?

Both these psychological thrillers drew me in and kept me reading to find out what would happen to the women involved.

pocket wife

The Pocket Wife By Susan Crawford.
William Morrow| March 2015|320 pages |$25.99| ISBN: 978-0-062362858

Rating: ***/5*

A woman’s mental illness grows increasingly worse as she suspects her husband cheated on her and that she may have killed her neighborhood friend Celia and erased it from her memory. Dana Catrell married a safe, quiet man—Peter– whom she thought would balance her and enable her bipolar disorder to remain mostly dormant. “For a while she took the medicine that made the world around her such a faded, unbright place to be, let it hold her in its sagging, dimpled arms until with a sigh she shuffled into the rest of her life, eventually trading the drug for a tall blue-eyed husband and a world more numbing than lithium could ever be.”

When Celia winds up dead, the day after the two women argued, Dana spirals out of control and her thoughts race. She’s not sure whether to implicate herself or her husband in the suspicious death. Crawford writes commendably about mental illness. It’s realistic. “This time Dana feels anger surging through her—anger for the lost, baffled way she’s lived her life, for the father who deserted her, for her enigmatic, cheating husband; for the cruel, disabling illness wrestling with her mind.” A great psychological thriller to read over a weekend.

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from William Morrow.

where they found

Where They Found Her By Kimberly McCreight.
Harper| April 2015|336 pages |$26.99| ISBN: 978-0-062225467

Rating: ****/5*

A baby is found in the woods near a prestigious university campus. Whose baby is it? How did it die? Who abandoned it? Using multiple female perspectives author Kimberly McCreight weaves a page-turning psychological thriller as complex as her first novel Reconstructing Amelia. Molly a freelance journalist who recently lost her own child gets assigned the story. “Despite my initial vertigo, I was no longer conflicted about staying on the story. I wanted to, needed to write about it, and with an intensity that even I had to acknowledge was somewhat disconcerting.” Sandy struggles to survive—she’s attempting to pass her GED– as her wayward mom spends nights out and skirts bill collectors. Then there’s rigid and regulated Barbara, married to the Chief of Police and concerned for her youngest child’s outbursts in school. McCreight creates complicated characters, develops each character and utilizes their innate differences to effectively advance the story. Many twists will keep readers captivated to the end.

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Collins.

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Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See: book review

too bright to hear too loud

Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey. Publisher: Soho Press (December 2012). Literary fiction. Hardcover. 224 pages. ISBN: 9781616951290.

“That I have been forced into a holding pattern cause rage to rise in me. My tsunami. My chest constricts and I am painfully aware that suddenly, inexplicably, there are tacks and shards of glass circulating through my veins.”

Writing about mental illness is not easy and not often done well. Few manage to make others understand the grit, the pain, the self-effacing letdowns and challenges one suffers as a result of mental illness. You have to write about mental illness with depth, respect, enough clarity, descriptiveness and plenty of humor. Dark humor preferable. In this rapid-fire read, author Juliann Garey provides the reader with a full senses assault, harrowing lows and ridiculous highs.

Making the character Greyson Todd a Hollywood studio executive proves the perfect career for someone hiding his bipolar disorder for decades. Being selfish, arrogant and wealthy. Great coping mechanisms for denial. His father also had been mentally ill although no one knew that at the time. [“The fundamental tools of agenting—lying, manipulation, and negotiation—usually acquired over decades—were skills that came naturally to me. It was what I’d done to survive growing up in my father’s house.”] Amassing enormous wealth allowed Greyson to take off and travel everywhere and then settle in New York without worrying about working. He just worried about everything else.

Quite cleverly, Garey tells Greyson’s story through 12 30-second electroshock treatments. She interweaves each chapter with moments from Greyson’s winding global travels when he let his bipolar illness manipulate him, his memories of his unhappy childhood and struggles with the present and being in the moment and learning to live with this illness. Sadly, Greyson leaves his wife and eight-year-old daughter to travel the world before he’s admitted into a psychiatric hospital a decade later. It’s rather poignant when his college-aged daughter visits him in the psych ward and they start to mend their broken relationship and piece together memories that ECT may or may not have shattered.

–by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this novel for review from the publisher.

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CELEBS: Catherine Zeta-Jones and others can reduce stigma of mental illness

On Monday, Catherine Zeta-Jones’s publicist announced that she’d been hospitalized for treatment of bi-polar disorder. She has bi-polar II disorder which means she has more periods of depression than mania. She’s had a stressful year and external situations take a toll on anyone and particularly those who already have a mental illness. The best part of this is that Catherine Zeta-Jones can provide a high profile example that mental illness is a disease like alcoholism that needs constant monitoring and treatment but shouldn’t mean that people feel the need to keep the person at a distance.

according to the CDC, 1 in 10 Americans reports depression at some time during their lives.

Although Tom Cruise disastrously stole away her true message, Brooke Shields wrote a wonderful book about her post-partum depression called Down Came the Rain.

Ashley Judd has a new memoir, All That is Bitter and Sweet, where she discusses her battles with depression.

Judd also stars in the film Helen [available via netflix instant] where she plays a woman who hides her depression and has a major breakdown. It’s an excellent performance and quite a good film. I have depression and I thought the depiction very accurate. Although depression manifests itself differently in everyone.

The rich and famous aren’t immune.

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INTERVIEW with singer/songwriter Kristin Hersh on RATGIRL: a memoir

RATGIRL: a memoir, by Kristin Hersh. Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); Reprint edition (August 31, 2010). Memoir. Paperback, 336 pages.

Rock stars operate on their own time schedule. I once waited to interview Vanilla Ice until 2 a.m. at a Worcester venue. Why? I have no idea. It wasn’t worth the wait. So I was pleasantly surprised when singer/songwriter Kristin Hersh emailed me with answers to questions I sent her way four months ago. No worries. It’s worth the wait. Hersh wrote a memoir, RAT GIRL, about having bipolar disorder. Kristin is lead singer and guitarist for alternative rock band Throwing Muses and the hardcore punk-influenced power trio 50 Foot Wave.

Amy Steele: I’ve never heard the label rat girl for bipolar. When did you first learn of the term and what do you think about it?

Kristin Hersh: I’m pretty sure I made it up. And *before* I knew I was bipolar. I just figured there was a sub-species of human that wore wretchedness on their sleeves.

Amy Steele: Why did you decide to write about being bipolar and why did you want to write about this year in particular?

Kristin Hersh: This was the year where the major themes of my life were put into place. It was interesting to me that real lives have so much foreshadowing, so many story arcs intertwining, but I was most attracted to the idea that no journey was completed that year, none really even embarked on, just begun. It’s a book about beginnings.

Amy Steele: What is your best memory of that time?

Kristin Hersh: My beautiful friends: my beloved bandmates and Betty Hutton, the aging movie star who gave me “show biz tips” in grungy rock clubs.

Amy Steele: What is your worst memory of that time?

Kristin Hersh: I don’t like the psychotic section in the middle of the book, for obvious reasons. Every draft, I was tempted to just skip that part.

Amy Steele: How does being bipolar affect creating music & performing and how does music affect being bipolar? [I have depression and I know that a lot of other writers are and were depressed or bipolar but I don’t have others counting on me as you did/do]

Kristin Hersh: Personally, I think it gets in the way. I know a lot of people disagree with me on that point, but I tend to believe that both mania and depression color my material unnecessarily and inappropriately. I prefer to work when I’m balanced and seeing clearly, though I do admit that bipolar gives one an expanded emotional vocabulary which could help a song’s authenticity.

Amy Steele: Was seeing music the first time you thought something might be wrong?

Kristin Hersh: Hearing music was the first time I thought something might be wrong. And it took me a hell of along time to figure out that my excessive energy was a disease.

Amy Steele: I like the principle for starting Throwing Muses—“people should be able to touch one another and feel each other’s pain.” Can you explain that a bit more?

Kristin Hersh: Music happens between musicians and listeners. Therefore, it’s a collaboration and in order to collaborate successfully with another, you must respect and care for them. We send sound out to them and they send energy back to us: a cycle of impact and resonance.

Amy Steele: What do you hope readers will take away from your memoir?

Kristin Hersh: I hope the moral, if there is one, is that kindness is more congruent than self-involvement.

Amy Steele: What does this statement you made mean to you: “The songs’re keeping me alive so they can be alive?”

Kristin Hersh: I felt that the songs were parasites unwilling to kill their host.

Amy Steele: When you hit bottom you described how you didn’t feel like you belonged or weren’t good enough. Was that a constant feeling and was there anything you could do to alleviate it?

Kristin Hersh: Shame was the only feeling I had left at that point. I wasn’t even sure who was *feeling* the shame, as I had very little functioning personality.

Amy Steele: How did it feel to get the bipolar diagnosis?

Kristin Hersh: At the time, I felt nothing because I was numb. They told me that post-mania, I was on my way to a depression and that’s what the numbing was.

Amy Steele: Once on meds, how did your creativity change?

Kristin Hersh: My songs didn’t change, but I no longer felt compelled to play them.

Amy Steele: Who or what helped you most?

Kristin Hersh: My pregnancy, the psychiatrist who helped me off of meds for the duration of the pregnancy, Betty, my bandmates, our producer, the president of our label and the music itself.

Kristin’s website

follow Kristin on TWITTER

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