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Perfect Chaos: A Daughter's Journey to Survive Bipolar, a Mother's Struggle to Save Her

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  • Posted August 20, 2012

    The title really does say it all. The chaos at hand is the madn

    The title really does say it all. The chaos at hand is the madness
    (quite literally) of bipolar disorder. I have read more than my fair
    share of memoirs about mental illness and/or mental health. I find
    people’s struggles with their own brains/heads to be fascinating
    reading. Not in a voyeuristic, Schadenfreude-filled way (I don’t
    think), but from a place of deepest empathy – because I can’t imagine
    anything scarier in this world than getting lost inside your own mind.
    I’ve been pretty lucky in my life – I’m the first person to admit that.
    Even with that luck, I have had one full-blown and one partial (for me)
    panic attack in my day – and they freaked the ever-loving life out of
    me. The walls shrank, I couldn’t breathe, everything got over-bright
    and too loud and too much. They were short episodes and for the first,
    more severe, one, I had one of my two best friends there to quite
    literally hold my hand and tell me I was alright and that things would
    be okay. She also paid the check – we were out to dinner at the time
    that it hit – and walked me through the streets of Chicago in the dark
    until I could breathe regularly and stand the thought of being indoors
    again. Thank you again Lynna!! The other, partial freak-out occurred
    when I was by myself in my apartment; fortunately I was able to maintain
    just enough presence of mind to identify what was happening and talk
    myself down from the proverbial ledge. These events look so simple and
    small written down; I assure you they felt huge and overwhelming and
    defeating when they happened. But I know that they were not even a mote
    in the eye of a giant compared to the feelings of stress, anxiety,
    panic, fear, depression, mania and wrong-ness that people who suffer
    from mental illness have to deal with on a regular basis. I don’t know
    if I read survivor stories to educate myself enough so that if, god
    forbid, The Panic strikes again I can somehow deal with it until it
    subsides or if I read them to remind myself that I am lucky. Either
    way, the stories are unfailingly moving – and the strength of the
    survivors and their loved ones are unflinchingly impressive. perfect
    chaos is told in two voices. Linea has bipolar; Cinda is her mother.
    Reading about Linea’s battles with unidentifiable and inexplicable bouts
    of depression and feelings of pointlessness, about her struggle for
    diagnosis and treatment is heart-wrenching. Reading about Cinda
    watching Linea spiral out of control and then picking her up and
    carrying her (metaphorically and physically) when she literally couldn’t
    find the strength or the will to live is almost more so. The story is
    presented chronologically, detailing the slide Linea’s health takes as
    she transitions from childhood to adolescence and then early adulthood,
    when the most severe symptoms presented themselves. Eventually, she
    devolves from a bright, talented young woman with the world at her feet
    into a puddle of a girl who cannot bring herself to care if she lives or
    dies, a girl who tries to find meaning in lines of coke, beer, and razor
    blades. At that point, her parents literally step in and save her life.
    After an in-patient stint in a psychiatric facility that includes
    electroshock therapy, Linea’s tries to regain control as her physicians
    and her family try to figure out a plan for treatment and “recovery” –
    not only from the drugs and drinking and self-mutilation, but from the
    disease that has laid waste to her plans for her own life. The disease
    is always there and always a threat; she has to manage it as best she
    can with therapeutic treatments, but remain ever-vigilant for the signs
    of an oncoming episode and make herself ask for help when she needs it.
    It’s a difficult road for a young woman of twenty to put herself on, but
    Linea tries her best – and Cinda is always there, right beside her, no
    matter how rough the relapses get, no matter how scared her daughter’s
    mania and depression make her. Mother and daughter have very different
    voices, but their stories are presented in equally clear, concise, and
    incredibly open language that conveys the manic (no pun intended) cycles
    of episodes and treatment that comprise Linea’s life. The book required
    a lot of energy to read; bipolar is emotional and infuriating and
    dramatic and perplexing and draining – and that’s just when you read
    about it. I can’t imagine the strength of character it takes to talk so
    openly and honestly about the most difficult times in one’s life. Or to
    be the friend or family member confronted with the onslaught of an
    episode – or its aftermath. Kudos to both women for their unflinching
    look at bipolar and its treatments, and for doing what they can to raise
    awareness and understanding.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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