Long Shot: My Bipolar Life and the Horses Who Saved Meby Sylvia Harris
Alcohol. Lithium. Buddhist chanting. To quiet the voices in her mind, Sylvia Harris tried all of them. Her bipolar depression brought on bouts of erratic behavior and unsettling delusions. It led her to look for love in all the wrong places and to create a family she had difficulty caring for. But it was at the nadir of her twenty-year battle with this devastating
Alcohol. Lithium. Buddhist chanting. To quiet the voices in her mind, Sylvia Harris tried all of them. Her bipolar depression brought on bouts of erratic behavior and unsettling delusions. It led her to look for love in all the wrong places and to create a family she had difficulty caring for. But it was at the nadir of her twenty-year battle with this devastating illness that Harris found redemption in the least likely of places—an equine ranch outside Orlando, Florida.
Written with an unflinching eye toward her weaknesses and a reverent wonder at the healing power of horses, Long Shot is Harris's tale of perseverance in which an underdog in life becomes a champion on the track and her Thoroughbred becomes a beacon of hope.
In her debut memoir, jockey Harris tells how she beat the odds to become the "first African American woman in Chicago racing history to win a race and only the second in U.S. history.
By 1999, when the author was 32, her life had spun out of control. Her son was in foster care, and she couldn't afford medical treatment to control her bipolar disorder. Working at odd jobs and living in a car, she had hit rock bottom. After a relatively privileged childhood in California, she suffered her first manic attack as a teenager and was briefly hospitalized. Her life began a downward spiral with recurring episodes, and she entered a common-law marriage with a would-be musician that ended with him having custody of their two children. A short fling with a Hollywood casting director left her with a third child. After years of drifting—with her father taking custody of her son—she found work on a horse farm in Orlando and began her recovery. In a Hollywood film, the story would end with a fade-out of her triumphant comeback in 2007, when—now a 40-year-old apprentice jockey—she and the beaten-down horse she was riding won a prestigious race. In real life, however, there was no such fairy-tale happy ending. She had overcome many obstacles, but racism and prejudice against a woman trying to enter a traditionally male field still made it difficult for her to find horses to jockey. Offered a horse with an injured shoulder, she accepted, only to be thrown on the ground and seriously injured. By 2009, she was again homeless and in the grips of mental illness as she struggled to remain in the racing game. Fortunately, she moved to Wilmington and found work at the Delaware Park race track, which sponsored a mental-health program. There, she has received effective medication and is participating in group therapy.
An inspirational story with a happy ending (hopefully permanent).
- HarperCollins Publishers
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- 5.34(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.54(d)
Meet the Author
Sylvia Harris is a jockey. She lives in Wilmington, Delaware. This is her first book.
Coauthor Eunetta T. Boone is a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and an award-winning sportswriter. She is a writer, creator, and producer of television as well as film.
Coauthor Bill Boulware is also a writer, creator, and producer of television, and has been a freelance writer for The Cosby Show and various PBS programs, among others. He has taught writing at the American Film Institute, USC, and UCLA. He also contributed an essay to the Writers Guild Foundation's book Doing It for Money.
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