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We Heard the Angels of Madness: A Family Guide to Coping with Manic Depression

Overview

When eighteen-year-old Mark returned home from his first semester at college, his family thought he was on drugs. In fact, he was suffering from manic depression, a devastating mental illness that affects millions of Americans and their loved ones.

Diane Berger is Mark's mother and Lisa Berger is Diane's sister. Together they share both the intimate and inspiring story of how their family coped with Mark's illness and the valuable information they gathered about manic depression...

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Overview

When eighteen-year-old Mark returned home from his first semester at college, his family thought he was on drugs. In fact, he was suffering from manic depression, a devastating mental illness that affects millions of Americans and their loved ones.

Diane Berger is Mark's mother and Lisa Berger is Diane's sister. Together they share both the intimate and inspiring story of how their family coped with Mark's illness and the valuable information they gathered about manic depression over the course of his treatment: up-to-date facts on drugs, doctors, therapy, insurance, and other resources. They reveal how to identify the symptoms of manic depression and avoid a false diagnosis, which treatments work and which don't — as well as the emotional experience of a mother battling for the sanity and well-being of her child.

Here is the story of emotional and dramatic power; here also is an invaluable guidebook through the medical mazes and challenges of surviving mental illness.

When 18-year-old Mark returned home from college, his family thought he was on drugs. In fact, he was suffering from manic depression. This is the intimate, inspiring story of how Mark's family coped with his illness and the valuable information they gathered about manic depression: up-to-date, useful facts on drugs, doctors, therapy, insurance and other resources.

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Editorial Reviews

Pete Domenici
A wealth of detail and insight here...It should be read not only by those with the illness, and by their families and friends, but especially by professionals in the field.
Harrison G. Pope
At last — this is a hook that desperately needed to he written. It will he invaluable to anyone with a close friend or relative suffering from manic depressive illness.
Donald F. Klein
An excellent depiction of the reality of manic depressive disease as told from the family's inside view...and a practical guide to treatment.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The mother and sister of a manic-depressive teen relate the facts about the illness and describe how their family coped. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688116156
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

THANKSGIVING

The Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving is the worst travel day of the year, so it was no surprise when the flight from Denver to San Jose was three hours late. Those three hours just gave me more time to think about Mark.

I last saw him three weeks ago in Boulder, when I had dropped him off at the library on my way to the airport. Other than a brief telephone conversation about airline tickets, neither Chris nor I had talked with him. Maybe I had been dramatizing his behavior in Colorado.

Usually, only one person made the airport run on holidays but this year both Chris and I were at the gate. Mark still refused to talk to his father, fearful of starting our Thanksgiving family reunion with a confrontation at the airport, I suggested Chris melt into the background at first. He slouched his six-foot-four-inch frame as inconspicuously as possible against a pillar.

I was relieved Mark was coming at all. In our one telephone call, he first claimed he was too busy to leave Colorado, then declared he'd like to see the ocean. He got very angry when I tried to put Chris on the line. Finally, he said he would meet us for Thanksgiving because everyone-all eighteen members of the family-was gathering at the beach for the first complete family reunion in years.

I finally spotted the top of his head in the swarm that surged through the gate. He was thin, his dark blond hair uncombed, and he had dark smudges under his eyes. He seemed frail and small inside his oversized Banana Republic overcoat with ragged hem and missing buttons. From the epaulets and buttonholes hung narrow strips of fabric invarious colors. With a start, I recognized the tatters were the remains of a polo shirt I had sent him. Poking from a book bag was a tennis racquet handle wrapped in orange Day-Glo tape. Mark hated tennis. His Reeboks were covered in unintelligible writing in thick Magic Marker ink. He looked as if he had been living in the park, sleeping on grates and scavenging food. He smelled like a panhandler.

"I'm going to play some tennis ... it's good to be back in the Bay Area." His sentences were punctuated with the mirthless smile and dry laugh I had seen in Colorado. I made tentative conversational forays, with comments about airline food, crowds, and the weather, as we waited by the carousel for his duffel. Mark shuffled his feet and kept twisting side to side as if looking for someone. He avoided looking at me.

Chris shot me a hard glance behind Mark's head, a what-is-going-on-here? glare. I looked away. I was just grateful Mark had arrived, and wasn't going to probe any deeper just now. I suspended judgment on Mark's appearance, but not one detail escaped his father.

"I smoke now," Mark declared, rolling down the car window and fumbling for cigarettes and matches. No one commented about the smoke that would have been fodder for an argument a few months ago. Chris scowled, and I pretended not to notice.

"My classes are so easy, I'm going to knock off straight A's. I don't even know why I bother with college. It's such a waste of time. My mind can learn everything so fast I shouldn't even have to go to classes. I could teach those classes if I wanted." Mark's monologue tumbled out in rapid bursts.

I sank into my seat in silence. Mark's rambling brought back my sense of dread. I concentrated on not listening too carefully.

"This thing with the police ... I broke the window, but the police beat me up. Police brutality. I'm going to talk to Bob about that." Bob King was the attorney the police sergeant had recommended. I winced when I remembered the $3,500 retainer I gave him. He said that it could cost up to $10,000 to get Mark off the felony charge.

The sharp, briny smell of the ocean and the distant roar of surf greeted us as we walked down the wooden path across the sand dunes by my parents' beach house. Walking in from the starry night to thebrightly lit front room, I saw Mark as my family must have seen himbizarre and outlandish in his strange clothes. My embarrassment quickly shifted to a surge of protectiveness for my younger child.

My parents had reared five children, and noticed how kids dressed. They would recognize that Mark's appearance was more than freshman grubbiness. His gaunt face, thin laugh, and nonstop monologues would also raise their eyebrows.

I couldn't ignore the telltale signs. As they say, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck ... This duck was hard drugs. The police had no doubt his assault had been triggered by drugs. I would be foolish to ignore both my instincts and the police.

"Too much partying and drinking," Chris concluded as we walked across the sand to our rented condo. He had no doubts about Mark's behavior. In college, he could down a pitcher in seventeen seconds. He knew Mark's problem, he had been there. His analytical engineer's mind examined the evidence and drew a conclusion.

"Maybe so." I eagerly accepted his interpretation. Mine was too frightening.

I slept fitfully, waking up every few hours to the sound of Mark rummaging through his duffel. A couple of times I heard someone leave or come through the front door. Maybe it was Mark, maybe I dreamed it.MARKShe's coming, Yesyesyes, I feel it, yes, any second she'll appear on the beach, over there by the shimmering tide, drifting-sifting-lifting, coming to me. We'll meet, embrace, no words. our thoughts swirl between us like a warm wind. From Boulder she's found...
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2002

    'EXCELLENT'

    If you want to understand manic depressive illness, this is a great read. The alternation of chapters about the family's personal experience with factual medical information is well done. I also think that the book was written to put ointment on the soul of families suffering with a manic depressive member. Well worth the money for the information!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2009

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