Title: Mommy I’m still in here
One family’s journey with bipolar disease
Author: Kate McLaughlin
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I am constantly surprised by the knowledge books provide, the way they let you experience and imagine things that could never have been possible otherwise. The way they tell stories that surprise, horrify or humble you. Mommy I’m still in here is one such story. As the tag line says ‘It is the story of a family’s journey with bipolar disease’.
I don’t know about others but I knew nothing about bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness.
Manic-depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviors, destroys the basis of rational thought, and too often erodes the desire and will to live. It is an illness that is biological in its origins, yet one that feels psychological in the experience of it; an illness that is unique in conferring advantage and pleasure, yet one that brings in its wake almost unendurable suffering and, not infrequently, suicide.
The author Kate had a perfect family with husband Mark and 3 children Chloe, Michael and Monica, all 3 years apart. Everything is going fine when the eldest daughter Chloe at the age of 17 suddenly experiences severe mood swings and depression. After doctor appointments and observations Chloe is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. As the depression and mood swings increase, Chloe also starts hallucinating. She sees and hears things that are not there. Her relationship with her mother and siblings becomes strained due to her constant mood swings.
Kate also goes through a series of emotions like confusion, desperation, grief and guilt. Kate blames herself for not recognizing the signs early even though she knew there were a lot of cases of depression and substance abuse in the family.
When after constant monitoring Chloe’s illness becomes somewhat manageable, her son Michael is diagnosed with the same illness. He starts drinking and taking drugs to feel normal.
We can imagine what a mother goes through when one of her child falls sick, this twice is a mother’s nightmare. Kate has made a lot of sacrifices for her children. She explains the difficulties of living and caring for a chronically ill person. This one dialog had chills running down my spine. It’s when Chloe attempted suicide by cutting her nerves and after Kate patched her up.
Through it all, Chloe did not fight me, did not talk, and did not respond. When we were finished, she raised her face to mine and stated matter-of-factly, “Next time I’ll cut the other way, straight down the vein. It’ll be faster and you won’t be able to fix it.”
This is also Kate’s story. She learned not to blame herself when she finally admitted to herself and to others that she is not responsible for what happened or will not be responsible for what happens in the future. Kate says she has come to terms with the fact that eradicating her children’s illness is not the solution.
If we believe that disabilities must be altered or abolished, then we imply that the absence of disability equals a good life. But does it? Because if that’s true, one might deduce that anyone with a disability is inferior. That line of reasoning leads to a horrible, deeply disturbing, and dangerous arena.
Disability does not require solution or abolition, but understanding, and when necessary, temperature to allow the disabled to function more fully.
Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness. It does not go away. Chloe and Michael will always have it. It will forever alter their lives, and as a result, will alter ours too. Nevertheless, we embrace the experience and anticipate future legs of the journey because we know that this world, this life, offers everybody opportunities to learn and grow and evolve.
Okay, I’ll stop else I’ll end up quoting the entire book. All I can say is please, please, please read this book. It is sad, horrifying, depressing, uplifting, encouraging, gripping, informative, moving and hopeful. I hope Chloe, Michael and even Monica is doing fine. I hope the entire family is doing fine. I would like to take back my sentence ‘The author Kate had a perfect family…’ and correct it to ‘The author Kate has a perfect family…’. A family that supports one another, that understands each others problems and accepts it without judgment is nothing more than perfect.
Did you know that Napoleon, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Sylvia Plath, John Keats, Virginia Wolf, Vincent Van Gogh were possibly victims of Bipolar disorder?
For more information on juvenile onset bipolar disorder visit this site: jbrf
For Kate’s blog, go here.
This review is for Author Marketing. Thank you so much for the book Paula. And this book is one down for the World Citizen Challenge. yay…
8 thoughts on “Mommy I’m still in here…”
Sounds really interesting. I know a couple of families who have been affected by this, in similar ways. It’s a real challenge.
Oh my gosh – that book sound so powerful. I think I will have to be in the right mood to tackle it.
Huw: I don’t know anyone personally but I agree it must be a real challenge.
Kathy: I wasn’t in a mood for a serious book too, but surprisingly it is very easy to read. Once i started i couldn’t stop.
Thank you, Violet, both for reading the book and for writing such a helpful, hopeful review. Every person who reads it or reads about it goes away bettter informed and I’m grateful.
For your information, Chloe married and is living well while managing her health and illness. Michael continues to struggle with substance abuse and medical noncompliance. Right now he’s clean, sober and taking his Rxs. We pray he’ll stay well. Monica’s great! Runs track and is an excellent student. Life is good.
Thanks Kate for dropping in and letting us know about your children’s life. I am happy to know that all are well and hope that Michael remains clean.