My wonderful friend of over thirty years, Mike Freeman, created this beautiful image for my Facebook book page. Thank you, Mike!
Birth of a New Brain Goodreads Review by lawyer/author/coach/speaker/ advocate/mom/blogger/poet and many more talents: Marie Abanga
It was difficult to pick just one photo of Marie – there are SO many stunning pics of this dynamo on her blog. However, this still image is one of my very favorites and I love how it shows her in powerful, confident action!
Review by Marie Abanga
Indeed, a new Brain can be born even from the deepest dark of a debilitating mental illness
Mental illness is more often than not associated with incompetence, fragility, frugality, vulnerability, undesirability: I don’t make that association, however, and memoirs like Dyane’s will challenge those who think a mentally ill person is a ‘no good’!
Dyane’s epic memoir of one of the ‘not so well-known’ mental illnesses is worth its weight in gold.
Some people think: We don’t care about those ‘lunatics’ because we are not them and we will never become them. Sometimes, and as in Dyane’s case, we so wish our sick ones well, but we don’t try to learn and understand what is going on. We don’t even know what questions to ask them or how to ask questions in a respectful, compassionate way. It gets to a point where we look forward to either their being removed from our ‘normal’ existence, or we leave them and go far away – be it for studies, work or just a fresh start.
One thing I learned from this memoir is that close or far, we can be so impacted by mental illness of a close one. Paradoxically, Dyane starts having troubling ‘mental issues’ after she has left home and is on her own, although she had felt for so long before then that something ‘weird’ was going on.
A lot of good things, in my opinion, happen to Dyane in between the time she leaves college and when her second child is born – the birth which sparks her postpartum bipolar disorder. She takes on different demanding jobs and meets a vast array of people, most especially her ever-supporting husband.
I am so interested to know what keeps her husband staying with her in spite of her seemingly ‘unappeasable’ mental illness and mental health altogether. Maybe she’ll write a second memoir about this. He is portrayed as a caregiver par excellence both to her and to their kids, juggling these all with his stressful geological engineering job. People like her husband are to be celebrated because many with a mental illness are sooner or later abandoned even by their families.
It is once more interesting to read in this memoir about the treatment mentally ill patients seem to attract. There are basically two types of treatment. You are either treated as a human being with an illness like every other (very rare) or most often you are treated with such stigma and near shunning altogether. Dyane, even while very sick, can tell and appreciate when she is treated with empathy and even sympathy. She also narrates the times she’s treated like ‘one of them lunatics’ in and out of the psychiatric units.
All is not lost. After she has tried many different medications (making her become a guinea pig of sorts), after trying to go off medications (the first time cold-turkey, and the second time through systematic, slow tapering), and after silently challenging one of her doctor’s sarcasm about alternative treatments, Dyane has come to find a balance. Even ECT wasn’t left out; she desperately needed a new brain and thought ECT was her last chance at having a mind free of suicidal ideation and severe depression.
Her narration is not only so funny at some points— you also wonder where she found some offbeat words and different styles. (Oh yes, she has a B.A. in English and American
Literature.) Reading the book, I noticed her courage as she started over and over again taking different medications over twenty-five times, sometimes with almost catastrophic results.
As other advanced reviewers have noted, her memoir is a big bonus to the mental health community—a community I dare say should concern all of ‘us’ because all of the ‘thems’ we see today were once ‘us’ before. There is really no point for stigma which to me shows insecurity and fear of the unknown.
I, without any reservation, recommend this memoir to all and sundry.
Thank you, Marie!!!!!
Thanks to all of you who read today’s post! I still need to fulfill my promise to write the “Rich People and Dog Poop” post, but I’m waiting for a special kind of inspiration! (I might need to visit Lake Tahoe again for that, ha ha!)
The Birth of a New Brain’s Goodreads page also has the awesome blogger/advocate Kitt O’Malley’s advance review. While you’re there, I invite you to mark down “To read” so I know you have good taste in books! (The link is below.)
Have a great Labor Day weekend, my friends!
Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw, will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. Birth of a New Brain is available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales. Kindle pre-sales will be available mid-September.