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HIDDEN LIVES Paperback – 13 Nov 2012


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In this groundbreaking collection, well-known and cutting-edge authors bring to light life with mental illness. These evocative essays, by writers who either suffer from or have close family members diagnosed with mental illness or a developmental di

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Place to Turn 10 Jan. 2013
By Story Circle Book Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Every essay in this collection is a courageous look into lives affected by mental illness. And all of them begin with inviting first sentences that entice you into wanting to know more. Thank goodness for that because the more we learn about mental health issues, the more we dispel the myths surrounding them.

It's so gratifying to know the authors are sharing their experiences in the world to help end the stigma, to let others know they're not alone and "help lift the veil of mystery" as Lenore Rowntree says in the introduction. Rowntree writes of her sister's childhood schizophrenia. Her sister Beth has also contributed a piece called "My Life as Beth."

Co-editor Andrew Boden writes of his brother who has schizophrenia and the difficulties of being his advocate within the medical system.

Joel Yanofsky, a Montreal writer, is so honest in his frustration with his son who has autism. Although there may be layers of resentment, it's the love that shines through in these essays. The writers love their sister, father or son despite the many heartbreaks and challenges that love was heir to.

The stories are heartbreaking for readers as well. In "The Last Call," Jill Sadowsky, an English tutor in Israel, writes of her son Doron. His name means "a gift." He had paranoid schizophrenia and took his own life three months short of his thirty-fourth birthday.

Sadowsky and her husband started a parents' support group to let others know they did not cause schizophrenia "no matter what society and some professionals may imply. Recognize the regret that parents have when they realize they never got a real chance to say goodbye to their child--Doron had disappeared into his illness so imperceptibly."

In "Atlas and the Cheese Cube," Catherine Owen writes a well-told essay about herself and other family members with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Her vulnerability is her strength as she describes the use of "self-talk in order to overcome some of its more debilitating manifestations."

It's the vulnerability in the so-called tough guys that is especially poignant. Scott Whyte, for instance, was discharged from the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) "with a serious mental illness." He writes about post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorder.

Whyte now works as an advocate for the mentally ill and the criminal courts in California. He also provides training on crisis intervention techniques and stress management to law enforcement personnel.

From the biographies one can see the work these authors are doing to end the stigma of mental illness. Much of that work is done in the form of education and hrough the process of writing about their remarkable lives.

by Mary Ann Moore
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
Wonderful and heartbreaking perspectives on mental illness, from inside and outside of the box 23 Feb. 2013
By Angel Eyes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wonderful and heartbreaking perspectives on mental illness, from inside and outside of the box. So personal, these stories all touched my heart, giving very unique and intimate views of living with mental illness.

As an addendum, another review I had written:

I found this book when three of the essays were excerpted in Readers Digest (Canadian version). I was hooked, and found the rest of the book equally meaningful. Many of the essays are first-person, others written by family and friends of people from across the spectrum of various mental illnesses and conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, aspergers, and many others. I consider my time reading this well-spent, but it went far too quickly.
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