Book Review:”Professional patient: A memoir of Bipolar Disorder.”by Leesa Abbott Psy.D

Book Review: “Professional Patient: A Memoir of Bipolar Disorder.”

By Leesa Abbott, Psy.D. (2015)

A book review by Emily H. Sturgill, M.Ed, BFA

(Art Therapist with over 20 years experience living with bipolar type one disorder.)

The first 77 pages of this memoir cover Mrs. Abbott’s childhood, adolescence, and young  adulthood in very stark and honest details. Despite this being the author’s first memoir she seems to have mastered the craft of such writing. After 77 or so pages, I felt that her writing was so compelling it was necessary for myself to mark and highlight certain sections of her text.  On page 77 she describes in her role as a mental health professional encountering all types of people. In particular she details the struggles of interacting with persons baring personality disorders or traits of such disorders. She comments that,  “I do know that simply responding to people who have challenging personality traits with a softer, non-escalating response can change the dynamics.”(Abbott .L.p.77) She goes on to describe an encounter with a young child and his mother. She explains in depth that,

”Sometimes people have a thick layer of defenses but it is possible to connect with the wounded person inside. It does require patience and ability to ignore misguided anger.” While this is sensible and logical advice I find it more than a bit ironic. In my own experiences as a Graduate Student studying Art Therapy our professors advised us that clients with such personality traits made for difficult clients and we may wish to avoid taking on such clients unless we specifically were trained to work with them.

Dr. Abbott’s advice on the topic seems to make much more sense and also highlights her skills at helping others.  The Author speaks rather frankly on the duality of the roles in her life as both mental health professional and mental health consumer. Not only is she a counselor, a healer, a therapist but also a client herself. This gives her a unique vantage point.

Later in her book she sums up a personal account of her own depression. She tries to explain the distorted thought processes someone who is depressed goes through.

“I tried to get rid of as many personal items as possible I believe as a way to start making myself disappear. It was as if the fewer belongings I had the closer I was to not existing

at all.”( Abbott.L. p.99)

Often a common sign of depression can be a person giving away all of their belongings. On the next page she talks about her illness as a “dirty little secret.” And her own battle to keep these two worlds in her own life separate. Later on page 109 she discusses a hospitalization for her own bipolar disorder, “I didn’t see how I was similar to my roommate and the rest of the people on the ward. I felt different because I worked in the profession. I felt I had a secret that must be protected at all costs. I also felt my illness wasn’t as serious as theirs must be. Of course I realized later in life with 20/20 hindsight that was untrue.”(Abbott.L.p.109)

Most of her memoir she struggles to find balance between Mental Health professional and Mental Health Client. Sadly, there is such a stigma left in our society especially in America and much of that is rampant among mental health professionals.

During the second half of her book the Author constantly discusses this push and pull between wellness and becoming unwell. There is a conflict between being a caring compassionate professional in this field and the shameful isolation in being a unique person with their own diagnosis.

One of my favorite parts comes near the end of the book. It is here we see her as a caterpillar finally shattering the cocoon of stereotypes and growing her wings. Back on page 77 she gives the reader a quote from Mother Theresa, but I see many ways on how this quote is echoed throughout the Memoir itself. “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is love without getting tired.”(p.77) The Author in many ways embraces her own self through love, self-love and love for others as well. She accepts she is a butterfly. She accepts that she is also a coin with two faces. Her inner conflict seems elegantly resolved as she reflects that.

“One day I had an epiphany.” This leads to much description of the need to develop her own self-worth for herself. She details this development of self-worth along her journey.

“The feeling of confidence and that I deserve the good things that come my way had to come from with-in me. I had to forgive myself and cherish myself. I had made mistakes-big ones, whoppers, but I am human. I also had accomplishments, accomplishments that I had achieved despite mental disorders I didn’t ask for.”(Abbott.L.p.207)

I feel that this is not just another personal memoir but also it’s a story about living a double life. I’m willing to bet that many other professionals across a wide range of careers are also leading double lives-secretly struggling with a mental illness too. People who might be afraid if the word got out about their illness they might lose or ruin their entire careers. That stigma in and of itself would result in them being shunned by their peers. That of course is unacceptable yet things like that cause discrimination all the time. What is so beautiful about Dr. Abbott’s memoir is she gives us a road map of how to come clean. She describes in full detail her manias and depressions-this disease and how it has impacted every angle of her life. It’s really a personal account about transformation. To go through the steps to become a professional in the mental health field, to later being diagnosed as having bipolar disorder to lastly becoming an Advocate for those with mental health issues through her work with NAMI. She takes that journey with us-her readers-and at the end she re-emerges not broken into a two side coin but whole and united as a Mental Health advocate. This is a great book to give insight into how it feels to have a mental illness and just because you have one-that does not mean you cannot become whole and embrace yourself like a brilliant butterfly. To buy your own copy follow this link here:http://www.amazon.com/dp/1312218797/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

To buy a copy of this book  you can buy through Amazon.com or also through Barnes and Nobles Booksellers. It is $19.99Leesa Memoirs cover

Book on Bipolar disorder, “A Brief Guide to Thriving for individual with mental illness and their loved ones.”

I reviewed this book on Good Reads last winter, I believe? But in case anyone missed it. It is worth mentioning here again on my blog. This book “A Brief Guide to Thriving for individual with mental illness and their loved ones.” is by Leesa Abbott, Psy.D I am also mentioning this work in particular because the Author has decided to release a personal memoir soon of her own personal struggles and triumphs living with a SMI-(Serious Mental illness) I am beyond excited about her new release and will let my readers know as soon as I know when that title does become available. Dr. Abbott is a University Professor, a professional poet & author, a mental health advocate who also does volunteer work for NAMI in her spare time. On top of all those things, she also leads a support group for teens struggling with depression while caring for her friends and family. Here is my Review:

“In this book, Dr. Abbott addresses several basic issues and concerns, which would be very useful to anyone diagnosed recently with mental illness, or that person’s friends and family.She presents a model of Recovery in five stages. Dr. Abbott writes that she adopted-(invented perhaps?)-this model, after studying similar models such as the well known 5 stages of Grief/ Loss or certain recovery from addiction models.However she contrasts her model by pointing out while other models are static, hers is not. She feels her model is more fluid-to me her model almost seems circular-although we both agree that a person in any process form of recovery from mental illness may repeat these stages or regress or progress at different stages.

As she points out many with mental illnesses may go in and out of these stages at any given time. Here are her five stages: 1. Psychological Changes 2. Self-Awareness of those changes 3.Receiving help.4. Acceptance of ones own mental illness. 5.Reaching out to others. She does explain not everyone will complete this entire process outlined. The last step is the hardest-to deal with stigma and to reach out to others in need-still suffering-while this is noble-not everyone is capable of this or even wishes to try this.(the author does acknowledge this fact.) Also in this book she recounts her own story of mental illness. I do wish that this section was longer and that she would have expanded. But this is a brief guidebook, I do understand why her focus is not on her personal experiences so much. She centers on the issues faced by those with mental illness and how to help.

This is an useful resource no matter what stage of recovery you are in. This book is ideal because it emphasizes two things; You are not alone and there are a multitude of ways you can help yourself.
One last thing I would like to add, is what the Author says about Hope: “The self-fulfilling
prophecy studied by psychologists, includes the idea that what we continue to believe about ourselves or our future will Eventually come to be. It’s essential to maintain a positive outlook about yourself and your future.”(2013, Abbott.L, p.26)”

 

Video and interview with the author, Dr.Leesa Abbott

“Memoirs Recalled Madness: a personal account of manic-depression.”by Emily Sturgill just $3.99

“Memoirs Recalled Madness: a personal account of manic-depression.”by Emily Sturgill  is currently a kindle-countdown deal.

Right now its priced is reduced from $9.99 to just $3.99. As a countdeal deal the price will slowly increase over the next few days. So I encourage you to buy a copy asap while its still such a low price! It’s a personal memoir dealing with growing up then being diagnosed with bipolar disorder right after high school and my life ever since. The highs and lows but also the successes of a life living with a serious mental health issue.

For more info please follow this link here:

http://www.amazon.com/Memoirs-Recalled-Madness-personal-depressive-ebook/dp/B00C145EOU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415134043&sr=1-1

The price is set to increase by $1 tomorrow.

Current Kindle Countdown deal: “Memoirs Recalled Madness: a personal account of living with manic depressive illness.” 99 cents!

In 2013 I wrote a memoir about my own personal experience growing up and later being diagnosed with manic-depression.

Right now, as a Kindle Countdown deal that ebook is reduced from $9.99 to just 99 cents. Since it is a countdown deal the price will increase over the next few days until it is back to it’s original price. So I suggest if it at all has remote interest for you, please go ahead and buy a copy while the price is marked down. This count down started yesterday Oct 31st and runs until Nov 7, 2014. Thank you.

For more information please click on this link:

http://www.amazon.com/Memoirs-Recalled-Madness-personal-depressive-ebook/dp/B00C145EOU/ref=la_B00B1GC5LY_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414853619&sr=1-1

“Why Are There No Blue Dogs?”

“Why Are There No Blue Dogs?”.

This is a very well written tribute to a person that the Author had much love for. It is an honest portrayal-very sincere and beautifully written. It makes me wish that had I been born in a different time and place-I would have loved to meet his loved one. This is very powerful writing here.

New Facebook page for Sex in the kitchen Sink

https://www.facebook.com/sexinthekitchensink13?ref=hl

Follow me on facebook please!Picture 149 Warming up with color abstract 2 Fall 2013 Spirals of Song and other poems book cover1 Picture 161 Warming up with color abstract 1 Fall 2013 Abstract oil pastel drawing 99 cover design for words whirl 2013 copy Falling to pieces by EHCato 1999 IMAG0893 IMAG0898 IMAG0897 Art before words new front cover copy back cover art before words3 copy self portrait 05012013 Picture 94 Acrylic mixed media pumice gel painting 1996 canvasboard Spirituality, acrylic and sand on canvasboard 1996 possible coverart1 copy Athena wiccan11 IMG_20130330_093258

Simplicity part 2-dedicated to my friend Erin D.

Picture 161Picture 158Picture 160

Simplicity

2 parts bitter-sweet vinegar

2 parts harmony

one dash of Hope

one sprinkling of Faith,

one Tablespoon full of miracles.

1/2 stick of helplessness melted but not burnt brown.

1/4 cup memories

16 oz of pure, unstrained Love

1 graham pie crust of sorrows

1 can of heavy-whipping cream

2 tbs allspice, 2 tbs cloves, 4 tbs fresh honesty

one classic ceasar salad of velvet covered sadness

one case of dark irish beer…

blend with one bag of Catholic Guilt,

add two whole egg-yolks

add 7 hail-marys and one quart of confessions.

Blend with a twist of hard scotch whiskey, empathy as a orange peel, a cherry

with-out its stem, some liquid courage, one King James version of

The Holy Bible.

Some false idols/some fake friends/those who will swear by you/

yet they disappear in the end?

I trust nobody who says to me, that they will “pray for me,”

I wish i were not a bitch like that, but i totally am-such a bitch.

I am not going to offend them by declining their pray offers-

but i am not going to depend on them for this junk.

I usually merely responded with Thank you-or thank you very much-whatever.

Prayers are both sweet and nice-

if they are done right.

But true friends do more than have private jesus jams/

talks on your behalf.

True friends know when you are sad, And sense when you need to have a small

phone-call chat. true friends listen and practice the,

Fine Art of Allowance-

meaning they allow you to be sad.

They do not try to cram you into a shoebox

with too much duct tape,

and scrawl the word “Happy”

onto your head-in order to make themselves feel better.

Real friends want you to feel better,

but when you get around to it.

Real friends allow you,

to simply FEEL.

They allow you to be-

They allow you to grieve and to suffer.

They realize there is no universal time clock on

one feeling verses another.

I wrote this out for a friend of mine.

Her mane is Erin-we kinda grew up together.

Anyways, her mother just recently passed away due to Cancer,

this past march on st.patricks day.

Erin and her twin Bridget are both my friends.

I did not realize how huge their family is until very recently,

Anyways yesterday, Erin was having a bad day,

and she shared with her fb friends she really missed her mother.

I was completely floored with all the useless facebook comment messages

she was getting. There were just so fake to me.

So i commented myself-and i was not trying to impress facebook-or Erin or anybody else.

I just wished to say something that could comfort Erin and be

totally completely “real” and “honest” with her.

I was just being me, I was just being emily.

She wrote me later, in a private facebook message, Thank you so much , you knew just how I was feeling and how much my messages helped her.

That really made my evening last night.

It is a good feeling to be a good friend to somebody you forever care for,

cherish and sisterly love.

True friendships among women are not always,

easy to find or to maintain.

But once I’ve formed a friendship bond-

with another female- I keep those friends

out and treasure them immensely.

It really takes a whole pile of damages for me,

to no longer consider a woman my friend.

Once a friend, always a friend, at least that is where

my loyalties take me. So many beautiful feminine friends:

Each is like a precious gem or a secret treasure to me.

I LOVE my friends-all of them.

even the cob-webbed covered ancient ones,

those are kind of crunchy

but i just love them all the more-for it!!!!

Putting out wild fires

I have had 6 reviews so far as an Author on Amazon.com. 4 of the 6 were high praise. But 2 of the 6 were from the same person making very negative statements on my work, just one in particular, My “Memoirs recalled Madness: a personal account of living with bipolar disorder.” (2013) by Emily Sturgill. This young lady wrote basically that even though she bought my paperback she deemed it unworthy of reading due to grammar errors.

At the time, I was highly offended. But it was also close to the time, when I was becoming hypo-manic in May. I made harsh statements due to being so taken off-guard and did not respond in a professional way. Now there is a second woman leaving negative statements as comments, based on my over-reaction in trying to defend my work.

So I choose to simply re-edit it and re-release it. Then I attempted to apologize to both women.

You, know you cannot please everyone all of the time. I feel lucky to have positive reviews at all. And I have also said even if you have nothing nice to say, that perhaps it would make me a better writer for that. I have never discouraged negative reviews-I think I try to be receptive to any feedback of all kinds.

I don’t know. I still feel shaken up about the whole thing. I still have trouble understanding how someone would pay so much for a paperback then refused to read it due to grammar errors. Like for me, if she had actually read it-which she claims she did not-and judged it poorly on the basis on how I said things or content-what I was writing about THEN wrote a bad review-well then ok BRING IT ON. But to admit you never finished reading it and then review that the whole thing must suck due to errors you found in the first ten pages? Huh? The book is 88 pages long. I know I am more touchy about it, for a few reasons. First it’s based on my real-life story events. As well and as personal as I could tell them. Second, that is not my typical type of writing or genre.I mostly wrote just poems and prose. There’s a reason for that. I do not have the attention span some other Authors do to develop a plot and to really stick with it. Develop characters not to mention a solid beginning, middle and end.

Still, in my defense, I have been told many times that I write well. The responses between the two other woman towards me were just plain ugly.I felt like I was being-cyber-bullied!!! At the same time, I feel they have a right to their opinion. My loving husband disagrees. He reported their comments as abuse to Amazon. He cited them or at least the first person to be making personal attacks. I’m not sure how that works. They did not use obscenities or anything like that they were just both so very mean. My mistake, was ever commenting on the review in the first place-it added fuel to the fire. Now I am trying to put out wild fires. I realize as an Author, or Artist or Poet-you are putting yourself out there. People may not like your work, in fact they may even hate it. But sometimes, it is hard to separate who you are as a person from the work that you do. In spite of all the really wonderful reviews, the bad and ugly reviews stick out like a sore thumb. And that is MY PROBLEM-not theirs. I need a thicker skin.

If any other self-published authors out there have advice on this? Please comment on my blog. I have no idea what I am doing wrong. Obviously, I did not run a spell-check and grammar-check before publishing my memoirs. That’s my bad judgement there. I do not really use the spell-check feature when writing poetry or prose, because it’s different. When writing poems you may not want a capital letter at the beginning of each and every line. It annoys me.If there is a obvious spelling error I do fix that.

Am i really getting my panties all twisted into a bunch over what 2 woman said on the internet?? Does that make me the worlds worst, writer, author, artist and poet? Anybody out there have objective advice on taking criticism and handling it well? I would love to hear from you? Please, Please, please…any of my readers feel free to comment on the post. I’m a bit lost. However, I am still working on a new book. I am not going to stop writing over this or anything-even if folks hate it. I’m going to suck it up and keep writing no matter what. Thanks, Emily

Stuck on the serene

I’m stuck on the serene.
I am a fly caught by the sky of stars,
onto your cars dashboard’s glass-
smashing fast
beneath windshield wipers cast of silver.

the past is a postcard memory.
a momentary glismpe over my shoulder,
and a 35 cent postage stamp.

there is so much love here.
it covers me, endlessly.
until i breakout like an allergy.
feeling the rash of never belonging/nor…
being worthy of all the love
he sends to me.

I’m a broken down rabbit earred TV screen.
stuck on static and white noise.
i am broken into too many
ancient places
to be fixed by your hi-fi definations.

I am the broken down pay-phone,
in the mental ward which only takes
quaters, and everybody is fresh out,
sadly giving me longing looks of too much pain.

I am the peeling paint job
on the oldest wooden house
abandoned ob our block
windows nailed shut
front door busted into
filled with the evils of crime, rodents of luck and opportunistic stray cats.

I am the fever which makes you sweat.
my heat intensifies
under a heating blanket, some fiction
and a bodybag of a corpse filled to the brim:
with lies.
IMG_20130615_101420IMG_20130615_101001IMG_20130615_101458

Relaxing with music-all alone again….

Relaxing with music,

the Singer-songwriter M.Ward,

sings sweetly in my background.

My mother in law is at a doctors appointment.

My husband has left to go watch the latest

Superman movie-then he has a therapy appointment.

 

I’m all alone, at home again.

It’s peaceful. Despite a few stray teardrops,

which escape me.

 

Mood wise-slide sideways,

between sad and joy…

relief at being simply more of myself,

again.

 

More in control.

Heads still somewhat cloudy-

but feet are nailed safely/to the ground.

 

Every-time, I have another

manic-depressive episode,

it feels as though both my body and brain-

have betrayed me yet again.

 

 

They have turned me inside out/

into somebody insane…

just the name of this

illness game.

 

There is nothing I can really do

except my best,

to avoid these times/

of madness, at the slip of a dime.

 

I take my medicine as prescribed.

I never miss my doctor sessions.

I try to get enough sleep.

I try to not freak out.

 

Despite the hurdle of Everything/

I occasionally still/

completely lose my mind.

 

It always feels as though-

I have betrayed myself somehow…

My episodes the last two years, strictly on my meds,

have been smaller & shorter,

no real damage has been done.

 

I should feel happy,

as if I’ve won.

But instead I am sadden by the way,

I become undone.

Like a sweater with one button popping loose,

as if by random chance.

 

I know of others with my disease,

have fewer times of the in-between.

Fewer times of the semi-normalcy, stable state.

 

I know I am blessed and lucky.

At least my medicines control

my CRAZY, from time to time…

 

Nobody’s perfect all the time.

We all have our flaws.

It just sucks that history tends to;

repeat itself in my general direction.

I am caught in the constant cobweb

of being CRAZY.

 

I run away from home TIME AND TIME AGAIN…

Just like the first time, way back in the summer,

of 1992.

I’m a song stuck on repeat.

A dance number without  a beat.

Filled with sadness & joy, all at once,

a walking contradiction

allowing & swallowing the impossible

courage & fear of being

plain old ME.IMG_20130330_093314 IMG_20130330_093436 Self-portrait photo may 2013Falling to pieces by EHCato 1999Picture 113 copy