52 Books: Books 34&35

So I actually finished both of these books over a week ago, just haven’t had the time {or energy} to sit down and write a review. I seem to read books in pairs – as in similar topics. This always happens randomly, but it seems to happen fairly frequently.

Books 34 and 35 for the year are both biographies that fall into the theme of recovery. The first book: Manic by Terri Cheney is the very personal account of a woman who has lived with being bipolar for most of her life. Since my mom has lived with this condition for most of my life, I have a personal connection to this type of biography. I am so thankful that my mom has never gone through many of the things that Terri Cheney has endured. Her story is intriguing, but also made me sad for what she has gone through. Her story is not written chronologically, but the order is very fitting. I read this book in one setting and thought that it was a good book, but I have to confess that the best book I have read about being bipolar is An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison.

Excerpts from Manic :
I wanted to die at such a moment. When the world was at its best, when I could offer up my heart to God and say, thank you, truly, for all of it. It’s not that I’m ungrateful. It’s just that I’m not capable any more of the joy a night like this deserves.

The world is essentially bipolar: driven to extremes but defined by flux. Saints are always a stumble away from sinners.

If I’ve learned anything from life as a manic-depressive, it’s that all things never stay the same for long. The cruelest curse of the disease is also its most sacred promise: you will not feel this way forever.

Never, but never, call a manic person “manic” to their face. For some reason, when you’re in the very throes of it, the term manic sounds like the most degrading, insulting, offensive character slur imaginable.

…it’s been years since I’ve had a full-blown manic episode, longer still since I have tried to commit suicide. Stability feels like such a precarious thing, dependent on just the right dose by just the right doctor. But still, somehow I found it… Life is not easy, but it’s simpler now. I no longer want to fly kites in a thunderstorm. I have no interest in dancing a tango with a rip tide. I can leave my best friend’s boyfriend alone…

The second “biography” I read was A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.

This book was intriguing in a different way. It recounts the six weeks that the author spent in a rehab center in an effort to save himself from the addictions that controlled him. The book was initially sold as a memoir, but the Smoking Gun released a report pointing out outright lies that had been fabricated for the story. Which makes sense since there is a lot of over dramatization and a feeling of exaggeration in the writing. Furthermore Frey spends a lot of time focusing on his negative view of AA and the 12 Steps program. He is repeatedly told by counselors that he won’t make it without the steps and he continues to insists that he will, saying that the only thing that controls whether or not you do drugs is yourself. However time and time again, many addicts have proven that they need a belief in something more than themselves in order to quit their addictions. It is an interesting read, just know that it is not non-fiction {even if you do find a copy in the biography section of your library}.

Excerpts from A Million Little Pieces {note strong language throughout the book}:

You’re strong enough to get your teeth drilled without drugs and you’re strong enough to scare the s*** out of a bunch of hardened f*** ups and you’re strong enough to do whatever the f*** you’ve had to do to end up like you are and you can’t walk back into that clinic and try?

…Life is hard, kid, you gotta be harder. You gotta take it on and fight for it and be a f***ing man about how you live it. If you’re too much of a pussy to do that, then maybe you should just leave, ’cause you’re already dead.

The Gates are open and thirteen years of addiction, violence, hell and their accompaniments are manifesting themselves in dense tears and heavy sobs and shortness of breath and a profound sense of loss. The loss inhabits, fills, and overwhelms me. It is the loss of a childhood of being a teenager of normalcy of happiness of love of trust of reason of God of family of friends of future of potential of dignity of humanity of sanity of myself of everything everything everything. I lost everything and I am reduced to a mass of mourning, sadness, grief, anguish and heartache. I am lost. I have lost. Everything. Everything.

An addict is an addict. It doesn’t matter whether the addict is white, black, yellow or green, rich or poor or somewhere in the middle, the most famous person on the planet or the most unknown. It doesn’t matter whether the addiction is drugs, alcohol, crime, sex, shopping, food, gambling or the f***ing Flinstones. The life of the Addict is always the same. There is no excitement, no glamor, no fun. There are no good times, there is no joy, there is no happiness, there is no future and no escape. There is only an obsession. An all-encompassing, fully enveloping, completely overwhelming obsession. To make light of it, brag about it, or revel in the mock glory of it is not in any way, shape or form related to its truth, and that is all that matters, the truth.

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