Book review: My Bipolar Mind

Book cover: My bipolar mind

My Bipolar Mind by Samantha Steiner is written as a series of blog posts that capture her recovery from addiction while living with the effects of bipolar disorder.  The story begins in April 2017 she hit her personal rock bottom, and from there began her slow journey towards recovery.  Of course, the full story began long before that.

Along the way, she describes her experience of rapid cycling mood episodes and multiple mixed mood episodes.  After she stopped drinking, she was also diagnosed with PTSD.  She explains that she began self-harming at age 12 to try to cope with the domestic violence that was going on at home.

Samantha openly shares the excuses she made for her drinking, and her thoughts that she could quit on her own without help, despite the fact that she’d experienced alcohol  poisoning multiple times and needed to be resuscitated after an opioid overdose.  She also shares her struggles against the desire to drink again, and the important role her partner’s limit-setting played.

She provides an excellent example of how the “good” parts of mania are actually not good at all.  She wrote regularly both on her blog and in her job as a writer for a website, but during manic episodes she would often become hyper-fixated on writing, to the point of neglecting her most basic needs.  She explains that there were times she decided not to reach out for help because she didn’t want to be hospitalized, something I can certainly relate to.

She described feeling emotionally overloaded: “I hate feeling like this; like I am drowning again, like I am getting pulled under the water and I can’t get out, and I can’t breathe. I feel like I can’t fight this or these feelings.”

Unsurprisingly, stigma makes an experience, as it so often does in stories of mental illness.  Someone she had known for years accused her of just making excuses, saying everyone is bipolar.  We all know that people say these kinds of things, but it still makes me heart hurt each time I hear about a specific instance.

Relationship challenges are hard to avoid with mental illness, and these make an appearance in Samantha’s story.  She shares her difficult breakup with her boyfriend and the subsequent reconciliation that prompted some of her family members to break off contact with her.

The book ends with two blog posts that convey a more hopeful tone.  In the final post, she observes “I really do feel like I am learning to love life for the first time.”  There’s no happy ending, but instead an acknowledgement that the work of recovery is ongoing.

This book offers a raw, uncensored look into the daily realities of living with concurrent mental illness and addictions.  Some bits aren’t pretty, and others are downright ugly, but that’s what makes it so real.

 

You can find Samantha on her blog My Bipolar Mind.

 

On a bit of a side note, transforming blog posts into book form isn’t something I’ve ever thought about; I don’t generally blog diary-style, so it wouldn’t really be a good fit for me.  It’s an interesting form, though, and I’m curious if it’s something that other people have contemplated.

 

You can find my other book review here.

My first book, Psych Meds Made Simple: How & Why They Do What They Do, is available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

20 thoughts on “Book review: My Bipolar Mind

  1. BeckiesMentalMess.wordpress.com says:

    Reading this felt like staring at myself in the mirror. The only thing that I can’t relate to is cutting myself, but everything straight down to family members cutting you off due to me having a mental illness stings like no other.
    I remember when I was first admitted at the hospital, one of the first things my Aunt said to me was this… “You will never have another relationship with a man ever again.” I mean how harsh is that?
    Another book I must add to my read list of 2019. Thank you, for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marty says:

    In my mindfulness group I have witness individuals with bipolar disorder change their lives

    Knowing that those thoughts are a mirage, just biased judgement, helped them release the negative and manic judgments

    Awareness was extremely important

    Knowing in the present moment exactly when you start to feel to good drains the manic stage before it starts

    Exercise and eating healthy plus taking the meds are also key

    It is difficult and constant vigilance is needed

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Luftmentsch says:

    I’ve kind of contemplated turning my blog into a book, but I think it’s probably too repetitious and lacking in forward narrative momentum. Also, I can’t imagine enough people wanting to read it, I have so few blog readers.

    The Doctor Who book I’m working on started as a series of (very long) essay-style blog posts, but that was not the kind of subjective/confessional style that I write on WordPress.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Luftmentsch says:

    I’m still not sure it really fits with the way I’m thinking about the book at the moment. Plus, I don’t know that I have that much insight into the community as a whole as I mostly hide from it instead of being involved or an ‘out and proud’ mental health advocate. And there is already one very good book out there that touches on that issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Meg says:

    Someone told her to quit making excuses because everyone’s bipolar?! Shut the front door–that made Meg angry. AARGH!! It’s so … self-righteous? Like, “We all have mood swings. Most of us manage to cope with them.” No, no, no, no, no. You have no freakin’ clue.

    This book sounds really interesting, and I might read it. I do think the blog format sounds intriguing!! Fascinating idea, and timely!

    My own bipolar blessedly doesn’t act up as long as I take a modicum of Seroquel. I’ve only experienced true mania a handful of times, and just “God bless Seroquel” is all I can say. I admire this author’s attitude and perseverance and might check out her book!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Brendan Birth says:

    I have thought about a book, but for a variety of reasons I don’t think I should go in the book direction for now. It would be more like a collection of posts, in my case, by the way.

    Still, kudos to Samantha for pulling it off!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. DV says:

    Hahaha no-one would pay money to read about every random thought that goes through my mind and out onto my blog pages. Hence, no book.

    Seriously though, I think it must be very hard to cull actual posts from an actual blog down to just the right amount that there is a interesting story arc but not so much info that people get bored. I also suspect that there’s not much of a market unless there’s some degree of happy ending or at least improvement in circumstances compared with the beginning.

    Like

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