Little Boy Lost: I Don’t Know Where I’m Going, but I’m on My Way is a memoir by Clive Webb that explores his lifelong journey with mental health, which eventually culminated in him being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The book was written in 2016 and then updated in 2019.
The book is written with a laid back, down to earth, conversational tone, with occasional swearing and plenty of humour thrown in. It’s the style of storytelling that you might expect to hear over a few pints of beer at a British pub.
The early chapters in the book include the author’s father’s tragic death by suicide. The inclusion of pictures of newspaper clippings from the time add further emotional impact. Upon later reflection, Clive realized that his father likely suffered from bipolar disorder.
Although mental health isn’t explicitly discussed until the later part of the book, the various experiences Clive describes throughout his adulthood set off red flags for the diagnosis to come. One example that particularly stood out was getting an unsecured loan to buy jet-skis, with a plan to rent them out in Spain. He also writes about putting in long workdays doing heavy manual labour and still needing to do a 10 mile run at the end of the day to burn off energy.
When he finally sought professional help for his mental health, he was started on an antidepressant. Likely many readers who also have bipolar disorder will see a reflection of their own experience in the author’s subsequent switch to mania, trips to the emergency department, and multiple medication switches as the diagnosis changed from depression to bipolar disorder.
Near the end of the book, this paragraph in particular stood out for me:
“Also what I’ve found out is that mania is like a wild horse. I’ve named this mad white stallion ‘White Lightning’ and I’m trying to tame and break him in. I’ve managed to get a saddle and reins on him, so now I will be able to ride this crazy horse, and control the pace and direction he is going. But he is a feisty beast, and doesn’t like to be controlled. But I’m hoping (giving time) that we both can learn to respect one another, and he doesn’t give me too much of a bumpy ride.”
None of us knows where this mental illness journey will take us, although if we knew this, as Clive writes, “at least we could duck from the boot that was just about to kick us in the fucking head.” Amen to that!
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