Manic Depression, by Lynn Bradley, is a short and uninformative
book about Bradley's experience with being married to a man who
suffers from Bipolar Disorder. The book does seem promising at
first glance. There is a very well written and interesting foreword
by Donald E. Hauser, M.D., as well as a modest list of resources
for help and support groups at the end of the book. There is also
a good reading list included in Chapter 8. Bradley's voice is
initially friendly and engaging, quickly drawing the reader into
the book. It is a few pages into the second chapter that this
voice is no longer engaging, but becomes irritating in a presumptuously
too-familiar and knowing sort of way. This becomes evident in
her tone as she relates a story of her everyday life to us:One example is the way he stacks the dishes in the sink.
He's always done it the same way. Whichever hand reaches the sink
first deposits the first dish. Sensible, I suppose, except that
the hand holding his drinking glass always gets there first.
plate or bowl goes next, precariously balanced on top. If there
is a bowl and a plate, the bowl goes between the glass
and the plate
I walk into the kitchen, see his "tower,"
turn on the tap, get wet and freak
Now, this all sounds too
funny. How could anyone get so upset over how the dishes are stacked?
Hey, there are a bunch of women out there who would love to have
their husbands carry the dishes to the sink. They'd be delighted
to find dish towers."
This conversational style may be better suited for a coffee klatch
with the neighborhood ladies. Implemented here, it alienates a
large portion of the reading audience by sounding too friendly,
and a bit patronizing. The reader also wonders whether or not
her husband's ineptitude for doing dishes is a result not of his
mental illness, but from a general lack of common sense.
Bradley reveals much about how she functions in relationships
in general. Aside from the fact that her husband suffers from
Bipolar Disorder, Bradley herself comes across as if she would
be difficult to get along with, despite the best of circumstances.
She enumerates a "Red Flag List" of her own behavior
that she tries to avoid, which includes "Folding my arms
across my chest
Cocking my hands on my hips
my back on him
complaining about him
to others." While it is admirable that she is aware of her
behavior, and is struggling not to engage in these actions, this
list is indicative that Bradley herself has a long way to go in
the department of emotional maturity.
This book is scattered with blanket statements, attempting at
wisdom, but full of ignorance. "Our problems don't have to
be identical, but our solutions do. If I have a broken leg, set
the bone and keep it immobile for about six weeks, it will heal.
If you have a broken leg and follow the same procedure, you will
get the same results." The analogy she uses to illustrate
her statement fails, primarily because the problem she uses
is identical, not different. In addition to this,
the statement begs the question, "Why would the same solution
be appropriate for two people with two different problems?"
The biggest problem with this book is that its scope is very narrow.
Rather than being directed towards a wider audience of people
who may be related to, or have friends that are bipolar, Bradley
writes only to women with bipolar husbands. She repeatedly makes
reference to "your bipolar" as glibly as if she were
writing a book on caring for "your dog" or "your
cat." No helpful information is offered to those readers
who may have sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, friends, etc.
who suffer from this illness. Perhaps a more concise subtitle
for this book would be "How to live with a Manic Depressive
Husband." Readers who pick up this book hoping for some support
or insight for other types of relationships will be disappointed.
© 2001 Libby Fabricatore
Libby Fabricatore received
a B.A in English Literature from Dowling College, where she is
currently the Assistant Manager of the Photography Studio. She
is continuing studies in literature, creative writing and music,
while other interests include art and psychology.
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