I just finished the memoir Beautiful Wreck, Sex, Lies & Suicide by queer feminist writer, mental health advocate, & activist for social and economic justice, journalist Stephanie Schroeder and finished it in 1 read: Could not put it down. Schroeder stunningly exposes the reader to her experience of undiagnosed bipolar disorder, walks us through the diagnosis and on-going impact it had upon her self-esteem while informing us of the vigilance and self-care required to cope as one integrates treatment as a life-long thread of continuity offering to ensure her wellness. Extremely sensitized to the nuance of 'relationship' especially she works to enhance relationships to those closest to her while revealing the conflicting realities in a condition that requires extreme self-knowledge deeply impacting those who are closest to her in both favorable and unfavorable ways. Reminding us again that life is a work of Art and relationships require adaptability and boundaries. The work that goes into them is formidable for those with and without mental illness.
As if by magic, which is of course a writer's skill at work - "Beautiful Wreck" is written with more than keen insights into the affect of multiple traumas, including having lived several blocks away from the World Trade Center explosion of 9/11. It is written with extreme vulnerability yet manages to remain unsentimental. It is written with courage yet manages to remain humble It is written with endearing passages regarding vanity and same-sex exits and entrances into one another's precious and formidable lives. It is written with an open-door to the perplexing, disruptive mental illness itself and the fears each episode incites when one is most in need of peace and reassurance. In addition, "Beautiful Wreck" gives you, the reader, many a twist 'n turn through each med change and it does so in only 136 pages.
Schroeder does not over-sentimentalize her condition even as it requires several significant changes most especially over a 16 year period. Her writing is frank yet encouraging.
When you are finished with the book you are sorry it is over. But then you realize that the imprint of the facts, change, ambition, love, curiosity, achievements, humor and stamina with which she writes combined with what you know about her life means the book is not over, it is simply Vol. I of what is in the process becoming.
© 2016 Kaolin
Kaolin, Author of "Talking about Race: A workbook about WhitePeople Fostering Racial Equality in Their Lives."