Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hurry Down Sunshine

Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg.

Hurry Down Sunshine, is a memoir about the author's journey with his daughter illness and recovery.
Sally is his 15 yr. old daughter. She becomes ill, with Manic Depression or the other name Bipolar Disorder. and he has to put her in a psychiatric hospital. It takes place in NYC. He doesn't have any insurance, he reassures the hospital he will pay. At the same time we see Sally's illness. He talk about the history of the family, his parents, and brothers. Mainly. his mother has a hard time bow to mother. She had a hard time dealing with parenting. There is he's brother Steve who is unstable. He lives in a studio apartment with 4 other people(homeless). It is dirty, and filthy. Michael is a good brother that meets his brother periodically at the supermarket to buy groceries. He's mother tries to ease Micheal's fears that Sally is ill because of him. His mother tells him she doesn't know why but she never wanted Steve. He talks about his bohemian relationship with his first wife. Which they still have a connection because of Sally. It seems Sally's brother is upset with their father they he was never told about Sally's illness. But seems he doesn't accept the illness. Michael talks about the other patients on the floor with mental illness. Sally's recover while on the floor, where she looks numb. Micheal's mother can only tolerate so much at the psychiatric ward. Michael talks about the great classic writers that had mental illness. The book is not a joy to read but does help us (the reader) understand Michael and what he is going through with his daughter and his family. does sprinkle some great minds with mental illness. There is a point where Michael takes Sally's medication most likely to see what she is going through. He understands her numbness.
Sally does recuperate, and comes out of it. But unfortunately she has remissions and then the cycle starts over again. We do find out that she did attempt to go to college. Did get married but unfortunately it did not last. She lives in Maine close to her mother doing menial work. This is the sad fact of mental illness. There is not a cure. There is medication to control it. But unfortunately there is times when a patient has bouts of mania with depression. They have Euphoria with depression, with psychosis, and paranoia. This is the sad fact of mental illness.
I was a Psychiatric Nurse in the VA Hospital. I still remember I had a patient in his 40's. He was Bipolar. He's family wanted him in a group home. He could not handle this as he was living independently. When he was put in the group home, he could not handle this and he committed suicide unfortunately. This is the sad part about mental illness and
Sally's journey. There isn't any happy ending. Sally just has to keep trying to survive and overcome. I would recommenced this book to anyone that is going through this with loved ones and friends and family to understand the illness. The other is find resources out in the community. Or do a search on the illness. If you suspect anyone going through this go get help. Or you think the person is going to hurt himself or someone else, get help. There are resources in the community.

Below is a article that Michael Greenberg wrote about his daughter.

How Is Sally Now?
By Michael Greenberg
Author of Hurry Down Sunshine

Many people ask me, after reading Hurry Down Sunshine, how Sally is doing now. The book tells the story of Sally's first manic attack at the age of fifteen, during the summer of 1996 in New York City. My aim was to recreate the experience of Sally's astonishing leap into psychosis from both inside and out, and to show its effect on those of us who are closest to her. Writing Hurry Down Sunshine, I sometimes felt as if I was describing a great storm: an unexpected wind had come upon us, tearing to bits the little boat upon which our family floated. When the wind finally lifted, we were each holding on to a different plank of the vessel, looking at each other from the across the water, which was suddenly calm again, surprised to have eyes.

The book ends when the summer ends, with Sally having recovered enough to return to school -- no small triumph. In a short postscript, I suggest that Sally's struggles did not end there. Manic-depression is a chronic condition. Although Sally has experienced rich and productive periods of remission and calm, the possibility of a new attack always looms. She is twenty-seven now, and out of necessity she and I both have become experts of her disease, ever vigilant of sudden mood swings and other ominous signs. Together -- along with her doctor, her mother, her friends -- we do our best to stave off a fresh breakdown.

This has proved to be an essential component of Sally's care. One of the most diabolical aspects of mania is its seductiveness in its earliest stages. It beckons you with feelings of omnipotence, fluidity, charisma -- who among us would be strong enough to turn away from such an electrified state? By the time florid psychosis has set in, it's usually too late. Sally has learned to dread her attacks and the months of distress and damage that follow them. The poet Robert Lowell, who also suffered from manic-depression, used to say that he could sense a seizure coming on by the mercurial, liquid feeling in his spine. He grew to fear it so much that he once overdosed on lithium to try to prevent it!

2008 has been a steady and rewarding year for Sally, after a difficult 2007 that included the breakup of her marriage and a delicate medication change. In January, she moved to Spring Lake Ranch, a therapeutic work community in the Green Mountains of Vermont. The Ranch is forty percent self-sufficient. They grow their own food, raise animals, and make one of the most delicious brands of maple syrup in Vermont. A tremendous espirit de corps exists between the residents and the staff. As I write this, Sally is preparing to move into her own apartment in a nearby city. She is a vibrant young woman, a caring friend, and a natural writer with an unusual gift for language.

I'd like to add a word or two about the immeasurable influence Sally has had on her family. Her stepmother Pat, inspired by her experience with Sally, has changed her career, taking a degree in infant development. She now works on early intervention with children who are at risk of developing long-lasting problems. Sally's older brother Aaron works for UNICEF, a division of the United Nations, as a Child Protection officer, a path that was also influenced by Sally. As for me, Sally has changed my fundamental view of the world. She has taught me about the fragility of even our closest relationships, and the endurance of our deepest bonds of love.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

Great review. And it's nice to see from the follow-up letter that Sally is hanging in there. What a great family to be surrounded by. I have learned empathy by reading stories like this.

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