Bipolar books; When We Collided, An Unquiet Mind | Book Review

This is basically me doing two reviews in one, with an intro.

Do you every just realize that you don’t know enough about a group of people’s situation? That’s me after bipolar disorder is a thing that has popped up with a question mark among multiple friends more recently. It makes sense; there’s a lot that will show first signs of bipolar in their early twenties, I’ve started at university where people are under a lot of stress, people are separated from their families and more open because they need support. There’s a whole list of causes.

Read a webmd page on what bipolar is on your own, I’m not going to oversimplify it and then obviously get it wrong. I think An Unquiet Mind’s description of it and constantly using manic-depressive instead makes more sense for people unfamiliar, if not for the actual researchers.

I think I knew more about bipolar than most going into this tiny project, but that’s just because the bar is low. I love this podcast especially by sickboy, called My little blue devil and I where a girl Siobhan talks very openly and with humor about her experiences living with bipolar type 2.

As someone who has other illnesses; what I think is most important to keep in mind is that if you’re reading an account of one person’s experience, that’s that one single person. It might give you better insight into what they’re dealing with, but you can’t apply that to everyone else in that category, which makes sense logically, but people seem to completely forget it when it comes to physical and mental illnesses.

When We Collided by Emery Lord

This is a contemporary young adult with a bit of romance. It has such great characters who form a big chosen family type of bond (though many are siblings so … actual family) with their different problems. The main character Vivi is new in town & has bipolar disorder and is definitely the best written of them. It brings all the summer feelings of a romance, along with all the messiness of someone not stable, but naturally so extroverted and fierce that at the beginning it’s hard to tell for those she interacts with. I’m so mad about reviews that call her a manic pixie dream girl because 1) didn’t someone write a long article about never using that description again and we all agreed and 2) she’s literally manic and you can obviously see the switch. Is there anything I’ve learned in the past couple months it’s that a symptom of manic state is that people don’t have the same risk calculation ability.

4/5 stars. I didn’t enjoy every part as I read it, but it’s stuck in my head, especially Vivi, for a month now.

An Unquiet Mind by Kay. R. Jamison

Trigger warning for suicidal and suicide attempt.

This is a memoir from someone who knows what she’s talking about, having bipolar in her family, struggling with it through her university days, eventually researching bipolar disorder and then getting the diagnosis.

I decided early in graduate school that I needed to do something about my moods. It quickly came down to a choice between seeing a psychiatrist or buying a horse. Since almost everyone I knew was seeing a psychiatrist, and since I had an absolute belief that I should be able to handle my own problems, I naturally bought a horse.

That quote sounds about right. Reminds me a lot of;

Anyway, she eventually sells the horse and gets a psychiatrist and Lithium basically saves her life, as she describes it. Along with the amazing descriptions of living with bipolar, the part where she questions her intentions and her career really got to me. She’s got to face the concept that her disorder might make her a bad psychologist, then she goes through all the reasons why that’s wrong. And the checks she has in place if she were to go suddenly into mania (though unlikely). She instead uses that drive and passion to be a better researcher on her own disorder, which was really inspiring.

But I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been mildly manic. When I am my present “normal” self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In short, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.

They all seemed very related to one another at the time. Not only did they seem related, but they seemed together to contain some essential key to the grandiosely tizzied view of the universe that my mind was beginning to spin.

5/5 stars. It’s beautifully written, so honest and I’m honestly impressed about the courage to publish (in 1995) for someone who is very aware about the risks of having her career as a clinical psychologist questioned afterwards.

let’s hate everything for a little while | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • By grand central station I sat down and wept by Elizabeth Smart
  • An unquiet mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
  • When we collided by Emery Lord
  • The midnight lie by Marie Rutkoski

Added to TBR:

  • It’s kind of a funny story by Ned Vizzini (mental illness, tw: suicidal mc)
  • The shadows between us by Tricia Levenseller (new YA fantasy release that I’ve seen a lot of praise about): also has a female mc that is trying to marry and then kill the current kind, wooo drama)
  • City of ghosts by Victoria Schwab (middle grade or YA fantasy/paranormal): set in Edinburgh and especially Mary’s Close which was my highlight of my trip there!
  • When we were magic by Sarah Gailey (new YA lgbt witch fantasy): it promises queer witch girls and a good friendgroup.
  • The story of more by Hope Jahren (science book about climate change): the author already proved she could write with the fantastic Lab Girl, so I’m really looking forward to this book
  • Catch and kill by Ronan Farrow (nonfiction; about sexual predators): I didn’t know Ronan Farrow was the journalist behind publishing the Weinstein case before recently

Three things on my mind:

  • I’m not doing good in the middle of this. I wasn’t doing good going into it. Just got in touch with therapist again after radio silence since I left the city three weeks ago, so that’s good. I might’ve also gotten corona? Or it could’ve been any awful infection or worsening of any condition I had, but I was so incredibly ill for a bit over a week. I’m currently taking it one hour at a time, trying to not force myself to see this as extra time I should use to be productive, because there’s an epidemic out there and everything is difficult for everyone. Stay safe.
  • Our exams is still on; but from home and most of our grades are changed from A-F to pass/not pass. It’s so incredibly difficult to do things, but the external university stress at least brings some degree of familiarity. It’s funny how this whole year I’ve been like “as long as university stress is my without-a-doubt biggest source of stress, I’m going to be able to do this”. I was thinking about personal mental and physical health, as well as family trouble, but well shit, who would’ve counted on a epidemic. It’s also funny how before this really went downhill, I was convinced something big was coming and that the future months looked like a dark hole and why bother planning for anything. I talked about it with my therapist, I was like “what kind of depressive anxiety is this” and then it turned out to be real.
  • Two youtube recommendations; the amazing Conan Gray dropped an album, and Hank Green conveys a connection I’d been pondering on – how his (and mine) crohn’s diagnosis and this corona outbreak changing the ordinary carries a similar feeling

A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter | Book Review

A new book on the list of all-time favourites.

Genre: nonfiction, memoir, travel to the Arctic

Pages: 224

Synopsis

In 1934, the painter Christiane Ritter leaves her comfortable life in Austria and travels to the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen, to spend a year there with her husband. She thinks it will be a relaxing trip, a chance to “read thick books in the remote quiet and, not least, sleep to my heart’s content”, but when Christiane arrives she is shocked to realize that they are to live in a tiny ramshackle hut on the shores of a lonely fjord, hundreds of miles from the nearest settlement, battling the elements every day, just to survive.

At first, Christiane is horrified by the freezing cold, the bleak landscape the lack of equipment and supplies… But as time passes, after encounters with bears and seals, long treks over the ice and months on end of perpetual night, she finds herself falling in love with the Arctic’s harsh, otherworldly beauty, gaining a great sense of inner peace and a new appreciation for the sanctity of life.

This rediscovered classic memoir tells the incredible tale of a woman defying society’s expectations to find freedom and peace in the adventure of a lifetime. 

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five stars

Reading this book was an experience, one that made me actually want to take a trip further north than Norway, to experience the Arctic for myself. Which sounds both dumb and unrealistic, but truly read this book if you want to understand why.

This book is special because of many reasons. It’s a memoir from 1934 by a german woman, the painter Christiane Ritter. Her husband has already fallen in love with the Arctic, and she decided to uproot her comfortable and rich life and see what it’s all about herself. He warns her about how isolated it really is, but it’s almost as if he’s forgotten the big change from normal city life already, becoming used to having to fend for himself, to have no one to turn to when the hut gets covered in snow, and travelling great distances to search for a better stove to cook on.

It’s obvious that it’s written in another time from Christiane Ritter’s position in life, but the emotion she conveys through very sparce wording was really breathtaking. I know enough about the cold emptiness of certain landscapes that I felt I could recognize it, and the feelings the vastness brings after you get over its overwhelming fear of isolation.

Everyone should give this book a chance, it won’t be for everyone’s taste, but it earns its place among my favourite books of all time because of its uniqueness. Why did I feel like this contains lessons in writing as well. I really wanted to add some quotes, but I left the beautiful book filled with markings at home by the university, and as its closed for now, this will have to do.

My feelings reading this book: fear on Christiane’s behalf, then impressed & mindblown. I really loved the third person with them most of the time, the Norwegian, who Christiane talks about the strange customs of. He represented my norwegian heart too well.

Short reviews: aliens & feminism

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Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A short book packed with useful and practical advice to how to raise a girl to have complete self-worth and make them prepared, without setting unreachable standards for how to raise a kid. It’s very matter of fact and inclusive, a modern view and setting for feminism and a woman’s place in society (which is everywhere – you just got to get your children to believe it). Wholeheartedly recommend it to every adult who in any part participate in raising a kid. 5/5 stars. 

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everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by jomny sun

This book is so special, it’s a graphic novel in very simplistic style, about a lonely alien that’s sent to earth to observe humans and instead meets a lot of different animals and tries to learn from them. It’s just a wonderful, wholesome, calming read with a alien feeling alien to other aliens and then finding friends in strange places. When ur too tired to read anymore you can just sit there and colour in the illustrations, like I absolutely did. 4/5 stars.

 

 

 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi | Review

Pages: 210

Genre: memoir

 

Synopsis

The author, Paul Kalanithi, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer after just compling his education to become a neurosurgeon. In this memoir he talks about how difficult it was to go from the surgeon to a patient, how he needed to face his own mortality and death and not would be able to have the long career and life he planned for with his wife. He died in March 2015, while finishing this book and it’s an unforgettable story with wisdom, life perspectives, struggles, love and uncertianties.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:

fem

While reading this book I was on the verge of crying all the time. I started reading it in an airport bus, which was not a good idea as I nearly cried there, on the plane and going into a new city. It was and awesome experience though, to take part and learn of Paul’s last time and his perspectives and reflections not only on his terminal illness, but on his education and choices until then. It was so many details and experiences from the many years he was a medicine student, one of the best to become a neurosurgeon at that.

I’ve spent some time in hospitals unfortunately, and it was very interesting to get one doctor’s viewpoint. He said himself how his thoughts changed on patient and the whole process as he became the patient himself, the uncertainties for the future and how a human often has to make the most difficult choices of their lives in those doctor offices. Paul gives his story, but he also is a people-watcher and gives detailed decriptions of how he had to be considerate of different personalities when he had to tell them of a brain-tumor or needing surgery, which I found really interesting.

Paul considered being an author as he was an avid reader and writer when he was younger, and his talent becomes obvious in this book. It’s so well-written, a thing I never expected, along with the interesting thoughts he has. Well worth the read just for the writing, when his story is the most amazing part. In many ways this book was about life choices, which all obviously become more serious when having a terminal diagnosis.

The feeling this book gave me: I was sad at how unpredictable and horrible life can be, especially as I can sympatize too much with watching your body fall apart as you become sick. But mostly I was actually just interested and curious. It’s a book about life as much as it’s about death. I’m so happy for this book’s succeess, it deserves it all and would really recommend it.

 

Secrets for the Mad by dodie | Audiobook Review

 

Genre: memoir 

Rating out of five stars:

fire

who is dodie?

Dodie Clark, often just dodie, is a musician and youtuber I follow. Her music is lovely and relatable, her honesty refreshing and she makes videos on topics like mental health and depersonalization, bisexuality and just being a young adult.

the audiobook

I wasn’t rushing to read this book when it was released, which is why I only got to it now. It didn’t feel like a book I needed to read from what I gathered, but it got good reviews and when I found the audiobook I was sold. dodie’s voice is lovely and calms me, which is weird to admit. Her phrasing of thoughts is good as well.

The audiobook is great! I highly recommend to listen to memoirs this way, especially if the author is narrating it like this one, and you like their voice. It’s the person telling their story, with all the emotion they have about it visible. 10/10 audiobook, especially as some chapters include songs that fits with the times and ideas she’s talking about. It was my favourite parts and reminded me why I love her music. Also it was nice that all her friends voiced their parts in the audiobook, giving another perspective on dodie’s life.

what it’s about

The book felt aimed at teenage girls especially, as dodie takes a lot from her own experiences and those she is told from fans. The first chapter, one I really liked, is about how she was writing and a girl found her, told dodie her story of struggles and anxiety and dodie gave some advice, shared some experiences. I think that’s very transferrable to the content of the rest of the book.

I loved the song-parts and when she described them. I realize that I’m more interested in how she thinks about the world as a young adult in the business she’s in, something I get through her youtube videos and songs. In many ways this feels like a book that is written too soon, but at the same time it might be people out there that really needs it, if only for the idea that everything, every situation is temporary, much more temporary than it feels when you’re fourteen and not in control of your daily life. And for that alone I’m glad this book exist and is out there spreading that message.

Comparing this book to other memoirs I’ve read, it has a lot less to say and less new information or personal experiences to share, because dodie is already an online personality. Lately, after the book was published, she’s openly questioned how much to share, but I feel it’s a real thing in this book as well. She doesn’t seem to pour herself into it, like her music lyrics. But it fulfills the role of comforting and giving advice to young people, along with other smaller things like giving a bit of backstories to songs or times in dodie’s life. It’s a book that I expect is important for certain people, which is why I give it a good rating, but I didn’t personally gain a lot from it. It could also be that I felt like she was telling a story I in many ways already know, between having followed her casually and having been a teenage girl. 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah | Audiobook Review

 

 

Genre: memoir

 

My thoughts

Rating out of five: 

fem

the audiobook

It’s the best kind of audiobook (in my opinion), where the author narrates the memoir he wrote. Trevor has the perfect voice for these things already, and the emotion, power or softness he brings really brings out each element of the book. Would definitely recommend the audiobook, as well as the story.

 

the story

 

Trevor Noah is known as a comic and host of The Daily Show, born and grown up in South-Africa before also getting big in USA.

Every detail in here is fascinating. I’ve watched Trevor on tv occassionally, I knew the bare minimum about him growing up in South Africa and being a kid of mixed race when that was illegal under apartheid. In this book I also got to know about everything from how complex South-Africa is considering all the different groups of people who lives there, with eleven (!!!) official languages, to how his relationship with his amazing and strict mom was when he grew up. There’s so many stories he tells, some funny, some heartbreaking, most either both or a place in between. Among all of this is some sturdy thoughts on change in society and how he views the world and people.

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”

Trevor speaks six languages. That and his ability to be a chameleon in social settings is some of the qualities that led to his success, as he talks about in here. Also religion seem to be out to kill him, as the many trips to church with his mom sometimes ended in kidnappings and catastrophies. I applaud the way these stories are told, with the seriousness they need and a lot of humor. I’m a bit unnerved by how Trevor manages to tell some stories so calmly, and still sound perfectly honest and genuine. That’s a skill or a mindset I still can’t tell where comes from.

The ending is heartwrenching and filled with tension, but then he takes it all around to his mom’s belief again and I was crying. There’s some things in this book that most would see as too unrealistic if it were fiction, including his step-father nearly killing his mom. I don’t know what to say to this other than it felt like a book that someone had poured their truth and soul into, and I honestly encourage everyone to read it. Most articles I’ve seen of this book talks about how Trevor was in jail for a week, but it’s the “smaller” things it’s worth it for. Like how he acquired a cd burner and started a dj business, and what that meant. Or how his mom didn’t let risks derail what she did in her life.

“People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.”

 

My Fight / Your Fight by Ronda Rousey | Audiobook Review

“If you can’t dream big, ridiculous dreams, what’s the point in dreaming at all?”

This book was ridiculously inspiring.

Genre: memoir

Rating out of five:

fire

My thoughts

This book is a lot about fighting, about Ronda’s routine, mindset and training, which I expected, but also about her background in judo and life growing up, dealing with struggles like her dad’s accident and then suicide, and all setbacks she’s had fighting and in life in general. Have in mind that it was released before she lost her champion title, I’m just late reading it.

 

Things I learned about Ronda Rousey:

(I already knew she was a strong superhuman)

She can tell a story. I listened to the audiobook, which might’ve increased this even more, but there’s so much power behind her words and looking over the writing afterwards it’s written just how she would express herself. It feels like a nine hour motivational speech/documentary, with tough as well as good times, and it was amazing. I mean –

“The kind of hope I’m talking about is the belief that something good will come. That everything you’re going through and everything you’ve gone through will be worth the struggles and frustrations. The kind of hope I’m talking about is a deep belief that the world can be changed, that the impossible is possible.”

I never realized how emotional Ronda is, even if she clearly says so at the beginning. She cries a lot, and with each time my respect for her grows. It must be difficult to cry in a room with fighters, and then say it to the world with such confidence.

She’s had some shitty boyfriends. Not all shitty, some just with their own alcohol/drug problems, but I wanted to punch most of them. Telling her to be more feminine? Get the fuck out. Who did they think they were dating? Another ex-boyfriend took nude photos of her without permission, which is all kinds of fucked up. Not wanting to let him have that control of her, never knowing if he really deleted them in the end, she did a nude photoshoot.

 

– her backstory –

There has also been some very bad times in Rousey’s life. At one point she had walked out from home while everyone was sleeping, was between gyms and eventually thrown out from friend’s house, without much money. All after being in the olympics. How the fuck can’t olympic athletes earn money to sustain themselves?

When I all of a sudden realized how alone she was, without real possibilities to turn to or even work towards, it was heartwrenching. Had to remind myself it would get better, obviously knowing she ends up in the ufc someday. That’s what Ronda seems to focus on too looking back, that she’s earned good things out of the bad times. She’s never complaining or bitter, but still emotional about certain things.

“You have to fight because you can’t count on anyone else fighting for you. And you have to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. To get anything of real value, you have to fight for it.”

– MMA career –

Other things I noticed was how much anger, or maybe agressiveness, is shown at times, and I certainly understood why she’s a fighter. I’ve always wondered how much of the focus in her mma career was on the sport and being the best fighter she could be and how much was show and entertainment.

Turns out she already had more experience than I thought fighting in judo, and she also was aware it also was about giving a show and personality people that people could be captivated by and cheer for. A good mix, then. She was the first female champion in the ufc, and the one who opened up a lot of possibilities for others.

It’s interesting listening to her future plans and movie roles, from the future knowing she lost the way she did. But in the book she even admits it all might end some day, in an instant. And how she describes every other loss she’s had through her career, I don’t doubt that losing the champion title was extremely hard for her as well.

 

– fighting and bulimia –

In many ways this book is made for a broad audience, but also fighters, becase she describes in detail her pre-fight routines, food and weight loss. She’s quite open about her problems with bulimia early on in her career, but with the more professional team in ufc she got an expert on food around her, which made her realize she could eat nearly normal and still make weight.

She doesn’t say it outright, but there’s clearly tension on the contsraint and unprofessionalism fighting in judo, in comparison to mma. Which makes sense because it’s where the attention and money lies, but it’s still weird.

“Once you give them the power to tell you you’re great, you’ve also given them the power to tell you you’re unworthy. Once you start caring about people’s opinions of you, you give up control.”

– final thoughts –

It’s a book I would recommend to everyone interesting in fighters and sport, or just looking for inspiration to work hard to achieve something. The audiobook was the best kind, a memoir told by the person it’s about, and I would completely recommend that as well, I can imagine it would be great listening to it while working out.

 

 

 

 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

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That is the longest title i’ve seen in a while and it fits exceptionally well.

This book’s a part journal, part running diary of the famous author Haruki Murakami, and was the first novel I read by him. I still found this book interesting, even if I’m not a runner – not at all.

My thoughts

fire

– this book is about running and so much more – 

I was looking for motivation and insight, which I got, in a way. There’s a lot of reasons to read this book. The writing’s fantastic and so is the self-reflections and general thoughts it included. I like Murakami’s view of the world, which is a weird thing to say, but his thoughts on why he’s running and his stories are interesting in themselves. Like when he sold his jazz club to become a full-time author because it was what he wanted. He went against common sense, but he gives his reasons to why that didn’t stop him. And there seems like nothing will stop him from running for a while either, which still baffles me that one could genuinely enjoy.

– i will never run a marathon but – 

What surprised me the most was the meditation aspect of long-distance running and why someone deliberately cause themselves pain, like Murakami running a marathon in the scolding heat of greece’s summer, on his own. I’m no stranger to pain, but that’s something else. And Murakami doesn’t seem to understand it completely either, only that he wasn’t about to do it again.

When Murakami wrote this book, in 2005, he’d run somewhere around 24 marathons, which I have to be amazed at. He’s been running longer than I’ve been alive. It was really interesting to search for the reason to why he’s be able to keep putting effort into something so demanding for so long. Definitely something to strive for, but it doesn’t mean I’m about to go running anytime soon. I now believe some enjoy it, but they can keep it. I find my meditational exercise elsewhere, even if I didn’t realize it before this book. 

10

– Murakami on writing –

“Writers who are blessed with inborn talent can freely write novels no matter what they do – or don’t do. Like water from a natural spring, the sentences just well up, and with little or no effort these writers can complete at work. Occassionally you’ll find someone like that, but, unfortunately, the category wouldn’t include me. I haven’t spotted and springs nearby. I have to pound the rock with a chisel and dig out a deep hole before I can locate the source of creativity. To write a novel I have to drive myself hard physically and use a lot of time and effort. Every time I begin a new novel, I have to dredge out another new, deep hole. But as I’ve sustained this kind of life over many years, I’ve become quite efficient, both technically and physically, at opening a hole in the hard rock and locating a new water vein.”