This Fragile Life: A Mothers Story of a Bipolar Son

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But those raised by parents with mental illness are not condemned to remain emotional hostages to their troubled parents. They can lead emotionally healthy lives. Many people who have experienced tumultuous upbringings find it hard to seek help. Indeed, there does appear to be a genetic component.

But it is also becoming clear that lifestyle and environment affect the severity of the disorder. Getting help through therapy and sometimes medications are also factors that can hugely help someone with mental illness. Beth shared these conflicts. Finding acceptance for who she is no matter what she expresses in the therapy room proved powerful for Beth. I paced and waited for the next call telling me my son was OK.

Houston did not call again until morning. The drive to Vera's house, in the dark with sketchy directions, had taken him more time than he had expected. Fearing the worst, I slept little. Houston telephoned me the next day and described the situation. After arriving at Vera's, he knocked and shouted through the door, "It's Houston. Mark was awake, resting quietly in her arms. I heard the strain of incredulity still caught in his voice. He said, 'Hey, Dad,' but it was like he had just seen me the day before. And it really didn't sound like Mark.

It was like someone else's voice calling me 'Dad. Vera whispered hello. During the hours it had taken Houston to fly from Philadelphia to Los Angeles and then drive the hour and a half to Vera's home, Mark had slowly deteriorated. He had been talking nonsense, and Vera had been agreeing with everything he said.

Mark had shouted at the top of his lungs off and on during the night, so Vera had asked a male friend to come sit with her "just in case something happened that I couldn't handle. Vera told us later that she had been so relieved to see Houston arrive with the morning light. Within a half hour of Houston's arrival, Mark became extremely agitated. He began to scream obscenities directed only at his father.


  • Framed.
  • The Ghosts Feast (The Breathing Ghosts).
  • Lilliam (Spanish Edition);
  • parallel (Japanese Edition).

His volume increased, and neighbors began to peer from their doorways. Houston told me Mark frightened him. He was shouting and baring his teeth. It was like one of those horror movies, only I was in the middle of it. Houston told me that Mark paced shirtless and shoeless throughout the first floor of Vera's house, "like a caged animal.

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He spat challenges at his father, "You think you're going to take me back, but you're not. We're going outside, and we're going to race up that hill. See that hill? And I'm going to win. Houston worried he would break something precious to Vera. Mark pulled books from bookcases and heaved them around the room and then made several piles with them. Houston and Vera became increasingly fearful.

31 Books That Will Help You Better Understand Mental Illness And Disorders

I watched it happen! I was frightened for him, but I was really afraid for Vera and myself. I felt like Mark was holding us hostage. As Mark became more viciously threatening with the knives, Houston gestured to Vera to call for help. I just knew Mark wasn't listening to anything we said. When Vera called the local hospital, they told her to call When Mark saw the swirling police lights, he seemed to sense danger for himself.

He immediately ceased his threatening behavior and, clutching Vera's dog, fled to a nearby closet. Houston said, "It was amazing how fast he moved. It was as if he knew something bad was about to happen. Mark hid in the closet until the police coerced him out. He remained confused and unclear about Houston's relationship to him.

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Numbed by profound sadness, Houston recounted, "All I could do was put one foot in front of the other in order to keep going. I couldn't really think. Like he was a criminal.

He was bare-chested, barefooted, and had on sweatpants she had loaned him. I just wanted to put my arms around him, that's all. They wouldn't even let me ride with him to the hospital. In his rental car, Houston followed the police cruiser. The private hospital was expensive. Houston held his breath and charged five thousand dollars on his credit card in order for Mark to receive care.

It was financially difficult for us, but we wanted Mark to receive the best possible treatment. Mark was irate, verbally abusive, and uncooperative. He was held for seventy-two hours, the requisite time for emergency psychiatric evaluation, medication, and treatment. He spent a portion of those hours in four-point restraints.

The events of Houston's L. He never moved. I prayed he wasn't too scared," Houston told me. He notified Lisa of Mark's whereabouts as soon as he reached the hospital. He was then fortunate to connect with another of our friends who cut short a business trip in Colorado to come to Los Angeles to lend a hand. When our friend, Craig, arrived, he and Houston met with Lisa.

She recounted in detail Mark's previous few months. Lisa had been picking up the pieces of Mark's life as fast as they fell away. She provided excuses for his absences to his professors and university administrators.

Childhood Bipolar Disorder

Since Mark could not focus sufficiently to read school assignments, she read pages aloud to him. I related to many of the things that the parents feared and went through. I recognize that I am only at the beginning of a lifelong journey. I realize I am probably still very very naive. I am ever hopeful that my child will be a success story.

I loved the poetry, written by the author's bipolar son, which was part of her book, because, of course poetry can speak to me and it is often my own way of putting into words my emotions. Her book makes me feel like I s This book was a quick read for me. Her book makes me feel like I should write my own book and infuse it with my own poetry.

This was a very thought-provoking read for me and I'm sure my mind will revisit it. It is comforting to know that others are on similar journeys. Sep 25, Lisa Workman rated it really liked it. I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Having worked in the mental health community for a number of years, I thought this author did an excellent job of describing life with a loved one suffering from bipolar disorder.

Her words were candid and empathic. I think her resilience through the ups and downs of her son's disorder will serve as encouragement for others going through similar struggles. Oct 21, Becky Sandham Mathwin rated it really liked it. Very good memoir about what it's like to parent an adult child with Bipolar Disorder. The Bakers are an upper middle class family both parents are professors and their son Mark graduated from University of Pennsylvania prior to becoming significantly symptomatic.

An interesting but very sad book. Sep 21, Dawn Wells rated it liked it. This book reminded me of a friend who called me in the middle of the night in jail and in need of help. He had his first episode and didnt know what was happening to him. He went through several years of doctors and medications Along with some self medication.

Vanderbilt University professor writes memoir on bipolar son

Today, 20 years later he is a married father of 4 and still a great friend. We have made some strides in mental health but still need help in acceptance, awareness, and support. Feb 09, Jennifer rated it really liked it. This book fill a gap in memoirs relating to mental illness and the family, as the individual who is ill is an African-American man which is a high-risk group when it comes to encounters with the police and criminal justice system.

Though a mother's memoir, it also includes poetry written by her son at different points in his journey. Worth a read! May 05, A Serious Lover rated it it was amazing. Gives one a clear understanding of the limitations parents of adult children with mental illness experience. The author dealt with the stresses on her marriage resulting from their son's illness honestly and gently.

Apr 09, Jessica rated it liked it Shelves: mental-health. A solid book, with strongly referenced information. The author describes the struggles of her ill son and what it is like trying to manage severe bipolar disorder when you actually have the financial resources to obtain decent care. Aug 20, Inara rated it really liked it. I enjoyed this book. It was shocking to read about a kid who was normal into his twenties and then had mental illness strike.

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Aug 18, Cathy rated it it was ok. I am speechless. I had a hard time reading this book. I can say no more. A must read for anyone who knows anyone with bipolar disorder. May 23, Cappy rated it it was amazing Shelves: mental-illness.