Mental illness is a struggle that takes its toll not only the person, who is suffering by it, but also on their friends and family. We often find ourselves at loss in understanding the complexities of such problems. Several of us claim that there is no such thing as a mental illness; it’s only a lack of common sense and an easy way to attract attention. However, Emma Volesky has talked in so much depth about her bipolar condition in Staying Sane – A Struggle of Survival that it would eliminate any or all shreds of the doubt from the reader’s mind.
I had always wondered what goes inside the mind of a person suffering by any mental illness but not after reading this book. Emma has opened up about every bit of gruesome, confusing, annoying, and conflicting details that ran through her mind, which has left no scope of any more wonderment.
Emma struggled with her mental condition since an early childhood. Her mood swings, violent thoughts against her own siblings, feeling that everyone was talking about her behind her back, and seeing strange white distorted figures are just a few of those symptoms. Normal everyday chores to which nobody gives even second thought pushed her brain towards suicidal thoughts. To her, death seemed like a getaway from each trouble.
She would get into troubles by acting on the thoughts that get into her head, but she lacked the rational thinking at times like this. For instance, the idea of pressing a pillow on the face of her sleeping sister just to see what would happen appeared perfectly normal to her. The aftereffects of executing such ideas, as expected, were always negative, which further pushed her into neverending confusing thoughts. This was her “normal.”
Before you discard it as a very dark book, think again. Yes, this is a book about negative and dark parts of Emma’s life, but it is also filled with the power of love, care, and family. After reading it, a reader would be forced to re-evaluate their take on life. They would be encouraged to think if she can do it, so can I. Moreover, it is a memoir that would help in understanding mental illness. All our assumptions are validated and/or changed for good. I would recommend it to the readers who wish to know about mental illness, the people who are suffering with such condition, and the families who are in similar situation.