I often receive free books to read and review and today’s book came through another Facebook post that drew me in. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has been a previous Comments for a Cause recipient. The North Carolina chapter is quite active and provides a great deal of help to those who are struggling with mental illness or have loved ones who are affected. I saw a post that the local NAMI chapter had some books to give away and I thought that would be a perfect book for me to read and review.
Behind the Wall: The True Story of Mental Illness as Told by Parents was compiled by Mary Widdifield and Elin Widdifield, MA with a foreward written by John G. Looney, MD, MBA. The book is divided into chapters with each one devoted to the story of one child from the parental point of view. They are honest, emotional, and their words are very difficult to read at times. While I “know” about many mental illness symptoms it is impossible for me to totally understand what it is like to live with any of these diagnoses that were described in the book.
First off, this is NOT an easy book to read. Anyone associated with any type of mental illness knows that there are no easy fixes. There is no magic pill to take that will “fix” everything. Those who suffer with mental illness have a life of medicine adjustment, counseling and therapy, and challenges. But the positive is that IF you can navigate the system there is help available. Maybe the one affected can’t be “cured” of the illness but there are positive things that can be done to help control the symptoms.
One chapter began with the tagline “The journey begins, chaos erupts, and diagnosis seems elusive.” So many of the words of the parents in this book echoed those same words. As I read each selection I realized that without professional help parents feel isolated and adrift when trying to deal with their child. No matter how old your child becomes that is always your child. You always want the best for them. And so you continue, as these parents demonstrated, to search for help and solutions for your child.
This probably wasn’t the best time for me to be reading such a disturbing book, and yes it is at times, as my grief is bubbling near the surface these days but I am very glad I was able to get a copy to read. I plan to share it in my Little Free Library and hope that it reaches someone’s hands that can really glean some help from it. I always believe that it is better to be educated about things and that knowledge is power. Reading this book allowed me to gain a bit more knowledge on a subject that many deal with every single day of their life.
Thanks to Janice Detwiler Kimball and the local chapter of NAMI for a free copy of this book. I am grateful to those who were willing to share and for the authors who compiled and told their stories.