Review of my memoir and a Q&A with me!
Originally posted on blah fucking polar:
Isn’t that a great title? I’d pick that book up regardless of its bipolar content.
I felt as if death wouldn’t be a shock because I had already died and was only shambling through the motions of living and relating to others, as if I were a robot or a zombie. (Stephanie Schroeder)
This is not your conventional bipolar memoir; if you want a book with solid linear progression, featuring bipolar every step of the way. If you want to get to know an interesting woman who can make you laugh and who doesn’t blame it all on the bipolar, read this one. And halle-freaking-lujah it’s written by somebody I can relate to in more depth than previous memoirs, a lesbian. (okay, there’s ‘Marbles’, but there’s not a lot of actual reading in that.) There aren’t many places you’ll find the words bipolar and butch cock together and believe me…
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My birthday bouquet
This is what I posted over at my spanglish familia: Motherhood, Mental Illness, and Metamorphosis’ MEDS COCKTAIL PARTY SEPTEMBER 10th World Suicide Prevention Day:
It’s September 10th – World Suicide Prevention Day AND my 52nd birthday! I’ve made it over 10 years longer than I ever thought I would be alive, and very glad I am. I hope for other people to get to that point as well. Stayin’ Alive is well worth it!
1. Your diagnosis
I live with the DSM diagnosis 296.8 – Bipolar Disorder NOS.
2. What meds you’re taking
I take a cocktail of Wellbutrin 150mg, Lamictal 100mg, Klonopin 2mg, and Abilify 10mg.
3. How you’re currently doing
I’m in remission and I’m baseline hypomanic so usually very energetic and productive, but I currently have another, mysterious, health issue that is sapping my energy. It is, I think, a gastro issue that I’m trying to get to the bottom of by eating differently and doing other things as well as pursuing Western medical advice, which is hard because, well, the ACA. However, I just got Medicaid and am seeing new doctors, so I hope to be on the road to recovery, or at least having new knowledge and understanding, very soon!
4. And anything you’d like to share regarding suicide and suicide prevention
I can’t stand the constant comparisons between physical and mental illness. Physic pain is something that cannot be fully explained to anyone who doesn’t experience it. The desire to die, when deep inside debilitating psychic pain, is very intense and very real. I’ve tried to take my own life three times, in various states of psychic pain and each time I came back from the brink. Suicidal decisions are made in times of great distress and for the purpose of killing the pain, not the person. My experience is that the pain can abate and trying to find other ways to alleviate that pain is the avenue we want to go down, not only medication, but whatever helps gets us through the day.
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THIS is what is shameful, this sign, ad, whatever it is #ShameOnKennethCole:
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Ken would have appreciated my ironic title of this posting on the anniversary of his death, April 25, as he was no fan of the IRS; Uncle Sam was, to him, the ultimate Scrooge.
As I write this, I am sitting in a friend’s apartment in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, where I am conducting research about Ken Rinciari.
Dawn, Ken’s surviving companion, has stories galore and I really enjoy her company in any case. We sit in her garden here in Alkmaar and talk, discussing world politics, recounting stories about Ken (Kenny, as she refers to him), gardening tips for my girlfriend back in Brooklyn, and all sorts of other topics.
Dawn had mentioned a handmade book Ken gave her about their trip to Hoboken (NJ) when I was here last year. It was to Alkmaar I did my first home exchange and it was with Ken, with whom I corresponded, and Dawn who came with him. It was in her old house, not far from here. Now she lives in a condo, also not far from here. Their friend Sonje visited as did Dawn’s son Jonathan.
The Hoboken book was missing last year, which was disappointing to me. But last week when I visited with Dawn, she presented the book for me to look at and it has re-inspired me about my writing about Ken and also gave me many ideas on framing, arc, and all those other writerly devises.
Following are the front and back covers of the “Hoboken book,” and the inside dedication from Ken to Dawn:
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“A deeply personal account of the difficulties faced by people suffering from mental illness… Schroeder’s brutally honest memoir reveals the extraordinary effort required to take control of one’s mental and emotional health.” –Publishers Weekly
“A riveting and painfully honest account, Beautiful Wreck not only demonstrates the importance of humor and perseverance in the face of mental illness, but also affirms the power of self-reinvention.” -Kaitlin Bell Barnett, author of Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up
“I highly recommend this candid memoir, particularly for Schroeder’s strong voice that successfully balances life’s darkest moments with humor.” –Persephone Magazine
“Brave and relentless, a courage to do it all that astounds one. To write it all down. But that is what I have come to expect from Stephanie Schroeder. I have known her some 25 years and watched what she has done with her life: journalism, law; wonderful what she has been through; to hell and back again. A survivor. Always with a sense of humor, a jauntiness that says to hell with ordinary opinion.” -Kate Millett, author of Sexual Politics
Written with humor, insight, perception, courage–a much needed work from a talented writer.” -Joan Nestle, activist, archivist & author of A Restricted Country and A Fragile Union
The memoir is now de rigeur, a rite of passage for middle-aged writers. To make one’s story stand out, it must stand up—to scrutiny, to deconstruction, to other people’s revisionism. Beautiful Wreck stands up—it’s the raw, honest, balls out (ovaries out?), in-your-face lesbian version of James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces without the lying and posturing. Schroeder takes us, in real time and retrospectively, on the trip through “comfort suicide”—the belief that death can be an answer to depression. She explicates how normative emotional pain so severe it makes you want to die can become. Fortunately, three attempts with no success were the charm; that dark round-trip down the river Styx brings Schroeder back irrevocably to life at its deepest, fullest and most inspirational. This is what survival is, and Schroeder lays it bare. -Victoria A. Brownworth, award-winning author, Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life and Coming Out of Cancer
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