Do you know or love a child with a serious mental illness? I just finished reading After Her Brain Broke–Helping My Daughter Recover Her Sanity, by Susan Inman (Bridgeross Communications, 2010). And I related to the author’s experiences–the bewilderment, the desperate search for help, the need to connect with other families in the same boat.
At 15, Inman’s daughter Molly was diagnosed with Manic Depressive Disorder–and so began their years of searching for treatment, for support and for hope.
In a matter-of-fact style, Inman documents their journey–and it’s a harrowing read. Like when she commits her daughter to a psychiatric facility to get help. Guards approach Molly. Inman writes,“Molly begins screaming at the sight of them and I realize my body is shaking as I turn my mentally ill daughter over to people who are terrifying to her.”
Over the years, Molly’s condition worsens. She accuses her parents of trying to poison her. Medications make her hair fall out, cover her face in acne and bloat her body. “She cycles back and forth from a deathlike depression to the frantic pacing of mania.”
Eventually Molly is so ill, she can’t be left alone in the house or outside. For years Inman hires university students to be companions to her daughter. She writes, “Near the end of the two year psychotic episode, that often meant just sitting near Molly in her almost catatonic state.”
Strong and determined, Inman relentlessly fights for her daughter. But there is a cost. She writes, “My broken heart is becoming harder to control. I start weeping at inconvenient times and places.”
Miraculously, this true story has a happy ending. In 2009, Molly was a speaker at a mental health conference on the “Stories of Recovery” panel. Nine years earlier she had been admitted to hospital with her first psychiatric break.Now she attends college, has a boyfriend, and manages her illness. And her mother is learning to let go.
Included in this book are listings of helpful Canadian mental health resources. If you parent a child like Molly, read this book for support and validation. And even if your family isn’t affected by mental illness read this book. You’ll gain awareness and understanding of an illness still so shrouded in stigma. And you’ll read about a parent who, like you, will do whatever it takes to help her child.