Author Willa Goodfellow’s dedication page simply states: “I wrote this for you.”
She sure did. This book is for the myriad people diagnosed—or misdiagnosed—with Bipolar I or Bipolar II disorder. Having been misdiagnosed for years by several psychiatrists and mental health therapists, and prescribed a vast array of antidepressants, Goodfellow’s quest is to get the right diagnosis and the right treatment—without all the negative side effects.
“Recovery” is her objective. She wants her readers to know there is realistic hope to recover and successfully live with Bipolar disorder.
Goodfellow’s journey begins with this bizarre thought: to stab her mental health therapist in the neck with a nail file. She actually attempts to do the same to herself while driving, steering with her knees while holding the nail file to her throat, searching for her jugular. Fortunately, she doesn’t follow through. But the idea to harm herself or others triggers Goodfellow to examine her own mind and thought processes. She does this while vacationing in Costa Rica, where she not only stops taking Prozac cold turkey, but also manages to frantically write the foundation of “Prozac Monologues: A Voice from the Edge” in the space of just one week. She knows that Prozac is not working; in fact, it was causing diarrhea and making her more depressed.
Goodfellow examines the repercussions of untreated or mistreated Bipolar disorder. She says, “If you have tried a number of antidepressants, if you dutifully ‘keep trying,’ if your depression keeps coming back, and it keeps getting worse, something has to give.” One needs to take action and be their own advocate for mental health. She speaks from her own experience, with uncanny insight, using laymen’s terms.
Goodfellow believes that recovery begins with having a sense of humor, which opens up the mind to objectively examine the thought processes of those on the Bipolar spectrum. She explains in an easily understandable manner the complexities of Bipolar I vs. Bipolar II. Having been finally diagnosed with Bipolar II, she clears up the misconception that those suffering from Bipolar disorder are simply “wild and crazy.” Goodfellow treats with empathy, compassion and humor, the topic of living with and successfully treating mental illness.
Most importantly, Goodfellow offers help and hope to those on the Bipolar spectrum. Her diligent research revealed that up to “65 percent of those with Bipolar I or II attempt suicide.” Goodfellow provides an array of resources, references and tools in her Appendix to assist with diagnosis and treatment, such as the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ), and the Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale (BSDS). Readers can use these tools and then present them to their psychiatrist or mental health therapist to get on the correct treatment path.
I highly recommend this engaging book to anyone who has or wants to understand Bipolar disorder. It can make a significant difference. As Goodfellow powerfully states at the end of her monologues, “You are not alone. Even in the darkness, you are not alone. Choose life.”