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All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the…
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All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness

by Sheila Hamilton

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I have two distinct reactions to this book: one, the scientific information supported by empirical data is invaluable to people suffering through mental illness and for the people who love, live and work with them; two, there was way too much use of the word "I" in the storytelling.

I get that this is a memoir of sorts but Hamilton is not a sympathetic narrator. She comes across as shallow: "his Italian leather shoes", "his Italian slacks", "his Italian suit", "his Range Rover", "his red Columbia jacket", "her Patagonia liner", "her Uggs", "her St. John suit". Really? Was Hamilton getting paid for product placement. This sort of label dropping along with the huge holes in the storytelling did nothing to endear her to me at all. Neither did the fact that while she is writing about her dead husband's infidelity she casually drops in that she too had an affair during their marriage and indeed started her relationship with her now THIRD husband while still married to her husband who was battling mental illness and stuck in a psych ward. Hamilton's sense of entitlement to these indiscretions was a bit nauseating. If her husband were in the hospital with a failing heart, would she say "Oh well, he is going to die anyway, we haven't been close in years, who's next on my list to start a relationship with?" Insensitive doesn't even begin to cover it. She claims she did everything that she could to help her husband but did she really? I can't answer that question because she doesn't spell out enough of what she actually did to try and help him. This book is largely about her and is more than a bit of a "woe is me" tale.

However, my heart goes out to her daughter. What a devastating loss for such a young girl. I wish her nothing but the best and hope she has peace and joy in her life.

Overall, if you can get past Hamilton's narcissism, this is an easy to read, easy to understand primer on mental illness and the devastation that it can wreck in a person's life. The sections at the end of each chapter with actual factual data regarding mental illness were excellent and thus why I gave this book 4 stars. Without these resources this would have been a 2 star book for me. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
A compelling story and a good examination of mental illness and its effects on those who suffer and the people in their lives. While the author doesn't glamorize the issue or her experience, she does glamorize herself a bit--from the author photo and through her own descriptions we know she's attractive, a head-turner and sought out by men. How does Colin's looks and what he wears relevant to her story? How does it impact the situation? I would have also appreciated more details about other symptoms or behavior her husband exhibited on a daily basis that were evident of his mental illness--that would lend recognition to readers' experiences. ( )
  ShelBeck | Jan 1, 2016 |
Newswoman Sheila Hamilton didn’t know David Krol all that well when they married- they were married and she was pregnant within a year of meeting- but many couples commit to each other that rapidly. So it’s not like she knew nothing about him when she committed her life to his. And it was several years into the marriage before she realized David had something wrong with him. She felt he had quirks, but she trusted him. He was running his construction business while she was doing first TV and then radio news and they had a young child; she didn’t have time to dwell on his mental oddness until it got bad. And even when things go bad, she still didn’t think of it in terms of mental illness; she thought he was just being a jackass. His family made no mention of mental illness (even though Sheila was to find out that other family members had issues, too).

The book follows David and Sheila’s relationship from happy newlyweds to strangers living in the same house, ready to divorce. During that time, David ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, didn’t do necessary business paperwork, didn’t finish jobs which meant the homeowners refused any payment, and was unfaithful. Through it all, though, he remained devoted to their daughter, who was nine when David killed himself. He tried hard- although he failed most of the time- to be a good father to her.

That David was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that he committed suicide is no secret; it’s right on the book cover. Despite knowing this, I read the story tensely and breathlessly; I couldn’t avoid hoping for a happy ending even though I knew better. Hamilton’s writing drew me in and made me feel what she felt during this horror story. An amazing book. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Dec 7, 2015 |
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