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Mind Race: A Firsthand Account of One…

Mind Race: A Firsthand Account of One Teenager's Experience with… (2006)

by Patrick E. Jamieson

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So how close do you want to get to knowing someone with bipolar disorder?

This book is part of a series designed to help young people with mental disorders understand, recognize, and accept their conditions, and get them into treatment. The idea for this is to include both an autobiography of someone who suffers from the condition and a description of what can and should be done.

I can't help but feeling that both have been left undone. I never feel as if I know Patrick E. Jamieson. I get to know someone who gets put in hospitals. Let's face it: Mental hospitals are terrible places. You can't learn to know or understand anyone there. We need to meet them outside the hospital and learn what they are like as full members of society. In the case of Dr. Jamieson, we never do -- we don't even know what field he earned his Ph.D. in, although that is presumably relevant since it's plastered on the cover of the book!

Also -- speaking from my own knowledge of psychology -- I don't think there is much of a description here either of hypomania or even of depression, and hypomania (which is milder than the full-blown mania Jamieson experiences) is believed to be far more common than full psychotic mania. Bipolar I (which features mania) and bipolar II (hypomania) are classified as different conditions, but the relationship is much debated; this book needs to say more. Indeed, based on this book, I wouldn't even begin to know how to tell bipolar disorder from the even more devastating disorder of schizophrenia. Even one of Dr. Jamieson's medications -- Haldol -- is a schizophrenia drug, not a bipolar drug. (Admittedly it is used for bipolar disorder, especially to calm extreme mania, but it is a nasty drug that should be given only when there is no other good choice.)

Which brings us to treatment. Treatment for bipolar disorder will generally have two parts: medication and therapy, probably cognitive behavioral therapy (to help them deal with the behaviors that make their life situations worse). The latter gets almost no attention in this book, and the former is almost all about lithium, even though many bipolar patients today use a different mood stabilizer and many (arguably too many) use two or more psychoactive medications.

And incidentally, if you're going to talk about great living people with bipolar disorder, can't you come up with someone who is actually great, like a scientist, writer, statesman -- someone who has done something useful, as opposed to pop culture figures?

Finally, I am bothered by the way Dr. Jamieson disclaims the illness -- treating it as something that is not part of him, as (say) a cane is not part of a person who uses it to walk. This is a controversial point, I grant. But while I don't have bipolar disorder of any sort, I do have a different disorder -- autism. And I am not a person who is afflicted with autism; I am an autistic person. Does it bring me handicaps? Yes. It also brings me gifts; I can do many things that a normal person cannot. So, too, with bipolar disorder -- it brings depression, it brings mania, and it often brings great creativity. I wish Dr. Jamieson could be proud of the disorder while disliking the handicaps, rather than disliking the whole condition.

Bottom line: There is much that is good here, and if you are prepared to consult several other books on bipolar disorder (preferably consulting them first), it is not a bad addition to your library. But I don't think it will convince many young people (especially the manic young people who need it most!), and I don't think it will supply all the advice and support that their family and friends desperately need. ( )
1 vote waltzmn | Sep 7, 2015 |
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For my son, Finnian James
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Having bipolar disorder as it is also called, doesn't have to be depressing. Manic and maniac are different words -- different people.
Mind Race is the book I searched for and could not find when I learned at age 15 that there was a name for the exhilarating sense that I was fearlessly catapulting through the galaxy, gravity-free an giddy one moment -- then suddenly terrified after a sleepless night and barely able to function during a mind-numbing low.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195309057, Paperback)

[SERIES COPY] New to the Adolscent Mental Health Initiative series are books written specifically for teens and adolescents. Each book addresses some of the major mental health issues facing young people today: depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. Tey will be written for and by young people who have struggled with and conquered these illnesses themselves. Supplementing this first-person narrative with the scholarship and expertise of leading psychiatrists and psychologists, the authors will provide such essential information as how to go about getting a diagnosis, what the latest treatment options are, and how to cope with mental illness at home and at school. Using this unique combination of personal narrative and cutting-edge research, these books are designed to help teens adn young adults deal effectively with these illnesses and to empower them and their families to act immediately and wisely and getting the best available treatment possible.

The life of a person with bipolar disorder can be tumultuous. Imagine living in a world divided into many parts: one is fast-paced, frantic, energetic--you are at the top of your game and feeling invincible; another is so bleak and dark that even the simple task of going to the store requires Herculean effort. Now imagine a third: going about your daily routing when another manifestation, the mixed state, combines these symptoms simultaneously. This is just a glimpse into the world of a person with bipolar disorder
Many people diagnosed with this disorder are adolescents: young people who often feel isolated, unsure of who to talk to, or where to turn for help or answers. Having been diagnosed with the disorder at age fifteen, Patrick Jamieson knows firsthand the highs and lows and bring his experiences to bear in Mind Race: A Firsthand Account of One Teenager's Experience with Bipolar DisorderR, the first in the Annenberg Mental Health Initiative series written specifically for teenagers and young adults. Mind Race is a first-person account, aimed at teens who have recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, informative in a compassionate, good-humored, yet authoritative manner. Jamieson discusses his own challenges and triumphs, and offers advice on dealing with developing symptoms such as how to recognize the beginning of a mood shift. In accessible language, he presents the latest in scientific research on the disorder, treatment options, and how to cope with side effects of different medications. He includes a detailed F.A.Q. that answers the questions a newly diagnosed adolescent is likely to have, and also offers suggestions on how to communicate with friends and family about the bipolar experience.
With Mind Race, Jamieson offers hope to teens and young adults living with bipolar disorder, helping them to navigate and overcome their challenges so they can lead a full and rewarding life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:51 -0400)

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A practical guide for young people diagnosed with bipolar disorder covers such topics as causes of bipolar disorder, psychiatric hospitalization, symptoms, and medications.

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