Vietnamese Voices by Mary Ellen Guiney
|Vietnamese Voices by Mary Ellen Guiney|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A woman's quest to find a way of living with and alleviating the symptoms of bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia : an autobiography written with courage and passion.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: October 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
Mary Ellen Guiney has been diagnosed at various times with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. The resulting treatment of choice is the conventional western medicine approach and drug regimens that brought with them unpleasant side-effects. Determined to find a better way of symptom control, using her biochemical background, Mary Ellen begins to investigate alternative eastern medicine and therapies in addition to looking at the effect of nutrition and exercise. The results are here: this is Mary Ellen's story written in her own words.
Indeed we come away from this book having learnt a lot about this remarkable young woman. Her struggles are there on the page as we encounter the effects of her mental illnesses from the inside out. Not only does Mary Ellen share her first-hand experience but the eloquence with which she communicates it gives us an insight into the nightmare that such conditions bring with them.
The Vietnamese voices of the title refer to her initial schizophrenic experience and the accompanying voices in her mind that gave her an affinity at the time with the Vietnamese people and culture. That's not the remarkable thing though. The remarkable comes from her refusal to just take the medication and put up with what comes with them (including a 20lbs weight gain). Neither does she walk away from the pills, unlike many schizophrenia sufferers in her position. Instead Mary Ellen begins to seek out a better replacement or complementary system of treatment. This search was heightened by a passion for the place that nutrition takes in health and recovery.
This passion is communicated well by her informal writing style showing us what she's experiencing during episodes and the long periods of wellness in between. Mary Ellen tells us of the part her interest in nutrition played during her mother's fight with cancer as well as its contribution to Mary Ellen melding western orthodox ideas to the eastern alternatives. This she does with an urge not to leave any detail out of her narration, including extracts from one of her associated academic theses at one point. This detail may be a little off-putting for some people but useful for those sharing Mary Ellen's interest in trying to find a way of living better with such diagnoses.
The careful side of me would counsel anyone thinking of substituting or including less conventional treatments with a prescribed drug regimen to do so with the knowledge and advice of their main-stream doctor. Yet this medical marriage, linking with food and exercise, has worked for Mary Ellen. The proof of the pudding is that she's now an Olympic triathlete for her Irish homeland. Yes, this is quite a story and the sort of life that should be used as a positive example to set against the negative – and often destructive - mental health scare stories.
(A special thank you to the author for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If this appeals, we also recommend My Brain Is Out Of Control by Patrick Mbaya, the moving memoir of a psychiatrist who becomes a patient due to a brain infection.
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