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After Her Brain Broke: Helping My Daughter Recover Her Sanity Paperback – February 2, 2010


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After Her Brain Broke: Helping My Daughter Recover Her Sanity + My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness + What a Life Can Be: One Therapist's Take on Schizo-Affective Disorder.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Bridgeross Communications; 1ST edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981003788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981003788
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,183,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

I suffer from depression and have been treated for it for more than 20 years. My problem is anxiety -- not anxiousness, but overwhelming unchangeable anxiety, mind-numbing anxiety that has its physical side which I'll tell you about in a moment.

About 15 years ago I had a very good lesson, one which I'll never forget. I had been doing very well on a single medication but I insisted I change. It happened this way.

I was interviewing a famous American psychiatrist (not so famous that I remember his name) who, during a station break, asked me what medicine I was on. I told him Elavil Plus which he snorted at derisively, saying, "That's the old tin lizzy of medicines, you should be taking Serzone." So off to my doctor, Melvin Bruchet whom I credit with saving my life by diagnosing me correctly and early, demanding a prescription for Serzone.

"You dumb bugger," he replied (he's nothing if not candid), "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Indeed I had been doing well with one very minor side effect, but I was not to be dissuaded. He gave me the prescription, then said, "You must stay off Elavil Plus for three weeks before you start Serzone; I hope you're prepared for what might happen."

"Not to worry, Mel," I said, "Wendy and I are off for two weeks in London and Paris so there's no pressure." Mel did not seem convinced.

The first day in London, in late October, was unseasonably hot, but I'd not gone two blocks before I started to shiver and I went into a Tie Rack and bought a scarf. We got near our destination and I was so cold I went into an Irish wool shop and bought a heavy wool sweater. By the time we got back to our hotel I was shaking all over, yet my body was drenched in perspiration. Then I started to cry. And Wendy had two weeks nursing ahead of her. It was not a pretty sight and when I got home, needless to say, I immediately and sheepishly got hold of Mel, and went back to my Elavil Plus.

I had learned a couple of lessons. Mental illness is not to be toyed with. And perhaps more importantly, its hallmark is irrationality. Another time, when I had a bad bout of anxiety, deep down I knew that I wasn't dying of liver cancer but that rational voice was completely and effectively shut down by the voice of gloom, the voice that eradicates rationality. And once again a doctor had to calmly make me see that I did not have cancer, and was not dying.

'A ridiculous hell'

I'm fortunate that I am able, thanks to medicine, to function effectively. Most mentally ill people can get help and thus be able to function. Susan Inman's daughter Molly has not been so lucky. She is schizophrenic and Susan tells of the family journey that took place through Molly's teens and early twenties in a highly readable though disturbing book called After Her Brain Broke: Helping My Daughter Recover Her Sanity.

A lovely line sums up the journey: "Life is a ridiculous hell and I'll just navigate narrow pathways of duty before chaos claims us all."

Schizophrenia is not well understood even by doctors, be they family physicians or psychiatrists. Molly bounces around between lay health workers and numerous doctors; good advice and bad advice and lots in between. She develops Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The sufferer experiences repeated obsessions that interfere with her ability to function. This meant the entire family had to deal with a volcanic nightmare always just around the corner.

I have a grandson who suffers from Prader-Willi disease, which is caused by an abnormality of genes, thus incurable, and he has OCD big time. He focuses so severely on, for instance, the place we're going to eat, that if the place is closed an all but unstoppable tantrum results. I constantly am overcome with admiration how my daughter and son-in-law deal with this ever-ticking time bomb. They have also had to deal with the boy's younger sister who had to, somehow, understand that she couldn't behave as her older brother did. She is, God bless her, now 14 and an integral part of the family support system.

BC healthcare's troubling symptoms

After Her Brain Broke, I must tell you, is a Vancouver chronicle, and the inadequacies of the healthcare system are eloquently bared in a book that is free from whingeing complaints but which will leave you wondering how we can know so little about dealing with what, sadly, is not that rare an illness.

We see health professionals contradicting themselves, which is hardly helpful with any disorder but calamitous in Molly's case.

We see the impact on a family that deals with Molly hating them, suspicious of everything, and almost totally unable to function. Then Dad is hit by a rare cancer in the eye. And through this Susan soldiers on.

The ending is, comparatively at any rate, a happy one; Molly picks up much of her lost education and falls in love with a highly understanding and loving young man.

This tale is by no means critical of all help in the field. Indeed there is much good. What it does point out is the inconsistencies and the enormous difficulties they entail. And what it particularly underscores is the complaint I often make. If physically ill people were treated by the system as the mentally ill are they would be storming the legislature with bricks and pikes.

Second class patients

This is Rafe, not Susan speaking. The physically ill are subsidized by the mentally ill.

How?

The majority of mentally ill people are afraid to seek help because of the horrible stigma still attached to it. This means any system that wants to help the mentally ill must seek out them out rather than rely on them to come to the system. Governments won't seek out the mentally ill -- especially this one -- because that would raise health costs and that'll never do. Those who suffer in silence, then, subsidize those who don't.

Let me close with this not about After Her Brain Broke. Sad and often tragic though the story is, one always gets a feeling of optimism; not irrational optimism that all will be great, but a feeling that it will be better. It's a story of great courage by each member of the family, very much including Molly.

It's a book I urge you to read. [Tyee]

Rafe Mair writes a column for The Tyee running every other Monday. --The Tyee, March 5, 2010


More About the Author

Susan Inman is a longtime drama and English teacher at a secondary school in Vancouver, BC. Following the onset of her younger daughter's catastrophic schizoaffective disorder, Susan began to write about serious mental illnesses for a variety of Canadian publications. Her memoir, After Her Brain Broke, Helping My Daughter Recover Her Sanity, was published by Bridgeross in February 2010. Susan speaks publicly in a variety of large and small events across Canada and in the US about the situations of families helping to care for a family member living with a serious mental illness.

Susan's articles about issues related to psychotic illnesses can be found in Huffington Post Canada, The Tyee, The National Post, and BC Teacher. For a complete list of her articles, readers can visit her publisher's website. On the site, they can also learn about her presentations as both a keynote speaker as well as a workshop presenter. Some of the recent conferences where Susan presented keynote speeches include the Toronto conference of the Canadian Association of Psychiatric Nurses and at annual schizophrenia conferences in Edmonton and in Vancouver. Recent workshop presentations include the annual conference of the British Columbia School Counsellors' Association (on how school counsellors can better support students living with psychotic illnesses and their families), the National Shared Care Conference (on the typical problems confronting family caregivers at this conference sponsored by the Canadian Psychiatric Association and the National Association of Family Physicians) and the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Conference in Seattle (on helping families develop their own stories in order to improve mental health services).

Some of the issues that Susan's advocacy efforts focus on include:
> requiring all programs training mental health professionals to include science based curriculum on psychotic illnesses
> public education about psychotic illnesses
> improving mental health legislation and policies so that people experiencing psychosis aren't left to deteriorate and don't end up homeless, victimized or incarcerated
> expanding cognitive remediation programs in Canada

Customer Reviews

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This story is especially pertinent to families affected by mental illness.
Sally Haskell
I just finished reading Susan Inman's book and related to all her struggles to help her daughter achieve remission and recovery.
Lakeview11
It is very short, only 165 pages long, and felt rushed and not detailed enough.
Meaghan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sally Haskell on March 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
When a child is stricken with a severe illness, life for one family is irrevocably altered. In this true story, the mother soon learns that because it is a mental illness, the professionals to whom they must turn are in some cases ill-informed and positively destructive. With relentless intelligence, perseverance, and love, this woman overcame ignorance, and transformed isolation into community and despair into hope. In so doing, she helped her child, herself, and many other afflicted families. This story is especially pertinent to families affected by mental illness. It is also instructive to anyone feeling alone and overwhelmed by life's hard problems.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Meaghan on August 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
Meh. This book had a good story -- Molly is truly the sickest person I have EVER read about, and her parents' attempts to get help for her were truly epic. I also learned a lot about Canada's medicine system for the mentally ill vs. the American system, and I was horrified to learn just how poorly trained psychotherapists and even psychiatrists are for dealing with schizophrenia.

So, in an informational sense, the book was good, and I think the parents of severely mentally ill children would get a lot out of it. And the fact that Molly is actually doing reasonably well now, when many of the doctors she saw thought her case was hopeless, would give hope.

But it's just badly written. It is very short, only 165 pages long, and felt rushed and not detailed enough. For instance, in the middle of things, Molly's father was diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer. Then several chapters later the author was like, "Yeah, so Molly's dad hadn't died yet. His cancer mysteriously disappeared. The doctors said sometimes that happens." I would have liked to have known more about that, especially how it impacted Molly.

I don't think the average person is going to enjoy this book much, though as I said, it would be good for the families of mentally ill people.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lakeview11 on November 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished reading Susan Inman's book and related to all her
struggles to help her daughter achieve remission and recovery.
Recovery from severe mental illness is possible! But the road is
long, rocky, and full of pitfalls as Susan so painfully discovered.

I admire her stamina, courage, and mission not only to help her own
daughter, but to help so many others in her own community. Her work
in writing the book will reach many desperate parents around the world,
giving them hope and guidance in overcoming inevitable obstacles.
Hopefully, their unforeseen journeys will not have to be as difficult
as hers.

Her incredibly honest, helpful, and well-informed story has paved the
way for other parents to educate themselves, and often to educate the
professionals in our dysfunctional mental healthcare systems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lineshooter on September 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is a privilege to be taken inside the author's family as it struggles to manage a young person's efforts to make sense of mental illness. You must read this book which gives insights not only into the world of the sufferer and her family, but critically into the impact of the professionals who hang a shingle outside a fancy office.
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