From Publishers Weekly
In this debut book, Cunningham tells his reader right away that he has a message to impart. Having worked for years as a health care assistant in a hospital's psychiatric ward, he states his intent to counter the stigma surrounding mental illness and to represent the patients who suffer from "this most mysterious group of illnesses." The down and dirty truth about what it takes to care for dementia patients, the acts that self-harming patients are capable of, and the conundrum of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia all make for powerful, informative, and sometimes difficult reading. Cunningham's message, that "a mental illness is a brain disease just as a stroke or a brain tumor is a brain disease," is delivered in direct, no-nonsense language, while black and white drawings convey the hectic life of the disordered mind. Cunningham frequently speaks directly to sufferers, telling them that their symptoms are not their fault, that there are ways of dealing with them and simply that "you can survive." Speaking with compassion and clarity, Cunningham tells of his own struggles with severe anxiety and depression. creating a valuable tool for both those within the mental health profession and casual readers who may know someone with mental illness. (Feb.)
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This gem of a book examines a wide range of mental-health issues as well as Cunningham�s personal experiences with mental illness. Chapters cover dementia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide, antisocial disorder, and, perhaps most movingly, Cunningham�s own struggle to overcome depression. He also notes important historical figures who suffered from mental illness, such as Winston Churchill, who is now believed to have been bipolar; Brian Wilson, who suffered from hallucinations; and Judy Garland, who was beset by anxiety and depression. The concise and poignant tales, while self-contained, build upon each other and create a framework that allows Cunningham to effectively question the stigmas associated with mental illness. His inviting cartooning style mixes contrasting backgrounds with simple line drawings that leave a stark impression. The overall message�that mental illness is biochemical in origin and deserves the same kind of sympathy as other serious illnesses�is one that deserves to be heard. --Stephen Weiner