97 of 99 people found the following review helpful
I have read many books on bipolar illness, and I just love this book! Its intended audience is young people, but it is suitable for everyone--from teenagers to middle-aged folk like myself. It's raw, funny, and very honest, answering questions that other books just don't get near, perhaps because they're very personal. But people with bipolar illness need to know about these things, and so do their families and friends! In fact, this is the perfect book to give to others to help them to understand just what the illness is and how to deal with it.
Interesting topics include: when and how to tell your friends and romantic partners you have bipolar illness; how it really feels to be bipolar; recreational drug use, alcohol, and bipolar; cohabitation issues with bipolar; telling family; how to decide what type of professional to see; all the options and considerations in health insurance (the section on health insurance is really good for young people); managing your bipolar with food-sleep-exercise; being in college with bipolar; working with bipolar; and much more.
The book gets really specific, for example, how to deal with a social life or a significant other when you have to go to bed at the same time every night, and you have to take your drowsiness-causing meds early. One of my family members has to do this, and it's hard for people to understand about "bedtimes" and such as an adult. This book gives ideas (including humorous ideas) about what to say. I think that it normalizes and reassures people with bipolar, and is invaluable for this.
The book does contain profanity, but it fits in with the tone and writing style that appeals to many in modern youth culture, so that the book will be perceived by them as hip and cool. I didn't like that per se, but I didn't find it distracting. I thought it was more important to have a book that everyone would actually read that didn't sound like a medical textbook, and this book manages to inform, entertain, and reassure while not sounding technical at all.
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2010
I never feel compelled to write reviews. It has to be either amazingly awesome or just unbelievably bad.
This is amazingly awesome. The reason behind me saying that is because of how I felt after completing the book. I read it in ONE DAY. I had actually bought 2 bipolar II books (diagnosed beginning of the year) and the first book gave me panic attacks while reading it, I felt overwhelmed and depressed.
When reading Welcome to the Jungle - there was so much of a light feel to it (for me) that it did not overwhelm me. I almost feel like Hilary's position to being Bipolar was..."I'm Bipolar...So what?" Not to indicate that she doesn't care but that she isn't allowing this "disorder" to define who she is.
I felt relieved, I felt like I can definitely overcome this and that I can combat the struggles of the episodes more comfortably than when I read the other Bipolar books.
I highly recommend this to anyone that is recently diagnosed that have done their own research and overwhelmed with the thoughts, the depressive episodes and the spiraling out of control feeling. Hilary writes this book in a way to make you feel like you always have control over this disorder no matter what people say or no matter how you might feel that in the end you can combat this with some hard work and dedication.
Good luck to everyone
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2011
This is a quick & enjoyable read (I whizzed through it this morning over breakfast), lighthearted & intended to allay fears that someone living with bipolar can never lead a "normal" life. Ms. Smith is a personable & talented writer & her approach is much less sterile than traditional books on bipolar disorder (e.g. no long lists of vague statistics, etc.), which certainly makes it tangible reading material for a wide array of people.
However, for a book meant to (thankfully!) touch upon a few more of the so-called taboo topics that we're "too freaked out to ask," (ahem, e.g. "Hippie [Stuff] that Actually Works" chapter) I was admittedly disappointed in her chapter dealing with friends & family ("Voices Not in Your Head"). Although her "keep everyone informed & happy" approach, touted throughout the chapter, undeniably has its merit, she fails to make any mention of dealing with friends & family who completely DENY or DOWNPLAY a person's bipolar diagnosis or those who BLAME the afflicted. Instead, I got the advice to "Invite them over for dinner so they can see how happy you are, how well you're doing, and how bad a cook you are" (& if you're a bipolar sufferer, you may NOT actually being doing too well, so playing up your happiness for the benefit of loved ones can be detrimental & counterproductive to receiving needed help, anyway). The stigma associated with bipolar disorder is very strong & very real (& celebrities with bipolar don't help public perception or social stigma much, either). Those afflicted are facing an upstream swim against those stigmas at home, work, school & in social affairs. The true gravity of that was seriously glossed.
Additionally, I wasn't too keen on her notion that when dealing with friends, "If they get mad at you for being manic, or feel hurt when you get depressed, understand that it's because they don't know much about mental illness." (Not only do people have more of a recognition of mental illness than ever before in history, but chances are there is someone else among the group who also suffers some mental malady, too--mental illness tends to have a genetic link in families & bipolar people seemingly sniff one another out in social settings, so saying that people get hurt simply because they don't "know" may or may not have ANYTHING to do with it.) I just feel that Ms. Smith downplays the impact manic/depressive behavior has on loved ones--people's feelings get hurt because the behavior is hurtful, regardless of the cause, whether they're well educated or not. The person coping with the illness is not the only person suffering.
Finally (again, for a book intended to tap into a few more of the "freaked out" elements, possibly not for polite company), I would have appreciated a discussion delving a bit into the all-too-common issues of irrational splurge spending & seemingly compulsive sexual behavior or the fear of sexual dysfunction & "loss" of creativity brought on by medications...or an insight to the misconception of bipolar II being a "lite" version of bipolar I, so on & so forth.
Fortunately, this gives Ms. Smith an opportunity to come out with an updated version of her book in a few years, which I look forward to reading.
All in all, I do recommend this book, especially to anyone who needs some reassurance & a pick-me-up.
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2010
As a step-mother to a recently diagnosed bipolar 20yr old female in college, I found this book to be very eye-opening and comforting. Being young and in college is hard enough but to add bipolar to it adds yet another level they have to work through. It covers everything from being diagnosed and accepting their disease to managing it in college with the pressures of drinking, partying, and dating to living a productive, fulfilling, and happy life. I highly recommend it not only for young adults but for parents as well to help get a better understanding of the thoughts and feelings their children have. Hilary offers great references and links to support sites/groups that I am currently following up on.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I came face to face with the disease after my ex had her first episode. She had all the hallmark traits of bipolar disorder: a marked decrease in the need for sleep, a hyperactive mind, mystical experiences, irritability, and a surge in apparent creativity.
The most painful and frustrating aspect of the disease is that you lose the person who is in the throes of a bipolar episode. There is no reasoning with that person. There is no heart-to-heart let's-work-this-out talk with that person. He or she becomes obdurate, unyielding and, most crushing of all, unfeeling.
I picked up this book to learn about the bipolar disease from the perspective of a bipolar sufferer rather than from the perspective of a clinical psychologist. I hoped to at least get a glimpse into the psyche of a bipolar sufferer to understand why my ex had behaved the way she did and thereby help bring some closure to our breakup.
After reading the book, I'm admittedly a little dismayed that it had brought me no closer to an intimate understanding of the disease. To be fair, however, this book is intended primarily as a roadmap for bipolar sufferers, and to that end, I think the author has done a spectacular job.
She offers advice on the management of symptoms (mania, depression, insomnia, etc.), meds, shrinks (e.g. psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, support groups), dealing with the disease in college, and other aspects of the disease. I'm especially touched by her entreaty to bipolar sufferers to be mindful of the distress they can wreak on loved ones and her advice for mitigating the distress.
There is much levity in her prose. Her language is colloquial and will no doubt resonate with people in their teens or early twenties (the age at which most people are first diagnosed with bipolar disorder).
What sets this book apart from other guides is it not only offers advice, it is peppered with the author's personal experiences. I only wish she had shared more of her personal thoughts and experiences to help those of us who aren't bipolar understand the disease through the eyes of a bipolar sufferer. All in all, I think it's a helpful book, especially for someone with the disorder looking for ways to cope with the disease.
-- End Review --
Personal note to author:
Thank you for writing this book, Hilary. I think you've done a wonderful job. I hope to read more on your personal experiences (perhaps in an expanded edition of this book?). I sincerely wish you all the best in your battle with the disorder.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Welcome to the Jungle is far and away the best book on bipolar disorder FOR those diagnosed with the disorder that I have encountered in almost 40 years of reading on the subject. With a family member who was dealt that genetic hand, it has been imperative to me to get a handle on how I might help. Now there is a guide book.
Hilary Smith, the bipolar author, has been there, done that, figured out a plan, learned to cope, learned to be ready for the inevitable, learned where to get help, learned how to tell her story to those she loves, and come up smiling. At least when she's not crying. Her book is a lucid account of every aspect of mania and depression, funny, wise and affirming. The message is that bipolar is something you have, it isn't you. It won't go away, but it can be treated and tamed. You can enjoy it. You can enjoy your life. You don't have to let either the condition or the diagnosis wreck your world.
Oh, how I wish I'd had this one to pass along 40 years ago. Gonna do it now.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2011
As the mother of a son that was diagnosed as Bipolar 13 years ago, I never could understand what life felt like to him. I could see the ups and downs in his moods, and could tell by his behaviour when he had forgotten to take his medicines on a regular basis.
This book was an eye-opening look into the world of being Bipolar, at first I thought the style was disrespectful of the Doctors that prescribe for and treat this condition, then I realized that the book wasn't trying to teach ME about treatments and medications for Bipolar, it was showing me how being Bipolar feels to a person that has the condition.
The humor, and rather warped viewpoint of the medical establishment, make this a breezy and funny, but still informative book
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
I have read many books about being Bipolar and I have to say this is the best one I have read yet. Hilary Smith makes you laugh with her insider's view on bipolar and what you can do about it to make yourself feel better and live better. Being an insider myself, I have to say I have tried many of the things mentioned in this book such as, sleeping, nutrition, exercise, taking time for myself and taking care of myself. All which have helped tremendously, but Hilary has taught me so much more in this book.
If you or someone you know is Bipolar, even if they don't realize it, get them this book. They will have an "Aha!" moment and hopefully put some of the tips that Hilary gives into practice for themselves and start to see that they can feel better and that they are not alone.
Highly recommended read with insight and actual exercises you can do to begin your healing process.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2010
Since my daughter was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, I have read many books and articles. Too clinical. Too detached. Too horrific. Hilary Smith strikes a balance, sharing her personal feelings with factual information, and most importantly, ways to deal with being bipolar in life, all with a sense of humor.
Smith uses lots of metaphors. Under the heading of "Dealing with the DX", she writes, "Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder is akin to waking up after a wild night of intoxication to discover that at some point during your (fuzzily remembered) antics you got a tattoo on your bicep. Not just any tattoo--you got a big old snake-eating-a-unicorn tattoo . . . Eventually you realize you're going to have to live with this thing for the rest of your life, and from here on, your attitude towards your new tat is entirely up to you." Then she proceeds to explain the range of feelings that go with having this new tat, from denial to over-identification. In a section about going off meds, she asks if you ever go without your glasses to see if your eyes have fixed themselves. (Sometimes)
I laughed out loud many times, but I also learned more than I have from any other book. I think this is a really good resource for people with bipolar disorder, as well as their friends and families. After all, laughing cuts right to the feelings.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2011
As an author, I read a lot of books.
As a parent of a bipolar son, I read a lot of books about bipolar disorder.
I'd give Welcome to the Jungle to any young person dealing with this illness. It's hip, brimming with practical advice and, in the author's own words, "badass!"
The author infuses humor - yes, humor! - in chapters with titles like: Mania, Depression, Psychosis, OH MY! (A Whirlwind Tour Through the Episodes of Bipolar Disorder), This is Your Manager Speaking (Taming Episodes with Food, Sleep and Exercise) and The Game of Life (Bipolar in College and at Work).
Smith, who has bipolar disorder, offers help, hope and a great resource section in the back of the book. She writes as though she's a good friend, helping the reader through every aspect of this illness.
"Dating someone when you have bipolar disorder is a lot like dating someone when you don't have bipolar disorder, except when you have bipolar, your significant other (or S.O.) has to be cool with things like meds, depression and occasionally being locked out of his own house at 1 a.m. while you spontaneously rewallpaper his bedroom."
Grab this hip, helpful book for someone you love who's dealing with bipolar disorder.