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Detour: My Bipolar Road Trip in 4-D Paperback – Bargain Price, June 17, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, June 17, 2003
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews


John Berendt author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Lizzie Simon's ingenious inquiry into the nature and treatment of manic depression -- her own as well as others' -- is a spellbinding revelation.

The Village Voice [U]tterly unselfconscious, funny, [and] harrowing.

Peter D. Kramer author of Listening to Prozac Detour does for bipolar disorder what Prozac Nation did for depression -- scopes it out from the viewpoint of someone who is young, hip, and vulnerable. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Lizzie Simon, a graduate of Columbia University, was the creative producer of the Obie Award-winning Flea Theater in Manhattan. She recently was a consultant and field producer for the MTV special "True Life: I'm Bipolar," which was inspired by Detour. The recipient of a grant from the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, Lizzie is a frequent guest speaker and freelance writer. Visit her Web site at www.lizziesimon.com. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (June 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743446607
  • ASIN: B00164GEQI
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,522,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I initially enjoyed this book. I could relate to Lizzy's first manic episode and the emotions she experienced. I can also relate to her summation of support groups as being nothing more than whinefests where people with bipolar disorder share dangerously inaccurate information. As I kept on reading, though, I got more irritated. Lizzie states in her book that she took lithium for two days following her most severe episode and her symptoms went away. She has contempt for those of us who struggle with medications that don't work nearly as well for us as they did for her and labels us as "coping" rather than "living up to our potential". Apparently she is still too undereducated about the illness to know that a person who is treated easily and quickly (two days) is in the minority of those who share the bipolar diagnosis; the average length of time to find a successful medication "cocktail" is seven years. She also has a very narrow definition of "success" for a person with bipolar disorder. I hope as she grows older she opens her mind to the fact that "success" does not always involve holding a high-end job. I consider myself to be highly successful in the management of my illness, the raising of my children and having a happy marriage, despite the fact that have a difficult-to-treat form of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder that is disabling and getting worse as I age.
I did enjoy this book much more than any other books written by people with bipolar disorder. I agree with Lizzy that people with a true diagnosis of bipolar disorder can only be treated with medication (although the mentally ill in America are seriously misdiagnosed and overmedicated at an alarming rate.) I can also appreciate that other than a poor choice of boyfriend, (Lizzy chose a drug-addicted, untreated bipolar to have a romance with) she does appear to be proactive about her illness, rather than letting it rule her or using it as an excuse for poor choices.
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Format: Paperback
Lizzie Simon's life seemed perfect, with the exception of a genetic predisposition to being bipolar. She begins the book by detailing the day that she had a real "break" and the full impact of her illness seemed to kick in. Up until that point, nobody knew that she had bipolar disorder, though it ran in the family. It is pretty amazing how much she's accomplished in spite of her illness, and, at the age of 23, she was inspired to travel cross-country to interview other people living with bipolar disorder who were leading successful lives.

The inspiration came from an advertisement for integrated people with mental illnesses into the workplace, which definitely had a profound effect on Lizzie, because it dispelled the myth that there has to be a huge social stigma attached to having mental illness. However, when she read a "critique" in a local newspaper which discounted the ad and everyone living with any kind of mental illness (with a good dose of insensitivity and mean-spiritedness), it served as a catalyst for the road trip documented in the book. It's definitely inspiring to read how the author actually attempted to correct the negative effect of something that offended and upset her, which is something most of us do not have the courage to do.

Additionally, reading the personal stories of the young people who happen to be bipolar is moving, especially reading about how utterly depressed and sometimes even suicidal some of these kids were. That really demonstrates how powerful the genetic component of this illness is and it's truly sad how long it took many of them to be properly diagnosed.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lizzie Simon experienced her first manic-depressive episode at age 17 in her senior year of high school while studying in Paris. It happened after she received early acceptance to Columbia University. Simon, now a 1998 graduate of Columbia University, quit her $900 a week job as creative producer of New York's Flea Theater at age 23, immediately after she helped them win the esteemed Obie Award. She had unresolved issues in her life, unexplored feelings left behind from the scary time in high school when her mind fell apart and was restored again with Lithium. She went away to college, sought and found success, and the subject of her daily battles with her life-saving pills never came up. She longed for closure. She searched for her sign, her way out.
"I kept receiving signs telling me I had other work to do. It was as if success had made a lot of noise in my head go away about being successful. I wasn't screeching at myself to make more and more. I wasn't basking in the public attention I was receiving or gloating through the streets of Tribecca. No, all of a sudden, it seemed things go really quiet in my head. I longed for a new direction, a new devotion. And then the signs emerged. The detour, my detour, lay ahead," she writes in Detour.
Then, she saw the sign. As she rode the subway back to her Brooklyn apartment, she saw a sign with a woman in a business suit. In big lettering over the woman it read, "For Mentally Illness, Treatment is Working". A few days later in the NYPress' "Best Of" section a commentary was written calling the ad "Best Scary Subway" ad of the year. The stigmatization and prejudice shown on behalf of the Press' editors moved her to write and send an editorial.
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