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Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So: A Memoir Paperback – September 27, 2011
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
San Francisco Chronicle • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Vonnegut has written a searingly honest account of a particular kind of hell and managing to triumph despite everything—a true thing of value.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“[Mark] Vonnegut shares with his late father a knack for throwing down sentences—many sentences—of such naked wit and intelligence they make a reader stop for an extra beat.”—San Jose Mercury News
“[A] remarkable new memoir . . . many fascinating accounts of what it was like growing up with a still-struggling writer father.”—The Boston Globe
“Mark Vonnegut tells a strange and funny story in a strong, tensile style—at their frequent best, his sentences are like shards of colored glass: beautiful, but liable to cause damage.”—Palm Beach Post
“Mordantly witty, slightly subversive.”—Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Mark Vonnegut is the only son of the late Kurt Vonnegut and Jane Cox Vonnegut and the author of The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity, an ALA Notable Book. A full-time practicing pediatrician, he lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son.
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During one period of so-called normalcy, he decides he would like to go to Harvard Medical School, gets admitted, and becomes a pediatrician. Through his eyes we are shown not only his attempts to mask his illness, but the ravages his disease and alcoholism take on his marriage. We are truly along on the ride with him, as he describes how he is successful despite the challenges of his life until his last break where he literally has to crawl out from under and rise again, joining AA, and being medication compliant.
There are no holds bared or excuses in this book, only candor and refreshing honestly about self and how we all have the potential to behave under these circumstances. Not one of us is really normal. Not one of us can lay claim to a perfect period of healthy behavior. The author states, "maybe I just had to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, with being scared out of my mind, and let go of the past like it wasn't about me". A good mantra for us all. And, "the grace of God won't take you where the grace of God can't keep you." (Alcoholics Anonymous). Perhaps if we read and struggled to understand the plight of individuals like the author who obliterate their pain with substances, and are called "crazy" and unfit for anything, and attempted to learn about bipolar, schizophrenia, and to acknowledge their behaviors as disease-based, then we could obliterate the stigma of mental illness once and for all.
Cleaned up his diet, avoiding sugar and caffeine, got regular exercise, adopted a positive attitude regarding his mental issues, and took medication and vitamin B12 shots. However, he had a 1.8 undergraduate math and science GPA. Had three more articles published, had a girlfriend. His positive attitude helped; also the fact that by the time he applied at age 28 he had 2.5 years of straight A's at UMass, three years off Thorazine, four years since being hospitalized, and had published a few articles in Harper's and The Village Voice. Mark then applied to 20 medical schools and was accepted to 1 (Harvard). His book (The Eden Express) was published the same year he started medical school. He also became married at that time. Graduating, he became a pediatrician and didn't have another episode until age 39.
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