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Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bipolar but Were Too Freaked Out to Ask Paperback – May 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 138 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Hilary Smith's wise, hilarious, and candid book is a veritable lifesaver not only for those suffering from bipolar disorder, but for those struggling to keep their sanity while loving them. Maybe because the author suffers from the disorder herself, her book is an actual survival guide, brimming with insight, anecdote, and tough love. Recovery was never so inspiring." --Allison Burnett, author of Undiscovered Gyrl

"This book is flat-out fantastic. Funny, smart, and unflinchingly astute, Welcome to the Jungle is exactly the guide you want on your journey from chaos to stability as you learn to manage bipolar disorder. Smith's sure voice is a welcome companion over some hard road, and her wry wisdom lights the way. Indispensable." --Marya Hornbacher, author of Madness: A Bipolar Life

"Hilary Smith has come through big time with a book about bipolar disorder targeted to teens or 20-somethings experiencing mental illness for the first time." ―Washington Post



"By far the best, most comprehensive self-help book out there about bipolar disorder. Hilary Smith's incredible sense of humor, candor, and wit make her guide both easy to read and a pleasure and a laugh riot. Every person with bipolar (or family member or friend) should read this book as soon as possible. This book will save lives." --Andy Behrman, author of Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

"VERDICT Among the wealth of works on bipolar, this title (wisely pulled from a Guns N' Roses lyric) nicely stands out as a super reference for younger readers interested in or actually experiencing bipolar disorder and is also a valuable resource for professionals." ―Library Journal



"Hilary Smith writes with candor, cleverness and sharp wit, bringing to light what those with bipolar already know: That just because you've been diagnosed with a mental illness doesn't mean you've lost your insight, intelligence or playful (and often self-mocking) sense of humor. Welcome to the Jungle astutely captures the roller coaster of emotions that accompany bipolar--from trenchant despair to uproarious mania--and does so in a way that never alienates the reader, but rather sucks you in and keeps you wanting to go along for the ride. Writing with a wisdom and faculty well beyond her years, Smith had me laughing out loud--not at her, but with her. Whether you're a teen for whom the diagnosis of bipolar is as raw and fresh as a snipped nerve, or in your 20s struggling with the disease for what seems like decades, Welcome to the Jungle is the quintessential young person's companion." --Malina Saval, author of The Secret Lives of Boys: Inside the Raw Emotional World of Male Teens

About the Author

Hilary Smith is 24 and lives on the West Coast.  She is a volunteer speaker for the National Alliance on Mental Illness and is currently working on a young adult novel.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Conari Press (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573244724
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573244725
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By O. Merce Brown HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
*****
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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
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Format: Paperback
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.
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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.
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