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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
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"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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When I finally opened the book, I found it so engaging, entertaining, interesting, and educational, that I finished it very quickly. I've read books about a bunch of different disorders, and this is by far the most accessible book on any disorder that I've ever read. What makes this book different? It's written in a conversational style, so it's easy to digest. It's written using a hip, cool writing style that takes someone really skilled to pull off. And, it's written to regular people. This book walks you through all of the scary parts of bipolar, including insurance, hospitalization, stabilizing your meds, telling people about it, work, school, and therapy. It gives real, useful information that you can actually use to help yourself.
Even though I don't have bipolar, I was able to use a lot of the stuff in the book. My sleep has always been messed up for as long as I can remember. This book covers some great strategies for stabilizing your sleep, that I was able to implement. I also really like what she said about all of the different kinds of therapists, and what you get from each of the 5+ different kinds of therapies. Who knew that all shrinks weren't the same?
I'm definitely reading the next book that Hilary publishes as soon as it comes out, without having it sit on my shelf for a couple months.
Something I wanted to clear up: Q: Does this book encourage you to use drugs? A: No, it actually strongly discourages it. I'm much less likely to use drugs after reading this book. But, it does it in a way you'd actually want someone to discourage you. The book goes something like this: "Well, if you're going to use drugs, then you should think about this and this and this. I recommend against using drugs, for this reason and this reason, but I'm still going to be your friend no matter what you choose."
+Conversational style, very easy to read
+Hilary has an excellent vocabulary (I had to look up some words)
+Isn't clinical or condescending to people with bipolar. In my experience, there are almost no books on disorders where you still feel like a real person after you read it.
+Gives tons of practical examples of what you can do, and helps you to build your skills
+If I find anyone who has bipolar, or a family member of someone with bipolar, then I'm going to buy them this book
+If you don't have bipolar, this is a great introduction to it
-This book is only available for bipolar disorder. I really wish that Hilary would start a series of these books, and write them on tons of other disorders.
-If you're stuffy, and you think that people should yell at people with disorders, then you won't like this book
I've had my diagnosis for awhile now, and I just went back to reread parts of this book that I needed now, and still found it helpful. In fact, I highlighted MORE this time around. But I found this book to be the most helpful, and reassuring of anything I ever read right after my diagnosis. I needed to hear that the things I was thinking and feeling were absolutely normal. And it is nice to be able to go back now and get a reminder when I need one.
The only thing in this book that I have never agreed with, and I have been taking meds for Bipolar Disorder for well over a year now, is that you should intentionally go off your meds to see how you do without them. That is risky, and just asking for a trip to the hospital. I may not be a Doctor, but I highly disagree with that part of the book, and recommend taking your meds as directed.
That aside, I think this is one of the most helpful and reassuring books you're going to find. It isn't clinical. It is personal and interesting, and written by someone who knows exactly what it is like to experience these things. A great book!