Recommended Read – Drunk Mom

15799161Title: Drunk Mom: A Memoir

Author:  Jowita Bydlowska

Overview: (taken from “Three years after giving up drink, Jowita Bydlowska found herself throwing back a glass of champagne like it was ginger ale. “It’s a special occasion,” she said to her boyfriend. And indeed it was. It was a party celebrating the birth of their first child. It also marked Jowita’s immediate, full-blown return to alcoholism and all that entails for a new mother who is at first determined to keep her problem a secret. Her trips to liquor stores are in-and-out missions. Perhaps she’s being paranoid, but she thinks people tend to notice the stroller. Walking home, she stays behind buildings, in alleyways, taking discreet sips from a bottle she’s stored in the diaper bag. She know she’s become a villain: a mother who drinks; a mother who endangers her child. She drinks to forget this. And then the trouble really starts. Jowita Bydlowska’s memoir of her relapse into addiction is an extraordinary achievement. The writing is raw and immediate. It places you in the moment–saddened, appalled, nerve-wracked, but never able to look away or stop turning the pages. With brutal honesty, Bydlowska takes us through the binges and blackouts, the self-deception and less successful attempts to deceive others, the humiliations and extraordinary risk-taking. She shines a light on the endless hunger of wanting just one more drink, and one more again, while dealing with motherhood, anxiety, depression–and rehab. Her struggle to regain her sobriety is recorded in the same unsentimental, unsparing, sometimes grimly comic way. But the happy outcome is evidenced by the existence of this brilliant book: she has lived to tell the tale.”

Thoughts/Comments: Most of the books that I read are memoirs. Memoirs about alcoholism and drug abuse to be exact. You might think it is because I am an alcoholic or drug addict, but that is very far from the truth. I suppose it is because I can relate to them from what my family has gone through. I am one of 3 daughters that have some very close family that are alcoholics and drug addicts, I will just leave it at that. Anyways, back to what I was saying. I have read many books on this topic for years and years. This particular book however, was different. Different in a good but sad way. I feel the author writes with truth and raw emotions. The fast passed, hyper, all over the place type of thinking and reasoning, the downward spiral of lies to everyone around them and to themselves, the never ending delusional reasoning that takes over their lives… it all is exactly what I saw in my encounters with the addicts in my life. She refers to the addicts mind as a “fantasyland”, (Pg. 257)  and there is some truth in that. There were some parts of course that I did not relate to completely. The sad truth of how her newborn son was effected daily by her and his life was often put at risk was heartbreaking. I respect her for her honesty and not excluding what I imagine to be a very shameful and embarrassing part of her life.

I found myself bookmarking many parts in this book that I wanted to come back and read again later. The first was her explaining how she feels about alcoholism being a disease. I think this is one of the biggest debated topics of addiction. Can it be cured? Is it just an excuse that addicts use? or is it really uncontrollable? People effected by addicts struggle with this whole who/what is to blame all the time. I still am not 100% sure what my beliefs are, but this helped to read…

“I believe that you’re never cured of alcoholism. I use the word cure but it is not strictly a disease. Go to any AA meeting, watch or read anything about addiction, and sooner or later you will hear the word “disease”. But it is not a disease. Disease implies you can maybe cure it. In my opinion it’s closer to a condition or, perhaps, a habit you can’t unlearn completely once you stop it. Even if dormant, it is ingrained in you.” – Pg. 14

The other was just a simple line. It is the complete truth of getting sober all in one little line. I really believe that no one can force or make a person be sober.

“As for the meetings, I could go to one or I could go to a hundred but without desperately wanting sobriety, it wouldn’t work.” – Pg. 255


Recommended Read – Brain on Fire

Title: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Author:  susannah cahalan

Overview: (taken from “One day in 2009, twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. A wristband marked her as a “flight risk,” and her medical records-chronicling a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory at all-showed hallucinations, violence, and dangerous instability. Only weeks earlier, Susannah had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: a healthy, ambitious college grad a few months into her first serious relationship and a promising career as a cub reporter at a major New York newspaper. Who was the stranger who had taken over her body? What was happening to her mind? In this swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her inexplicable descent into madness and the brilliant, lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen. A team of doctors would spend a month-and more than a million dollars-trying desperately to pin down a medical explanation for what had gone wrong. Meanwhile, as the days passed and her family, boyfriend, and friends helplessly stood watch by her bed, she began to move inexorably through psychosis into catatonia and, ultimately, toward death. Yet even as this period nearly tore her family apart, it offered an extraordinary testament to their faith in Susannah and their refusal to let her go. Then, at the last minute, celebrated neurologist Souhel Najjar joined her team and, with the help of a lucky, ingenious test, saved her life. He recognized the symptoms of a newly discovered autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the brain, a disease now thought to be tied to both schizophrenia and autism, and perhaps the root of “demonic possessions” throughout history.”

Thoughts/Comments: This book terrified me. Do not get me wrong, it was a really interesting book, but reading about such a fast and drastic mental change in a “healthy” woman that left doctors guessing was scary. It was hard not to think about what would happen if I were in her shoes suddenly. A great book leaves an impression on you after you finished the last page, and this one sure did with me.