• Jocelyn Bystrom

Riveting Memoirs that Lay Bare the Realities of Mental Illness

Currently, on my bedside table, two complete and the third started last night.



"When we need help, we count on doctors to put us back together. But what happens when doctors fall apart?"


I recently had an incredible team of 11 neurologists, collaborating in what felt like a think tank, (they were unaware; but I could hear them through the wall), I listened with rapt attention and extreme gratitude as they put their collective expertise and heads together to figure out why I was having intense daily seizures, sometimes up to 8 in a single day. Listening, I knew I could count on them... they didn't disappoint.


As a result of what they discovered, I experienced a miracle! Unlike Jill, I'm not a doctor, I'm an educator, a teacher similarly passionate about mental health advocacy in the workplace, the heartbreak I see and experience every day in my work as an emotional labourer, working alongside brave, courageous and resilient colleagues, who every day put their own care aside to care for children, youth, and young adults. When I read an endorsement by Dr. Ronald Epstein, of Jill's, "private suffering" I was hooked. I too, know the terror of suffering alone before journeying I learned to self-advocate, seek support and ensure I got the care I required.


***I'm a life-long learner - the journey is never over, however I've learned I can choose joy. My hope is that through sharing my story, learning and reading, others who like me struggle with mental illness, will find supportive gems as they read, as I have reading these memoirs. As we journey through a collective wealth of lived experiences, we realize we're not alone and can find the courage to share insights. We become #strongertogether.


Getting into bed last night, with my reading lamp primed and ready, I turned to the back cover of the memoir, I just brought home this afternoon from my local bookstore, the Laughing Oyster Book Shop. I picked up Jillian Horton's, WE ARE ALL PERFECTLY FINE, A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing. What caught my eye as I checked out the biographies and memoirs section was the title on the spine:


"WE ARE ALL PERFECTLY FINE, A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing."


Are we really? Why is it that we easily answer without thought when asked, How are you? "Fine," when we're honestly, not.


It was enough, I pulled Jillian Horton's memoir off the shelf to read the synopsis and back cover. There I found many endorsements, which caught my eye: "Her writing is brilliant. And the story of her burnout as a medical doctor is just heartbreaking enough to keep you longing for the resolution you know is coming. Maybe the best thing about this book is that Jillian Horton allows you to grow as she grows, while saving you the pain of the struggle." (Alan Alda, 2021) Click here to check out and read a sample.


Check out my next post for my thoughts & insights on Mark Henick's, new memoir : SO-CALLED NORMAL: A Memoir of Family, Depression and Resilience (2021), and Joan Didion's, THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING (2005), both first class memoirs and exceptional reads for everyone. Especially in you are struggling alone.

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