Holly was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, Most Recent Episode Manic, Severe With Psychotic Features. The author experienced intense mood swings and went back and forth from mania to depression and in between was in sort of a normal state. The author started feeling that she was different since she was about five. She would go through periods where she could not sit still and she just wanted to do everything. She had so much energy that she could not control. These were her manic periods but they would get much worse. She would go for days without sleeping and spend all of her money. She would get these crazy ideas and think that they were the best ideas she had ever heard of. After her manic periods she would experience depression. She would feel worthless and like she was not even meant to be on this world. She almost always thought about killing herself when she was depressed. She let everything bother her. What her mother said, what her sister’s would say, what her classmates said would make her feel like she was not even a person. She really took everything to heart. Her symptoms were completely consistent with the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for the disorder.
The author actually was able to describe her symptoms towards the end of the book when her and her doctors would meet. In her manic episodes she described forty-six different symptoms. Some of those were that: she gets “lost” in racing, creative, driven thought, she can’t stop spending money, she feels like an “open circuit”, she has total loss of identity, she has a strong sense of finding a cure for cancer, she believes she is in a partnership with God, she will start five things at once because numbers have a very important meaning to her, she tries to find symmetry in everything, she moves things around to make a spiritual mass, she cannot make decisions, she cannot focus, she does obsessive, compulsive actions and so many more…like I said she named forty-six different symptoms when she is in her manic state. When she is in her depression she doesn’t want to do anything, she feels worthless and she almost always attempts or considers attempting suicide, she sometimes can’t even get out of bed. The interesting thing about Holly is that when she is in her normal state of mind she is very aware of what is wrong with her. She can tell you all about what she was thinking and what she did on her manic episodes or during her depression.
The disorder dramatically affects the life of the author. She feels like her family hates her because they don’t understand that she has a disorder. There wasn’t that much information about mental disorders then so they just punished her for all of the things that she did that she couldn’t control. She felt that her mom hated her and her siblings didn’t understand her. She didn’t develop a relationship with her mom until five years before she died. She couldn’t keep a job because she would either go into a manic episode and feel that she needed to go to another state or stay home and work on her writing or she would go into a depression and everything that her co-workers would say to her would upset her and made her feel she didn’t belong. She would either get bored and loose interest or she would be too overwhelmed. She even got kicked out of college because of her depression. She was never satisfied in her personal relationships because of her episodes as well. She was always looking for more.
The author faced many struggles throughout her life. I think that the most significant struggles were first leaving home and finding her way on her own. Then she lost so many people who were close to her, in the book she gave the number sixteen. Sixteen dogs and people in like two years. Then, facing the disorder and all of the