This week is National Chronic Invisible Illness Awareness Week – a week dedicated to raising the visibility for the countless people who suffer from illnesses that can’t be seen. Chances are, you or someone you know is directly affected by an illness that can’t be seen; they shape our lives in ways that are hard to imagine for people that can’t “see” the illness. CNN shared a great article today, on how to talk to someone with a Chronic Illness – it is definitely worth a read!
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type II in 2009. Being a reader who is married to a fellow book-lover, my husband and I read everything we could get our hands on. We also recommended a few books to family members, to help them understand what we were dealing with. I wanted to share a few of those today.
One of my favorites is an older book, by Kay Redfield Jamison. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness details Dr. Jamison’s struggle with Bipolar Disorder (manic-depression), and her climb out of it. William Safire, in a review for the New York Times, said. “The most emotionally moving book I’ve ever read about emotions.”, and I wholeheartedly agree. Dr. Jamison speaks with firsthand knowledge as well as professional experience, in a language that is relatable and honest. She has authored several other books, all equally readable, but for me personally this one stands out.
Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher was a New York Times bestseller when it was published in 2008. Ms. Hornbacher offered a no holds barred, intimate look at her battle with Bipolar Disorder. Although she suffers from Type I, reading about her struggle still gave normalcy to mine, as I fought to regulate medications and regain a grip on my life.
She wrote a book before Madness – Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia (P.S.), which details another Invisible Illness. I have not read it, but based on my experience with Madness I am sure it is phenomenal.
The book that my husband got the most out of was Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder. Described as “… a first of its kind book—written specifically for the partner of a person with bipolar disorder. If you have a loved one with bipolar, you know how disruptive and straining this disorder can be to your relationship. You may experience feelings of fear, loss, and anxiety as well as a constant uncertainly about your loved one’s ever-changing moods.
This book is designed to help you overcome the unique challenges of loving someone with bipolar disorder. With the supportive and helpful information, strategies, and real-life examples contained here, you’ll have all the tools you need to create a loving, healthy, and close relationship.”
It is something both he and I refer back to on a regular basis.
There are other books I’d say are worth browsing, especially if the diagnosis affects you. Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder by Racehl Reiland (I too found those words on a piece of paper upon discharge, with not much explanation) is one. Manic: A Memoir by Teri Cheney is another that immediately comes to mind.
Whatever your Invisible Illness is, it is important to educate yourself about it, so you can educate others. Read everything you can get your hands on, ask questions of your treatment team and caregivers, and talk to others who have been down the path you’re on. YOU are your best advocate, and your best chance at conquering your illness.
Do you or someone you know suffer from an Invisible Illness? Have you read any books that helped you through it, or that you’d recommend to others? Feel free to share here!