Book Review: Through the Withering Storm

Posted May 23rd, 2013 by in book review / 0 comments

Title: Through the Withering Storm
Author:  Leif Gregersen
Publisher: Self-published
Version Read: e-book (via  Sage’s Tours)
Publication Date: September 19th, 2011
Categories: health issues, non-fiction, special interest

Disclaimer:  I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way reflects my feelings towards the book or the book’s review.

Summary (Goodreads): This book is a story of a young Canadian boy who struggles against his peers, his family, his dreams and goals all the while suffering from a debilitating mental illness. He presses on and one day accomplishes his dream of learning to fly, only to be beat back down again and thrown in a mental hospital time after time. It is a story of courage, of inspiration and hope in a cold, cruel world.

Through the Withering Storm deals with the author’s experiences of bipolar disorder through his adolescence right through to young adult hood. It is not fluffly, gentle or kind, it is gritty, mean and dirty. But it is a first-hand account of dealing with bipolar in the late 80s and early 90s.

Through the Withering Storm deals with Leif Gregersen’s experiences from age 14 to age 19/20. He spends most of his high school years dealing silently with undiagnosed bi-polar syndrome. As he ponders several times throughout the book, it would have been interesting to see if someone had seen his ‘typical teenage boy’ behaviour for what it was – a teenager trying to deal with a severe depression and more than one manic tendency – if his early adult years might have been different.

Which is not to say that the author didn’t have a good home life – he didn’t. It would have been very trying for someone who wasn’t dealing with bipolar (knowingly or unknowingly) to deal with an alcoholic father who had anger issues, a mother with a history of mental illness, and a sister whose communist boyfriend was feeding their yyoung  impressionable mind with all sorts of things. Not to mention two brothers as well.

One things Through the Withering Storm highlighted was some of the cruel and inhumane treatment of patients in some mental health facilities. Beating patients, isolating them for no real reason, doctors neglecting to come and check on their patients for weeks, among other things. I doubt it happens everywhere, but the fact that it was happening, and is most likely still happening in some places, is disgusting. Especially as those staff who were abusing their patients would easily get away with it because who is going to believe someone suffering form delusions or paranoia that they are being mistreated.

It is good to see, at the end of the book,  that with the right treatment and the right doctor, Leif is able to make the most of his life and live a relatively normal one.

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