In addition to my ongoing project of reading very self-help book known to man and working my way through an assortment of treatment manuals, I’ve been tracking down autobiographies and memoirs of people who have mental illnesses. Part of that is due to my own curiosity as to what mental disorders that I don’t have are like, and part of me suspects that they may prove more useful to my clients than yet another skills workbook that they will complete three exercises in and then abandon because skills workbooks tend to be largely irrelevant. It doesn’t help that I primarily work with teenagers, who, by and large, refuse to do homework on principle.
My Body is a Book of Rules is Elissa Washuta’s account of coming to terms with adulthood, her racial identity, her experiences as a woman, and, of course, her diagnosis of Bipolar II. Told in a series of disjointed vignettes, IM conversations, poems, scripts, chart notes, online dating profiles, and research papers, the memoir tracks Washuta’s journey through college and grad school, numerous med changes, and a series of unfortunate relationships. I enjoyed it immensely; Washuta is an incredibly gifted writer and everything she wrote was so relatable that reading it was like having a conversation with a friend.
I’m definitely hanging on to this one.