Author: Emma Forrest
Publisher: Other Press
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Hardcover, 224 pages
ISBN 10: 1590514467
ISBN 13: 9781590514467
The Book Depository / Amazon
Emma Forrest, a British journalist, was just twenty-two and living the fast life in New York City when she realized that her quirks had gone beyond eccentricity. In a cycle of loneliness, damaging relationships, and destructive behavior, she found herself in the chair of a slim, balding, and effortlessly optimistic psychiatrist—a man whose wisdom and humanity would wrench her from the dangerous tide after she tried to end her life. She was on the brink of drowning, but she was still working, still exploring, still writing, and she had also fallen deeply in love. One day, when Emma called to make an appointment with her psychiatrist, she found no one there. He had died, shockingly, at the age of fifty-three, leaving behind a young family. Reeling from the premature death of a man who had become her anchor after she turned up on his doorstep, she was adrift. And when her all-consuming romantic relationship also fell apart, Emma was forced to cling to the page for survival and regain her footing on her own terms.
A modern-day fairy tale, Your Voice in My Head is a stunning memoir, clear-eyed and shot through with wit. In her unique voice, Emma Forrest explores the highs and lows of love and the heartbreak of loss.
At 22, Emma Forrest was a a journalist on the fringes of fame, with a life that occasionally brushed that of well-known celebrities and other writers. She was also a cutter, and a bulimic. On a recommendation, she started seeing Dr. R. Three weeks later, she was in the hospital for a suicide attempt.
Her family took her home to England to recover (like many of us, she had no insurance, and treatment here would have been prohibitively expensive), where she and Dr. R. still kept in touch. She was diagnosed as a rapid cycle manic/depressive, with wild mood swings from one hour to the next. When she returned, she continued to see Dr. R., even after she moved to the West Coast from New York. Many of their discussions were now by telephone, but one day she calls, and the office is no longer open. She finds out that Dr. R. is dead of lung cancer at the rather young age of 53. This book was begun as a loving tribute to the man who saved her from drowning herself, but on the way, it turned into something more.
In turns hilarious, heartwarming, heartbreaking and inspirational, and interspersed with letters of tribute from former patients and friends, this is a unique look inside a manic-depressive personality. We meet Emma's wonderful, quirky family, and see her fall in "big" love after losing Dr. R. When that romance fails, it is only the strength she has been given by Dr. R. that keeps her grounded enough to keep going, and that is the biggest tribute of all.
What a lovely read this is. I know, you're probably thinking, "How can a memoir about someone with a mental illness coming off a suicide attempt, her trusted psychiatrist dying with no warning, then losing her boyfriend be lovely and funny?". But it is; trust me. Ms. Forrest's writing style is better than that of the average bear, and without being at all clinical, gives the reader a deeper understanding of a well-known, but little-understood, bipolar disorder. Click on the link below to read the first chapter; if you don't smile at least once, you may need to call in a repairman to fine-tune your sense of humor.
QUOTES (asterisks replace some letters in deference to my sensitive readers):
Karen is a friend of Bad Boyfriend's from childhood and he doesn't want her anymore so I take her because she's smart and kind and funny and deeply, profoundly needy and nobody wants her, not even her own family and it breaks my f**king heart.
Have you ever eating something appalling for breakfast, something really bad for you, a chocolate cake, and just thought, "F**k it, this is bad, I'd better keep going? Christ, this is making me feel horrible, I'd better have more?"
Reading that letter, I move the loss of GH and the death of Dr. R from being a picture in my wallet I see all through the day to going in a photo album to be looked at on special occasions.
BOOK RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars
BLOGGERS: Have you reviewed this book? If so, please feel free to leave a link to your review in the comments section; I will also add your link to the body of my review.
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Read the first chapter
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This book is included in my list for the 2011 ARC Reading Challenge