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Author: Linda K Schmitmeyer
Genre: Mental Illness
Publisher: The Artists' Orchard LLC
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Summary of Rambler:
Linda began her 40s as a part-time college writing teacher and stay-at-home mom. A decade later, she was the family breadwinner, a single mother of sorts, and the caregiver for her husband, Steve.
Initially, Steve was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but when he failed to improve, the diagnosis was changed to schizoaffective. Both were disorders they and most people didn’t understand in the 1990s, when few talked openly about mental illness. Rambler: A Family Pushes Through the Fog of Mental Illness traces their challenge of living with Steve’s illness.
The family’s downward spiral begins when Steve abruptly quits his job with an engineering society after a fight with his boss. Following a string of unsuccessful other jobs, his focus shifts from providing for his family to taking down the society’s executive director. As Steve’s questionable behavior intensifies, Linda leaves him, but their separation is brief. Police are summoned to an engineering conference two months later, and Steve is taken away in handcuffs. Linda’s confusion deepens when she learns the FBI is tailing him.
Rambler takes readers through a series of baffling and traumatic events resulting from Steve’s illness and explores various aspects of the family’s experience: How does Linda explain an illness that affects behavior and thinking to their young children? Can she trust her intuition when responding to a psychotic episode? How does Steve’s and Linda’s upbringing affect their approach to the family’s challenge? Why is the support of others so critical in overcoming a mental illness? What hurdles does Steve face as he works his way back to being the father and husband he wants to be? Why does their marriage survive and thrive, when so many others fail?
Rambler is told through intimate family scenes and Steve’s and Linda’s personal writings. It’s about a family finding a way forward through the fog of mental illness.
My Thoughts on Rambler:
If you have spent any time on my blog, you'll know that mental health awareness is very important to me. My husband suffers from Bipolar. It is not easy on the patient or their family especially their spouse.
I applaud Linda and Steve both for being willing to open up about their struggles while trying to find the right treatment for Steve. There is a severe lack of proper treatment and stigma of mental illness in our country and society. There is no cookie cutter treatment because everyone is different. My husband has some of the symptoms Steve had but not all.
I applaud Linda for being so supportive and by Steve's side the entire time, no matter how hard it was. She had to literally do it all: run the household, take care of the kids, take care of Steve, work, take care of herself. We don't have children together and I struggle some days to take care of my husband.
This book did open up the lines of communication between my husband and myself though. We discussed the similarity and differences in their symptoms. I will definitely be looking into MAMI for myself.
If you have a loved one that has been diagnosed with a mental illness, I highly recommend this book.