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Madness is a real world for the many thousands of people who are right now living within it. It never apologises. Sometimes it is a shadow, ever present, without regard for the sun. Sometimes it is a well of dark water with no bottom, or a levitation device to the stars. Madness, a memoir is an insight into what it's like to live with psychosis over a period of ten years, i Madness is a real world for the many thousands of people who are right now living within it. It never apologises. Sometimes it is a shadow, ever present, without regard for the sun. Sometimes it is a well of dark water with no bottom, or a levitation device to the stars. Madness, a memoir is an insight into what it's like to live with psychosis over a period of ten years, in which bouts of acute illness are interspersed with periods of sanity. The world is beautiful and terrifying and sometimes magical. The sanctity of life is at times precious and at times precarious and always fragile. It's a story of learning to manage illness with courage and creativity, of achieving balance and living well. It is for everyone now living within the world of madness, for everyone touched by this world, and for everyone seeking to further his or her understanding of it, whether you think of madness as a biological illness of the brain or an understandable part of the continuum of the human condition.


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Madness is a real world for the many thousands of people who are right now living within it. It never apologises. Sometimes it is a shadow, ever present, without regard for the sun. Sometimes it is a well of dark water with no bottom, or a levitation device to the stars. Madness, a memoir is an insight into what it's like to live with psychosis over a period of ten years, i Madness is a real world for the many thousands of people who are right now living within it. It never apologises. Sometimes it is a shadow, ever present, without regard for the sun. Sometimes it is a well of dark water with no bottom, or a levitation device to the stars. Madness, a memoir is an insight into what it's like to live with psychosis over a period of ten years, in which bouts of acute illness are interspersed with periods of sanity. The world is beautiful and terrifying and sometimes magical. The sanctity of life is at times precious and at times precarious and always fragile. It's a story of learning to manage illness with courage and creativity, of achieving balance and living well. It is for everyone now living within the world of madness, for everyone touched by this world, and for everyone seeking to further his or her understanding of it, whether you think of madness as a biological illness of the brain or an understandable part of the continuum of the human condition.

30 review for Madness: a Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    After hearing Toni Jordan praise this memoir on The Book Club last night, I immediately got hold of a sample and read the first chapter or so. Now I understand Jennifer Byrne's reaction to the first page, as I read it with one hand to my chest as if to slow down my heartbeat. I can't wait to read this book in its entirety when I have a couple of days with no expected interruptions. ********************************** Six years later:- It was every bit as raw, powerful and eye-opening as I expected. After hearing Toni Jordan praise this memoir on The Book Club last night, I immediately got hold of a sample and read the first chapter or so. Now I understand Jennifer Byrne's reaction to the first page, as I read it with one hand to my chest as if to slow down my heartbeat. I can't wait to read this book in its entirety when I have a couple of days with no expected interruptions. ********************************** Six years later:- It was every bit as raw, powerful and eye-opening as I expected. Kate Richards has laid herself completely bare for the reader in the hope of bringing a greater level of understanding to the insidious disease that is mental illness. The book covers a period of about 6 years, following Kate's journey through therapy, medication adjustments and a number of hospitalisations between the ages of 26 and 31. However, she explains at the outset that the timeline is one thing she has changed for narrative purposes - condensing some periods and stretching others. The other thing she has changed is a number of the characters' names and/or genders for privacy reasons. The rest is her life as a young, highly educated and qualified woman, from a good, ordinary, supportive family, who becomes trapped in what is frequently a nightmare of major depression and psychosis (her actual diagnosis is never absolutely defined). But it's not all grim because Kate is lucky enough to have some wonderful people in her life, helping her to try to be 'normal'. I am left completely in awe of this woman and what she has been able to achieve; a kind of triumph over her own mind. Although some - actually many - parts of this book are difficult to read, I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to gain some insight or improve their understanding of what it's like to suffer from mental illness.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Kate Richards is a trained doctor working in medical research and is also someone who has fought a constant battle with psychosis and depression for over 20 years. From the age of sixteen Kate started noticing changes that crept up on her and slowly took over all her thought processes and would effect her behaviour and relationships. These changes would manifest with voices in her head. Sometimes up to eight that would frighten and confuse and would make Kate go to any lengths to stop them from Kate Richards is a trained doctor working in medical research and is also someone who has fought a constant battle with psychosis and depression for over 20 years. From the age of sixteen Kate started noticing changes that crept up on her and slowly took over all her thought processes and would effect her behaviour and relationships. These changes would manifest with voices in her head. Sometimes up to eight that would frighten and confuse and would make Kate go to any lengths to stop them from alchohol abuse to suicide attempts. Indeed the book opens with Kate trying to cut her arm off wich leads to a period of hospitalisation. The biggest problem for Kate was trying to find the right balance of medication and supportive Psychiatrists and psychologists. This process was one of small steps forwards and steps back as Kate went from one medical professional to another. In this time Kate struggled to keep employed, had numerous spells in hospital due to self harm or psychotic episodes and would not look after herself in terms of hygene and her eating and sleeping patterns wich were erratic to the extreme. This behaviour would lead to much stress for ever supportive friends and family who were there for her no matter what. The break through would come for Kate when she went and seen psychologist Winsome Thomas two months after deliberatly burning herself with hydrochloric acid and being hospitalised. With Winsome's guidance Kate slowly managed to turn her life around by stabalising medication wich was one of constant tweaking and steps backwards when Kate didn't take her meds or ajusted doses that would have adverse effects on her. The second part was making Kate realise she did have a mental illness and needed to take medication. Only when she acknowledged that was she able to work on changing behaviours that had built up over the years with the drinking, only eating chocalate, being up all night and regular activities that she had feared over the years. This is one of the most heart wrenching and beautifully writen book on mental illness i have read. At times it is hard to digest with the descriptions of self harm and the delusional thoughts that were menchined. Kate was fortunete in a way as she did have her parents and friends who stood by her and she menchined for others without such support networks the hope of recovery would be incredibly difficult. For anyone who has been touched by mental illness this is a must read and one that is both extroidinary and powerful.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Kate Richards is a trained medical doctor who works in medical research. She is also, to paraphrase her in this book, "mad". This book takes the reader on a journey through her episodes of psychosis and self harm, through mania and a quest to find a useful psychologist and psychiatrist, as well as the medication and skills Richards needs in order to manage her illness. This is one of the most beautiful, heart wrenching and painful memoirs of mental illness I have read. Richards is a beautiful write Kate Richards is a trained medical doctor who works in medical research. She is also, to paraphrase her in this book, "mad". This book takes the reader on a journey through her episodes of psychosis and self harm, through mania and a quest to find a useful psychologist and psychiatrist, as well as the medication and skills Richards needs in order to manage her illness. This is one of the most beautiful, heart wrenching and painful memoirs of mental illness I have read. Richards is a beautiful writer, and uses her skill to describe her illness in sometimes gut churning detail, especially in regards to the periods of self harm she goes through (the book, for example, opens as she tries to amputate her own arm in a period of psychosis). My main thoughts upon finishing this book are these: As a society, we are not looking after those who are mentally ill the way we should. Richards describes mentally ill people being refused treatment at a hospital after they have self injured (or sub-standard care being provided as "punishment" by emergency room doctors). There is help there, but the patient almost needs to be an advocate for themselves to get it, which many people in the depths of psychosis are unable to do. How much difference a good psychologist or psychiatrist can make to a patient. I think it takes a very particular type of person to be able to work well in these fields, and it's clear that if Richards hadn't found a psychologist she could work well with (which seems to basically be a matter of chancing upon the right one, after going through the wrong ones, who can be damaging), she very likely wouldn't be alive today. I don't know if there are answers to these issues, and Richards herself doesn't begin to try to find any. But the issues are there, and it makes me wonder how many people are suffering in silence with mental illness, or are made sicker by medical professionals. Truly an amazing book. I'd recommend anyone who has an interest in mental health to give it a read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Merilyn Porter

    The literal meaning of psychiatry is healing of the soul. Kate Richards bravely lays bare her own soul and takes us on a journey deep into the inner workings of her fragmented mind. Although plagued by the demons of depression since her late teens she managed to complete high school and then go on the finish a medical degree with honors from Monash University before completely succumbing to psychosis that eventually sees her institutionalized. During her periods of complete madness she would liv The literal meaning of psychiatry is healing of the soul. Kate Richards bravely lays bare her own soul and takes us on a journey deep into the inner workings of her fragmented mind. Although plagued by the demons of depression since her late teens she managed to complete high school and then go on the finish a medical degree with honors from Monash University before completely succumbing to psychosis that eventually sees her institutionalized. During her periods of complete madness she would live on a diet of chocolate, booze, pills and cigarettes. She would not sleep, she would wear layer upon layer of clothing in an attempt to cover her shame, she would cut herself, burn herself with incense sticks, cigarettes and acid, anything to distract her from the pain that was coming from inside her head. And all the while she still managed to mostly turn up for work as a medical writer and appear, for most of the time, to be coping normally. It was 16 years of suffering before she met the psychologist who Kate attributes with saving her life. Winsome Thomas was the first therapist she learned to trust and it is with her that she is able to slowly unravel the layers of her damaged psyche. This is not a self indulgent account nor is it a poor me account. It is simply a book about a woman’s experience with madness told honestly and with startling clarity. I loved this book and could not put it down. Kate is testament to the fact that sufferers of mental illness with the right treatment can live perfectly normal and productive lives but the road to recovery is far from easy. An amazing woman and an amazing read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bri

    This book resonated so deeply within my heart that it shattered me into a million little pieces while still holding me close like a mother rocking her baby in her arms for the first time. Raw, brutal, poignant, bittersweet. Every counsellor, therapist, mental health nurse, psychologist, Emergency Room registrar, GP and psychiatrist should have to read this book. Everyone should have to read this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Renae

    Raw, poetic, deeply intimate and illuminating - all words that seem to appropriately describe this terrifying and yet incredibly beautiful novel. The author Kate Richards has lived with the disruptive effects of mental illness for over a decade. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to suffer through a psychotic episode, and how that would impact on day to day life, I highly recommend this book. I've never read anything quite like it. Raw, poetic, deeply intimate and illuminating - all words that seem to appropriately describe this terrifying and yet incredibly beautiful novel. The author Kate Richards has lived with the disruptive effects of mental illness for over a decade. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to suffer through a psychotic episode, and how that would impact on day to day life, I highly recommend this book. I've never read anything quite like it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    What a fantastic, courageous book. Thank you Kate Richards for sharing your story. This memoir details Kate's 15 some year journey to arriving at a point of being able to manage her severe mental illness. Kate's mind became inhabited by destructive living, breathing, talking "personalities" a the age of 16. Despite this she does well at school and completes 6 years of medical training to qualify as a doctor. Thereafter a series of psychotic crises occur whilst she tries to negotiate some kind of What a fantastic, courageous book. Thank you Kate Richards for sharing your story. This memoir details Kate's 15 some year journey to arriving at a point of being able to manage her severe mental illness. Kate's mind became inhabited by destructive living, breathing, talking "personalities" a the age of 16. Despite this she does well at school and completes 6 years of medical training to qualify as a doctor. Thereafter a series of psychotic crises occur whilst she tries to negotiate some kind of path to management of her illness. This despite the fact that, by it's very nature, her mental illness means that it takes a long time and careful, honest, caring counselling to accept that she indeed has an illness. Her writing is honest, bold, courageous, and poetic. She finds solace in literature, art and music. It's also a sobering reminder that mental illness is not selective. This book really opened my eyes to what it might feel like to suffer mental illness, how difficult life becomes and how easily a crisis could spiral to death, despite having friends and family for support. Not a comfortable read, but a highly recommended one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ksenia Anske

    The inner side of madness, the side not visible to those who aren't mad, the side that not many talk about, not even doctors who treat madness as they themselves have a very vague idea about that it's like to be mad and to try to get well. It will make you wince and it will make you think twice next time you're tempted to dismiss someone as simply mad. The inner side of madness, the side not visible to those who aren't mad, the side that not many talk about, not even doctors who treat madness as they themselves have a very vague idea about that it's like to be mad and to try to get well. It will make you wince and it will make you think twice next time you're tempted to dismiss someone as simply mad.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kristie

    Just finished it. Excellent book that resonated on a personal level. Will write more when it's digested. ----- a few days have passed ----- I devoured this book after hearing about it on ABC Book Club. I think it took 4 days to read which is pretty fast for me. Mental illness is a part of my family fabric. Bipolar, schizophrenia, clinical depression, personality disorders - all terms I know well as do the members of my immediate and extended family. 'It' is in our blood - much in the same way that Just finished it. Excellent book that resonated on a personal level. Will write more when it's digested. ----- a few days have passed ----- I devoured this book after hearing about it on ABC Book Club. I think it took 4 days to read which is pretty fast for me. Mental illness is a part of my family fabric. Bipolar, schizophrenia, clinical depression, personality disorders - all terms I know well as do the members of my immediate and extended family. 'It' is in our blood - much in the same way that my Mum says salt water is in our blood because my grandad was a tug boat captain. 'It' is there, always, waiting, lurking. It's been a few years since I have had to visit a loved one in hospital and I pray that this dry spell continues for a long time. I personally have never experienced psychosis but I have seen it first hand and have had deal with it. It's never the same for the people that are passively viewing it. We're watching it and judging it with rational minds but reading Kate Richards write about her psychosis was cathartic in a sense. It's such an emotionally draining experience for the onlookers and I know it's equally as frustrating for the people that are living it. I've never read anyone put the experience into words before and that, for me, is life changing. I found myself becoming invested in Kate's journey through her illness. I found myself sighing when she self medicated or cut dosages because I know what happens when you do that. Read this book if you're interested in mental illness. Read this book if you have a loved one suffering through it. It will give you new insight. This book fills me with hope. I hope it does the same for you.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I'm twenty-eight, mostly ordinary. Normal childhood and all that, um, I'm an only child. Grew up on a farm. Both parents alive and well. I live on my own. No children because I'm afraid I'd be a dreadful parent. I work and... I'm crazy about wilderness and all kinds of music and feline personalities and I'm a peacenik, or a wanker whichever way you choose to look at it. That's it really. Oh, and I hate – I mean hate as in wish to kill – pretty much everything about me. I guess you should know th I'm twenty-eight, mostly ordinary. Normal childhood and all that, um, I'm an only child. Grew up on a farm. Both parents alive and well. I live on my own. No children because I'm afraid I'd be a dreadful parent. I work and... I'm crazy about wilderness and all kinds of music and feline personalities and I'm a peacenik, or a wanker whichever way you choose to look at it. That's it really. Oh, and I hate – I mean hate as in wish to kill – pretty much everything about me. I guess you should know that. This book is devastatingly visceral as it captures the unbearable torment of mental illness. From episodes of mania to acts of self-harm, down to difficulties with the most basic acts of order that the well are gifted with – eating, bathing, working and sleeping. Richards is uncompromisingly honest in recounting the battle with her brain, and every sentence weeps under the weight of her exquisite writing. This is an unforgettable read that will focus your understanding and empathy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karen ⊰✿

    Gosh I've found myself a sobbing mess at the end of this book. The raw emotions and honesty shown by Kate while describing her very long battle with depression and psychosis are confronting, and well worth reflecting on. I can't help but put myself in the shoes of her parents, or her work colleagues, friends etc. because we have all come across those "crazy" people who just can't get their shit together. But that is just the problem, they CAN'T get it together which is very different to WON'T ge Gosh I've found myself a sobbing mess at the end of this book. The raw emotions and honesty shown by Kate while describing her very long battle with depression and psychosis are confronting, and well worth reflecting on. I can't help but put myself in the shoes of her parents, or her work colleagues, friends etc. because we have all come across those "crazy" people who just can't get their shit together. But that is just the problem, they CAN'T get it together which is very different to WON'T get it together. As a Doctor, Kate has a unique insight into mental illness and medications, and even then, took more than ten years and countless hospitalisations to truly understand her ongoing illness and how it will never just "go away", but like any other illness needs constant monitoring, and in her case, medication. It is a truly brave step to write this very personal memoir, and I hope that others will find themselves more understanding of mental illness for having read it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Margot

    A confronting and beautifully written account of mental illness and navigating the mental health system. Kate is more fortunate than many others suffering from mental illness. She has supportive family and friends and financial resources. She is educated, articulate and between hospitalisations can manage to hold down good jobs for much of the time. She is also fortunate to find a caring and competent psychologist in Winsome Thomas who is a complete contrast to the cold and clinical psychiatrist A confronting and beautifully written account of mental illness and navigating the mental health system. Kate is more fortunate than many others suffering from mental illness. She has supportive family and friends and financial resources. She is educated, articulate and between hospitalisations can manage to hold down good jobs for much of the time. She is also fortunate to find a caring and competent psychologist in Winsome Thomas who is a complete contrast to the cold and clinical psychiatrists Kate encounters. I shudder to think of what becomes of those suffering from mental illness who do not have Kate's social and financial resources

  13. 4 out of 5

    Em

    Madness: A memoir is an incredibly brave and honest portrayal of living with a mental illness and provides a unique insight into psychosis. It's not always easy to read due to the descriptions of self harm and voices but it also a book of hope and healing. Madness: A memoir is an incredibly brave and honest portrayal of living with a mental illness and provides a unique insight into psychosis. It's not always easy to read due to the descriptions of self harm and voices but it also a book of hope and healing.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Helen King

    Quite brilliantly written - a very insightful view of severe mental illness as experienced by the author. As she us also a doctor, her tendency to self diagnose showed us the process of elimination that professionals go through to work out what and his to treat. I found the writing so lyrical - it really brought to life the horrors of the experiences Kate has experienced. It did not provide a 'reason' for her mental stare, which I actually found beneficial - there can be so many reasons and the Quite brilliantly written - a very insightful view of severe mental illness as experienced by the author. As she us also a doctor, her tendency to self diagnose showed us the process of elimination that professionals go through to work out what and his to treat. I found the writing so lyrical - it really brought to life the horrors of the experiences Kate has experienced. It did not provide a 'reason' for her mental stare, which I actually found beneficial - there can be so many reasons and the purpose of this book I felt was not to solve the problem (everyone's 'solutions' will differ) but to better understand : particularly those close to people suffering, and those in professions who treat or support them. A quote from the book 'I've spoken with many families and careers who are immensely frustrated that they are not heard or believed or taken seriously when they report that their loved one is becoming unwell and needs assessment and treatment .... Patients also have skills and strengths. It hurts not to be respected or treated with dignity. Every human being has the same kind of heart. The same kinds of fears. The same need for connection'. An important reminder.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

    Fantastic insight into what it is like living with a severe mental illness.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Gargoyle

    Ten Second Synopsis: A trained doctor lyrically recounts her experiences of living with Bipolar, depression and psychosis. Right from the start, I found this to be a harrowing read. I had just picked it out for a bit of pre-naptime reading and was treated to a very graphic and frankly, stomach-churning description of the author’s attempt to amputate her own arm. While this was definitely not what I was expecting as an opening gambit, it was undoubtedly compelling and I knew that this would be an e Ten Second Synopsis: A trained doctor lyrically recounts her experiences of living with Bipolar, depression and psychosis. Right from the start, I found this to be a harrowing read. I had just picked it out for a bit of pre-naptime reading and was treated to a very graphic and frankly, stomach-churning description of the author’s attempt to amputate her own arm. While this was definitely not what I was expecting as an opening gambit, it was undoubtedly compelling and I knew that this would be an engaging read. This was not the first memoir I’ve read from someone diagnosed with Bipolar, but what set this one apart was the fact that it was written by a trained medical doctor and deeply explored the effects of her psychosis on everyday life. An author’s note at the beginning informs the reader that the book has been put together using the author’s notebooks as a basis for describing the periods during which she was unwell, and I found it interesting that while the descriptions were quite harrowing and shocking, we were also dealing with a narrator who, by her own admission, was unreliable. I questioned, for instance, the fact that none of her colleagues (who were all medical doctors, you will recall) picked up on the obvious signs of her illness. That aside, the book really raised the complexity of mental illness and the services available to people who suffer from its many variations. The author had quite a negative view of psychiatrists in general as well as the specific psychiatrists of whom she was a patient. This was a recurring theme of Richards’ personal narrative, despite the fact that during much of the book she was too unwell to comply with the psychiatrist’s recommendations. Overall, this book was an in-depth look at one woman’s experience with severe mental illness over a period of years and her journey through the public health system. Reading it has stirred up a lot of questions for me about the glaring gaps in provision of mental health services generally, and especially for those who don’t have the money to afford private health care. In essence, while it was a difficult read in places, Madness is an engaging addition to the literature on mental illness in an Australian context. I’d recommend this one to anyone interested in individuals’ experiences with mental illness, particularly Bipolar, but if this is your first foray into memoirs about mental illness I’d probably start with something a little less “in your face”, lest you be overwhelmed with the enormity of the subject.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    I couldn't put this book down! Life is such a struggle for the author and I think it's an amazing thing to be able to write such an incredible book. I live with mental illness in my family and have a fair degree of insight, but reading this book helped me understand a little bit more. It's also given me some clues about better questions to ask and how I can help. Everyone should read this book! I couldn't put this book down! Life is such a struggle for the author and I think it's an amazing thing to be able to write such an incredible book. I live with mental illness in my family and have a fair degree of insight, but reading this book helped me understand a little bit more. It's also given me some clues about better questions to ask and how I can help. Everyone should read this book!

  18. 5 out of 5

    EC

    Intense, worrying, beautiful, harrowing. I would slap it with a huge trigger warning for those struggling with or having a history of mental illness. You can't help but make comparisons between your own mental processes and those of the narrator, which can be a disturbing train of thought. Valuable insight into the life and mind of someone with acute mental illness and testimony of an obviously brilliant and courageous personality. Intense, worrying, beautiful, harrowing. I would slap it with a huge trigger warning for those struggling with or having a history of mental illness. You can't help but make comparisons between your own mental processes and those of the narrator, which can be a disturbing train of thought. Valuable insight into the life and mind of someone with acute mental illness and testimony of an obviously brilliant and courageous personality.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    This book was harrowing to read, particularly during the times of crisis, but oh so interesting. Very well written and hopefully it can give some people who have a limited understanding of mental illness a better idea of what may be going on for someone living with mental illness. It's a pity that people that probably do need to read this never will. Perhaps it should be a set text in schools. This book was harrowing to read, particularly during the times of crisis, but oh so interesting. Very well written and hopefully it can give some people who have a limited understanding of mental illness a better idea of what may be going on for someone living with mental illness. It's a pity that people that probably do need to read this never will. Perhaps it should be a set text in schools.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I do not feel I am in a position to rate this book. It would be ideal for a person experiencing such an illness, have a friend or family member experiencing such an illness or perhaps be within the health care field. As I do not fit any of those categories I found it somewhat overwhelming.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jacquie

    I struggled to read the first few pages of "Madness: A memoir". Not because it was badly written or didn't grab me. Because it was describing the time the author attempted to sever her arm - in visceral detail. This book offers an honest insight into a troubled brain and the severe consequences that can occur as a result - an insight that isn't often shared but should be. Despite the fact that I got slightly squirmish whilst reading the first few pages, I was determined to keep reading and am ple I struggled to read the first few pages of "Madness: A memoir". Not because it was badly written or didn't grab me. Because it was describing the time the author attempted to sever her arm - in visceral detail. This book offers an honest insight into a troubled brain and the severe consequences that can occur as a result - an insight that isn't often shared but should be. Despite the fact that I got slightly squirmish whilst reading the first few pages, I was determined to keep reading and am pleased I did. Essentially, Richards tells it exactly as it was (as much as she can remember, anyway). She takes the steps that very few have taken and tells the truth. About her hallucinations. Her suicidal thoughts. Her self-harming. Her decision to see a therapist. And then a (largely unhelpful) psychiatrist. Her frequent hospitalisations. Her battle with finding the balance in medications. And, eventually, her path to recovery. Richards writes in a beautifully descriptive and accessible way that lays her experience on a table for you to not just observe from afar but actually take on board yourself and feel. "The Cold Ones are severe. Unrelenting. Psychopathic in their gleeful execution of pain...They prefer to whisper - criticisms and threats.", page 27. "garrotte garrotte garrotte the world will spin you into obsidian oblivion keep the fires burning watch yourself muddy red", page 47. There are glimmers of hope and joy scattered throughout the book as well and you find yourself feeling so grateful for the fact that Richards was able to experience them and recognise those moments are joyful - offering a reprieve. They mostly take the form of music, books, travel, and cats. "Mog, the new foster kitten, is phytophilous. Succulents and cacti, previously in pots on the living room window-ledge, are this morning dug up, dismembered and scattered over the floorboards...The big fat cat (Her Royal Greyness) is not impressed with the new addition to our family.", page 212. "This is the time for studying music theory and astronomy. I love the words of music: portamento, glissando, ricochet, spiccato - a kind of onomatopoeic poem.", page 214. "Madness: A memoir" does not shy away from describing, in detail, the experience of living with mental illness - as it shouldn't. If people are to truly understand mental illness, exposure to real-life educational stories is the key. I've studied psychology for six years now and I know I personally always found it easier to understand the intricacies and complexities of a mental illness when I could get my hands on a real case study. This book is one that everyone should read to help open up people's minds to the often invisible and hidden suffering that others live with on a daily basis.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    This review was originally published to Bookish Ardour Occasionally I meet someone who is wide-eyed and innocent when it comes to mental illness. Not ignorance so much as complete and utter naiveté. These are people who admit they have had absolutely no experience with mental illness, whether it be themselves or by association. I’m always flabbergasted over this. I never know what to think, my brain freezes. I see mental illness all around me. So many people have chronic depression, anxiety disord This review was originally published to Bookish Ardour Occasionally I meet someone who is wide-eyed and innocent when it comes to mental illness. Not ignorance so much as complete and utter naiveté. These are people who admit they have had absolutely no experience with mental illness, whether it be themselves or by association. I’m always flabbergasted over this. I never know what to think, my brain freezes. I see mental illness all around me. So many people have chronic depression, anxiety disorders, social disorders, personality disorders, you name it really. I’m always hard-pressed to think of someone who doesn’t, even mildly, suffer from some form of chronic illness. This is without bringing my brain into it which is chock-a-block with enough chronic conditions for ten people. Madness: A Memoir is a great read for many reasons. I see it as an excellent introductory story to start with if you have had no experience with chronic illness, especially of the mental kind, and aren’t sure where to begin. Kate’s account gives an idea into life with psychosis, but with bypassing the confusion psychosis can cause the individual. It’s easy for me to say so as I have my own forms of mental illness. There is much present in Kate’s story I can relate to. Issues with the health system, losing sense of self, lacking human contact, and truly believing the irrational are only some of the aspects people with mental illness can relate to. Kate has a great way of opening up about her experience. There’s a cadence to her writing style, which at times reminds me of irrational episodes, but the delivery is wonderfully structured. I can understand if someone would not quite understand certain elements though. It is possible to question why someone wouldn’t seek help when they need it, or go so far as to try to cut their arm off, but that’s psychosis for you. Speaking of which, that’s how Madness begins; she’s trying to cut her arm off. Is it any wonder I read this book in a few days rather than my usual week of reading? None at all! I was riveted. I was riveted all the way to the end. It wasn’t exactly fascinating, but it was engrossing from a chronically ill person’s perspective. It’s eye-opening being able to read another’s thoughts as they’re going through something that can be mirrored in part in your own life. If you are interested in, or are considering, reading a true account of someone’s long-term experience with psychosis, I’d recommend Memoir: A Madness. I was moved enough to want to do something and I felt connected enough to not feel alone. Kate’s story impacts on many different levels.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kirstie

    I read (or rather inhaled) this book for the Kill Your Darlings bookclub on Twitter this month. Well worth the journey. I'm fascinated by accounts of 'madness' and this one is a particularly elegant and rewarding read. Kate Richards' intelligence (she is a trained doctor and medical researcher), creativity and literate curiosity shines through in the work. The ordered nature of the narrative stands in contrast to the descriptions of complete disorder that make up psychotic episodes. Reproduction I read (or rather inhaled) this book for the Kill Your Darlings bookclub on Twitter this month. Well worth the journey. I'm fascinated by accounts of 'madness' and this one is a particularly elegant and rewarding read. Kate Richards' intelligence (she is a trained doctor and medical researcher), creativity and literate curiosity shines through in the work. The ordered nature of the narrative stands in contrast to the descriptions of complete disorder that make up psychotic episodes. Reproductions of her diary writing are inserted into the pages, adding a very intimate insight into the truly rambling chaos of those times. The 'voices' in Kate's head - and particularly the way they remain hidden and secret for so long - provide narrative traction. This is not just a book that is intellectually interesting - it's a compelling narrative. And it's touching and funny and frightening and horrifying at turns as well. Kate doesn't shy away from highlighting her distrust of psychiatrists, but it's also clear how greatly she has benefitted from appropriate support at times - and how lucky she was to find a wonderful psychologist to work with. At times she reveals aspects of the medical system that are very depersonalising and horrifying but she doesn't dwell on this angrily (as she and many others might have reason to do!). Instead the focus is on her own recovery and the small steps that make this up. Learning balance, learning what is 'normal', and the account is in the end highly encouraging and inspiring without being in any way saccharine or shying away from the reality about how little is still known about mental illness, how limiting the official diagnoses can be, and what a fine line it can be to stay within appropriate recovery paths. I highly recommend this work to anyone interested in mental illness and particularly to anyone working in the medical field - it is wonderful and un-'other'-ing the patient.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ruby

    This book is so many kinds of amazing that I don't really know where to begin. Kate is a trained doctor and medical researcher, she has experienced severe depression, psychosis, self harm, horrible times in the mental health system; the whole shebang, basically. But first and foremost, she is a human being and this work she has written is a powerful call to treat people with mental illness as human beings, just like everyone else. Shock horror, right? I loved her meandering from cleanly written m This book is so many kinds of amazing that I don't really know where to begin. Kate is a trained doctor and medical researcher, she has experienced severe depression, psychosis, self harm, horrible times in the mental health system; the whole shebang, basically. But first and foremost, she is a human being and this work she has written is a powerful call to treat people with mental illness as human beings, just like everyone else. Shock horror, right? I loved her meandering from cleanly written medical speak, to her outpourings of suffering and madness, to powerfully worded cries to remember and respect and honour the human potential of people with mental illness. She was also able to articulate very well why it is that so many people with mental illness struggle to keep taking their medications. As a medical writer and someone who has struggled with nasty side effects, she articulates what an enormous battle it can be. She also shows the devastating effects on out our community's most vulnerable members when the mental health system is so starkly underfunded, having almost lost a friend to suicide. If all of this amazingness isn't enough, she also writes beautifully. Her words flow and they are so evocative and marvellous to read. She captures the mind and fills it with imagery and feeling, as only the most gifted writers can. I loved this work I am starting straight in on her next work. I hope Kate keeps her writing up. She is one of the best writers I have discovered in a long time. Much respect! And gratitude. I experience mental illness myself and it fills my heart with joy to know that members of my community are writing this stuff. It needs to be written, read and understood, particularly by those in a position to do something about it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Devilyn (Emily)

    First I would like to thank Kate Richards and Winsome Thomas for writing this book. As a mental health nursing student it is essential that I hear stories of mental ill health by those who are experiencing or have experienced it. I loved reading this book. At times it was confusing but I quickly realised that there must have been times when Kates life was confusing and scary too. But Kate has also helped me. Helped me remember that even though there are people who live with a mental illness (me First I would like to thank Kate Richards and Winsome Thomas for writing this book. As a mental health nursing student it is essential that I hear stories of mental ill health by those who are experiencing or have experienced it. I loved reading this book. At times it was confusing but I quickly realised that there must have been times when Kates life was confusing and scary too. But Kate has also helped me. Helped me remember that even though there are people who live with a mental illness (me included) we are deserving and worried about the same things as those who do not live with a mental illness. As a student nurse I worry that my own experiences with mental health limit my ability to help others but I also know that having my own experiences can give me a better understanding of how some things feel. This book reiterates that for me. Kate is a professional. A doctor. She just happens to have a mental illness. And I'm not any different. I'm a lot of things other then my mental ill health. There were times when the ways in which Kate was spoken too by professionals and the attitudes she came across pissed me off and made me angry. Angry that people still treat those with mental illness differently to those who do not have mental illness. Especially when other professionals deny needed treatment because they see the illness first - if someone is in need of surgery it should not matter how that person came to needing them at treatment!! This is a good book for anyone who is interested in psychiatry and or mental health. Or who is thinking of going into the nursing field and/or has a friend or family member that has mental illness. A fantastic read. I really enjoyed it and it made me question things - both good and bad.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    This is a remarkable account of Kate Richards' journey through mental illness. Kate is highly intelligent, articulate and an excellent writer. She has struggled with profoundly debilitating periods of illness and conveys her experience with deep insight and beautiful, poetic language. While her descriptions of her experience are detailed I don't believe it's ever really possible to fully empathise unless one has had a mental illness oneself. And even then, every experience of mental illness is d This is a remarkable account of Kate Richards' journey through mental illness. Kate is highly intelligent, articulate and an excellent writer. She has struggled with profoundly debilitating periods of illness and conveys her experience with deep insight and beautiful, poetic language. While her descriptions of her experience are detailed I don't believe it's ever really possible to fully empathise unless one has had a mental illness oneself. And even then, every experience of mental illness is different. I struggled with a major depressive illness for ten years before finding relief in the correctly prescribed medication. Kate's illness was much more severe than mine but ever so often what she described resonated deeply with me. Those moments pulled me in to her world demonstrating how extraordinary her ability to write is. This book is a must-read for everyone given that so many people in our society will suffer from mental health issues - we'll all come into contact with someone we know who has a mental illness - or we may suffer them ourselves. Kate writing about her mental illness is a courageous thing to do. But we desperately need people to share their experiences so that those who suffer know they are not alone. Fortunately, not everyone will suffer as badly as Kate did, but the more we know about the actual experience of mental illness the more compassionate and supporting we can be of those who do.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    You know it's going to be an intense book when the author describes an attempt to cut off her arm on the first page. It was gripping all the way through. A fascinating insight into mental illness that incorporated many cultural threads of literature, philosophy, science and music. "We exist within a bubble of illness as though the meaning of our whole lives is to be found within this one space and this one time. Meaning. Illness. The beauty of ordinary life." "The inner world, the heart of things, You know it's going to be an intense book when the author describes an attempt to cut off her arm on the first page. It was gripping all the way through. A fascinating insight into mental illness that incorporated many cultural threads of literature, philosophy, science and music. "We exist within a bubble of illness as though the meaning of our whole lives is to be found within this one space and this one time. Meaning. Illness. The beauty of ordinary life." "The inner world, the heart of things, where truths lie mired bury the inconstant voices of reason and unreason, are doublely mired by the people living in my head." "Nietzsche writes, 'Life consists of rare, isolated moments of great significance, and of innumerably many intervals, during which at best the silhouettes of these moments hover about us.'"

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Freeborn

    It's taken me a day to get my head around this book enough to write a review. I almost stopped reading early on - I like my dark themes, but this is so harrowing, so unrelenting, that I found it really difficult to read. But I'm glad I pushed on, because the writing is raw and beautiful and it's a rare personal insight into acute mental illness from a trained doctor, without being hostile to the medical profession. It's disturbing how many gaps there are in the mental health field, even for thos It's taken me a day to get my head around this book enough to write a review. I almost stopped reading early on - I like my dark themes, but this is so harrowing, so unrelenting, that I found it really difficult to read. But I'm glad I pushed on, because the writing is raw and beautiful and it's a rare personal insight into acute mental illness from a trained doctor, without being hostile to the medical profession. It's disturbing how many gaps there are in the mental health field, even for those with supportive family and friends, like the author, and it's horrible to think what happens to those who fall through the cracks. But the book also brings its own peace as the author gradually learns to manage her illness. This is an important book that I hope will make a difference for those who suffer from mental illness.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marian Weaver

    This is a truly riveting book. The writing isn't quite up to the subject matter, which is annoying - but then, I don't read a lot of memoirs, so I'm not sure if the distant tone is typical. That aside, the story itself is amazing. Richards doesn't pull any punches. Her battle with bipolar disorder and psychosis is detailed without any attempt to excuse or explain away anything. The account of her first hospitalisation is both frightening and heartbreaking. I'd read her study on Bipolar and Creati This is a truly riveting book. The writing isn't quite up to the subject matter, which is annoying - but then, I don't read a lot of memoirs, so I'm not sure if the distant tone is typical. That aside, the story itself is amazing. Richards doesn't pull any punches. Her battle with bipolar disorder and psychosis is detailed without any attempt to excuse or explain away anything. The account of her first hospitalisation is both frightening and heartbreaking. I'd read her study on Bipolar and Creativity (Richard is, herself, a doctor), and when I heard she'd also published her memoir, I was more than a little curious. It's well worth the read; in fact, I think most people would find it hard to put down. Thanks heaps to Goodreads member Bri King for recommending it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    What a raw and real tale. I can't begin to imagine the courage it took to first tackle her illness but then share that journey. Her descriptions of her psychological and physical experiences were frank and revealing. Though there are elements that are shocking at know point do you sense she is trying to shock. She is just speaking her truth. It's humbling to realise how poorly we as a society, but even more as health professionals, respond to and judge those who are struggling so desperately to What a raw and real tale. I can't begin to imagine the courage it took to first tackle her illness but then share that journey. Her descriptions of her psychological and physical experiences were frank and revealing. Though there are elements that are shocking at know point do you sense she is trying to shock. She is just speaking her truth. It's humbling to realise how poorly we as a society, but even more as health professionals, respond to and judge those who are struggling so desperately to find a piece of themselves that is whole. Loved, loved this book.

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