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Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2019 Arnold Thomas Fanning had his first experience of depression during adolescence, following the death of his mother. Some ten years later, an up-and-coming playwright, he was overcome by mania and delusions. Thus began a terrible period in which he was often suicidal, increasingly disconnected from family and friends, sometimes in Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2019 Arnold Thomas Fanning had his first experience of depression during adolescence, following the death of his mother. Some ten years later, an up-and-coming playwright, he was overcome by mania and delusions. Thus began a terrible period in which he was often suicidal, increasingly disconnected from family and friends, sometimes in trouble with the law, and homeless in London. Drawing on his own memories, the recollections of people who knew him when he was at his worst, and medical and police records, Arnold Thomas Fanning has produced a beautifully written, devastatingly intense account of madness - and recovery, to the point where he has not had any serious illness for over a decade and has become an acclaimed playwright. Fanning conveys the consciousness of a person living with mania, psychosis and severe depression with a startling precision and intimacy. Mind on Fire is the gripping, sometimes harrowing, and ultimately uplifting testament of a person who has visited hellish regions of the mind.


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Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2019 Arnold Thomas Fanning had his first experience of depression during adolescence, following the death of his mother. Some ten years later, an up-and-coming playwright, he was overcome by mania and delusions. Thus began a terrible period in which he was often suicidal, increasingly disconnected from family and friends, sometimes in Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2019 Arnold Thomas Fanning had his first experience of depression during adolescence, following the death of his mother. Some ten years later, an up-and-coming playwright, he was overcome by mania and delusions. Thus began a terrible period in which he was often suicidal, increasingly disconnected from family and friends, sometimes in trouble with the law, and homeless in London. Drawing on his own memories, the recollections of people who knew him when he was at his worst, and medical and police records, Arnold Thomas Fanning has produced a beautifully written, devastatingly intense account of madness - and recovery, to the point where he has not had any serious illness for over a decade and has become an acclaimed playwright. Fanning conveys the consciousness of a person living with mania, psychosis and severe depression with a startling precision and intimacy. Mind on Fire is the gripping, sometimes harrowing, and ultimately uplifting testament of a person who has visited hellish regions of the mind.

30 review for Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery

  1. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    Arnold Thomas Manning begins his memoir about bipolar disorder by launching the reader, “you”, into the scene of one of his psychotic episodes that occurred at Heathrow airport in the days after the Indonesian tsunami of 2004. Writing in the second person, Fanning wants you to experience for yourself the extremes of a manic phase, complete with messianic delusions of grandeur and uncontrollable surges of energy. His words guide you to visualize pulling a defibrillator kit off the wall in order t Arnold Thomas Manning begins his memoir about bipolar disorder by launching the reader, “you”, into the scene of one of his psychotic episodes that occurred at Heathrow airport in the days after the Indonesian tsunami of 2004. Writing in the second person, Fanning wants you to experience for yourself the extremes of a manic phase, complete with messianic delusions of grandeur and uncontrollable surges of energy. His words guide you to visualize pulling a defibrillator kit off the wall in order to show others just how committed you are to travelling with volunteers to ravaged Sumatra. You’re apprehended and charged with theft, but no matter: you decide to travel instead with young British soldiers to Cyprus, believing you’d make a fine chaplain to their company. But, no, perhaps it’s better to fly to Israel, convert to Judaism, and join the Israeli Defence Forces? Soon the police have had enough of you. They drive you down the motorway and push you out of their van. You’re not dressed for the winter cold, but you’re at the mercy of this relentless energy that surges through you. You walk to London, stopping along the way to do things people just don’t do in public. Your mind is on fire even as your body wears out. After this riveting introduction, Fanning turns to a more conventional narrative structure. Initially, at least, he does not go all the way back to childhood, but to the point at which changes in his mood first became evident: when he was 20 and his mother died of cancer. Since that time, he had been subject to periods of debilitating depression, usually during the spring and summer. Autumn and winter signalled upswings in mood and energy. After graduating from university, Fanning, an aspiring writer of short stories and film scripts, had been willing to sacrifice the security of a full-time pensionable job in stage management and, later, steady part-time work in the literary department of the National Theatre, in exchange for the time to write. In his late twenties, he won a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in County Monaghan in the Irish Border Region. He hoped to finish his first full-length stage play there, but his disordered mind had other ideas. Concerned about his moods, he’d consulted a Dublin hospital psychiatrist before leaving for the Guthrie Centre, and the physician prescribed antidepressants, which Fanning discontinued once in Monaghan. Now his moods were cycling rapidly between intense sadness over the death of his mother and “strange, breathless joy.” The words of the Bible’s Book of Revelation “could have been written for me,” he thinks—after all, he is likely the one Christ loves the most. Maybe, given Fanning’s newly appreciated special status as “the Alpha and Omega”, he is even the one best suited to solving the problems of the world. Over a period of days, Fanning’s behaviour grows increasingly alarming and bizarre. He gets the idea to bring his long-grieving, laconic father to the artists’ retreat to lift the older man out of his own dark moods, but Fanning ends up yelling, sobbing, and hitting his dad as they travel north from Dublin. Later, Fanning will be thrown out of the Guthrie Centre after brandishing a hunting knife at a female guest. He subsequently spends days driving the roads of the Border Region, stopping occasionally to scribble furiously in his notebook. Ultimately he phones 999, and officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary find him weeping in his car. They transport him to hospital where he is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. One would think that after this, things would be more straightforward. One problem is that it is not easy to find the right combination of psychotropic medications to address the extremes of mood without flattening, even erasing, the patient’s sense of self. Another problem is that those who are extremely mentally ill lack insight into their condition. (They suffer from “anosognosia”.) Once they begin to feel their moods evening out and a quieting of frenetic thoughts, patients often determine (without consulting any medical professional) that they’re well enough to adjust or discontinue medications as they personally see fit. Psychiatric drugs have severe, sometimes intolerable side effects. On one anti-psychotic drug, Fanning experienced persistent, uncontrollable, stiff, jerking movements (“tardive dyskinesia”). It’s hard to be compliant with a drug regimen that renders you a kind of puppet to some seemingly malevolent force. A third, significant problem is that an extremely mentally ill person becomes dependent. Often with no other option but to return to the family home, the patient relies on family members with whom he often has a history of strained, difficult relations. This was the case for Fanning, who had to rely on his father, an artistically talented, but hard and embittered man, who appears to have wrestled with his own undiagnosed mood disorder. Such is the quality of Fanning’s writing, however, that the reader is able to appreciate how this ordeal was experienced by the older man, who was plagued by demons of his own. Fanning’s memoir is an honest, raw, and brave document. He recalls numerous hospitalizations, time spent in America where he attended artist and writer retreats, lived, worked and had a tempestuous relationship with a well-to-do young Jewish-American artist, and the harrowing period he endured as a homeless person on the mean, dangerous London streets—a form of living hell, if ever there was one. He was endlessly in trouble with the law for public disturbance, indecent exposure, theft—you name it. It took a long time for anyone to recognize that he was, in his own words, not bad but mad, that he needed not punishment but treatment. Lest you think this memoir documents only distress, I’d have you know there are some lighter bits. Some of Fanning’s behaviours are actually funny. Once, for example, when nurses on a psychiatric ward tell him to stop cursing, he accuses them of being racist: “To me, using swear words is a typically Irish trait; trying to get me to stop is therefore racist, to my thinking.” Years ago, when I briefly worked in a small gift shop, a disheveled young man entered the building one afternoon. He immediately commenced pacing up and down the length of the room, muttering and sputtering. I noticed his hand was bleeding and said so. He approached the countertop that I stood behind and drops of blood splashed down on the white surface—the colour of the droplets matching the intensity of his agitation. “I have to move! I have to move!” he said to me in desperation as I handed him a tissue. His, too, was a mind on fire, I now see. Years later, Arnold Fanning’s memoir illuminates for me just how intense that fire can be.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eric Anderson

    The Wellcome Book Prize is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and I decided to explore this year's shortlist a bit more. One of the judges of this year's award is Elif Shafak and one of the shortlisted books is Ottessa Moshfegh's “My Year of Rest and Relaxation”. While I'm naturally drawn to reading more fiction than nonfiction, this award encompasses both kinds of writing so it's a good chance for me to read a nonfiction book I probably wouldn't have got to otherwise. The prize centres The Wellcome Book Prize is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and I decided to explore this year's shortlist a bit more. One of the judges of this year's award is Elif Shafak and one of the shortlisted books is Ottessa Moshfegh's “My Year of Rest and Relaxation”. While I'm naturally drawn to reading more fiction than nonfiction, this award encompasses both kinds of writing so it's a good chance for me to read a nonfiction book I probably wouldn't have got to otherwise. The prize centres around new books that engage with some aspect of medicine, health or illness. Arnold Thomas Fanning's “Mind on Fire” recounts his lifelong struggle with mental health issues. He vividly describes the unwieldy chaos of manic episodes where extreme feelings and fantasies lead him to take drastic action as he careens through cities and airports shocking or outright terrifying people along the way. It's powerful how he conveys that to his manic mind he's following a logical course of action, but of course on the outside his actions are insensible. He also discloses the sensations of debilitating depression when he sometimes physically can't move and his thoughts revolve constantly around suicide. He eloquently expresses how all-consuming these states are and that “Within it there is no without it.” This illness not only wreaks havoc on his own health, but severely impinges upon the lives of his family and friends as well. Fanning powerfully documents his heartrending, difficult journey. Read my full review of Mind on Fire by Arnold Thomas Fanning on LonesomeReader

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    “all these ideas are swirling around inside your head at once, hurling through your mind, it is on fire, so when you speak it all comes out muddled and confused and no one can understand you.” Like the other Wellcome-longlisted title I’ve highlighted so far, Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, Mind on Fire explores mental health. Its subtitle is “A Memoir of Madness and Recovery,” and Irish playwright Fanning focuses on the ten years or so in his twenties and thirties when he struggled to get on top of “all these ideas are swirling around inside your head at once, hurling through your mind, it is on fire, so when you speak it all comes out muddled and confused and no one can understand you.” Like the other Wellcome-longlisted title I’ve highlighted so far, Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, Mind on Fire explores mental health. Its subtitle is “A Memoir of Madness and Recovery,” and Irish playwright Fanning focuses on the ten years or so in his twenties and thirties when he struggled to get on top of his bipolar disorder and was in and out of mental hospitals – and even homeless on the streets of London for a short time. Fanning had suffered from periods of depression ever since his mother’s death from cancer when he was 20, but things got much worse when he was 28 and living in Dublin. It was the summer of 1997 and he’d quit a full-time job to write stories and film scripts. What with the wild swings in his moods and energy levels, though, he found it increasingly difficult to get along with his father, with whom he was living. He also got kicked out of an artists’ residency, and on the way home his car ran out of petrol – such that when he called the police for help, it was for a breakdown in more than one sense. This was the first time he was taken to a psychiatric unit, at the Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital, where he stayed for 10 days. In the years to come there would be many more hospital stays, delusions, medication regimes and odd behavior. There would also be time spent in America – an artists’ residency in Virginia, where he met Jennifer, and a fairly long-term relationship with her in New York City – and ups and downs in his writing career. For instance, he remembers that after reading Ulysses he was so despairingly convinced that he would never be a “real writer” like James Joyce that he burned hundreds of pages of work-in-progress. This was a very hard book for me to rate. The prologue is a brilliant 6.5-page run-on sentence in the second person and present tense (I’ve quoted a fragment above) that puts you right into the author’s experience. It is a superb piece of writing. But nothing that comes after (a more standard first-person narrative, though still in the present tense for most of it) is nearly as good. As I’ve found in some other mental health memoirs, the cycle of hospitalizations and medications gets repetitive. It’s a whole lot of telling: this happened, then that happened. That’s also true of the flashbacks to his childhood and university years. Due to his unreliable memory of his years lost to bipolar, Fanning has had to recreate his experiences from medical records, interviews with people who knew him, and so on. This insistence on documentary realism distances the reader from what should be intimate, terrifying events. I almost wondered if this would have worked better as a novel, allowing the author to invent more and thus better capture what it actually felt like to flirt with madness. There’s no denying the extremity of this period of his life, but I found myself unable to fully engage with the retelling. (Also, this is doomed to be mistaken for the superior Brain on Fire.) A favorite passage: St John of God’s carries associations for me. I attended primary school not far from here, and used to see denizens of the hospital on their day outings, conspicuous in the way they walked: hunched over, balled up, constricted, eyes down to the ground, visibly disturbed. We cruelly referred to these people as ‘mentallers’, though never to their faces or within earshot, as we were frightened of them. Now I, too, am a mentaller. Originally published, with images, on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karina

    A memoir that is raw, searingly honest and beautifully written, with flashes of understated, bone-dry humour. The author went through a turbulent decade while he grappled with - or failed to - mental health issues that were so severe he ended up homeless. Although the subject is difficult, the book is gripping and vivid and breathtakingly honest - a must-read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    After his mother died when he was fairly young, Arnold Thomas Fanning had his first experience of depression. It didn’t last for long, but the seeds were sown. Fast forward to a decade later and Fanning was an up and coming playwright with lots of opportunities opening up. But at the same time, he was starting to suffer from delusions about his abilities and this rapidly became mania. He had just given up a good job to give himself the time to write full time, but things weren’t going well. He wa After his mother died when he was fairly young, Arnold Thomas Fanning had his first experience of depression. It didn’t last for long, but the seeds were sown. Fast forward to a decade later and Fanning was an up and coming playwright with lots of opportunities opening up. But at the same time, he was starting to suffer from delusions about his abilities and this rapidly became mania. He had just given up a good job to give himself the time to write full time, but things weren’t going well. He was back living with his father who he had a difficult relationship with and he had just left an artist residency in disgrace. Very soon after that he had a total mental breakdown and was admitted into a secure unit where they began to treat him. After release he, went home with a bag of drugs, but there was to be much worse to come. From there he descended further and further into his mental maelstrom. This book is his raw and brutally honest account of someone going through depression and all sorts of mental anguish. When it was happening he managed to alienate almost all his friends and family, ended up in several institutes and was prescribed a cocktail of drugs that they hoped would help him recover. It did reach the point where he stared into the abyss as he came very close to suicide, but he didn’t quite have the courage to do it that day. Might have been cowardice, but it saved his life that day. The account is compiled from records and from what others have recounted to him, some of the episodes he has not been able to remember because of the illness. It doesn’t make for any less terrifying reading though. The fact that he has been able to get through his mental illness with a lot of help and write this book is a testament to his strength of character. Mental health is important, if you are feeling depressed or anxious, then speak to someone who can help. This may be a family member, or you might be better speaking to an independent expert who will be able to help you. Do not ignore it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Farrelly

    "Mind on Fire" is Arnold Thomas Fanning's frank and unflinching account of living with bi-polar disorder. Beautifully written, Fanning's personal memoir is compulsive, intriguing and at times very, very moving. "Mind on Fire" is Arnold Thomas Fanning's frank and unflinching account of living with bi-polar disorder. Beautifully written, Fanning's personal memoir is compulsive, intriguing and at times very, very moving.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Well written book that gives a real insight into the life of a person suffering from mental illness and trying to get the help he needs. Very moving piece that helps to understand the reason for some people with mental health issues. Would recommend.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Brilliant. A book about the author’s fight with mental illness but written in a startlingly visceral way, such that you are presented with the brutal reality of what it means to live with mania & depression. Highly recommend.

  9. 5 out of 5

    freckledbibliophile

    Arnold Thomas Fanning has penned one of the most daring, honest, and affecting mental illness mental pictures. This book will grip the reader and make them learn why three out of four people with mental illness have undergone stigma; so inhumane it will either make a mental disorder worse or never be divulged out of fear. I admit I had to sit this book down numerous times because it is very triggering. Arnold's life story is so intense that it reads like an award-winning drama, but you see just h Arnold Thomas Fanning has penned one of the most daring, honest, and affecting mental illness mental pictures. This book will grip the reader and make them learn why three out of four people with mental illness have undergone stigma; so inhumane it will either make a mental disorder worse or never be divulged out of fear. I admit I had to sit this book down numerous times because it is very triggering. Arnold's life story is so intense that it reads like an award-winning drama, but you see just how ugly this world is when you close the book. So, remember when you see a mentally ill person, or you are sick mentally, many recover, never get better, or their illness worsens, but we are beautiful and unique. I highly recommend and thank Fanning for his undaunted testimony. Perhaps, one day I'll have the nerve to share my life writing with readers. If you are like me, a lover of neuroscience, or even adult psychopathology case studies, you may find this book intriguing. Fanning writes in a way that places you precisely where he's at every moment, can see the madness, smells the air, and feels what he felt.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Deece de Paor

    This is a powerful and moving account of one man’s struggle with manic depression. I wondered about 5 stars because it is so real and raw and he really doesn’t hold back or try to paint himself as sympathetic. It’s a real warts and all exposé of himself. You see that this clinical diagnosis can be so restrictive and recovery is almost like that of a heroin addict except this is mental illness not drug addiction. But while it took guts to write and publish I didn’t overly love how it was written. This is a powerful and moving account of one man’s struggle with manic depression. I wondered about 5 stars because it is so real and raw and he really doesn’t hold back or try to paint himself as sympathetic. It’s a real warts and all exposé of himself. You see that this clinical diagnosis can be so restrictive and recovery is almost like that of a heroin addict except this is mental illness not drug addiction. But while it took guts to write and publish I didn’t overly love how it was written. The sentences were staccato accounts of how he got from A - B and didn’t flow. He was trying to stick to fact too much so it read like a police statement more than a narrative. It shows though how much support this sort of mental illness needs and the rewards that investing in people who are bipolar can achieve. It’s horrifying how quickly he slipped into homelessness and was just sheer good luck that he didn’t die on the streets. Interesting aside: I was also in the audience of the teachers club when Michael D Higgins was there.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ginny

    "Depression is a way of feeling, a way of thinking and a way of being. It is all-encompassing... It is numbness, at skin level, and at muscle level, and at cell level... It pulses through the body, each pulse worse than the last... Endless. Unmerciful. Indifferent. Brutal." A raw, painfully honest and beautifully written memoir from an author and playwright. I was blown away by the writing, and the descriptions of how depression feels within the body and mind. You're taken on a very emotional and "Depression is a way of feeling, a way of thinking and a way of being. It is all-encompassing... It is numbness, at skin level, and at muscle level, and at cell level... It pulses through the body, each pulse worse than the last... Endless. Unmerciful. Indifferent. Brutal." A raw, painfully honest and beautifully written memoir from an author and playwright. I was blown away by the writing, and the descriptions of how depression feels within the body and mind. You're taken on a very emotional and turbulent journey with the author as he battles bipolar disorder over a 10 year period. His mental health issues became so severe that at the lowest point he lost everything, even becoming homeless. Memoirs like this one offer hope by showing that recovery and happiness in life is always possible with the right professional help and support. Although not always easy to read, I found this memoir fascinating- the book is gripping, vivid and gives real insight into depression, mania and psychosis. Recommended for anyone with an interest in mental health.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Pritchard

    I am in awe of this man and his writing. If he reads these reviews I thank you Arnold! I do not suffer from a mental illness but I am in contact with quite a few people who do. This book has given me the opportunity to understand "from the inside" what some of them may be going through. It has also reinforced the fact that being a friend and sticking around even when there is not much response, is the best thing one can do. And finally it has shown that recovery is possible even when the suffere I am in awe of this man and his writing. If he reads these reviews I thank you Arnold! I do not suffer from a mental illness but I am in contact with quite a few people who do. This book has given me the opportunity to understand "from the inside" what some of them may be going through. It has also reinforced the fact that being a friend and sticking around even when there is not much response, is the best thing one can do. And finally it has shown that recovery is possible even when the sufferer and those around them feel it is impossible. I was encouraged by the fact that in many of the author's hospital stays he received compassionate care. We hear a lot of negative things about mental health care - and of course some of them are true. But I am pleased to hear about the other side of the story. Those who work as nurses, doctors and therapists of all kinds deserve much admiration and gratitude.

  13. 5 out of 5

    magdalena dyjas

    This is such a sad, heartbreaking book, but it's also a book about hope. I think everyone who lives/ works with/ cares for/ knows/ supports someone suffering with mental health problems should read this book. "Depression is a way of feeling, a way of thinking and a way of being. It is all-consuming, all-encompassing. It is a way of life, the only life, an anti-life. Within it there is no without it. It is numbness, at skin level, and at muscle level, and at cell level. It is also a cold fog that This is such a sad, heartbreaking book, but it's also a book about hope. I think everyone who lives/ works with/ cares for/ knows/ supports someone suffering with mental health problems should read this book. "Depression is a way of feeling, a way of thinking and a way of being. It is all-consuming, all-encompassing. It is a way of life, the only life, an anti-life. Within it there is no without it. It is numbness, at skin level, and at muscle level, and at cell level. It is also a cold fog that envelops the body from head to toe, freezing in its grip. It is also a physical pain felt throughout the body as well as a mental pain that throbs through the mind." 🖤

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lucia Gannon

    I am in awe of this author. I cannot imagine how someone who has suffered as much as he has, who has literally 'lost his mind,' can recover to the extent that he can write such a lucid, honest and insightful book about his experiences. It has made me re-examine my beliefs about mental illness, and fills me with hope for those who suffer. I have recommended this book to so many people because I just cannot describe the many ways in which it has added to my understanding and changed how I interact I am in awe of this author. I cannot imagine how someone who has suffered as much as he has, who has literally 'lost his mind,' can recover to the extent that he can write such a lucid, honest and insightful book about his experiences. It has made me re-examine my beliefs about mental illness, and fills me with hope for those who suffer. I have recommended this book to so many people because I just cannot describe the many ways in which it has added to my understanding and changed how I interact with those who have mental health problems-and I thought I was pretty good before reading it! Could be core curriculum reading for all doctors in training.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Esi_70

    It's a brave account, but I would have found it much more interesting and authentic if the author had let us know in much more detail about his childhood, his parents' characters, the dynamics and relationships within the family and any other important character in his childhood. He says very little about the facts and his feelings at the time and without them we can't look at the causes. I'm also surprised that it took so long for him to go into talking therapy and that he didn't learn about hi It's a brave account, but I would have found it much more interesting and authentic if the author had let us know in much more detail about his childhood, his parents' characters, the dynamics and relationships within the family and any other important character in his childhood. He says very little about the facts and his feelings at the time and without them we can't look at the causes. I'm also surprised that it took so long for him to go into talking therapy and that he didn't learn about his condition even when he's depressed at his father's home unable to move much.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nic

    I found it a challenging read in places in a good way. The narrative comes across as very honest and unflinching even of emotions, thoughts and experiences that are uncomfortable and distressing reading. The book focuses on his mindset at the time, changing emotion, thoughts, shifting ideas and plans at paces reflective of his mind with a real sense of immediancy. Personally, I found many of his descriptions of feelings/thought processes really reasonated, particularly those that are hard to put I found it a challenging read in places in a good way. The narrative comes across as very honest and unflinching even of emotions, thoughts and experiences that are uncomfortable and distressing reading. The book focuses on his mindset at the time, changing emotion, thoughts, shifting ideas and plans at paces reflective of his mind with a real sense of immediancy. Personally, I found many of his descriptions of feelings/thought processes really reasonated, particularly those that are hard to put into words.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hirstwood

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Great book describing - realistically - what it is to have bipolar disorder. While I am glad Arnold appears to be ‘healed’ and in recovery, I’m not convinced such a thing is possible beyond managing symptoms better and taking steps to having fewer episodes. The long path to finding the right combination of treatments is sadly highly accurate. I would recommend this to friends and family who want to understand the illness better

  18. 5 out of 5

    Solveig

    A peek into the mind of someone who lived on the edge of sanity and life. This is a first-hand story about the depths of depression, mania and delusion, where you very much identify and bring in your own wonderings of your mind - hopefully not taken as far. Amazing look into how society, family, friends and institutions handle mental health as well. No doubt everyone would learn from reading this book and living Fanning’s 10 years of madness through these pages.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Niall

    What a beautifully contagious book. It's an eye-opening account of the author's 'madness' (a term I dislike, but choose to use based on the title), and his bravery to fight for contentment. I'm truly humbled by this book, and absolutely recommend. This is a page turner to make you feel and be a fuller person. What a beautifully contagious book. It's an eye-opening account of the author's 'madness' (a term I dislike, but choose to use based on the title), and his bravery to fight for contentment. I'm truly humbled by this book, and absolutely recommend. This is a page turner to make you feel and be a fuller person.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ruthy lavin

    An interesting account of the authors personal battle with mental illness and it’s effect on his life. Harrowing, honest, brutal at times, but real and well written. This is one of the best autobiographical books about Bipolar that I’ve read. I wish the author all the best for the future and hope he manages to maintain some control of his illness.

  21. 4 out of 5

    karen gilmartin

    Outstanding A brilliantly written insightful work which lends so much to understanding mental distress and the process of recovery. Essential for anyone who works in mental health. Honest, unflinching, inspiring and a privilege to read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicolette Loizou

    An easy five star rating for this one! Unforgettable insight into mental health with a charismatic story-teller at its core. Unflinching and raw, this book will take you into the heart of a much-talked about but rarely understood topic.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Luis “Trying to read more” Soares

    A beautifully written decade of someone’s road to recovery.. A must read for anyone who is interested in mental health, from a professional and/or personal. I found it was extremely brave for the author to share his story, but also it was inspiring for anyone going through similar paths!

  24. 4 out of 5

    catherine o'toole

    Fascinating read For someone to overcome such diversity in life you are inspirational.This is a must read not just for people with mental issue's bit for all. Fascinating read For someone to overcome such diversity in life you are inspirational.This is a must read not just for people with mental issue's bit for all.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Quealey

    Devastating. An incredible insight into mental illness and a ' mind on fire'. Devastating. An incredible insight into mental illness and a ' mind on fire'.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    Such a powerful and beautifully written memoir. For anyone who has suffered from mental illness this book is truly inspiring.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Conway

    Well worth reading if you're interesting in a raw look at what it's really like to be extremly mentally unwell. Well worth reading if you're interesting in a raw look at what it's really like to be extremly mentally unwell.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    What an emotional rollercoaster. Utterly profound.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Claire O'Sullivan

    Read with MiLAN Bookgroup . Working our way through the 2019 Wellcome Prize longlist. This was an interesting read. Looking forward to our discussions.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elaisa

    I have to stop halfway through, his mental illness is startibg to get on my nerves, the overthibking and sudden moodswings. Maybe will finish later. Otherways well written.

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