Most of us never think about the possibility that the world as we know it one day would suddenly ceased to exist almost overnight. And if suddenly what once was, appeared to be totally different, who could you feel safe with to explain strange occurrences that you either felt, saw or heard? That is exactly what transpired in the life of author Sandra Yuen McKay. One day she was a fairly happy, though shy young teenager dealing with issues that most young girls deal with such as school, friends, family etc. Seemingly overnight she heard voices of people she knew, speaking to her in ways that were foreign and threatening to her and made no rational sense, but she was unable to decipher what was real or not.
The author is able to adeptly explain in-depth what she saw and felt during the time she believed people were peering at her and developing unseen plots against her. Her vivid memories and feelings are so poignantly described that the reader feels everything that is occurring, in a deeply meaningful way. At first,no one was able to validate how she was feeling nor was she able to explain it to others in a way they could understand. So she felt more and more isolated and alone. Such is the plight of anyone who experiences schizophrenia or for that matter many who suffer from mental illness. The feelings of isolation and fear set in and it becomes difficult to trust anyone for help or believe that there really is anything wrong.
After suffering for many years and finally being diagnosed, she then endured the often unequipped system of treatment and various specialists who were often not as empathic as one would hope in order to help their clients recover in a warm trusting environment. Some even blamed her for not seeking help more quickly and made her feel more guilty and uncomfortable. This is part of the tragedy of living with mental illness when others who are supposed to know better, blame the victim. Though Sandra endured many challenges once within the mental health system coupled with the stigma attached to a diagnosis of schizophrenia--she never gave up her dreams of living a fulfilling life and becoming independent. And her family was a critical component in her road to healing, as they never stopped loving her nor gave up believing in her which greatly aided in her recovery. Her magnificent artistic ability helped to heal and propel her into a life that blossomed and evolved. She was able to trust again, marry a loving,supportive man and began to pursue her dreams.
This book is alive with Sandra's feelings and experiences documented in words that are genuine and heartfelt-- filled with love and hope for others who are still suffering from mental illness. But it transcends the world of mental illness as well by giving us all hope that no matter what we might have to deal with in life, we too, can learn to cope and not merely survive but learn to thrive! Kudos to Sandra for writing this wonderful book that is insightful and profound!