Mental illness carries such a stigma which is a damn shame because it is infinitely more complicated and confusing then we can ever imagine. Tanya J. Peterson does a masterful job of shedding light onto one of the most pressing and important topics of our generation. The media exploits mass killings, suicides, and health care to such an extant that mental health is put in very a negative spotlight. Keeping an open mind about mental illness is the only way we can begin to understand the complexities of it. We take medicine for our bodies when something is wrong so why is there such a stigma when we take medicine for our minds?
Peterson's story follows Penelope and Oliver, two people who are suffering from something outside their control. Oliver is admitted to Airhaven behavioral treatment center after he attempts jumping off an 18 story building hoping to end the guilt he has for not being able to save his wife and child from their untimely deaths. While there, he meets charismatic Penelope, a kind hearted woman who is suffering from schizophrenia. Other patients shun Penelope who is prone to make outbursts or cause a scene but Oliver finds a kindred spirit. Their journey towards healing and coming to terms with life outside the treatment center is humbling. Peterson really illuminates the characters raw emotions and the reader can't help but feel connected to these two poor souls as they to find reasons to live for in a world so un-accepting of their conditions.
To date the only books I've read that deal with mental illness are: "Silver Lining's Playbook" and "The Curious Incident of the Nighttime Dog." This book however goes above and beyond and manages to humanize people who are suffering from many different forms of mental illness. It is a true eye opener. What books on mental illness have you read? What about movies? Why does our culture place such a negative stigma on mental health?
Thanks for reading!