Thanks, Andrew Solomon
I really just want to communicate my deep gratitude to Andrew Solomon. I am the bipolar mom of a child misdiagnosed with autism. I went through a horrific breakdown when our son was diagnosed at age 3, nearly seven years ago. I read The Noonday Demon a couple months ago and just finished Far from the Tree. I have seen countless psychiatrists and therapists but no one has ever given me more insight into my own experience than these two books. I never understood why I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when all I ever experienced was misery, never the manic highs I read about. And I had felt terrible guilt and weakness at having attempted suicide when my child was 3, because I couldn't handle his diagnosis. Noonday Demon helped me understand the difference between depression and what I had experienced. My depression brought unbearable insomnia--no sleep for days. The idea of depression causing one to sleep all the time sounded wonderful to me--an escape! From my brain! I would have been so grateful. The Noonday Demon finally helped me understand that that is what bipolar depression is--sadness plus agitation, which is why it is so dangerous, so likely to end in suicide. And Far from the Tree showed me that an autism diagnosis IS horrifying and that I'm not the only parent who wound up on a psych ward. The fact that our child's diagnosis was wrong (he has recently been given a diagnosis of pragmatic language disorder. He is functioning well with an aide in a wonderful public school. He is a joy to live with) turned me into a mom who was rightly in denial--denying a diagnosis that was inaccurate--but I was also a "crazy" person, so I was doubly unreliable. Far from the Tree helped me feel like all that we went through was understandable and that my advocacy for my son was perfectly reasonable. I was not a crazy mom painting a pretty picture of the truth. I was seeing the truth and no one would believe me. Anyway, Andrew Solomon, I thank you for giving me a clarity and calm that I have found nowhere else.