In this accessible, chatty memoir about his daughter’s struggles with mental illness, first-time writer Larsted narrates, in exhaustive detail, his rocky four-year journey navigating the perilous mental-health system, his daughter’s shape-shifting symptoms, intermittent hospital stays and behavioral therapy.
Larsted’s book is a labor of love addressed to a parent like him—one not well versed in the mental health field or particularly aware of the psychological sphere of the human condition—and yet thrown into the dark, deep end of it. The alarm first sounded when his 14-year-old daughter, Patricia, reported, two months after the fact, that she took 14 Tylenol. Larsted, starting from ground zero, had to find the guidance and treatment his daughter required. Because of his wife’s recent stroke, it was left to him to handle. Although the author considers this Patricia’s story, it’s Larsted who goes from being a self-described “aloof” old-school father to a nurturing, articulate advocate and near expert on coping with a child’s severe, undiagnosed mental illness. He emerges on the other side having kept Patricia safe through her precarious adolescence and having evolved into a wise and soulful man. Larsted’s prose is admirable in many ways: He writes with emotional honesty, deftly uses metaphor and analogy, balances the specifics of both the trial and error of medication and sympathetically details his often frustrating experiences dealing with psychiatrists. Still, this book would have benefited from further editing to clarify meaning and tone in places where tacked-on lines, stream-of-consciousness tangents and stating the obvious lessen the narrative’s impact. In addition, often too many emotions are explored in a single sentence or paragraph.
A heartfelt, valuable resource and source of comfort for parents of mentally ill children.