Gebhart (Deere is Right Here!, 2016, etc.) offers a memoir about his lifelong struggle with mental illness and his reflections on a higher power.
In 1965, when the author was in fifth grade, he first began to experience mood swings. These would prove to be mostly harmless to other people; the author recalls a time in gym class, for instance, when he “started calling my classmates ‘quacker buns’ and laughing uncontrollably.” But they were indications of trouble to come. After high school, he made his way to Swarthmore College, and in his sophomore year he began to understand more about his condition: “I came to realize that I would have one semester up on a manic swing and one semester down on a depressive swing.” In subsequent years, the author would earn an MBA, get married, live in various places, and have and lose a number of jobs, including postions as a substitute teacher and an oil-refinery chemist. He also suffered a number of nervous breakdowns. Looking back on it all, though, he seems to harbor no bitterness about his life: “I may have lost many jobs and have no career at all, but I believe that this serves God’s purpose,” he says, and his book concludes with his thoughts on Scripture and the universe. Overall, the book presents a nuanced and candid account of his various experiences. At just over 100 pages, it’s a swift story, but the author’s interjections of specific details give it a very personal feel. For example, he notes that one of his manic episodes resulted in him getting fired because his employer “just did not understand my behaviors which involved a lot of my swearing at my co-workers.” Many incidents in the book are movingly sad, as well. However, readers will come away, in the end, with an understanding that it’s only through difficulty that one can hope to find purpose.
A vivid, well-paced account of one man’s winding personal journey.