A poet’s anguished memoir about her struggles with schizophrenia and alcoholism.
Morgan grew up in a handsome family in which “Dad look[ed] like Burt Reynolds, Mom like Elizabeth Taylor.” But trouble brewed just beneath the surface. Work kept her father away from home while alcohol kept Morgan’s mother distant from her daughters. Through a series of chronologically ordered vignettes, Morgan reveals how emotional dysfunction, mental illness, and alcohol and drug abuse fractured her family. In her early teenage years, the author experienced hallucinations that included visits from people she called “the Suits.” At age 15, she overdosed on a cocktail of pills so that she could join them. For a time, alcohol helped still the voices “from the other realities;” then Morgan became addicted and eventually dropped out of college. Meanwhile, her middle sister battled on and off with drug addiction while her younger sister sank irretrievably into both substance abuse and mental illness. Morgan continued to be in and out of mental institutions for psychotic breaks that doctors believed were manifestations of dissociative identity disorder. A correct diagnosis of schizophrenia, along with the medication that helped her manage her illness, did not come until she was able to get over her own fear of telling the truth about her condition. Yet through all the personal turmoil—which also included coming to terms with her own bisexuality and watching her mother die of alcoholism—Morgan learned how to cope with her alcoholism, finish college and harness a powerful imagination to write poetry and earn an MFA. Liberated from fear and filled with love for a God, who “sen[t] sparrows” that let her “forget about the mud,” she found a peace that was all the more meaningful for its fragility.
Inventive, jaggedly lyrical and disturbing.