Holloway’s memoir provides a touching, insightful look at the impact mental illness has on patients and patients’ families.
A freelance writer and columnist in Cookeville, Tenn., Holloway tells of her daughter Lucy’s struggle with schizophrenia, which takes into account the public health care system’s obstinate, shameful neglect of the mentally ill as well as a mother’s devotion and advocacy for her child. “Schizophrenia is a brain disease,” Holloway writes, “and there would be a huge outcry if people with other brain diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s were treated this way.” In the memoir, Holloway reevaluates her family’s early years to try to understand when her daughter’s schizophrenia began its “slow insidious” approach. Lucy’s first real psychotic break occurred when she was a teenager. Holloway and her husband tried to understand their daughter’s terrifying behavior, but at the time they had no idea how it would impact and shape the rest of their lives. After that first breakdown, the family spends the next decades trying to take care of Lucy, whose condition continues to deteriorate. “It’s as if she were serving a life sentence for a crime she didn’t commit and doesn’t understand,” Holloway writes. Years pass, but the moments that stand out most are when Holloway illustrates her own powerlessness in trying to care for a daughter whose disease is not entirely understood by the medical professionals treating her with copious amounts of medicine and institutionalization. Though Lucy’s illness and treatment are at the center of the book, the story touches on other family traumas, including son Mark’s psychotic breakdown and diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Holloway writes about how her inability to find information to help her understand schizophrenia—both through the doctors and nurses at the variety of facilities where Lucy was hospitalized and in books—helped her become a fierce, knowledgeable advocate herself.
A source of support and information for families suffering through similar tragedies.