ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER KNEW by Sheila Hamilton

ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER KNEW

Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A popular Portland radio talk show host’s account of her painful marriage to a bipolar man who eventually committed suicide.

When Hamilton met her future husband, David, all she could see was a tall, handsome man who radiated confidence and success rather than the “erratic, discombobulated energy” that governed his actions. Less than a year later, they got married, and Hamilton was pregnant. Their storybook life began to unravel shortly afterward when Hamilton discovered that David had never ended his relationship to the woman who was his previous girlfriend. Rather than leave and jeopardize what she believed would be her infant daughter’s well-being, Hamilton stayed by David’s side. It was then she began to notice his sensitivity to “sounds, bright lights [and] smells” and an increased frequency of irrational outbursts. Yet she never equated his symptoms with any serious illness, in part because David—as well as most of the rest of his family—lived in a state of denial about his condition. Just as she found the courage to finally seek a divorce, David’s condition worsened, and he was hospitalized. But medications only seemed to compound her husband’s problems, and his newly diagnosed bipolar disorder caused him to deteriorate rapidly. During this period, Hamilton learned that David was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and that a divorce from him would cost her everything she had worked for. Before she could take further action, however, David committed suicide, leaving both his wife and child “without so much as a note to understand his decision.” Hamilton’s story is unsettling, but the heart and grit she displays in successfully moving beyond tragedy and learning to live with such chilling uncertainties as whether or not her daughter would also develop bipolar disorder make the book a worthwhile—if at times difficult—read.

A brave and honest memoir of mental illness and the many people it can affect.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-58005-584-0
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Seal Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2015




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