Bring Me to Light is essentially a journey we take with the author Eleanor Segall – a daunting, often alarming, journey with her through the formidable landscape of bipolar disorder and social anxiety.
At its conclusion, she outlines how this account should stand as the advice she would offer her 16-year-old self upon the embarkation of such choppy waters.
This intent, if made sooner, I think should have made me encounter this book in a more favourable, understanding light.
This title was outside of my usual review choice as I usually opt for literary or historic fiction – but that being said this was the ticket for a busman’s holiday as I have had bipolar disorder since 1987, before manic depression got its new shiny name.
Segall came to writing via a number of fortuitous blogs. And this conversational approach seems to lend itself well to its material.
It takes the early chapters to set up – a name-checking prologue included – and it wraps up with a bringing things up to date. But it is the meat in this sandwich – the actual account of the onset of her illness to the relative taming of it – that is the most valuable.
It is at its strongest when her account is set against the given accounts of her parents – who are inevitably pulled in to being her carers to a lesser or greater extent. These third-person accounts work with hers to provide a better degree of clarity.
Segall’s accounts pulls together and highlights a progression of coping techniques, for example, to keep away from alcohol,drugs and other stimulants.
But I think where it shines like nuggets of golden truth in so much rock is its honest, unflinching account of mental psychosis. If anyone ever needs to feel less alone with this mental illness it is to know that at least one other person has shared that alarming, frightening knowledge that one has been ‘out there’. The grandiose ideas, the unreasonable behaviour that is the isolator that this book works to dismiss.
As the author struggles with medications and institutionalisation, she has succeeded in her earnest intention to reach and demystify the scary place that she has found herself in.
Learning that this book was primarily aimed at a young adult helped me to understand why often relatively simple terms and reference were being consistently explained.
This book is a good demystifier, easy to read as an effective shedder or shredder of prejudices.
Amanda Aldridge 4/5
Bring Me to Light by Eleanor Segall
Trigger 9781789560367 pbk Nov 2019