This is my review of Bipolar Disorder – The Ultimate Guide by Sarah Owen,Amanda Saunders.
Apart from the hint of manic "grandiosity" in its claim to be "the ultimate guide", this well-designed and informative book by two cousins whose families include several members with "bipolar disorder" proves to be refreshingly honest and sensibly optimistic.
Based on the answers to wide-ranging practical questions, the chapters move systematically through causes and symptoms, treatment, support, hospital, care, lifestyle choices and "living with bipolar" – here I just wish they'd add "condition" if they can't face "disorder".
I found the frequent case studies very useful, because they help a friend or relative to gain some comfort and reassurance from the recognition of common symptoms, the resultant problems experienced also by others, the guilt over having got someone sectioned, the encouragement of learning that a severely bi-polar person may be able to lead a satisfactory, even happy life outside hospital.
I was most moved by the comment in praise of "self-management": "It's spring, I'm normally in hospital now."
Although the writer Paul Abbott found the book "accessible and nourishing", I sympathise with those sufferers from bipolar disorder who find it depressing because it makes them feel a burden as they realise the problems they create for others (although if you love or like someone you just want to help them), or who argue that each case of bi-polarity is highly individual, so that it may prove ineffectual, even harmful, to foist on a sufferer some measure which worked well in one of the case studies. So, whilst excellent for carers, the book is probably only useful for sufferers who are "on the mend" from an episode, with a degree of insight and acceptance.