I love reading juicy memoirs – the more disturbing, the better, as long as the author includes some redemptive themes so the book is not a total soul-sucking experience! Yesterday I finished reading “So Far” by Cristina Negron, a former Rodale editor married to Amby Burfoot, longtime editor of “Runner’s World” and a winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon.
This book was published last fall. Negron’s title appeared on my Kindle during a general search I selected for recently published bipolar-themed books. I like to see what’s up-and-coming in the bipolar book world, and it never ceases to amaze me what people write and publish. The phrase “it takes all kinds” comes to mind…
To date, “So Far” received seven Amazon reader reviews and they were all five-stars, which was a good sign that this memoir would be a worthwhile investment of a whopping $3.99. (It still amazes me that I can get a great, new book for less than a double medium mocha with extra chocolate!) I refrained from actually reading the reviews until after I finished the book, as I’ve found that many Amazon reviewers include spoilers. I like to be surprised when I read as much as possible.
I was intrigued by “So Far” as it was clear in its brief description that running plays a central theme in the story. I used to be a long-distance runner in high school and I kept running in my 20’s. I subscribed to Runner’s World and ran 10 kilometer races. I’ve always believed that my consistent habit of running delayed the onset of my clinical depression and bipolar.
Negron’s book is well-written and very inspiring. While I don’t want to give anything away, I’ll mention that she discusses her large Mexican-American family at length. She reveals truly heartbreaking situations in connection with these relatives. One of the family events is so disturbing that I wonder how she was able to publish it without getting into legal trouble.
On a separate note, I found it refreshing that the topic of bipolar disorder did not dominate the story. Yes, a bipolar disorder diagnosis played a pivotal role in her life and in the book. However, Negron wove different elements throughout the narrative that gave her story depth. Her writing style allowed the reader to have breaks, per se, from the highly sobering sections. After I finished the last page, I knew that certain members of Negron’s family would stay with me, especially the ones who were extraordinarily brave. Whenever I complete a book that has been the proverbial “can’t put down” type, I feel a void in releasing a world in which I have immersed myself so intensely. I felt that way with “So Far”. Of course I needed to find another book to latch on to, and I have. Don’t be surprised – it’s another mood disorder book!
The book is called “3000 Pulses Later: A Memoir of Surviving Depression without Medication” by Martha Rhodes. Rhodes discusses her suicide attempt, her stay at the cushy Silver Hill Psychiatric Facility (this is where Catherine Zeta Jones stayed after she was diagnosed with bipolar II) and how ultimately using TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) saved her life. While some of you know that I’m totally committed to staying on my meds, (they work for me, at long last!) psychiatric medication did not work long-term for Rhodes.
I am open to reading about those who don’t use psychiatric medications; I’m curious about their journey more than anything else. Everyone does truly have a story at the end of the day. I’ll be writing more about Martha Rhodes book here and if you know of any new bp memoir, please let me know. I’ll have my Kindle charged and at the ready to go!