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Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 616.895 HAM Adult NonFiction Book
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Horseheads Free Library 1 616.895 HAM Adult NonFiction Book
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Summary

Summary

A boldly beautiful page-turner about loving and losing someone with mental illness. I'll be recommending this absorbing memoir for years to come." -Cheryl Strayed, best-selling author of Wild Even as a reporter, Sheila Hamilton missed the signs as her husband David's mental illness unfolded before her. By the time she had pieced together the puzzle, it was too late. Her once brilliant and passionate partner was dead within six weeks of a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, leaving his young daughter and wife without so much as a note to explain his actions, a plan to help them recover from their profound grief, or a solution for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt that they would inherit from him. All the Things We Never Knew takes readers on a breathtaking journey from David and Sheila's romance through the last three months of their life together and into the year after his death. It details their unsettling spiral from ordinary life into the world of mental illness, examines the fragile line between reality and madness, and reveals the true power of love and forgiveness. "


Author Notes

Five-time Emmy winner Sheila Hamilton is the news director and morning show co-host at the top-rated rock station in the country, KINK-FM in Portland. She also serves as the public affairs director and hosts an award-winning weekend talk show. She is currently Portland's #1 Radio Personality.Hamilton began her career as an Associate Producer for public broadcasting, and spent nearly two decades reporting, anchoring, and producing commercial television for ABC affiliates in Salt Lake City and Portland. She was recently voted Oregon's Best Radio Personality. She writes cover stories for About Face magazine and serves on the board of Girls Inc., an organization empowering girls to be strong, smart, and bold, and of The Flawless Foundation, a mental health advocacy organization.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* When Hamilton, a TV- and radio-news producer and anchor, meets her future husband, David, she is struck by his confidence, decisiveness, control, and enthusiasm for life. But after their marriage and the birth of their daughter, Hamilton notices changes. David becomes short-tempered and combative. He gains weight and loses interest in the outdoors. He becomes disorganized and overwhelmed by his construction business. What Hamilton doesn't realize, until David's first suicide attempt, is that her husband is suffering from bipolar disorder. As she vividly recalls the months leading up to David's decline and eventual suicide, Hamilton speaks frankly about the warning signs she didn't see and the excuses she made for her husband's actions. Intercut with her painful recollections are brief pieces on mental-health issues, including treatment, drug use, denial, caregivers, hospitalization, and suicide. After David's suicide, Hamilton and her daughter struggle with guilt, family issues, and a mountain of debts left from her husband's failed business as they put their lives back together. Instead of detracting from the narrative, these asides dovetail perfectly, adding important, thought-provoking facts. The result is a powerful narrative that speaks out about the effects of mental illness on families and the importance of seeking early treatment for afflicted loved ones.--Smith, Candace Copyright 2015 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Portland, OR, radio personality Hamilton sought answers as to why her husband, David, committed suicide within six weeks of receiving a mental illness diagnosis. Hamilton seeks to spare families from the loss of loved ones to suicide by telling her family's story and arguing for both early intervention and destigmatization of such illnesses. Her work succeeds as an informative and emotional pull for mental health awareness. While Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness advocates for sufferers from a psychiatrist's treatment of these patients and Jamison's own diagnosis, Hamilton adds a valuable story to the literature as a caregiver. She is also on the lookout for signs of mental illness in her daughter with David. Between chapters are sections of mental health information and research, including on psychosis, mindfulness, and children's grief. Mental health resource organizations are listed. VERDICT Highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand mental illness from a caregiver's perspective and educate themselves on how to support loved ones who are afflicted.-Jennifer M. Schlau, Elgin Community Coll., IL © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Excerpt from Chapter 4 Two weeks later, back home from Salt Lake, I was driving home from the television station to have my dinner break with David and Sophie. A heavy rain turned to slush on the windshield, and then, just as quickly, into fat, sloppy snowflakes. Rushing home for dinner was my way of trying to hold things together--not because I feared losing David so much, but because I didn't want Sophie to lose David. Would he stay in her life if we divorced? I could not say yes for certain. I couldn't accurately plot the course of David's day, let alone what might happen if we divorced. There was still so much about him I didn't understand. I sat with the engine running in the driveway, watching the wipers wash over the flakes one, two, three times. We were doing better since the affair--weren't we? The wipers thumped a steady beat to Fleetwood Mac, something from the Mirage album, the one with the album cover of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie sandwiching Lindsey Buckingham, both women attempting to capture something that was already gone. The music sounded tired, as if the band was going through the motions. I clicked the radio off and went in through the side door. David was standing at the front door looking out on the falling snow. I set my briefcase on the kitchen counter and came from behind to hug his big back. I truly wanted to make it work. "Hi, sweetheart," I said. "Where's Sophie?" "She's asleep," he mumbled, staring straight ahead into the darkness. "I put her to bed early." I checked my watch. "But it's only six-thirty. I really wanted to see her." He stared out the window, not acknowledging me. "She was cranky." I weighed my options. If I told him how important it was to keep Sophie up so that I could see her before bedtime, I'd have another fight on my hands. He was defensive about everything these days, especially Sophie's care. "Isn't it gorgeous?" I said instead, looking out at the snow. "What?" he turned abruptly, revealing a pen and paper in his hand. "What's gorgeous? I can't see anything gorgeous because I can't hear myself THINK in this house. I can't sit down in this house and read a book. I can't even bear to look out the window because all I see and all I hear are those GODDAMN CARS!" His voice rose to a pitch that scared me. The blood vessels in his neck bulged, and his eyes darted to the window. There were no cars outside. I was stunned. I began to speak, and then stopped myself, not knowing how to gauge this level of anger. I'd seen David upset before, but never like this, never about something so bizarre. We were a block away from a busy street. This was a side street, not a busy boulevard! It was a total overreaction, reminding me of something else that had changed recently. He had a heightened hypersensitivity to sound, bright lights, to smells, to clothing that wasn't organic cotton. "What do you mean, the cars?" I pointed toward the street. "I don't know what you mean--David, are you okay?" He pointed his pen to his yellow pad. "This, these cars! I've counted every car that has come along in the last two hours. Twenty-seven cars! Twenty-seven fucking cars, with their bright lights and fucking loud engines racing to their fucking homes going forty miles per hour. I can't THINK!" His face was red and splotchy, and he smelled of sweat. Two hours. For two hours, he'd worked himself into a frenzy over traffic. "If it bothers you, we can move," I said softly. "Again." Even as I said it, I didn't totally mean it. But it seemed crucial to calm him down. Three moves, two years of marriage. When we first married, we'd both sold our homes, mine a quaint Victorian, and his beautiful bungalow, to buy a larger home together in Laurelhurst, one of the most coveted neighborhoods in Portland. But it was too loud, he said, too disruptive to his sleep. Now this one was wrong, too, the house I loved most, with its plantation-style roof and a sweeping deck that opened onto a beautiful garden, with an apartment below for friends and family who visited. The house was wrong? No. A surge of defiance rose up through me. "This is not about the cars, David. It is not about the neighborhood. This is about you. You need help." He dropped his pen and paper on the hardwood floor. "Fuck you," he said, coldly. "What I need is a beer." I watched him stomp out the door and through the slush. You need a coat , I thought instinctively, and then caught my own reaction, protecting him even as he abandoned me, again. I stood at the doorway, frozen, unable to speak or move. The next morning, David rolled over lazily and cradled me in his arms, as if nothing had happened. I felt my back stiffen against him. I'd brought Sophie into bed with me that night, so exhausted I'd hoped lying with her, rather than rising every time she cried, might make us both happier. My body lived in two worlds: the harmony I felt with Sophie, and the growing disconnect I felt with David. As I cradled her, I felt a longing for David, the other half of us. "Look, I've been a jerk lately," he whispered. "I'm really sorry." He curled his arm around both Sophie and me. "I am so grateful to you for bringing me Sophie. I have never loved anyone or anything as much in my life. I will try harder for us." He moved into me breathing, our two bodies connected by this third life, this amazing force between us. His lips touched my spine, soft kisses down the arch of my back, my arms. My throat tightened as I turned to kiss him back. In the months that passed, David moved in and out of our marriage as if it were a pair of jeans he could wear or put at the back of his closet. Weeks would go by when David was fine, joyful even at the prospect of spending time at home, gardening, or remodeling a bathroom or kitchen. We made love, ate our meals together, and called one another several times during the day. "I'm just thinking of how lucky I am," he said one day. "And how lost I'd be without my family." Each time it got better, I thought, Okay, we've made it. We're past the tough part . I hung onto those moments of connection, building a case for staying the way Sophie built a pyramid of colored wooden blocks. She was patient, positioning each block so carefully her eyes never left the structure, even as she reached for her next block. It was only when she was smugly satisfied with her work that she swung her arm through the pyramid, crashing it to the ground. David's sense of self-destruction seemed just as impulsive. A phone call or conversation could set him off, his anxiety building to a point that it twisted his face into a new position. A dark, foreboding sense surrounded him, physically and emotionally. He walked around with a hunch, burdened by this mysterious weight, a weight I could neither tap nor explore. My life could be so much worse, I rationalized. I love my job. I love this house. Our daughter is healthy. I should be grateful. I look back on those years, wondering along with everyone else how I stayed for so long. The only answers I can come up involve my own stubborn sense of optimism and my cowardice. I believed David during the good times, when he told me his family was the most important thing he'd ever had. And given what I now know about how difficult it is to cope with the destructive and alienating thoughts of bipolar illness, I'm in awe of David's capacity for holding his life together as long as he did. I was coping, too, during those difficult years, so that Sophie might grow up in a household with the one man who would always love her unconditionally. Excerpted from All the Things We Never Knew by Sheila Hamilton All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


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