Saturday, May 4, 2013

Through the Weathering Storm Book Tour

I read Through the Withering Storm, in exchange for review from Sage Blog Tours. The book was written by Leif Gregersen. I chose the book because it deals with mental illness. My oldest son has autism and adhd. My youngest has developmental delays (walking, talking, fine motor).

My Review:
The book's forward starts out discussing mental illness, in addition to how symptoms and experiences can vary from person to person. Behavior also varies from person to person. Chapter one is beautiful. The author discusses how he looks forwards to summers, where he can play and enjoy his self, but when school starts, he feels like the outcast. Another interesting story occurred with his brother Owen and a iron. It was sad to read how his brother developed code words to ditch Leif. The special needs mother in me was hurt. Everyone needs a friend. I think it hurts more when family does not want anything to do with you. My kids sometimes go through the same thing. My great niece (22 months) gets invited to more places. She also spends the night over relatives houses. My kids have never spent the night over anybody's house. They do not have any friends, except God and myself. My family is not special-needs friendly. My oldest son grew up in Georgia and did not have much interaction with my side of the family. My youngest was born and raised in Texas. No one wants to deal with changing my oldest adult diapers or deal with daily meltdowns.

The author's family had a history of mental illness, in addition to alcoholism. The author also discussed how he had symptoms of mental illness, but didn't realize it at first. Leif did not like to wash his hair, so he got it cut instead. He did not want to shower every day, but bathed once a week. (Funny because my oldest son hates to bath (will scream bloody murder), but will shower multiple times per day). Leif would also wear jackets and sweaters in the summer because it comforted him. Leif also wanted to maintain a good image on the outside, but tried to hide his odd behaviors on the inside. Leif also wanted to impress his friends by picking fights and resetting pins at the bowling alley.

Leif discussed his summers in the air cadets and the things, he used to do and get away with. He also discussed family dynamics. He appears to be the typical teenager, throughout the first part of the book. Wanting belonging, acceptance, and lots of peer pressure. He did not like school. He rebelled. He fought with his father and his brother.  Leif also went into a psychiatric ward for evaluation at 14. Leif was also supposed to take meds, but he refused. Next, the author was addicted to adrenaline.

The book was a narrative into Gregerson's life. It was a good read. On another note, the book could have used some headers or sections. The stories ran together, back to back. I would loved to see some sort of division.

Book information: (Copied from the media kit) Through the Withering Storm
By Leif Gregersen

Valhalla Books

Book Overview

Through the Withering Storm: A Brief History of a Mental Illness is the autobiography
of a boy who becomes a man in a cold and seemingly impossible world. This book,
with foreword by prominent psychiatrist Dr. Brian Bishop, takes the reader through
the true life horror of growing up mentally ill. The author shows us what it is like to
juggle school, a dysfunctional family, a ‘career’ as an Air Cadet and all the emotions
and troubles that come with adolescence – until genetics throws in a curve ball and
the worst imaginable happens.

This book also takes the reader inside the hallways and chambers of a hospital
treating the violent, criminal and institutionalized in a place built for ‘shell-shocked’
World War I veterans.

As with many illnesses, there is denial and the struggle doesn’t end in these halls.
Despite delusions, fights, arrests, reprisals and being institutionalized, years are
wasted fighting treatment and refusing medications.

From the cold and frozen north country of Alberta, through the Rocky Mountains
and coastal cities of Vancouver and Los Angeles, the author constantly struggles to
shake off the demons that haunt him. He loses friends and possessions, becomes
estranged from his family and relinquishes every shred of dignity. Each time he is
beaten down, he struggles back to find a small piece of sanity, just enough to keep
him going. Finally, with acceptance of his illness, comes treatment and peace.

For any parent or caregiver living with a troubled teenager, this book provides
valuable insight into the behaviours of mentally ill youth. For others, such as
healthcare professionals, family members or those that suspect they may have an
illness themselves, this book sheds light on the symptoms of being bipolar and the
all-too-common journey through madness.

Ultimately, this work demonstrates how precious and precarious our lives and
relationships are. In the profound words of Dylan Thomas, this book simply says to
all who open it and take part in the tragedy that is the human condition, “Do not go
gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

About the Author: Leif Gregersen

I grew up somewhat isolated from the harsher forces of the world in St. Albert, a
small town just outside of Edmonton, Alberta. Most of my younger years were filled
with images of very happy times – trips everywhere from California to Copenhagen,

constant school successes and football games in the field near my house that seemed
to last forever.

But all was not okay. There were times when my father would discipline me
severely or I would come home to find an ambulance in our backyard taking
my mother to the hospital for yet another suicide attempt. Although I knew that
depression ran in our family, I had no clue of the fearsome beast that was growing
inside me.

At that time, I was more concerned about my growing collection of comic books,
bought with money my sister would give me for doing her dishes or earned as a
bean-picker or weed- puller on a farm not far from town. To be able to buy more
comics, I even lied about my age to get a paper route and picked up more money by
shoveling walks that hadn’t been done on the route.

Somewhere after the end of elementary school, there was a profound shift. It
seemed the wind ran out of my sails and the transition to junior high was not a
smooth one. I gave up on sports and I began to hate school and the people in it.

The remaining school years became a painful, out-of-control descent into madness.
Gripped by mental illness, my thoughts, actions and behaviours became increasingly
bizarre. My world became a true life horror movie of growing up mentally ill.
Despite delusions, fights, arrests, reprisals and being institutionalized, years were
wasted fighting any form of treatment, denying the illness and refusing medications.
Fortunately, for the past 15 years, my life has stabilized. I have accepted treatment
and medications. Today, I have steady work and can afford some of the things I
only dreamed of before. My computers, my 1994 VW Golf, a decent apartment and,
above all, my books. From the age of three, my father exposed me to literature of the
highest quality. Today, he is a much kinder, gentler and alcohol-free 72 year-old. I
have him to thank for my passion to read and write.

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Please leave a comment. Thank you. Stacie