The Agony and Ecstasy of the Bipolar Mind
Joy A. Paz
Westbow Press (2013)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/13)
I am so grateful for Joy A. Paz’s willingness to honestly share her journey through the bipolar realm with us in “The Agony and Ecstasy of the Bipolar Mind: Old and New Healing Methods That Give Hope to All Humanity.” Strangely enough, both she and her husband were diagnosed with this disorder. However, their experiences were different, hers was more manic and his more depressive. Written with a gentle hand and a great deal of Christian faith, the author takes us on their journey which includes spending eight years in Brazil. Her experiences in Brazil were incredible; however, the medical community did not have a lot to offer in the way of understanding the disorder which slowed her recovery.
While the author tells her story she also shares with us the treatments, medications and alternative healing methods which she researched and tried. Between herself and her husband, they acquired a great deal of experience with gaining an understanding of what is involved when one has this diagnosis. These treatments ranged from electroconvulsive therapy to Holosync audio technology. The array of medications ranged from antipsychotics to antidepressants. Desperate to find something that worked, they tried everything that was prescribed. Some medications created a positive outcome while others had serious side effects. Recognizing that most experiences will be different with each patient, it is still good for the reader to have an idea about what might work and what might create worsening symptoms.
For myself, I do not have bipolar disorder, yet I do have close family members, friends and students with whom I work, that have been diagnosed with it. I have seen many of them go through the gamut of trying a variety of treatments and medications to see what will work for them. Some of these people have given up on medications and suffered terribly as a result of this. I respect that the author and her husband are highly educated and compassionate people. To me, this adds a great deal of validity to the recommendations made in the book.
I enjoyed reading Joy A. Paz’s life story. She had some incredible adventures with her husband. She also has an unwavering Christian faith that does not detract from her willingness to try alternate methods, including hypnosis. In spite of the negative consequences that can come from having bipolar disorder, such as being suicidal, she also points out the positive aspects which can include being highly creative. By looking at the disorder from both sides, it makes it easier to focus on a plan that will perhaps highlight the positive aspects and diminish the negative.