Review of Teetering On A Tightrope

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Brendan Donaghy
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Latest Review: Teetering On A Tightrope by Steven W Wilson

Review of Teetering On A Tightrope

Post by Brendan Donaghy »

[Following is an official review of "Teetering On A Tightrope" by Steven W Wilson.]
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4 out of 5 stars
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Teetering on a Tightrope: My Bipolar Journey is a memoir by Steven W. Wilson. The author’s childhood in Delaware, Ohio was uneventful up until he was nine years old. He was just ‘a normal kid having fun.’ (p2) Then, he was sexually abused by a stranger in the restroom of his local cinema and his life changed. He had his first episode of depression in his fourth-grade year. From that point on, his life was a constant battle with poor mental health. He was diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder as an adult. This is the memoir of a seventy-three-year-old man looking back at his struggles with the illness and the impact it has had on his life.

The book throws up some interesting questions. For example, this reader immediately jumped to the conclusion that the author’s mental health problems all stemmed from his traumatic experience as a child. However, it becomes clear that poor mental health is deeply ingrained in his family. His mother suffered from deep depression for most of her life, his brother Tommy experienced similar problems and the author’s three daughters developed mental health issues, too. Is it something that can be passed on through our DNA? It’s a question the author asks himself at different points in the book.

I enjoyed the author’s clearly written sentences that carry the reader along through his story. He is honest about other people and himself. I also liked how he gives his tale a societal and historical context by mentioning what’s happening in the world at large, such as the Vietnam War, racial segregation in public spaces and the changes in men’s fashions in the 1970s. These references are dropped into the narrative, but they are never allowed to overshadow the main protagonist, namely bipolar disorder.

While I appreciated how the author tells his story, I still found this book a hard read. The author’s entire life has been a struggle with bipolar disorder, and he’s had some very dark times. While he’s also had some happier periods and lighter moments, the dominant tone of the narrative is a sombre one. I finished reading it feeling a bit flat.

I am awarding this book four out of five stars. It has been professionally edited, and I found fewer than a handful of minor errors. I am deducting one star because I’d have liked to have heard more about the positive, happier times that the author mentions. This, I think, would have provided some contrast to the hard experiences and made the book a more rounded read. The book discusses sexual relationships and issues arising from poor mental health, including suicide ideation. I would, therefore, recommend it to adults who have an interest in learning more about bipolar disorder, not from a clinical perspective, but through the eyes of someone who has struggled with it all his life.

Teetering On A Tightrope
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Charles Ashinze
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Post by Charles Ashinze »

It is intriguing reading about the mental health struggles from the perspective of one who experienced it. The author had a very challenging life starting from the sexual assault. It baffles me how people can be very cruel.
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