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Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So

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Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So

A Memoir
More than thirty years after the publication of his acclaimed memoir The Eden Express, Mark Vonnegut continues his story in this searingly funny, iconoclastic account of coping with mental illness,...
More than thirty years after the publication of his acclaimed memoir The Eden Express, Mark Vonnegut continues his story in this searingly funny, iconoclastic account of coping with mental illness,...
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Description-
  • More than thirty years after the publication of his acclaimed memoir The Eden Express, Mark Vonnegut continues his story in this searingly funny, iconoclastic account of coping with mental illness, finding his calling, and learning that willpower isn't nearly enough.

    Here is Mark's life childhood as the son of a struggling writer, as well as the world after Mark was released from a mental hospital. At the late age of twenty-eight and after nineteen rejections, he is finally accepted to Harvard Medical School, where he gains purpose, a life, and some control over his condition. There are the manic episodes, during which he felt burdened with saving the world, juxtaposed against the real-world responsibilities of running a pediatric practice.

    Ultimately a tribute to the small, daily, and positive parts of a life interrupted by bipolar disorder, Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So is a wise, unsentimental, and inspiring book that will resonate with generations of readers.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    A Brief Family History

    It's good to have a sixth gear, but watch out for

    the seventh one. If you think too well outside the box,

    you might find yourself in a little room without much in it.

    The arts are not extracurricular.

    One hundred thirty-nine years ago, my great-grandfather Bernard Vonnegut, fifteen years old, described as less physically robust than his two older brothers, probably asthmatic, started crying while doing inventory at the family hardware store. When his parents asked what was wrong, he said he didn't know but he thought he wanted to be an artist.

    "I don't want to sell nails," he sobbed.

    Maybe his parents should have beaten him for being ungrateful, but they wanted their son to be happy and the business was successful enough that they could hire someone else to do inventory. He became an apprentice stonecutter and then went to Europe to study art and architecture. He designed many buildings in Indianapolis that still stand today. He drew beautifully, made sculptures and furniture. He was also happily

    married and had three children, one of whom was Kurt senior, my grandfather, who was known as "Doc" and who also became an architect. Doc could also draw and paint and make furniture. He made wonderful chessboards, one of which he gave to me when I was nine.

    When he was sixty, Doc was pulled over for not stopping at a stop sign. The cop was astonished to notice that his driver's license had expired twenty years earlier.

    "So shoot me," said Doc.

    At the end of his life, which had included financial ruin in the Great Depression, his wife's barbiturate addiction and death by overdose, and then his own lung cancer, Doc said, "It was enough to have been a unicorn." What he meant was that he got to do art. It was magic to him that his hands and mind got to make wonderful things, that he didn't have to be just another goat or horse.

    When I worked on the Harvard Medical School admissions committee, artistic achievements were referred to as "extras." The arts are not extra.

    If my great-grandfather Bernard Vonnegut hadn't started crying while doing inventory at Vonnegut Hardware and hadn't told his parents that he wanted to be an artist instead of selling nails and if his parents hadn't figured out how to help him make that happen, there are many buildings in and around Indianapolis that wouldn't have gotten built. Kurt senior wouldn't have created paintings or furniture or carvings or stained glass. And Kurt junior, if he existed at all, would have been just another guy with PTSD-no stories, no novels, no paintings. And I, if I existed at all, would have been just another broken young man without a clue how to get up off the floor.

    Art is lunging forward without certainty about where you are going or how to get there, being open to and dependent on what luck, the paint, the typo, the dissonance, give you. Without art you're stuck with yourself as you are and life as you think life is.

    Craziness also runs in the family. I can trace manic depression back several generations. We have episodes of hearing voices, delusions, hyper-religiosity, and periods of not being able to eat or sleep. These episodes are remarkably similar across generations and between individuals. It's like an apocalyptic disintegration sequence that might be useful if the world really is ending, but if the world is not ending, you just end up in a nuthouse. If we're lucky enough to get better, we have to deal with people who seem unaware of our heroism and who treat us as if we are just mentally ill.

    My great-grandfather on my mother's side drank to keep the voices away and ended up the...

About the Author-
  • Mark Vonnegutis the only son of the late Kurt Vonnegut and Jane Cox Vonnegut and the author of The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity, an ALA Notable Book. A full-time practicing pediatrician, he lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son.

Reviews-
  • Patch Adams, M.D. "Mark and I both started communes in 1971, and reading his new book I feel like a hippie brother. Sharing so vulnerably his woundedness and his family's and society's woundedness, he shows you can step out of it all, into a celebration of imperfection and a life of meaning."
  • Julie Holland, M.D., author of Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Nightshift at the Psych E.R. "The man who wanted to bite R.D. Laing has grown into the doctor who helps us understand how compassionate healthcare has given way to mindless bureaucracy. As a psychiatric patient and a pediatrician, he lucidly conveys his experience of psychosis, as well as the maddening effects of today's health insurance and big pharma collusions. He is uniquely qualified and positioned to show us both sides of the insanity."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So
Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So
A Memoir
Mark Vonnegut, M.D.
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A Memoir
Mark Vonnegut, M.D.
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