*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Goodreads description (x):
Detour from Normal is the shocking true story of a respected engineer and devoted family man who is driven to insanity by complications from life-saving surgery and medications. After he tragically loses touch with reality, a whirlwind of visits to hospitals and psychiatric facilities ensues. His loving wife is ultimately forced to make the unthinkable decision to commit him to a high-security psychiatric ward. There, he is branded “persistently and acutely disabled” and “a danger to himself and others.” That man is author Ken Dickson, and this is the fascinating story of his journey into and out of madness.My rating: 2 out of 5 hoots
When I was reading this memoir, I really wanted to like it. I tried so hard to like it, almost straining my mind to make the decision that this was a wonderful book. Unfortunately, while it had some unbelievably great perks about it, when it came down to it, I just couldn't bring myself to be fully convinced that I liked it.
Ken Dickson, the man behind the memoir, packs a punch with a personal story. The problem I had was that, while the story was emotional and full of health information that actually kept my attention (some simply educational, some sad anecdotes), I simply didn't like the storyteller. I really don't know what you do when you like what the book is saying and what's inside of it, the inspiration involved, and the bravery it took to tell the story, but you just don't seem to connect with the narrator. I definitely felt for him, but the way he portrayed himself at times, and I don't just mean his mental state, turned me off towards him. Out of the all the reviews I read on Goodreads, I seem to be the only person with this problem, so I really don't know?!
Really the only other problem I had with this book was that Dickson would, in some random chapters, begin passionately describing in vivid detail how he was planning on creating a new Utopia. I thought at first, Oh that's kinda neat I guess, but as it continued to develop throughout the novel, I became frustrated and had to separate myself from the book several times actually.
On the opposite but positive end, Ken Dickson does quite the job of depicting what mania is and what life is like with it, especially going into detail with the symptoms; for example, hallucinations, irritability, racing thoughts, ideas of grandeur, and the main problem he faced--trouble sleeping. Because his mania affected his family to an extreme extent, like many mental illnesses (and illnesses in general) seem to do, he depicts the feelings of hopelessness anyone feels when their loved ones and people they trust seem to betray them, forget them, or even worse, become engulfed in anguish because of the scenario.
What's almost worse is how you put your trust--and your life, even--in the hands of doctors and healthcare facilities, becoming completely vulnerable, only to come out on the other side a completely different person. Dickson unveils in his book how disturbed our healthcare system can be--which I know all too well from firsthand experiences. Detour from Normal also shines a light on how doctors just seem to haphazardly prescribe medication, and in excess.
The health elements of this memoir stood out to me because I'm so heavily involved in medical elements due to my own predicament with Lyme disease and its symptoms, which involve cognitive and mental symptoms/disorders. However, as stated above, while Dickson's story was intriguing, I just could not find myself able to relate to him, and that can be a large problem in a memoir.
*Thanks again NetGalley for the free copy of this book.