Slip-Resistant Socks: My Journey with Bipolar Disorder
In this eye-opening and candid account, Bryce Hostetler shares his experience with bipolar disorder. As a young child, his family is plagued by poverty and he suffers from persistent social anxiety. His moods are relatively stable, though. His love for sports and dedication to working out propel him to excel in football in high school, and with excellent grades, he earns early acceptance to Vanderbilt University. His freshman year starts off well; he seems to be at the height of his game when the storm clouds gather and bring an onslaught of rain his way. As depression pulls him under, his first thoughts of suicide beckon.
When Spring Break arrives, he heads to Myrtle Beach with his closest friends. The first night sleep evades him, yet he feels fully energized the next day. Soon, his mind begins to flow with unexplainable creativity and an onslaught of thoughts. Euphoria creeps in, followed by a sense of irritability. His first bout of hypomania has made its way in, only to cycle into a ravenous depression. A mix of what he describes as “a mishmash of moods and madness” follow. His relationships suffer, as do his grades and his ability to find meaning in life.
The next several years are marked with therapy, psychiatric appointments, and trials with medications; some of which help, others of which exacerbate his condition. After he endures the roller coaster of ups and downs and suicidal ideation that often accompany his crashes, he finally checks himself into a hospital and receives treatment for bipolar disorder. Sadly, his inner-turmoil only periodically abates. He undergoes electro convulsive shock treatment as a last resort. As time progresses, stability finds its way into his life and hope for which he could once only dream surrounds him.
Slip-Resistant Socks: My Journey with Bipolar Disorder is a compelling memoir that unmasks the mysteries of this often misunderstood illness. It’s told in everyday language that laypeople will easily understand, and although it’s only one person’s account, the author’s story is reflective of others’ work on the topic.
Hostetler vividly highlights his descent into the abyss of depression, putting words to the angst he feels tearing at his soul. He speaks of his frequent encounters with suicidal ideation, even chronicling his search on the web for a gun with which to end his life as well as the “goodbye” notes he conjures up in his mind and never sends. He delineates his leaps into mania and madness, the shopping sprees and magical thinking that accompany them. He also illuminates the harrowing mixed episodes he battles in which mania and depression coexist. The imagery he uses throughout is masterful.
Younger rather older adults may find this book more relatable due to the youth of the author as well as the era he covers. Those who have endured multiple trials with medications as well as those who’ve had difficulty receiving a proper diagnosis will find this autobiographical work meaningful. Additionally, clinicians who treat patients with bipolar disorder may find this narrative helpful in better understanding their experiences. Those who are currently dealing with tragic circumstances or emotional instability may want to put this read on hold until brighter days prevail. Overall, this will make a positive and unique contribution to the body of literature available on bipolar disorder.
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