Dreams of My Limbic System: Reflections in Verse on My Schizoaffective Disorder
By Lena Andersen
CreateSpace Independent Publishing
ISBN 13: 978-1523473359
Book reviewed by Kavita Khajuria
“the tables and the lamps whisper their dark intentions towards me”
Referencing depression and hallucinations, the reader hears of menacing auditory hallucinations from inanimate objects. A story unravels the onset, symptoms and fear of mental illness – conveyed initially with a suspenseful style that can leave the reader waiting with bated breath. One hears of the “pair of long legs,” “a magnificent grey wolf” and other precarious hallucinations, which can evoke serious wonder in the reader – How did she manage? Did her students know? Who would help her? and yet – “The day of impossibility ends, and I am still employed.” Andersen reflects on the relief obtained from mental health treatment, including the work it took to obtain the right balance of medications despite her conflicted feelings, and expresses her gratitude despite “not (being) 100% symptoms free,” but “in a good place,” noting the costs of discontinuation, and other pros and cons. She shares other setbacks, including the impact of bereavement on mental health recovery, the ability to overcome suicidal ideations, and the discomforts of mental illness including the stigma “people prefer not to see that I am not always alright and that I need help getting my bearings at times…” Other moments include the wonder joy of a grandchild and the relief of simplified goals “the appreciated accolade won is finding myself intact at the end of each day..”
This book is deeply touching on many levels. In a very short span, Andersen manages to artfully capture the experience of living with psychotic mental illness – yet beauty, resilience and gratitude prevail, despite the challenges.