This beautifully crafted memoir about Carol Hebald’s spiral into mental illness during the late 1930s through the 1970s touched me about a variety of different levels. My heart broke for the abused and neglected child. I really like to reach out and spare her out of the cupboard she was often locked , to show her the love of a mother when hers was unable and to whisk her away from the twisted guys who stole her innocence.
In the book, Hebald graphically explains the increasingly terrifying blur between reality and fantasy which fuelled her childhood creativity and served as her personal coping mechanism. As she climbed into adolescent, acting became her entire life ambition, while providing her with an chance to create feelings she just couldn’t feel in her real life.
In the middle of her promising acting career on the New York City point in the 1950s and 1960s, she moved from one therapist to another. Rather than receiving the proper care and treatment she deserved, Hebald rather suffered a long string of misdiagnoses, medications, hospitalizations and shock treatments. Along with treating her and often with contempt, her most therapists encouraged her to ignore her internal voice and what she knew was perfect. Ultimately, Hebald must learn how to trust and exercise that voice.
In addition to telling a dramatic and moving accurate narrative, this book also chronicles the numerous improvements society has made as the 1950s – from diplomatic, to marriage to sex prejudice.
For mentalismminds , I found it intriguing to see how far we have come as a people since the start of Hebald’s book. Although I do not consider myself a feminist, as I read the book I felt a powerful sense of gratitude into the feminist movement for the life I am blessed enough to direct. By way of instance, it’s no longer necessary for a woman to get married and have kids in order to be fulfilled and whole. Unlike the therapist who invited Hebald to marry someone she did not love within her”therapy”, now we understand that people can be complete and fulfilled unto themselves.
I also marvelled at how much the mental health profession has come since the days Hebald was hospitalized. And, although I’ve never been to a mental hospital, I can only expect that the current hospitals take a more enlighten approach to patient care, including treating them with the respect they deserve.
This moving memoir paints a vibrant image of this special life of Hebald and enables readers to explore her debilitating world of mental illness. Although I needed to repeatedly set the book apart for the sake of my emotions, I couldn’t leave it down for long. Now, when I consider my mental health and wellbeing, I can’t help but be thankful to strong girls like Hebald who paved the way to the future of girls, both as people and as individuals at the mental health system.