The Center Cannot Hold

“The Center Cannot Hold” by Elyn R. Saks

I acquired this book through my daily emails from BookBub and this one particularly stood out to me. In my quest to read books that are on atypical topics, this one fit the mold perfectly!

As an individual who has never experienced mental health issues, I have always sought to understand and read books such as this; books that tell of the experience from the perspective of someone who lives through it.

Unfortunately, we live in a day and age in which mental health continues to be stigmatized, particularly in the case of conditions such as schizophrenia. This happens, in part, because the only time we are ever exposed to such a disease is through a negative and skewed lens.

This book was a joy to read, but it was also incredibly hard. Elyn did an amazing job of relaying her life experiences with her disease, so much so that at times I felt as if my thoughts were also becoming disorganized. She blew me away with her way of presenting to the reader the disorganized thinking that is typical of an individual with schizophrenia. And because of her ability to coherently give the reader insight to this pattern of thinking, you begin to understand why and how an individual could find themselves thinking the thoughts that they are.

Elyn writes in a manner that makes it easy for you to feel like you are there with her, during her entire journey of trying to come to terms with her disease. You grow attached to some of her therapists and doctors, just as you are appalled at the behaviors of others. You feel her anxiety when having to change therapists, and hope the next one will be attune to her needs. Most importantly, you begin to understand why someone with her disease would be so focused on not taking any medicine. This is again, something that those of us who have never experienced such illnesses cannot even begin to understand.

I definitely count myself lucky for having stumbled upon this book and it has given me invaluable insight on what it means to have schizophrenia and the harrowing journey that many who have this disease must face. Most importantly, I feel like I have a slightly better understanding of the disease itself and how it affects those who have it.

Would recommend to anyone who is a fan of memoirs and is interested in finally having schizophrenia explained from the perspective of one affected by it.

*Please remember that calling someone a schizophrenic is offensive for it makes the person and the disease one. When a person has cancer you do not start calling them cancerous, or say they are cancer, just as you should not call someone with schizophrenia a schizophrenic.

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