It’s difficult, to say the least, to describe the experience of a manic episode. How do you communicate insanity to another human being? How can they even begin to feel what you have felt, to see what you have seen, and not think that you must have been pretending? It’s like trying to describe the taste of a banana. No, it’s like that multuplied times 10,000.
Somehow, through some brilliance or determination (most likely a combination of the two), David Lovelace has done it. He has finally opened up the experience to anyone bold enough to expose themselves to his truth, to read his account and to really pay attention. In Lovelace’s case, it is not his story only; it is the story of his family members, only one of which escaped the disease called bipolar disorder.
Lovelace’s storytelling sucks the reader in, gets you rooting for him. At one point he has ventured away to Antigua, and he describes the point of deciding to just keep running: “I stood in the white stucco entrance with my pack slung down sideways and I fell for it all, for the never going back, just the endless south, its jungles and deserts and ruins. I saw the women around me all lovely and tattered, the ones who rode high on the roofs of ancient Bluebird school buses lumbering down through the hills. I fell for the happenstance jigsaw of traveling broke, the beautiful puzzle before lostness got found by e-mail and cell phone, before the global got positioned by satellite. I loved it more than the ocean.”
The most striking aspect of this book is that, beneath all the desperation, all the tidying and untidying, all the destroying and the obsessing and the lying and the medicating, there is hope. There is an aspect of normalcy in the chaos. Lovelace in effect says: “This is my family. This is what happens sometimes. And after things get worse, they get better.”