Sunday, November 23, 2014
REVIEW: THE WAIT
How long would you wait to speak up about abuse? How long would you wait to reach out for treatment if you were ill? How long would you wait if the treatments available were very scarce and possibly inappropriate? Kellie JOYce’s book The Wait conveys the inexorable frustration of waiting for opportunities to speak out about abuse, to reach out for mental health care and to be treated effectively for mental illness.
There are many books about brave people who rise above the circumstances of their birth -- poverty, addictions, abuse – but few convey the intense sense that JOYce describes of the innate stubborn refusal to give up hope. Science teaches us our genes and circumstances shape us, so how is it that in the face of overwhelming odds someone emerges with the strength to go beyond circumstances and flourish? JOYce’s impish refusal to submerge is celebratory and we cannot help but smile at her tales of survival despite the horror that underpins them. Reminded of Miriam Toews' All My Puny Sorrows, The Wait reads like dirty water circling a drain, inevitably sucking downwards. Like Elf, who despite her concert pianist brilliance is depressed beyond recognition, JOYce’s husband, Les, struggles to cope with his wife’s PTSD and his own deep depression. While JOYce is speaking from a place of her own sorrow and torture, the book remains defiant and hopeful.
It would be so easy to close the book, refuse to read the doleful facts and ignore the need. JOYce writes an estimated 75% of those suffering from a mental illness will never receive treatment, but she must not be a Cassandra; her own bravery shows us the way. True victory lies in action. I hope the book will spur you to pressure for better and more mental health care resources and help you to look in your own life at how you could reach out a hand of friendship or support to those who are forced to live apart through stigma and shame. We should laud the JOYce’s of the world who name the family violence that gives rise to such circumstances and turn the prurient poking of government agencies into creative and inspiring programming for recovery and health. As the administrative sponsor of the Bereaved By Suicide program at Hospice that helped JOYce, I know prevention is our strongest weapon. Ensuring the wounded are not left to wither away unheard and uncared for is also a challenge we can all rise to.
- Rosslyn Bentley