Kitt O’Malley over at Kittomalley.com, so generously reviewed my book on being Bipolar and Aspie and the fight for sanity and love, in a post on her blog. Kitt, a psychotherapist and mother and wife, writes about vital and informative topics pertaining to mental health, ranging from being a Bipolar parent to a relationship with God. She can also be found at @kittomalley on Twitter. A big THANK YOU to Kitt for posting this review.
I greatly enjoyed reading and highly recommend Ellen Stockdale Wolfe’s autobiographical story of love alongside psychological and neurological growth: Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things: Learning to Love as a Bipolar Aspie. In her memoir, Ms. Stockdale Wolfe writes of her struggle with Asperger’s and Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features. Her autobiography traces her growth in her ability to love deeply and truly, her mental health history, and how she overcame challenges of her unique Aspie brain (Asperger’s is an autism spectrum disorder). She uses that unique brain as well as her sensitive soul to create beauty, whether it be this memoir, a poem, photograph, or painting. To see more of her stunning work, check her out at StockdaleWolfe.com, her site is appropriately entitled MOONSIDE | TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART.
I first remember things going wrong at age 5.
I am standing in the corner of the bedroom with my mother beside my brother’s crib. She is telling me I am cold and selfish, like my father’s mother whom she hates. I now think she hates me. She tells me I will wind up all alone.
It is just after the births of my brother and sister, only 11 months apart, and my 25-year-old mother, is totally overwhelmed. My brother is the apple of her eye, with Mom’s dark coloring and the looks of her adored Sicilian born-father. My sister is Daddy’s little girl. I remember feeling all alone, and being cold and hard at that age, confiding only in my stuffed lion, Leo. Many, many years later I come to see this cold, hard me as a dissociated self. Many years later my mother apologizes to me. And I apologize to her.
I set out on a life-long struggle to be different from my father’s mother, doing everything to try to be warm and loving like my mother’s Italian family. I fail. With acute stage fright most of the time, I cannot initiate a smile, nor greet people. The most basic social skills are lost to me, much to the chagrin of my parents. Often I cannot respond to people. At times I cannot organize my thoughts well enough to speak. I feel evil and selfish. I want to fit in and can’t. I want to pass for normal and don’t. I want to have a family and never will. I want to find love and it will take me decades to do so.
The “defensive personality” serves me well, covering up many, but not all, of my autistic symptoms. I live dissociated from many of my numerous fears.
My story begins when I break down. My fiancé, Sundra, goes back to Sri Lanka. I change library jobs from a relatively comfortable clerical position in a small library to a position cataloging art books in a huge office. The new job is in a giant room with three different departments and about 40 employees of all ages and ethnicities. There are no cubicles or dividers so everyone can see and hear everyone else. It is as gossip-ridden as a small town. There is no privacy and there are fluorescent lights. It is all too much. But it is here I meet Danielle who is to change my life forever and, later, Jimmy, who becomes my husband. My journey begins when my autistic shell breaks, at age 28, when the “superficial personality”, the dissociated me, falls apart. I seek therapy and am diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Not until thirty years later do I find out I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, as well.
I write my story as a message of hope to all those who are as lost as I was, to those who think, as I did, that they cannot find love. I open my heart to help others avoid the suffering I went through and caused. I nearly lost my job and my mind pursuing love. I hurt other people. I could have been seen as a stalker due to my typical Aspie approach to a romantic interest. Love threw me over the brink of sanity and made me psychotic at times. I didn’t know I was Bipolar and my psychiatrist didn’t know I had Asperger’s syndrome.
Finally, I write this book to psychiatrists and other therapists that they may understand their patients who have the same issues and delusions.
From the Prologue to Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things: