Cynthia Sabotka,
Life is Like a Line: A Memoir of Moods, Medication & Mania
(Silver Lining Publishing, 2008)

Honest, open, poignant, courageous. Such are the words that describe this exceptionally detailed memoir by author Cynthia M. Sabotka, the story of a life both lived in partnership with and rudely interrupted by the debilitating disorder known as bipolar.

One thing to keep in mind: You will not be reading the memoir of a celebrity, or a war hero, or any famous person. She is human and real. She is you. She is me. She details the lives of ordinary Americans, living their ordinary lives, albeit with well-entrenched dysfunction looming just below the surface, as she grows up and survives in her own little slice of America. This may not be for everyone.

Sabotka shares the very personal story of her life in a mesmerizing stream-of-consciousness style. Her engaging journaling approach is intriguing and is written in the present tense, bringing us right into the fabric of her life as she lived it. She had always considered herself a Type A personality, a conflicted woman with a fiery disposition, but did not realize that an elusive assailant lurked just beneath the surface, an assailant that suddenly exploded onto the scene like a rabid animal, bringing chaos into her life and spinning her world upside down and out of control.

Sabotka details her challenging life filled with conflicted emotions and a tumultuous family dynamic that infused her life experience with strife and confusion. Some experts say bipolar can be the result of a stressful life and/or a sudden life-altering challenge in those that are predisposed to the disease. Sabotka had both, and the extreme discord in her parents' difficult marriage as well as much dissention between the siblings suggests, as she later realizes, that this disorder may be a family predisposition.

Described herein is Sabotka's taxing battle to find the right medication to alleviate her suffering. Her doctor tries many different medicinal cocktails that require constant tweaking as the author fights through side effects, relapses and severe mood swings. Thankfully, her disease is now in remission, but this remains a long uphill battle with the threat of relapse always looming just around the corner. In this achingly honest memoir, we are introduced to the anguished existence of those living with this trying disorder. An excellent read for those interested in the subject, although the extent to which the author relates the minutiae of her life may not be for everyone.

book review by
Lee Lukaszewicz

12 August 2017

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