An Uncommon Friendship: a memoir of love, mental illness, and friendship by Monique Colver

Book Description:
When Stewart Young becomes mentally ill with a variety of disorders, his mind betraying and lying to him, he fights his demons in an attempt to save his own life. His wife, Monique, has her own demons, but she is determined to keep him safe. When his infatuation with other women brings the marriage to a screeching halt, she continues to take care of him, and their friendship remains strong, despite the isolation, rapid mood swings, hallucinations, and the occasional psychotic episode. Through a combination of diary entries, emails, and narrative, we see the progression of his illness, and the recovery that appears so close, yet is so far away. More than a tale of mental illness and the havoc it wreaks on those who have it and those who love them, it’s a story of friendship, and what we’re willing to do for those we love.

My Review: * * * * *
I found this book truly fascinating, perhaps because I am so interested in the way the mind works, as well as in relationships between people. In other words, humankind.

This story offers a remarkable glimpse into the, often unfamiliar, world of mental illness described in great detail from two very different perspectives. One is the narrator, wife, friend and caregiver, Monique, and the other is her mentally ill husband, Stewart. When Monique married Stewart, he showed no signs of being mentally ill. After he became ill with a series of disorders and they separated, their relationship continued on as a deep and loving friendship, as Monique moved from wife to caregiver. Though she had many of her own struggles, she became a rock of support and constant carer to her best friend. The interspersed emails and stories from Stewart provide an interesting insight into the thoughts and feelings of a mentally ill, yet intelligent and coherent individual. I understood exactly why Monique loved Stewart so much. He was a special guy.

Some sensitive readers may struggle with the many times that Stewart cuts his arms in an effort to ground himself. Though this is an integral part of the story and trying to understand certain aspects of mental illness.

Well written book with an unexpected ending.


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