12 December 2008 ~ 2 Comments

(Book) Mommy I’m Still in Here: Raising Children with Bipolar Disorder by Kate McLaughlin


I have been pretty lucky in my life and none of my family has any mental or mood disorders. So, all that I do know comes from talking to other people or reading or whatever. This book was much more than I was expecting.

The author comes off as very detached at times. At others, I could feel her pain and yes, she admits it, annoyance. I really wanted to hear more from her about what she went through. She did cover a lot, but some of it seemed so clinical, so “and then this happened”, that I felt like I wanted to hear her yell and scream and throw things now and then. Oh, she loves her kids, there’s absolutely no doubt about that, but I really wanted to know more about how SHE felt.

I did, however, learn a LOT about Bipolar Disorder and learn that families can keep it together while going through horrible times. I cannot imagine how it must be for her to watch her youngest daughter and wonder… “will she get it too?”. I also want to know about that younger daughter. How is Monica today?

See, that’s kind of how I judge a memoir. If I am left wondering how a character is doing “today”, then it’s good. If I don’t care… well, then… not so much ๐Ÿ™‚ But I did end up caring for this family, all of them, her, her kids, her husband. It was a very interesting (and at times tense) look into a family and how they change and cope with the situation they are presented with.

This is very much well worth a read. Don’t get me wrong, I wish there was more, but there is plenty here to enjoy. I think it would be interesting to read something her daughter writers. What her “side” of the story was. However, I realize, it might be something she’s simply not able to do.

Read it if you are interested in mental disorders or just like memoirs. Worth a read!


When not one, but two, of Kate’s children were diagnosed with adolescent-onset bipolar disorder, her mind ran through all the images of crazy the media fed to her over the years. She saw Margot Kidder, naked and shorn, in the bushes of an LA suburb, Jack Nicholson, first in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and then shouting “Redrum!” in The Shining. She saw sad faces and damaged bodies in Girl, Interrupted and grew ever more frightened.

She couldn’t have known then that her children’s illnesses would deliver even more frightening and horrifying scenes. Nor could she have known that her family’s bipolar journey would spawn personal growth and spiritual changes likely unearned in a less extraordinary way.

Kate has lived and learned through cut wrists, overdoses, wee-hour 450 mile road trips, and hallucinations of black men emerging from a child’s lily-white leg. She’s lived and learned through mental ward stays, friend’s revulsion, years of keeping secrets, and the freedom of telling the truth. She’s learned to live with less judgment and more acceptance, less anger and more joy, less fear and more love.

2 Responses to “(Book) Mommy I’m Still in Here: Raising Children with Bipolar Disorder by Kate McLaughlin”

  1. Kate 12 December 2008 at 10:41 pm Permalink

    Thank you for taking the time to read MOMMY I’M STILL IN HERE and for writing your review. I really do appreciate it.

    I am pleased that you encourage your readers to read the book themselves, and that you gave it high marks. Although I am not a yeller, screamer or thrower by nature, your observation of my occasional emotional detachment is not only keen, but also spot-on. I was holding back the flood waters.

    As I wrote that manuscript, Michael, my son and second child to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was spiraling downward into ever-more-serious addiction issues. Ultimately, he became an IV heroin user. I worked hard to keep my wits about me, and that effort at control definitely seeped into the tone of the book.

    Fortunately, Michael is now clean and sober (could be another book!) and we are all quite well.

    To update:

    Chloe was married this year–to a doctor of neuroscience! He knows the brain intimately and loves Chloe’s. Talk about blessings.
    Michael recently married, had a son of his own and has remained clean and sober. HUGE progress for him.

    Monica is a junior in college and a division I athlete. She is happy and well, but doctors have warned that she must be very aware of her health when she no longer trains so intensely.

    Mark continues to excel at and enjoy his work; and I spend much of my time writing, speaking and advocating for mental health issues.
    Please visit my website at http://www.katemclaughlin.net, and thank you again!

    Kate McLaughlin

  2. Candy 13 December 2008 at 1:57 am Permalink

    Wow, thank you so much, Kate, for taking time to update me. I always feel weird when I review a memoir because I know the author might stumble across it, I’m glad my “detached” comment didn’t come off harsh ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m was glad to have the chance to read your book. It gave me a look into a world that I have limited knowledge about.

    Again – thank you SO much for the update. So many times I read a memoir and then cannot find any information and am just hanging (I need closure gosh-darn-it!). I’m so happy to hear that things seem to be going well for all of your children at the moment, and hopefully beyond. Your strength is amazing, they are definitely lucky to have you.

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