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Submitted Literature

Lies in Silence

By S.J. Hart


In her personal story, Lies in Silence, S.J. Hart presents Bipolar and Co-Occurring Disorders as a genetic Molotov cocktail that explodes and consumes generations - the loved, the near and dear.  In telling it how it is, S.J. offers the reader a rough ride through the darkest sides of Bipolar and refrains from mapping out the consolations of creativity that sometimes accompany this challenging condition.  As such, the reader forestalls any judgement of literary merit - such an evaluation would seem perverse given the raw prose loaded with tragedy.  That this story is told is what matters and that we are afforded an emotional run at something any one of us would struggle to surmount.  This cannot be a book to enjoy except in its portrayal of awful clarity.  It is clearly, utterly humane and the sense of loss as S.J., her father and other family members are 'abducted' by Bipolar and have to fight to maintain a 'new normal' is very moving.  Frequently drawing on the language of disaster, even terrorism, S.J. gets to the heart of this particular affective disorder.  Lies in Silence is a searing account of a family's fragility and resilience in the face of genetic meltdown.

Key Themes:

  • Bipolar Affective Disorder

Significant Quotes / Pages

It was not clear to anyone what was happening to dad.  They were unaquainted with the 'cunning nature of what lies in silence.  The hidden storm crept into their presence - into dad's world - lurking and undetected.  It was concealed, invisible, and nameless, as it has been throughout its existence.' (p.2)

'Without a whisper, a powerful force crept quietly into my daddy's brain and held him captive.  It would no longer lie in silence, as the daddy I knew and loved with all my heart was gone.' (p.14)

'The disorder has now abducted more than ten of my family members.  I lost what once was a family with a future and now have only a future that was.' (p.17)

'I tried to come to grips with dad's suicide and, perhaps more hauntingly, the victims of his homicide.  In total, five people were dead.  Three church members, the minister, and my father.  I soon figured out that coming to grips is merely a phrase.  No grips came.' (p.45)

'Spiritually bankrupt.  Emotionally bankrupt.  Soulfully bankrupt.  Bankrupt of hope and optimism, while dreams slip through your hands.  All of these are ingredients for being a high risk for suicide.' (p.72)

'This was a suicidal theater in my mind.  A theater with no doors to leave and a motion picture on the reel that never stops rolling.  No director to yell cut.  No hot buttered popcorn, no box of snowcaps, no gummy bears, and no nachos with cheese.' (p.109)

'The majority of the clinical staff acted as if the patients were invisible.' (p.120)

'Looking at the other side of mental health was an eye-opener in such a negative and demoralizing way.  I was ashamed for my profession and worried about the mental health care for my family.' (p.128)

'I miss our old life.  I miss my old self.  I miss my children.  The losses continue to mount.  I ache for what my children must be experiencing, as I can barely handle this an educated adult.  They look at me and their dad for answers and comfort.  Nothing has been more painful than losing my children and watching their suffering while others lack compassion, understanding, and tolerance.' (p.152)

'As we watch the suicide rate climb, the murder rate climb, and violence in our communities rise, are we looking at the possible connection to untreated, treatment-resistant, or mistreated mental illness?'

Reference: S.J., Hart. 2009. Lies in Silence. Issues Press, 2009


Professor Paul Crawford
Date Review Submitted: Tuesday 28th July 2009