Facebook for a while now and read some of her touching blog posts, so when I was approached about reviewing her book, Patchwork Reality, I was pleased to accept.
What would you do if your husband was diagnosed with schizophrenia?
For years, Pauline didn't know what was wrong. It started out slowly, with her husband, Curtis, telling her that there were good people in the community who were watching out for them and would see to it that they had what they needed. That was a comforting thought, and this didn't raise any red flags for her. However, over time her husband became paranoid, talking about how they were pawns in a game and that they could win millions of dollars if they did everything exactly right. They could only visit so many stores when they ran errands, or put so many items in their grocery cart. Whenever Pauline would ask him why this was so important, he would take her on walks so they wouldn't be overheard, and he'd explain that it was a new rule in the game.
In some ways, it was easy to pretend that everything was fine, but as his illness progressed, relationships became endangered. He refused to speak to their children because he believed they were clones sent in by their enemies. He stopped speaking to his co-workers for the same reason. He eventually lost his job because he was spending hours locked in a closet at work, communicating with a machine that would give him more information about the game. On and on it went, with Pauline feeling lost and completely helpless to know what to do.
When they finally reached a diagnosis, treatment began, and now things are much smoother. Through it all, Pauline stayed by her husband's side, and in fact, the subtitle of the book is "happily married to a schizophrenic." This is a story of overcoming a debilitating illness as a family, seeking to hold on to eternal ties even when mortal things seem to be falling apart. Her blog continues that theme by relating struggles and yet incorporating moments of love and humor.
What I liked about this book - it was really interesting to read about his symptoms from her perspective, what she noticed and how it impacted her and the family. She was totally in the dark as to what was going on, but did her best to work with him even when she didn't understand. The love this couple has for each other was very evident throughout the story.
What I wished - I felt the book ended too abruptly. We go on a journey with this family and see the situation grow worse and worse until the issue is diagnosed, and then we get a very quick epilogue and we're done. I would have liked to see them go through treatment and find the right medication and start to put things back together before the book came to a conclusion. As I read, I kept thinking, "This will be a valuable resource for those who are struggling in the same way," but at the end, I thought, "If we'd seen more of that path to recovery, it would be an even greater resource so people could have an idea of what to expect when they seek treatment."
Overall, this was a fascinating read. This author has a clear writing style that was easy to follow and relate to, and I became emotionally invested in the people involved (part of what made it hard not to follow them through treatment). It's not an easy read, but it's quick because it grabs you and holds your attention. I'd definitely recommend it, especially if you're concerned about the well-being of a loved one and are seeking more information about how to help them.