This Fragile Life (Review)

By Charlotte Pierce-Baker

What is the measure of a mother’s love? For many mothers we will go above and beyond to protect our children. But, Mrs. Baker’s patience and perseverance got her son Mark through the most difficult years of his life. Charlotte walks us through the turbulence of her son Mark’s bipolar illness and his struggles with alcohol and drug addiction. What I found so refreshing was that Mark was raised in a loving, two-parent household. His parents were upper middle-class citizens, highly-educated and very driven to give their only child, Mark, all the opportunities afforded an African American man in the 21st century.

Like many people who suffer from mental illness, his childhood and teenage years were considered “growing pains” and not taken too seriously. Mark excelled in academics and he proudly climbed the ranks to a promising young adult life filled with a prestigious college education and plans to start a family. But, like any illness that goes undiagnosed Mark reached his breaking point and recovery became an arduous uphill battle. There aren’t many stories about mental illness and how it affects black families. I was very excited to read something that not only shed some light on mental illness in the black community, but also provided a plan for wellness that included the whole family. Mark was not alone!

This Fragile Life was informative and compelling. Kay Redfield Jamison, the author of An Unquiet Mind and professor of psychiatry, said, “Together, mother and son make clear that bipolar illness is painful and often inexplicable to those who suffer from it, as well as to those who love them. But they also make clear that there is much that can be done to help and  that one need not be alone in one’s suffering. This Fragile Life is an important book.”

 

 

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His strength is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

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