By Kurt Sass
Sugar and Salt by Jane Thompson is her story of decades-long battles, setbacks and triumphs against bipolar disorder.
One thing that sets this book apart from other writings from people dealing with bipolar disorder (Manic Depressive Disorder) is that Ms. Thompson does not glamorize the manic phases of the disorder. I’ve read other people’s accounts of their bipolar disorder in which the emphasis is so heavily on the manic phases and the deeds done during those periods (shoplifting, wild sex-capades, etc.) it almost makes the outsider crave for a taste of the experience of the mania.
While it is true that many people do feel a burst of energy and creativity during a manic phase, Ms. Thompson gives the full picture of mania, inclusive of a constant state of confusion and inability to concentrate—she once went through a period having 27 jobs in 3 years—as well as extremely poor decision-making and its consequences. She does talk about hyper-sexuality during her manic periods, but not to glamorize it, yet to explain that during her mania she mistook this sex for love.
The other thing that sets this book apart from other writing from people with bipolar disorder is that she does not write only about her bipolar disorder. I have read other people’s accounts in which every single sentence was in relation to illness. It was refreshing to see that Ms. Thompson’s bipolar disorder does not define her, that it is only one part of her.
On a personal note, what really kept my interest was the many similarities between myself and Ms. Thompson. We both have battled bipolar disorder for decades, were both misdiagnosed for years, and both had parents that were never diagnosed. I am positive that anyone dealing with bipolar disorder can relate to Ms. Thompson’s story. I would particularly want to point out the appendix starting on page 155 for some very helpful advice.
In summary, I would recommend Sugar & Salt to anyone who would like an honest and accurate account of what it truly feels like to endure and live with bipolar disorder as well as anyone currently going through the disorder to see how a long-time member of the club has handled it successfully.