The Firing Line - A memoir of a family ablaze
Publisher: Ginninderra Press
The Firing Line is the compelling true story of a girl growing up with her family from the mid-1950s. The ensuing few decades become a time when everyday life for her mother, brother and sister, and herself, changed when their father became mentally ill with manic depressive psychosis (now known as bipolar disorder), and then became addicted to prescribed barbiturates washed down with alcohol. Anecdotes of happy and tragic times are dotted with spot fires, and actual fires. Striving for a ‘normal’ family the reader is taken on a journey through the vagaries of childhood, and turbulent teens into adulthood. An emotional roller-coaster of pathos, aggression and fear, is juxtaposed against humorous coping skills. Dreams, love and loss, collateral damage and resilience uncover the truth about nearly forgotten times ultimately pierced by indelible memories.
‘This interplay of such a tough and poignant personal and family biography with the living history of psychiatry traverses some of the most difficult and still contemporary issues in our mental health field. These include the interplay of attempts at a more power-sharing and humane approach to care and its ideological excesses, the stark realities of life in institutions and the intermittent abandonment of families in the community, while making our field’s early clumsy steps towards emancipation and community psychiatry. Fires of different kinds illuminate this work like a series of hilltop beacons lighting the way to a hopefully better future for people living with severe mental illnesses and their families. This is testament to the indomitable spirits of the author’s parents, and her own, underlining that such protracted episodes of buffeting family life can leave a legacy of taking on momentous challenges with enormous spirit and resilience in subsequent generations.’ - Professor Alan Rosen AO (Professorial Fellow, Illawarra Institute of Mental Health, University of Wollongong; Clinical Associate Professor, Brain & Mind Centre, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney)