Mental Illness, an Hour at a Time

I love to read! To me, reading is knowledge. It is the world at your fingertips. Unlike the Internet, you don’t need electricity or battery power to read. You just open the book and begin. Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Suess) said it all when he wrote Oh, the Places You Will Go!

When each of my daughters learned to read, I shed tears of joy. I knew I had limits to what I could teach them and I understood that they could learn anything they wanted from a book. In my view, they actively stepped into the world when they began to read.

For thirty years I have worked for a publisher that sells books to the trade market and some niche markets. At first I worked full-time for this publisher, but then the call to be an at-home mother was too great and I began freelancing. When my children were older and I returned to full-time work with a different publisher, I continued to freelance for the other.

Sometimes I copyedit a manuscript, while other times I proofread the first set of typeset pages. Like many editors, I have an ability to connect with authors in such a way that I step into their minds, so to speak, through their manuscript. I “become” the author and adapt my editing to each individual style. Obviously I enjoy it or I wouldn’t have done it all these years.

Over the course of my career I’ve read books that are interesting, philosophical, educational, enlightening, entertaining, sad and depressing, and even a few that are frightening. Some were excellent, many were so-so. This week I am working on a memoir about schizophrenia. And I must admit, this one is a challenge.

It’s a powerful story and well written. The author uses a lot of prose—metaphors, analogies, alliterations—easily teasing and cajoling the reader into the story being told. Generally I am a fast reader, sometimes speeding through a 300-plus page book between lunch and bedtime on a Saturday. But not this story. I quickly discovered that I can only read it an hour at a time, then I must put it down so I can ground myself back in reality. And what a blessed life I have that I can step into the world of mental illness for an hour at a time, learn about it, experience it, then walk away from it.

I have fifty pages left of my first read through and I’m hoping the second reading will go a little faster. And when I turn in my work next week, I will be a little wiser for having read this memoir. And for many weeks, maybe months, this story will stay with me as a reminder to count my blessings.

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3 thoughts on “Mental Illness, an Hour at a Time

  1. Is Mental Illness, An Hour at a Time the title of the book you are reading? Sounds really thought provoking. Memoirs are some of my very favorite books.

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