Back From The Brink of Insanity by Dr. Rita Goh
This book is an autobiography of the late Dr. Rita Goh and chronicles in great detail her experiences with schizophrenia.
The author writes about her relatively normal growing up years all the way up to the age of 40 and it took 3 chapters before the schizophrenic episodes start.
From this, we learn that one is not born with the disease but that it can be developed, rather suddenly, at any point in one’s life.
She doesn’t mince her words and right from the get go, she writes about her hallucinations and constant paranoia, simply but vividly.
It was all rather depressing (until one gets to the end of the book). At this point, the title of the book becomes a misnomer because it is clear that she wasn’t at the brink of insanity but was fully immersed in the waters of madness.
She would often suspect that her closest friends and even her spouse were out to get her and always snapped at them. The author also reveals that her rolling around on the floor at home and constant, indiscriminate spitting were frequently witnessed by her family and friends. We also learn that “The Controller” or “TC” was an invisible entity she felt was communicating with her. TC was featured largely in most of her episodes with schizophrenia.
As her story progressed, her recovery process seemed rather miraculous to me and in her own words, she felt that it was “divine”. She doesn’t elaborate much but the reader is informed that it was the third visit to a counsellor that helped her climb out of the dark pit she was in. This is perhaps an encouragement for readers to not give up on the very first counsellor that doesn’t work out but to persevere until one finds someone who is a good fit.
She ends the book with some background information on schizophrenia which was rather informative.
However, this book is rather disjointed as the chapters do not flow smoothly into one another. The reader is tasked to piece together what happened in between events. If you are looking for a literary account of the mental illness, you might be disappointed as this is written simply, probably with the layman in mind.
Back From The Brink Of Insanity is otherwise a very easy to read book and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to delve into a first person account of a mind impacted by schizophrenia. You may perhaps have schizophrenia, are a caregiver or a friend of someone who is affected by it. This book will give you a deeper insight into what the schizophrenic patient goes through.
The book can be found in some public libraries, or you can order it directly from http://www.ritagoh.com/Books.html
Written by Rachel T., for The Tapestry Project SG.