The Ghost Garden PDF í The Ghost MOBI :ß

The Ghost Garden [PDF / EPUB] The Ghost Garden A rare work of narrative non fiction that illuminates a world most of us try not to see the daily lives of the severely mentally ill who are medicated marginalized locked away and shunned Susan Dohert A rare work of narrative non fiction that illuminates a world most of us try not to see the daily lives of the severely mentally ill who are medicated marginalized locked away The Ghost MOBI :ß and shunned Susan Doherty's groundbreaking book brings us a population of lost souls ill served by society feared shunted from locked wards to rooming houses to the streets to jail and back again For the past ten years some of the people who cycle in and out of the severely ill wards of the Douglas Institute in Montreal have found a friend in Susan who volunteers on the ward and then follows her friends out into the world as they struggle to get through their days With their full cooperation she brings us their stories which challenge the ways we think about people with mental illness on every page The spine of the book is the life of Caroline Evans not her real name a woman in her early sixties whom Susan has known since she was a bright and sunny school girl Caroline has given Susan complete access to her medical files and her court records; through her we experience what living with schizophrenia over time is really like She has been through it all including the way the justice system treats the severely mentally ill at one point she believed that she could save her roommate from the devil by pouring boiling water into her ear Susan interleaves Caroline's story with vignettes about her other friends human stories that reveal their hopes their circumstances their personalities their humanity She's found that if she can hang in through the first ten to fifteen minutes of every coffee date with someone in the grip of psychosis then true communication results Their madness is not otherworldly instead it tells us something about how they're surviving their lives and what they've been through The Ghost Garden is not only touching but carries a cargo of compassion and empathy.


10 thoughts on “The Ghost Garden

  1. says:

    I didn't set out to do this but I have inadvertently created a forum that allowed the psychologically afflicted medicated or self medicated the walking wounded to voice their truths Those who are ignored and stepped around on the streets the homeless who cycle in and out of wards and through rooming houses are hardly seen as human and are left to wander in a ghost garden – an interior haven where emotional pain can be suppressed In 2009 after author Susan Doherty spent months researching the history of mental illness treatment in the archives of Montreal's Douglas Institute she decided to give back to the facility by volunteering her time Doherty assumed she would be given some clerical duties and was surprised when she was asked to simply spend time with one of the residents a woman with schizophrenia whom Doherty calls “Camilla” all of the patients and their families in The Ghost Garden have had their names changed for privacy Doherty writes that she and Camilla became friends that day and in the ten years since the author has become friends with many other of the Douglas Institute's severely mentally ill patients; taking their calls at all hours of the day and night; keeping in touch with those who return to the community; giving physical human contact to the feared and marginalised – many of whom with no one else who will take those calls or hold their hands Meanwhile a woman that the author grew up with contacted Doherty and after explaining that her own sister has struggled with schizophrenia for over thirty years offered the author access to “Caroline's” medical files interviews with the family and time with Caroline herself in order to trace one person's entire history of the disease's onset efforts at management its effects on social and domestic relationships etc The book that resulted is mainly Caroline's story – and it is thorough and honest and affecting – interspersed with what Doherty calls eighteen “vignettes” brief sketches of some of the other troubled friends she has made in the past decade of her volunteer work This book is kind of amazing – forcing us to look closely at the kind of people that we usually avert our eyes from; forcing us to recognise the people behind the illness There's nothing prettified in this narrative – there are body fluids and violence and families pushed to the brink – but it's also not a gratuitous freak show schizophrenia is an aspect of the human story and Doherty is simply asking us to recognise that fact Amazing Note I read an ARC and passages uoted may not be in their final forms Psychosis does not discriminate The worldwide prevalence of schizophrenia is one percent across all nationalities professions income brackets Schizophrenia is not the domain of the needy neglected poor the marginalized lower classes but its sufferers can uickly descend to rungs reserved for the downgraded I don't want to go over all of Caroline's story but I will note that she was from a well off family in Montreal's Westmount neighbourhood one of ten siblings born to a respected doctor and his homemaking wife When she began to exhibit signs of mental illness Caroline's parents reacted with shame and denial her father's sister had been institutionalised but neither that fact nor his medical expertise garnered Caroline any understanding from him and ultimately Caroline became so abusive and embarrassing that she drove away all of her family except for a couple of sisters Throughout all of Caroline's story and the vignettes Doherty is never judgmental about how families deal with a mentally ill member; always stressing that schizophrenia is a series of never ending and all consuming tidal waves that some people understandably eventually need to shield themselves from There are stories of parents who cut off contact with their schizophrenic children parents desperately searching for the schizophrenic children who cut them off and stories of those who have been left with no one Caroline herself has a huge heart and a desire to care for everyone around her but when she's suffering a psychotic episode she hurls accusations of neglect and imagined sexual abuse at family members – which has left her isolated from everyone she wants to pour her love into The book's title comes from one of Doherty's friends Aleks who is essentially alone in the world but who often reports that he has spent the night with his girlfriend Jennifer Love Hewitt When Doherty teasingly asked Aleks where the two of them meet he replied “Susie I met her in the Ghost Garden It's where I meet all the souls of people I love” I had to marvel Aleks had just given me another gift access to the hidden realms of mental illness With that gentle correction he'd shown me that a place of comfort exists for many who suffer from schizophrenia an alternate world as real as Dorothy's Oz So often we see the severely mentally ill as less than fully formed human beings as ghosts of their “normal” selves As ghosts they can appear to be inanimate unreachable and frightening but they like all of us tend an interior garden that is lushly alive With the knowledge that Doherty has gleaned from her encounters with Caroline and others who are afflicted with schizophrenia she has come to some perhaps controversial opinions about overmedicating the disorder Caroline has never found a perfect pharmaceutical cocktail – and the brain numbing side effects of what she has been prescribed prompted every one of her relapses when she has decided to stop her meds – and as Doherty sees it the main goal of an institution at the moment of admitting someone who is displaying a violent psychotic break is to immediately subdue and sedate to prevent harm to the self and others Although Caroline has admittedly had many caring and hands on teams working with her in institutions over the years Doherty notes the ineffectiveness of the drugs to keep her safe and stable after her eventual release into the community Doherty takes a couple of swipes at “Big Pharma” specifically calling out one company that markets both an antipsychotic and a drug to manage the diabetes that that antipsychotic causes and uotes one of Caroline's sons when he recalls his disbelief that Caroline in a diminished mental state was ever able to consent to shock therapy and ultimately Doherty concludes that even today not enough is known about schizophrenia or how to control it and in the case of creative geniuses uestions the necessity of suppressing it A crisis reveals the mind's need to fix something that has been damaged Psychosis is a sign of that need for repair just as a fractured bone can be a signal of insufficient calcium Without a psychotic break there is no indication of the problem and so no opportunity to address the issue But when the breakdown is treated only with medication the person suffering has no chance to dig into what's going wrong Despite calling for alternatives Doherty does ultimately conclude “Clearly there are times when the drugs are beneficial” At the margins of every one of these stories is Doherty herself someone who was initially scared to death to be asked to visit a ward for the severely mentally ill; someone who eventually befriended emotionally supported and held the hands of suffering humans who had no one else I find that to be an impressive and inspirational transformation and the book she made out of this experience has educated and changed me Kind of amazing I'll end on a favourite uote attributed to the therapist of a schizophrenic's parents that I couldn't fit in anywhere Living with a child with schizophrenia who isn't capable of accepting treatment is like eating a hippopotamus The solution lies in the number of people at the table willing to take one bite at a time


  2. says:

    Life changing heart breaking importantThe mentally ill are so often seen by the society as walking diagnoses Doherty's book the stories of real people behind the diagnosis of schizophrenia is extremely unusual in its approach she talks about those diagnoses as if they were human It doesn't sound like a lotbut it isDoherty tells a story of Caroline a schizophrenic woman Caroline's family children life The dirty the raw the beautiful the heart breaking parts are all there as Doherty does her utmost best to avoid judging those who were let's say less kind towards Caroline than others But that's not all The author has been volunteering working with the mentally ill since 2009 She met a lot of people each of whom had – has – a story All of those lives share one characteristic lonelinessAndrea Being heard was usually all it took to bring her back to safety Aleks Somerset Maugham once wrote that tolerance is nothing but indifference Aleks has been tolerated for far too long Thomas I realised every person in that room just wanted to be seen as a human being that their hearts were no different than any human heart Sounds so simple Why isn't it then?It's so difficult for me to avoid the phrase those people which so neatly divides Us from Them Normals from Schizos But most mentally ill people know that they are ill They too have dreams urges needs the biggest of which is the same one that we all share to love and be loved It's a bitter pill to swallow writes Doherty especially for those who had lofty dreams the pre med students and engineers the writers and musicians and athletes who left adolescence with aspirations Some of us want to look really good to become a pop star or Instagram influencer some dream of being able to eat a warm meal every day The illness robs people of all of those dreams A lot of people with schizophrenia have nobody to take care of them and nothing left ending up homeless Alcohol and drugs are their only escape from their own mind the gulag in which they are permanently locked where the guards – their own thoughts – are sometimes polite and distant only to attack violently for no reason the next dayThe topic of medication is approached very carefully as Doherty struggles not to let her personal views affect her writing which is both warm and impartial filled with sympathy for the people on both sides of the hospital door She cites an anecdote about a psychiatrist who used to prescribe antipsychotics until she too found herself in the middle of a psychotic episode and her colleagues prescribed the very same drugs to her For the first time the doctor found out how the patients actually feel both when medicated and not Mental illness is not a simple cold or a broken leg You can't see it touch it x ray it Psychiatrists do not know how or why the meds work or even whether they do or not That particular doctor's approach to drugs had changed radically once she had tried her own medicine sorry Experiencing a drug is a very different thing from reading about itIt's not the doctor's fault It's not even Big Pharma's fault although the author does remark that Eli Lilly produces both a medication the side effect of which is diabetes AND the insulin that diabetics need cashing in twice Psychiatry is in its Bronze Age and I am being extremely polite here We don't understand why the right level of antidepressants in the brain is reached within hours yet they take weeks to work or not Antipsychotics to a large degree are simply sedatives that allow both the sufferer and their family to wait out the episode in relative safety But hugs phone calls text messages visits are not only invented tested available even popular among normal people The need to be seen and loved unconditionally applies to those with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses as well Them Me You UsThe author emphasises many times how difficult it is to be on both sides of this euation Both those who need care and who provide it often suffer terribly if in different ways Caroline's sisters are in terrible pain when they see how their sister's life has unfolded and how much she is forced to rely on kindness of strangers Her brothers decide Caroline is not their problem Sometimes her mind tells her that she has been sexually abused by or less everyone she had ever met Sometimes it just reminds her about her horrible weight gain – side effect of medication; the fact that she is almost always alone; that the voices she hears will go away but they will always return Her sisters can clean up the apartment wash her clothes but at the end of the day they go home Caroline remains locked inside her brain Whether she's physically located in a hospital or in a hotel her feelings dreams needs have no home to go to to escape the broken mind that torments herI firmly believe that people with mental illness are the toughest of warriors because their battle never ends You can escape an abusive partner mobbing etc no matter how difficult it sometimes is People whose own mind is their own enemy have nowhere to go Even if physically they are being taken care of at the end of the day they will always have to deal with the thoughts voices inabilities that so many of us take for granted It's easy to despise or laugh at someone who believes FBI are watching them through the TV treat those beliefs as a funny anecdote It's harder to imagine ourselves in the shoes of Caroline Aleks Andrea and so many others Doherty writes aboutOne of the acts of kindness that Doherty provides to people she is writing about is simply her presence and a listening ear It's not easy especially when there are twenty or thirty people relying on her calling at the strangest times of day or night If there were people like her the world would be a better place But the world is what it is and people are who they are both those whose biggest problem is what to wear tomorrow and those who are being watched by FBI through their television sets We are all human We share similar struggles and needs Unfortunately unconditional love hugs kindness even basic politeness are not available from pharmacies


  3. says:

    The Ghost Garden reminded me of another recently read good book The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksSusan Doherty's The Ghost Garden is a result of a lot of intense research patience and commitment This work of nonfiction follows many people who are living with mental illness with a particular focus on the story of Caroline


  4. says:

    I loved this book I normally prefer reading fiction as I normally find non fiction dry The Ghost Garden was anything but The story was gripping and very well written filled with metaphors and perfectly chosen words I learned much about the terrible disease of schizophrenia but never felt I was being lectured to I became engrossed in the story of everyday people that were placed in terrible circumstances and couldn't put the book down because I cared so much about them The vingettes that interspersed the main story provided welcome relief to a very intense narrative and helped demonstrate the fact that this disease is not an obscure phenomenon that affects individuals with poor genetic background or upbringing but can and does strike people from many different circumstances And that like every human individuals with schizophrenia crave relationships and life with meaning As I turned the last page I wanted to read this book again because I knew that the people that Susan Doherty wrote about had lots to teach me and I wanted to make sure I hadn't missed out on any important lessons


  5. says:

    Susan Doherty's The Ghost Garden offers wonderful insights into the lives of people suffering from mental illness and does so in a way that does not demean them or devalue their humanity If anything Doherty elevates the people whose journeys she follows to a level where the average person can begin to understand them For a group that it is far too often shunned even by their families this is a blessing Thank you Susan Doherty for having the courage and the compassion to place yourself in the midst of those so marginalized by society and to tell their stories with such elouence and resounding honesty


  6. says:

    Having just finished this amazing book I am so overcome with sadness that I cannot put my thoughts together to write a review at this moment I will highly recommend to all


  7. says:

    I sat down to read The Ghost Garden with anticipation here I was about to invite a new set of characters into my life and they in turn about to invite me into theirs What I did not anticipate is how much these characters would reflect different parts of me I have been Isabel Arthur Rosalind Ian and when I was much younger there's a part of me that was Caroline Who hasn’t experienced Isabel’s fear when confronted by mental illness? Who hasn’t experienced Arthur’s anger resentment and bewilderment when mental illness creeps into the home and threatens the sanctity of whatever normalcy we can hold onto? Who hasn't like Rosalind and Caroline's other siblings offered support and kindness and not experienced an underlying resentment or a nagging suspicion that perhaps we are being manipulated? Who hasn’t recognized a part of themselves in Caroline? We are each of us incredibly fragile and sometimes we escape going down one path by nothing than a lucky twist in our path The truth is we all inhabit the ghost garden When we walk by someone in distress not only do we perceive this someone as less than “fully formed” but we ourselves behave as less than fully formed What is fully formed than an untainted empathy and compassion for our fellow human beings? What is fully formed than the words I am here and I am willing to listen and to learn? What is fully formed than recognizing that someone else's fragility mirrors our own?Susan Doherty’s book has made me realize that the next time I think of someone as crazy I need to call myself out The next time I hear someone else call someone crazy instead of politely laughing or even agreeing I need to call both of us out It is by pointing out our misperceptions that we can begin to help each other become fully formed so that we may together enter a reality not occupied by ghostsOnly a great book can change your perception and make you realize something about yourselfAthena Paradissis


  8. says:

    Note I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review I read this book primarily as a way to do research for my own book a science fiction novel with a main character sent to a state mental hospital where he meets and spends a lot of time with a character who has schizophrenia Ghost Garden provided what my in person on foot research had not details about what it's actually like to live with the illness and what the inside of a mental hospital might look like More than that though it provided an amazingly deep view into the lives of people who suffer from schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses It did so with compassion for the sufferers and lack of judgement of the family membersHaving had a brother in law who succumbed to severe mental illness loving several people with moderate mental illness and having depression myself I know that no matter the type of illness and the severity it can be an incredibly complicated journey just to get to diagnosis And that journey often becomes even so after It's miserable for the sufferer but it's also unspeakably difficult for the family members tasked with trying to help their loved one It's heartbreaking to think that Ghost Garden depicting not only Caroline and her family's journey but also several others' is but a fraction of the whole bramble of lives distorted trapped and siderailed by mental illness; governmental and societal mental health treatment infrastructures rendered inadeuate by insufficient funding and understanding; pharmaceutical approaches that have made a huge difference but still have a long way to go; and family support systems that can be difficult to discoverHopefully though Doherty's fluid and compassionate writing will become a springboard upon which to build awareness and encourage discussion about an issue that affects so many so deeply


  9. says:

    I read this book in one sitting which I rarely do Aside from the fact that it's compelling gripping and absolutely 'unputdownable' it also stirred emotions that have stayed with me long after I finished it In both my work and my personal life I spend a lot of time with people with severe mental health challenges; Susan's perspective has made me look beyond their illnesses to their selves I also applaud the Evans family for their courage in telling their story This is a Tour de Force do not miss it


  10. says:

    What an extraordinary book Susan's compassion generosity and warmth for these tortured souls and their families is evident throughout The stories are sad at best and nightmarish at worst Yet Susan's insistence on hope and human touch save the book from utter despair Very glad I read this


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