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Isn't it pretty?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Daughter of the Queen of Sheba

I just finished reading "Daughter of the Queen of Sheba" by Jacki Lyden, a longtime NPR correspondent. It is the story of a mother-daughter relationship turned upside down by bipolar disorder.

Jacki Lyden had to take care of her mother, the repeated refrain of "Jacki, cantcha come down" ringing in her ear over and over throughout the years. Her mother, long undiagnoses with bipolar disorder, cycled through manic and sane episodes that impacted the lives of her daughters as well as her own. Passionate and driver, Lyden's mother Delores, refuses to see her own insanity. She fights against every attempt at treatment, more than once requiring hospitalization to calm her mind and mania. When confronted with obstacle after obstacle, Delores clings on tenaciously to her tenuous grip with the outside world. Her relationship with her daughters is starkly portrayed - Delores must give over her maternal role to her daughters who are forced to care for her even when her wrath is turned upon them. From being dragged by Jacki from the side of the road during an icestorm to the application of "tough love" one Christmas that her daughters can't bring themselves to enforce, the familial connection that is present can not be broken. Underlying the frustration and anger portrayed in the book, Lyden manages to illustrate an even stronger force that holds the family together - LOVE.

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