'Life Interrupted': a compelling memoir about living with bipolar disorder

'Life Interrupted' is groundbreaking in the way the author shares the horrors of psychosis and unbounded mania, the fears of depression and the emergence of recovery

18 April 2019 - 12:25
'Life Interrupted' is a deeply compelling memoir that brilliantly humanises the sufferer beyond the label.
'Life Interrupted' is a deeply compelling memoir that brilliantly humanises the sufferer beyond the label.
Image: MF Books Joburg

It’s 1988. Schooldays have evaporated as a Boeing transports 18-year-old Samantha Smirin to her promising future in Europe, to spread her wings. Months later in London, Samantha experiences her first devastating manic episode. Within an hour, in a mental health specialist’s office, the doctor sends her blindfolded, without explanation, to her first of many disempowering stays in a mental health clinic.

I am swept away for the first time. There are many more to come. Times of disempowerment, of confusion as to why this is happening to me. Times when never-to-be-seen-again strangers, untrustworthy family, disloyal friends and deadly doctors snatch away my freedom and make decisions that reverberate throughout my life.

Samantha is stamped with a "bipolar" label that becomes the trajectory for her tortured existence.

For the next three decades she will wind through a maze of anguished suffering, accompanied by memory-effacing medical interventions in the form of electroconvulsive therapies, heaps of pills and repellent hallucinations.

As her helpless family and loved ones watch, often in terror, Samantha yo-yos between acceptance and denial of her diagnosis. Time and again, believing she is well, she plummets into the devastating chasm of her illness.

Through a series of enlightening encounters and hard-fought-for realisations, she finally manages to transform herself. Acceptance finds its breath, and so does she. Today, Samantha lives an inspiring life reclaimed.

Life Interrupted is a deeply compelling memoir that brilliantly humanises the sufferer beyond the label. It is groundbreaking in the way the author shares the horrors of psychosis and unbounded mania, the fears of depression and the emergence of recovery. This book will not only appeal to the more than over four million people diagnosed with bipolar in South Africa, but to the millions of people who are affected by loved ones with bipolar, as well as to everyone who reads it.

Samantha Smirin was born and grew up in Johannesburg. She is a graduate of the University of Cape Town. After attending the London International Film School she returned to South Africa, where she has worked as a producer and director in social health issues. Her work has focused on "real-life stories" of people living with challenges. She is also an exhibited artist. Today, she practises as a life coach for people living with bipolar and runs a support group assisting fellow sufferers. Life Interrupted is her debut memoir.

  • Article provided by MFBooks Joburg, an imprint of Jacana Media
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