"Songs of Three Islands" is a beautifully written memoir, representing the stages in the lives of the Carnegie family, one of the richest in America, and their struggle with mental illness throughout the generations. It shares the struggles of five generations of women who have struggled with an illness that had no cure, and the effects it had on the family.
Millicent Monks boldly writes the story of her family, bringing this illness out in the open, in an attempt to bravely comfort others who are may be suffering from thoughts and feelings they don't always understand. In her own words It is a story of sorrow, sacrifice, and survival.
When Lucy Coleman Carnegie (b. 1904) was growing up. Her unruly and impulsive behavior brought grief, heartache, and gloom to the entire Carnegie family. Set against the backdrop of three islands, this book describes the devasting effects the disorder, (later identified as Borderline Personality Disorder (or BPD), had on the entire family.
For years, the family struggled with psychiatrists, therapists, family physicians, and support groups, in hopes of diagnosing the problem in the brain that is the cause of BPD in patients. The outbursts, obsessions, and the odd behavior, the strained relationships between mother and daughter, and the misunderstanding by all in the family of what these women were going through only added to the grief that the family experienced.
Understanding that BPD is not the fault of anyone, but rather, a medical condition running through generations of family, is the basis of this book. Having a child with BPD does not only touch one life, but the lives of the entire family. It can destroy families.
Life was an emotional jungle for the Carnegie women. The fantasy world of the mentally ill of this family is symbolically referred to as the North Wind, causing Millicent to become a determined advocate for persons with this condition, and their families.
In recent years, an interdisciplinary team of scientists at New York Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medical Center (one of the leading academic medical centers in the world) has gained a view of activity in key brain areas associated with BPD. Their research is shedding new light on this serious psychiatric condition. By using advanced brain scanning, technologies have developed that make it possible to detect the areas of the brain with the greatest sensitivity.
This book is truly a brave account of the struggles within the Carnegie family with mental illness, and the fight for understanding and answers through the generations. An enlightening read.
- Mary Simms
* * * * *
Would you like to read this incredible book? In the comments below, answer this question: "What tools do you use to deal with stressful situations in your own family?"
I will choose a winner on Friday, December 6th!