“This Fragile Life” is the story of a bipolar son, through the lens of the mother.
The son, Mark, not only battles manic-depressive illness but also his drug and alcohol addiction.
During his manic phases, he becomes extremely paranoid and aggressive. He is convinced that people, even ones dear to him, are out to get him. This makes getting him into treatment very difficult.
Even once he has treatment, it is quite hard to get him to stick to his medication and therapy. Once one becomes dependent on alcohol and drugs to self-medicate, it can be hard to break that dependence. The substance abuse is a diagnosis of its own. Pairing it with a mood disorder only complicates the situation and the road to recovery.
Throughout the book, the mother shares her son’s writing, poems and short paragraphs showing how he felt during those troubling times.
The story shows how the illness impacts everyone: significant others, children, employers, parents, and friends.