Author: Sheila Hamilton
Genre: Non Fiction, Mental Health, Memoir
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
I missed much of the unfolding of my husband’s mental illness. By the time I’d pieced together the puzzle of who David actually was, he was falling apart.
All the Things We Never Knew is the powerful true tale of Sheila Hamilton’s struggle to understand and cope with her husband’s mental illness and suicide and its effect on her family. With the brutal benefit of hindsight, Hamilton walks you through their tumultuous relationship in its entirety and into the difficult years following David’s choice to end his life.
I don’t read non-fiction often, and I was bracing myself for clinical terminology when I began. But Hamilton’s narrative talent from years as a top reporter truly shines, and her prose transports you right into the moment. The writing is simply beautiful, especially for such a difficult subject matter. I loved how the chapters were snapshots of the past, told from the emotional perspective Hamilton recalls from the time interspersed with the new questions and answers that have arisen from the years of research she has now done into her husband’s bipolar disorder. Each chapter concludes with a brief article about topics such as suicide prevalence, “magic bullet” psychiatric drugs, and involuntary hospitalization. It’s such a powerful way to drive the facts home – by complementing them with her real life experiences.
This was a difficult and emotional read, but it is an incredibly important one. For someone who has had the fortune to never have lost a loved one to suicide or a serious mental illness, it is impossible to understand the complicated grieving process. Hamilton shares her insight in a beautifully candid and thought-provoking manner. If we ever want to be properly prepared to recognize the signs and symptoms and encourage others to seek treatment, it’s crucial that we end the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. I am so grateful for Hamilton’s courage to contribute by sharing her story with the world.
“Look to the living, love them, and hold on.”