Sunday, February 21, 2010

Book Review: Blessed with Bipolar

Title: Blessed with Bipolar: 36 God-Given Gifts of Manic-Depression
Author: Richard Jarzynka
Genre: Memoir/Christian Inspiration
ISBN: 978-60791-888-2
Publication Date: July 2009
Pages: 380
Price: $20.99
Publisher: Xulon Press

Blessed with Bipolar is a decidedly fundamentalist Christian memoir, with the author telling of his ability to speak in angelic language or tongues when in prayer. He reminds the reader of his fervent Christian beliefs via paraphrased arguments with a friend, Ephraim and an anonymous professor who engage him with questions about Christianity. Jarzynka’s Christian faith clearly serves to sooth the extremes of his personality.

Richard Jarzynka doesn’t mind being called crazy, screwy, goofy, or loony, if fact, when he’s in a good mood, he apparently has a good sense of humor. The trouble is his moods can get completely out of his control and swing from jovial & energetic to angry & abusive in the blink of an eye.

The gifts of being a manic-depressive number at least 36 according to Jarzynka. Even with medication, Jarzynka recounts periods of ups and downs: increased energy and bursts of thoughts then the blues and inability to function for days at a time. Truly the swings are severe. As he tells his story it becomes obvious that he is not only a highly intelligent man but also quite sensitive and caring. Not unlike the description of Ludwig von Beethoven who was known to scream in fits of anger then apologize profusely and repentantly create fabulous music during energetic episodes.

Still one wonders perhaps if Jarzynka attributes more than is necessary to his bipolar status. In some of the instances he tells of his confrontations with people, authority in particular. Without witnessing or having the other person’s side, it would seem that he was just standing up for himself or for others. While this is out of the ordinary for the average person to confront authority, I don’t know that I would attribute it to his bipolar status but more to an innate sense of justice and tremendous bravery to stand up with someone else in the face of a frowning authority figure.

By 46, he earned merit-scholarships, athletic scholarships (the ups) and suffered not only hospitalizations but also intense discrimination (the downs) which culminated in his expulsion from law school and subsequent defeat in fighting the authority of the Dean to do so. A principled man, Jarzynka tells how he has overcome the devastation of his condition which he considers God-given and has turned his bipolar nature into a testimony of faith and shares his time and insight with others as a testament of God’s love for each unique individual, regardless of quirks, or idiosyncrasies.

Christian Inspirational memoir based in Assemblies of God philosophical approach.

Review Copy provided free.