Sonia Mcintosh's Reviews > Flying with Paper Wings: Recollections on Living with Madness

Flying with Paper Wings by Sandy Jeffs
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Feb 05, 2012

really liked it

Sandy Jeffs has written a very readable book that gives readers an insight of what it is like to live with a mental illness. Sandy's life hasn't been easy. She grew up in rural Australia in a home marked with domestic violence and alcoholism. She overcame a stammer as a child and had to deal with a traumatic experience of sexual abuse as a young teenager. Leaving all this behind she begins a new life in the city to attend university. However this new life soon falls apart with the onset of schizophrenia. Sandy shares what it was like to be floridly psychotic, what it was like to be highly medicated, her experiences of institutions and the continual fear of falling into madness again when she was balanced well with medication.

One of the things that Sandy shares throughout the books is her poetry. It was, and still is, something that she used to express her emotions, her confusion, her pain, her sadness and her anger. Sandy still struggles against schizophrenia, and it is a daily challenge to find the balance between medication and madness. Through her poetry and writing Sandy has become an advocate for those with mental illness and the improvement of mental health services in Australia and speaks regularly of her experiences.

Overall the tone of the book is sombre – there is a lot of pain in this book. However now Sandy can look at her illness and the things that she has achieved with her poetry and writing and wonder if it wasn't for schizophrenia would she have been able to achieve this. As the reader I was left with the feeling of strength in the way that Sandy manages her madness, with the support of long term friends, of good doctors and with her ability to reflect and share her journey
8/10
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