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The Unravelling: How Our Caregiving Safety Net Came Unstrung and We Were Left Grasping at Threads, Struggling to Plait a New One
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The Unravelling: How Our Caregiving Safety Net Came Unstrung and We Were Left Grasping at Threads, Struggling to Plait a New One

4.72  ·  Rating details ·  36 ratings  ·  13 reviews
In the follow-up to their award-winning memoir Bitter Medicine, brothers Clem and Olivier Martini continue the story of their family’s journey through mental illness, dementia, caregiving, and the health care system.

Olivier Martini and his mother, Catherine, have lived together since he was diagnosed with schizophrenia thirty-six years ago. It hasn’t always been a perfect
Published September 12th 2017 by FreeHand Books
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Mateen Mahboubi
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was certainly a tough read. I nearly want to copy my review of Bitter Medicine word for word because the Martini brothers have clearly gone through the worst of what our medical system has to offer. While both stories take place in Canada, I imagine that the family's dealing with mental health or elderly care will echo many people's experiences. Endless frustration with an underfunded and unprepared system that is soon to deal with a massive influx of people approaching the end of life. Cle ...more
Pat Hodge
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read Bitter Medicine and this book in rapid succession, and was so struck by the bravery of Clem and Olivier Martini in sharing their story. These books should be read by everyone interested in the issue of mental health and also how our mentally and physically disabled elderly are treated. Punctuated by the amazing illustrations by Olivier, Clem tells their family’s story in a deeply touching and at times humorous way. It is easy to read, and becomes a “page turner” as the reader is able to e ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to imagine one family having to deal with everything the Martini family has. Two of four brothers are diagnosed with schizophrenia (one of whom commits suicide), and then, years later, their once highly capable mother descends into dementia. The result is a family crisis that is not made any easier with all the difficulties involved in trying to navigate a health care system that really doesn't seem to prioritize either mental health or aging issues. As a person with a family member wh ...more
Like a good number of the books I read, I came across this by chance and I'm glad I did. The Unravelling is the story of a family's health crisis in the face of the disintegration of the Canadian health care system. The Martini family have built a careful safety net to support their brother/son Olivier (Liv) who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his 20s. He and his mother have lived together with help from his older brothers on an as-needed basis. But his mother Catherine begins developing dem ...more
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very poignant, heart wrenching and quite sad memoir. As a fellow Canadian I can relate to the difficulties dealing with the health care system. It should be mandatory reading material for healthcare workers to read.
"This isn't about (being) good or bad, or succeeding or failing. It's about aging and a really unfair disorder" and "You think you're in control of your life. You believe you have notion of how the future is unfolding. And then one day everything comes apart -- all your plans so much
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had to read this book for one of my nursing classes, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was interesting to read from the caregiver's perspectives on both dementia and schizophrenia and the family's resilience and lack of accessibility for health care resources in Canada.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in working in the health care field! :)
Wilhelmina Hoftyzer
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a superb book! Clem Martini accurately accounts the struggles of his family, and in doing so, is telling the stories of so many others in our society, in our country. I finished this book in one sitting, relating with him on all events which have occurred to him and his family. Although I do not have a schizophrenic brother, the account of dementia is so accurate........the warehousing of the elderly, the for profit systems taking the "better" patients, poorly paid and overworked staff. I a ...more
Joanne Mcleod
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An uncomfortable and very sad commentary on the large deficits in our communities and healthcare systems in regards to care of the elderly and people with mental illness. An uncomfortable but very necessary narrative to hear and work together to try and improve for the eventual betterment of everyone. For if we live long enough no one is spared dealing with these issues for themselves or in the people we love and will care for.
Sasha Boersma
Continuation of their beautiful first book “Bitter Medicine”, this time looking at helping their mother through dementia, while supporting book illustrator Oliver through coping with the change in his living situation.
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting read. A moving story of a family's struggle with the healthcare system on multiple counts. I felt frustrated and upset for them, but was moved by their love for one another and ther determination. It really shows how you need to keep advocating. ...more
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sadly, this was so familiar to me. It is a very accurate depiction of dealing with the health care system, where the professionals don't talk to the family or each other. ...more
Anne Logan
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ll admit I was dreading reading this book. It’s a memoir based on the lives of Clem Martini, his brother Olivier Martini and their mother Catherine. It includes haunting, beautiful images drawn by Olivier, who suffers from schizophrenia (although based on the book, seems to be doing an admirable job of managing it, contributing to society in a way others may not even have believed possible), and text written by Clem describing their ongoing trials with the Canadian health care system while dea ...more
Jason Mehmel
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful portrait of the family experience of care-giving with mental health. Both a very detailed examination of the situations families find themselves in, and a heartwrenching meditation on the effect the whole experience has on the family.
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