How can a three time Olympian, married woman and mother, successful motivational speaker and business woman become an escort in Las Vegas? Seems like a tale from a fictional fantasy book, but it is a true life story of Suzie Hamilton, a woman with undiagnosed and untreated bipolar disorder.
I have to admit that anytime I hear about someone writing a memoir who lives with bipolar disorder I immediately look to purchase the book and read incessantly until I finish. “Fast Girl” will definately raise your eyebrows and keep you turning the pages wondering, “how could any of this have happened to an All-American Girl?”
For those of you who live with bipolar disorder or have a loved one who lives with it, I believe you will understand. It is the extreme of manic behavior, which is partially triggered from taking an anti-depressant. I found that as warning number one for people who live bipolar disorder and who are improperly diagnosed with depression. We know that SSRI’s (like Zoloft) can trigger mania and that is what happened to Ms. Hamilton.
For the skeptics out there who do not believe that can happen, it is well documented in scientific literature.
The second lesson from the book is paying attention to one’s family history. Ms. Hamilton’s brother died by Suicide as a result of his bipolar disorder. Learning more about the illness and having discussions about the many symptoms may have prevented the author from having a difficult journey. But I do not fault her for not knowing because most of us have no idea we are dealing with a mental illness, because we typically are not educated enough in our culture about mental disorders.
The third lesson or insight is about how out of control and harmful behaviors can become during a manic episode. Anyone who lives with bipolar disorder can relate with his/her own personal story of how mania disrupted their lives.
Finally, even in the midst of complete public humiliation Suzy Hamilton was able to persevere and seek help for bipolar disorder. She was able to recover and is willing to share her very difficult journey with others. She has opened the dialogue about mental illness on a national stage and yet another conversation about mental illness can take place.
If you are looking to gain insights or just want to read a very interesting story, I highly recommend the book “Fast Girl.”