A Kind of Magic by Anna Spargo-Ryan
The back of the book has a review quote from Clementine Ford, ‘Anna Spargo-Ryan writes with the kind of searing insight and beauty that both shatters your soul and also pieces it back together. I hope she never stops.’
This is truly a remarkable book, I’d give it 4+ stars (out of five) but nonetheless I found it difficult to read. The searing insight truly shattered my soul – it was painful, raw and oh so real. This was a definite real life story of someone going through experiences that at times seemed out of this world and yet were so relatably real they hurt.
This start to the New Year has been tough for me. It’s a true case of New Year, New Me, except I really really wish I could go back to the old me. The old me was a wife and mother. The new me is an ex-wife and ‘part-time’ mother. These were the two most important roles to me and although I’ll always be a full time mother, they both feel lost to me….and not by choice.
I’ve had about 6 months to get used to the idea but New Year (and probably post-Christmas stress) hit me again afresh (as I’m sure the grief will hit again and again for awhile).
This book was a gift from a friend who bought it online and had it sent to my address. I love this friend and really respect her reading recommendations, so even though it was difficult to get into I knew it would be worth it. And tbh, it wasn’t so much that it was difficult to get into (although sometimes it was) but moreso it was painfully raw. It felt a relief to put it away after a page or a section and was then at the same time difficult to reflect that as a person’s memoir I could set it aside, they can’t just set aside their life (or more specifically their mental illness)
The book is essneitally about the author Anna’s experience with anxiety, psychosis, borderline personality disorder and depression and it’s impact on her life.
Getting back to my ‘tough’ life, as I continued pressing on with my reading, I had days where I could identify my own symptoms of anxiety and depression coming to the fore. I don’t know if the book exacerbated them or if it was just where I was in life but whilst I could recognise and appreciate the excellent writing and truly insight, much needed voice of lived experience it was rather hard going.
There is much humour in how Anna writes but it really was quite close to the end before I truly felt a shift to optimism and ‘the magic of finding ourselves again’.
Each chapter began with a clinical or technical definition of an aspect of life with mental illness, a real juxtaposition to the honest lived experience shared.
…It’s now nearly the end of March – a testament to how long I can keep a tab open on my computer and avoid getting back to it! But there’s another post on my mind and I won’t let myself start that until this is posted. Thankfully I discover there’s enough here to be publish worthy (by whatever standard I choose to declare that). I had dog eared several pages in the book and intended to go through and share what made me do so but I’m going to pick just a few to share (and get this over and done with)…
“So I have to trust that it will abate. I have had to learn to wait. I have learned to be patient with my
fear.’ [Yes! I get this, and the below page too]
Lastly – we have to do better. These last two images show the shocking state of our support systems for mental illness in Australia – first an experience of an emergency room and the second acknowledgement of the luck of privilege [Sorry this post is a bit of mess – main message – lived experience memoirs rock and this one especially – thank you Anna Spargo-Ryan]