Out of My Mind

22 May 2020

“Out of My Mind: A Psychologist’s Descent into Madness and Back”
by Shalom Camenietzki
Published by University of Regina Press
Review by Toby A. Welch
$24.95 ISBN 9780889776890

Don’t let the compactness of this pocket-sized book fool you – it packs a punch. 

Out of My Mind is a chronological journey with Camenietzki from the time his bipolar disorder symptoms first appeared at the age of 32 to his life now in his early 80s. As the decades go by, Camenietzki also suffers with serious bouts of depression, manic episodes, and suicidal contemplation. It is fascinating to step into his shoes and experience his struggles alongside him. 

Camenietzki tries a wide range of treatments in his quest to get mentally healthy. He runs the gamut from a constant string of medications to shock treatments to hospitalizations to a variety of counselling methods. Ultimately what helped him was the drug Seroquel, which was approved by Health Canada in 2010 as a possible treatment for bipolar disorder. 

To anyone who hasn’t suffered from mental illness, this book will be extremely eye-opening. Ever since Catherine Zeta-Jones announced in 2011 that she suffers from bipolar disorder, I’ve wondered what it would be like to live with the lifelong illness. This book answered all of my questions. 

As someone who hasn’t contemplated suicide, it was enlightening to learn how all-consuming the desire to take one’s life can be. As Camenietzki explains, “There’s nothing thoughtful or rational about suicide; it is, rather, driven by despair over one’s incapacity to mitigate physical or emotional suffering.” He delves much further into the painful realities in the book.

Camenietzki touches on the societal stigma of the mentally ill in Out of My Mind. Like him, I believe this is prevalent in our world and it shouldn’t be. But with books such as this one, I am hopeful that as a society we can chisel away at that stigma. Mental illness can attack anyone at any time. No one is immune.

On a side tangent, this book is an always-appreciated reminder to be gentle with our fellow humans. You never know what someone is going through so we need to be kind to one another. Even if a person appears to have it all together, that is often not the case. Most of us are struggling with something.

Out of My Mind is a part of The Regina Collection, a collection of books published by the University of Regina Press. The Regina Collection is “a tribute to Saskatchewan’s capital city’s rich history of boundary-defying innovation with books that aim to tell the stories of those who are caught up in social and political circumstances beyond their control.”

Mental illness is a hot topic these days so this book couldn’t have been released at a better time. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Out of My Mind; it will broaden your understanding of bipolar disorder and everything that goes along with it. 


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