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Finding Sanity

In 1948, there was no medication for bipolar illness. Sufferers from the illness would live their lives – if they survived – in and out of asylums accumulating life’s wreckage around them. But late in 1948 that changed, when an Australian doctor, John Cade, discovered a treatment that has become the gold standard for bipolar illness – lithium.

John Cade changed the course of medicine with his discovery of lithium; yet today most doctors have never heard of his name. His discovery has stopped more people from committing suicide than a thousand helplines, yet few counsellors know of him. And it has saved hundreds of billions of dollars in healthcare costs – enough to rival a nation’s economy – but you can bet that no politician has the slightest idea of who John Cade was.

Lithium is the penicillin story of mental health; the first effective medication discovered for the treatment of a mental illness; and it is, without doubt, Australia’s greatest mental health story.

Not Right in the Head

Michelle Wyatt’s mum always joked with the family that if she ever developed Alzheimer’s like her own mother-Michelle’s grandmother-they should put her in a home and throw away the key. When she did ultimately succumb to the disease, the choice to put her in a nursing home became the only option. During the next six years, Michelle, a well-known television producer, visited her mum often while her dad kept a daily vigil in the nursing home.

What Michelle and her family discovered throughout these challenging times was that allowing themselves to see the funny side of the weird and wonderful things they witnessed while visiting her mum made a difficult journey just that little bit easier.

This memoir is a light-hearted but moving account of Michelle’s experience with her mum’s dementia-giving us an insight in how to cope compassionately, effectively and lastingly with a disease that affects over 850,000 people in the UK alone.