Swallow the Ocean: A Memoir

Swallow the Ocean: A Memoir

Today, we have barely scratched the surface of mental illness in all of its forms, but in the 1970s it was something to be ashamed of and hidden rather than treated. This is the world Laura Flynn grew up in. When her mother began losing her battle with paranoid schizophrenia, Laura and her siblings did their best to hang on to normalcy while placating their mother's delusions.


Her father left and Laura was forced to live in a world of stage demands and odd notions as her mother slipped further and further in delusion. Most people would have given up or ran away rather than deal with the prospect of life with a mentally ill parent, but Laura and her siblings fought hard to keep their mother in check and find safety as their mother became more violent.

 

Flynn captures the voice of her child in prose that is dreamy and introspective. She recounts experiences with the innocence of a child, but with the cold realization of an adult. The book is a glimpse of what life is like with someone is mentally ill. Today, her mother would have gotten treatment and understanding from society, but in the 1970s the mental problem was a mystery to scientists and therapists.

 

Flynn discusses how she and her family survived their mother delusional world to grown up to be stable and happy adults. Life wasn't easy, but their determination to survive in the face of danger makes for an interesting and thrilling read.