Fragile Minds: An Advocate's Story
5 Stars from Reader Views *****
by Leigh Kimberly Zoby for Reader Views 12/2022
"Fragile Minds: An Advocate's Story" by Diane Lane Chambers sheds light on how our Government's legislature ties the hands of both families and healthcare facilities trying to help people with serious mental issues. Currently, a person can only be held for seventy-two hours for observation unless the patient themselves signs legal forms requesting care. After that period of time they are released back onto the streets despite being a danger to themselves or others. Ms. Chambers' forty years of experience as a sign language interpreter has brought her to the front lines of this crisis. It is through her first-hand accounts the reader discovers the revolving door of untreated mental illness and governmental red tape preventing real results.
Ms. Chambers expertly introduces her readers to events in the daily life of an interpreter assigned to patients within half-way houses, jails, and mental rehabilitation facilities. The accounting of her experiences is told in an entertaining, informative, and easy to follow manner. The patients and staff seem to come to life as you discover their backstories and oddities of their behavior. I especially like the story of Carlos and found myself personally concerned about his safety and mental wellbeing.
Author Diane Chambers holds the hands of her readers, educating them as they walk the hallways of mental healthcare facilities bursting at the seams with patients. The scenes settings paint vivid pictures for the reader to follow. Being from Colorado myself, I felt shaken when the Columbine High School and the Aurora Batman Movie Theater mass shootings were used as examples which result from untreated psychosis. I had forgotten the panic and fear I felt that night as I frantically called looking for my children. Now, once again, tears are streaming down my face.
Every American understands there is a national crisis within our county's mental healthcare system. The dilemma is what we can do to resolve this growing problem. Reading "Fragile Minds: An Advocate's Story" is a step in the right direction to finding that solution. This is an incredible book which I strongly recommend and feel is a necessary subject that shouts “enough is enough.”
Fragile Minds: An Advocate's Story
5 Stars from Readers' Favorite *****
by Ankita Shukla, Readers' Favorite, September 2022
In her memoir, Diane Lane Chambers frankly converses with her readers about the many ways US law is unjust to people who struggle with a mental illness and also to their loved ones. In Diane's career as a professional sign language interpreter, she had the opportunity to work with patients at psychiatric facilities. These real-life experiences presented her with horrifying flaws in the current system. Whether it was the revolving door problem or the law that prohibited someone from being held in a psychiatric facility longer than 72 hours without their consent, Fragile Minds: An Advocate's Story provides a deep insight into how our current system has failed the people struggling with mental illness. The expectation of consent from a person with jumbled thoughts and incoherent emotions is nonsensical at best and cruel at worst.
Although Fragile Minds attempts to find justice for those who can't seek it for themselves, this memoir is not just about this one aspect. Diane Lane Chambers has dug into her extensive life experiences and presented several heartfelt anecdotes, creating an air of empathy. Her battle with breast cancer, the despair of losing her best friends, and her excruciating struggle with anxiety and depression are some of those honest admissions that create a bond between the author and readers. She doesn't try to place herself in a 'mightier than thou' position; instead, she expresses her failures, insecurities, and small victories to become more relatable. Her experiences with Cindy are both frustrating and entertaining. She has tied together the best and the worst of her ventures. In a conversational tone, sharing various incidents, and staying clear of a preachy style, Chambers has crafted the most effective memoir that supports a worthy cause. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy reading a real-life story about a social issue.
Fragile Minds: An Advocate's Story
Book Watch Review
by Diane Donovan, Editor, Donovan's Literary Services
Fragile Minds: An Advocate's Story is a memoir that journeys through bipolar disorder and mental illness. It tells of a family history of mental illness that affects Diane Lane Chambers in her fifties.
She'd been diagnosed with breast cancer, finished treatment, and become involved with fellow survivors, only to experience repeated deaths as her new friends lose their battles with cancer.
The road from repeated grief and loss creates a downward slide into mental instability: "They say there’s a link between stressful events and susceptibility to illness. The death of a loved one is one of the top 10 stressors. I hadn’t realized it, but the death of my father shortly after my cancer diagnosis, coupled with the loss of two friends from breast cancer, and then my beloved Bert, had taken a huge toll on me. I began spiraling downhill, aware that something was very wrong with me, but I had no idea what it was."
Her condition belayed her perceptions of what depression was and how it presented in life, and so Chambers missed many of the early signs that something was very wrong, until her illness could no longer be denied.
As she became more aware and knowledgeable about not only her own condition, but medical and government responses within the mental health system, Chambers came to realize the need to write about her experiences and revelations. And so Fragile Minds was born to tackle the issues not just from a patient's perspective, but from an advocate's mindset.
This approach sets Fragile Minds apart from many memoirs about mental illness. From her work on psych wards and the encounters with staff and patients that led to a startling revelation that many with severe mental illnesses were not being helped, but harmed, to her evolving fight for reforms and change, Fragile Minds juxtaposes personal and community thinking in a thought-provoking manner.
Readers who anticipate another memoir steeped in self-analysis will find that Fragile Minds differs from most. It juxtaposes discussions of mental illness, self-revelation and analysis, and greater involvement in community-building efforts.
Chambers takes the needed next step in moving beyond her experiences to address mental health system failures and how to address and correct them. Portraits of other sufferers contrast different experiences with the types of changes Chambers seeks to make through her own efforts and those of advocacy programs.
The result is a wide-ranging memoir that deserves not only placement in any library strong in mental health memoirs, but those interested in community issues and health community challenges.
Ideally, it will not repose on such shelves, but will become a flash point of conversation for book clubs, advocacy groups, and mental illness treatment professionals who will see in its stories and examples the roots of positive change.
Fragile Minds: An Advocate's Story
Review by Clayton E. Cramer, M.A, MA, History Adjunct Instructor, College of Western Idaho, author, My Brother Ron
"It is very easy for theorists to imagine people with severe mental illness as just being slightly eccentric, not really that different from the rest of us. Diane Chambers' collection of stories of interpreting for deaf mentally ill people should correct that fantasy. With love and concern, she recounts her encounters with people suffering both severe mental illness and deafness (and for one person, deaf, blind, and mentally ill). There are moments of humor that relieve what might otherwise be a sequence of tragedies. Her concern for the unmet needs of the severely mentally ill should cause all decent people to demand their state governments stop hiding behind a fantasy that puts hundreds of thousands of Americans in short-term mental care, often tragically ineffective group homes, and often as not, homeless until some incident, often criminal, again starts them on the revolving door of inadequate care."
Fragile Minds: An Advocate's Story
by Beeny Elno
5.0 out of 5 stars
October 15, 2022
Kudos Upon Kudos! I read Fragile Minds this weekend. This book took me into environments I've never experienced and shows how neglect of mental health results in mass catastrophes -- although many tools exist to deal with mental illness. Diane Lane Chambers shows how advocacy really can convince Congress to almost unanimously make improvements. All told through the eyes of one in a rare occupation: an American Sign Language Interpreter.
History: Defunding mental health reduced number of beds for mentally ill, but the percentage of mentally ill people did not decrease. Prisons take over for many.
Disciplines: Occupational, Political Science, Sociology, Communications -- the list goes on.
This book shows the occupation of an interpreter who observes, honors professional standards, serves, and opens the world of communication to the deaf mentally ill person.
At the same time, in her personal life Diane is fulfilling her promise to look out for the disabled daughter of her deceased best friend. Cyndi is nonstop with fabrications and hospitalizations and demands. Diane learns that it is impossible to get help for Cyndi, which leads to advocacy, now that she is seeing mental illness in a whole new way.
Acute observation opens Diane's eyes to the connection between schizophrenia and mass shootings. Young man, young man, young man -- She refutes that the direct cause is guns and/or violent video games. Rather not one of these young men is mentally healthy.
This book takes us inside a men's group home, into the psych ward, and into the life of a man with Ushers going deaf and going blind and experiencing hallucinations and having great difficulty adapting to the sad reality.
Observing people in these straits -- so difficult that boredom is impossible and violence is always possible -- affects Diane. After a time, she has no one to talk to about what she's experiencing, and the stress shows in her body --migraine, knots, insomnia. So necessary to go home to the mountains, to the wedding, to the tiny grandchildren. the cats, family.
Fragile Minds also shows those dedicated to treatment, understand, and care for the mentally ill. Diane Lane Chambers shows that putting out effort for a passion for humanity's mental health can convince Congress to make changes.
Who would imagine the demands upon a Sign Language Interpreter! This author takes action against what is unacceptable, and she tells her story vividly. Highly recommend it!
5.0 out of 5 stars
Amazing, Informative Memoir!
Reviewed January 18, 2023
by Linda Volin
“Amazing” is one word to define the writing by Diane Lane Chambers in her memoir Fragile Minds, An Advocate’s Story. Insight is gained as the reader follows the author’s personal experiences performing sign language interpretation at a variety of health facilities for people coping with diversified physical and emotional challenges. The reader joins the author as she gravitates deeply into studying and aiming to change laws to improve their lives and the lives of victims of their actions and words.
Once I opened the book, I could not put it down! Never did I imagine that I would get through the first one hundred pages at one sitting! I was completely captivated by the author’s wonderful descriptions of the people, places, and events she encountered in her quest to improve lives. Difficult times were evident when “air was thickening” and “expanding, stretching like a balloon that could burst any second.” Often the writer relieved the tension of a difficult experience by portraying calming words that changed the mood, such as the time a hospital patient’s “glow lingered in the sunlight."
It was enlightening to read about the author’s awareness of congressional updates relating to the mental health field, and how she actively contacted government representatives to legislate for reform. I was drawn into her quest to make enhancements for providing a safer world for those individuals, families and strangers caught in the web of mental confusions. Congratulations to Diane Lane Chambers for presenting excellent writing skills in this historical, insightful memoir!
Hearing the Stream, A Survivor's Journey into the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer author, Diane Lane Chambers
by Ariel Smart, Santa Clara Branch, CA
The National League of American Pen Women quarterly magazine, The Pen Women, Summer 2013
"I am in the Bodleian Library, England, after having read Diane Lane Chambers remarkable and courageous, memoir and research on breast cancer.This study is more than a factual discussion of this dreadful disease with up-to-date information from medical authority...
...In reading her intelligent, moving account of breast treatment and recovery, she certainly wins my support for this vital cause. Her memoir moves me toward action."
Hearing the Stream, A Survivor's Journey into the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer
by Allan Burns, Editor, Colorado Springs, CO
Like everyone else who receives a cancer diagnosis, Diane Chambers was initially shocked and scared. She knew only two people who had battle breast cancer: her grandmother and a judge in whose court she had worked as a sign language interpreter. Both had died. Despite daily flashbacks to her grandmother's tragic experience with disfiguring surgery, horrendous lymphedema in both arms, and burns from radiation, Diane accepted her diagnosis and began making decisions about what route to take with a competent team of doctors. She chose the only treatment that made sense for her: a mastectomy and reconstruction.
Six months later, as treatment and recovery began to fade like a bad dream, Diane began recovering her life. She had worked as a sign language interpreter since 1977 and published an acclaimed account of her experiences, Words in My Hands (Ellexa Press, 2005). but she soon learned that after cancer there was no going back to "life before cancer." There was only "life after cancer," and she quickly discovered it is not such a bad thing. She forged powerful bonds with a sisterhood of survivors--all people who had been through emotions and physical changes similar to her own. From Kim she learned the issues facing young single women with breast cancer. From Pat she learned how older women cope with diagnosis and treatment and from Sue how the mother of a baby struggled to save her own life. From Charlie she came to appreciate what men have to go through when diagnosed with a "female disease."
Above all, from the extraordinary Harriette Grober, who had been on chemotherapy for an unprecedented nine years, she learned about a determination she had never imagined and how to be thankful and happy in each moment. She also learned to take Harreitte's advocacy as a model and became involved herself in raising levels of political and social awareness about the disease. Currently, Diane is an active member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition and the Association of Breast Cancer Survivors and regularly participates in workshops, symposiums, and webcasts on cancer.
Hearing the Stream, the fruit of all she has experienced and learned as a cancer survivor, is an inspiring book that weaves together her own story and those of five others, thereby providing multiple perspectives on a complex disease that can be a different as the individual people dealing with it. As Dr. Tim Byers of the University of Colorado Comprehensive Cancer Center says, "Accounts such as this of the human toll of breast cancer motivate me as a researcher--and should motivate us all--to redouble our many efforts to reduce further and someday eradicate this disease."
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