SOONER THAN TOMORROW
Read First Press (2019)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (8/19)
“Sooner Than Tomorrow: A Mother’s Diary About Mental Illness, Family, and Everyday Life,” by Dede Ranahan is a book that all individuals, families, Senators and Representatives should read. Through her diary and her son Pat’s Facebook posts we travel with the family as they try to negotiate the mental health system, cope the best they can on the good days and mourn with them at the loss of Pat in a psychiatric ward where no one would give her information due to the HIPPA Laws.
What began as a way to capture the family history that someday would become a treasure for her children and grandchildren grew into a documentation of her son’s last year of life where he died unexpectedly in a hospital psych ward where she thought he was safe.
With the author’s honest, poignant, sometimes humorous writing, readers learn about how it is to live with mental illness on a daily basis, the good times and bad. I certainly agree with the author when she says, “We love our children more than your own life,” even when they are adult children. We will do anything for them, anytime, anyplace. But when one doesn’t know what to expect minute from minute or day to day, your life, as you know it, becomes chaotic and full of despair. I admire Dede for her strength, her love and her determination.
As a professional in the mental health system for over twenty-five years, I say the mental health system is not broken because it was never whole. It is a deeply flawed system, and while it is a much better one than existed previously, it is not perfect.
As we learn with Pat, he is misdiagnosed, rushed through the system, and when hospitalized, there is no follow-up. Involuntary hospitalization as we see with Pat is extremely fast-paced – there’s not enough time to fully do what needs to get done. Too often, individuals are prematurely discharged.
As we get to know Pat, we find that he is talented, loving, intelligent and loved by many. I think incorporating his Facebook posts along with Dede’s diary allows us to get an inside look at the dynamics of her wonderful family. I held my breath, cried, got angry at the flawed system and mourned the loss of a wonderful young man.
I highly recommend “Sooner Than Tomorrow” by Dede Ranahan for anyone who is dealing with or has a family member who has a mental illness. I say this should be required reading for all mental health professionals, member of Congress and those who pass or ignore the mental health crisis we have today.