“Suspended Sentence” by Janice Morgan

Janice Morgan
She Writes Press (2019)
ISBN: 9781631526442
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (9/19)

Janice Morgan, a college professor and single mother of Dylan, provides readers with an intimate look at having a child with bipolar disorder, substance abuse problems, and legal issues in her memoir “Suspended Sentence.”

In June 2011, 23-year-old Dylan is arrested for firing an illegal gun after a party and is also found to be growing marijuana in his apartment. Dylan’s struggles with bipolar disorder, his DUIs, and his refusal to find a job are placing havoc on all who love him. After intense pleading, Dylan agrees to enter a Drug Court program that will help him avoid his three felony charges. The challenge is he only gets one shot at it.  Any mistakes will land him in jail.

Morgan finds that she, too, has been sentenced right along with him. In the months to follow, she leads a double life: part of it on campus, the rest embarking upon what she calls “rescue missions” to help Dylan stay in the program. It is during this time she needs to address her co-dependency.

The author provides great insight into a disorder that is still so misunderstood by the medical & psychiatric community. We have come far, but not quite far enough to get sufferers the kind of help they need, rather putting them in jail or prison. From my experience as a Psychologist dealing with bipolar clients, it is a baffling disorder that many cannot understand.

“Suspended Sentence” an incredibly moving book, describing the ups and downs of addiction, mental illness, and the power of the human mind to deal with this roller coaster ride. A fast-paced read, the book is filled with a love-hate relationship, tough times, and hope. I appreciate the author’s openness, honesty and the ability to make changes not only for her son but for herself.

The author shows no self-pity and does not tell you how you can fix it. She shares her story with passion, love and hope, so those are experiencing the same journey will continue to have support and camaraderie. Morgan confronts her codependency and love for her son while at the same time provides lessons learned and opportunities for growth.

Dylan is an amazing young man, but his manipulation and mental health issues often land him into more trouble. Like many with these issues, instant gratification comes first, and most well-laid plans are sidetracked along the way. Many will ask, does Dylan understand his addiction or bipolar disorder? Many individuals have a good basic understanding, but when they feel good, they question their diagnosis.

I highly recommend “Suspended Sentence” by Janice Morgan to professionals, families and those impacted by bipolar disorder. I am appreciative that Morgan addresses co-dependency. As one who is co-dependent, it makes you take another look at who you are or are not helping.

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