Cassandra knew parenting her first baby would be difficult. She didn’t think it would drive her mad.

After a grueling pregnancy—one in which the warning signs of the onset of bipolar disorder were missed or ignored—twenty-two year-old newlywed Cassandra Stout suffers a post-partum psychotic breakdown and subsequently commits herself to a psychiatric hospital. Once there, she struggles with hallucinations, physical and emotional trauma, and the painful separation from her newborn, Nolan.

Showers are kept under lock and key, toilets are shared between four roommates, and no one sees the outside except with a psychiatrist’s approval and a nurse’s supervision during a group walk. Family visits are rare. As a result, Cassandra finds herself succumbing to depression as what she thought would be a two-day stay threatens to become long term. Unable to bear missing anymore of her young child’s life, Cassandra defies medical advice and checks herself out of the facility, vowing to face her life, her illness, and her new role as a mother.

A disturbing story of the terrors of mental illness and the anxiety inherent in parenting a newborn, Committed is a memoir that is accurate, current, and ends on a hopeful note.

Photo credited to Flickr user CCPixel. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

Committed is drawn directly from journals and scrapbooks I kept while in the hospital. I also have sixty pages of medical records detailing staff observations, my family history, and my hour-by-hour physical statistics, which enables me to write an accurate account about a time when I was literally out of my mind.

The memoir is complete at 80,000 words. I have edited the book twice with the aid of a five-person critique group, the Seattle Scribblers, which has been meeting for nine years. Committed is available for publication.  Please contact me if you are interested in the work.