Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide

Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide

by Madeline Sharples

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"Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide" charts the near-destruction of one middle-class family whose son committed suicide after a seven-year struggle with bipolar disorder.

Madeline Sharples, author, poet, and web journalist, goes deep into her own well of grief to explore her anger, frustration, and guilt. She describes many attempts -- some successful, some not -- to have her son committed to hospital and to keep him on his medication.

The book also discusses her and her family's redemption, how she considered suicide herself, and ultimately, her decision live and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother, and writer.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940015801613
Publisher: Dream of Things
Publication date: 12/05/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 340
Sales rank: 489,724
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Although Madeline Sharples worked for most of her professional life as a technical writer and editor, grant writer, and proposal manager, she fell in love with poetry and creative writing in grade school. She pursued her writing interests to high school while studying journalism and writing for the high school newspaper, and she studied journalism in college. However, she only began to fulfill her dream to be a professional writer later in life.

Madeline's memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, is the harrowing but ultimately uplifting tale of the course of years from her son Paul's diagnosis with bipolar disorder, through his suicide at her home to the present day. It details how Madeline, her husband and younger son weathered every family's worst nightmare.

In addition to Leaving the Hall Light On, Madeline co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994) a book about women in nontraditional professions and co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1 (Muse Media, 2004) and 2 (2010). Her poetry accompanies the work of photographer Paul Blieden in two books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy as well as appearing in print and online on many occasions.

Madeline is now a full-time writer and is working on her next book, a novel, based in the 1920s. She and Bob, her husband of 40 years, live in Manhattan Beach, California, a small beach community south of Los Angeles.

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Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
CMash More than 1 year ago
My Rating: 4 Synopsis: Leaving the Hall Light On is about living after loss: first and foremost how author Madeline Sharples chose to live and go on with life and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother, writer. It is about the steps Sharples took in living with the loss of her son, including making use of diversions to help ease her grief and the milestones she met toward living a full life without him. She says, “to let ourselves grieve is to feel the depth of our love. For those whose children have died, that may take the rest of our lives, but we will discover the gifts of our loss in the process.” My Thoughts and Opinion: Over the past year or so, I have stepped out of my comfort zone, and started reading memoirs. And honestly, the ones that I have read have had a lasting impact on me. The author shares, very candidly, her journey as, a wife and mother, coping with a son who was diagnosed with a BiPolar Disorder and then his sucicide. Her pain and recovery. This book was a bit of a hard read for me because of some of the parallels in the story. A thought provoking read on many levels and for varied reasons. One of the similarities was I am a parent of 2 sons, 2 1/2 years apart and the oldest named Paul, the same as the author. While reading of her struggle with her son Paul, I found myself asking, "what if it was my Paul? Another thing I could relate to was the BiPolar Disorder, because of my background in nursing, I am familiar with the struggles of those diagnosed with the disease, the patterns they have and the signs and symptoms. Ms. Sharples shares her painful experience of living through her son's periods of mania and depression. Her raw emotions are palpable. Then the worst nightmare that every parent fears, burying one's child. And even worse, not knowing the whys. Does any parent have closure? No such thing. How does one go on? I can't even imagine, having to go through something like this. She frankly and honestly describes her emotions of love, anger, worry, depression, hope, guilt, and even at times, selfishness. How she used writing poetry, which are also in the book, as a coping mechanism. And the decision to write this, which had to be very painful, memoir. As a parent, it was a heart wrenching read. But it was also a read of survival and recovery. It's then that the hall light goes off. A powerful and poignant read!!
SherreyM More than 1 year ago
What parent can imagine living through the horrors of a child’s battle with bipolar disorder ending in suicide several years after diagnosis and attempted treatment? Likely no one’s imagination works at this level. Madeline Sharples, author of Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, has lived this nightmare. And amazingly, she and her family survived this traumatic period. Sharples’ memoir chronicles her elder son, Paul’s descent into the terrors of bipolar disorder and his eventual suicide. In writing her story, Sharples addresses issues faced not only by her family but also by many other families. In so doing, she offers insight into her own experience and provides a frank and open discussion of some of her most painful moments. In her own words, she tells us: My goal in writing this book is to tell my story in the most truthful and real terms possible. Otherwise it won’t be of any use to anyone – including me. Sharples has done exactly that by sharing an account which includes a mix of advice, education about bipolar disorder, a desire to remove the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder and similar mental illnesses, and hope for families living with similar tragedies. She digs deep into her own story to share her belief that each victim in such a tragedy has choices: a choice to move on, a choice to take care of him- or herself, and a choice to be the best husband, wife, father, mother, child possible. Because of Sharples’ gift of descriptive detail, her reader learns a great deal about Paul from infancy. The reader meets a precocious, piano playing, curly-headed and happy toddler, and several photographs underscoring this part of Paul’s life are included. Later photos share a Paul who is happily smiling whether alone or with a relative. These photos connect the reader to Paul in a visual way, allowing you to watch Paul grow and thrive. Growing into adolescence, Paul showed an innate ability to connect with children, experienced continued successes with the piano, and developed a knack for repairing computers. All the goodness of this son shines through. If not for these details about Paul highlighting the goodness in him, Leaving the Hall Light On could only be classified as an angry and furious assault by a distraught mother who is not only heartbroken but also confused and hurt by Paul’s choices. Madeline Sharples began writing her journey with Paul through poetry. Not always a fan of poetry, this reviewer became intrigued by the author’s poems and appreciated an exposure to poetry that actually spoke to the heart. Perhaps that is because the reviewer is a mother. Yet one realizes in her poetry as well as her memoir narrative Sharples has shared her journey using raw, intense emotion coupled with truth and love. Her story is alive and beats with a heart torn asunder and yet healing. Although difficult to read at times, I found myself unable to put this book down. Others have mentioned needing to step away and come back. I felt drawn into a relationship with Paul, his parents and his younger brother Ben, as if I were a good friend standing in the shadows as this nightmare played out. This is due in part to Sharples’ unique style of writing – comfortable, conversational, and filled with truth and emotion. I wanted to be there for them all. I needed to know where this journey took them. As the stepmother of a young woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder and complicated by attention deficit hyperactive disorder, perhaps my fascination was also rooted in the continuing search by our family for answers. Madeline Sharples provided some answers for us, and for this reason alone I highly recommend this book to families in similar situations. Because of her unique use of narrative and poetry and her treatment in this family's story of not only her own emotional trauma but also that of her husband and their son Ben, I recommend this as a memoir worth reading as a unique example of superior memoir writing. Madeline Sharples has shown those of us writing memoir the way to successful story telling based in truth written from the heart.
Larken More than 1 year ago
Leaving the hall light on was a painful, thought provoking, sentimental, breath taking inspiring novel to read. My brother took his life 4 months ago, and this book has helped me begin the process of healing. One never "heals" but we learn how to live our lives in the wake of a truly live changing event. Sharples offers her journey which shows the reader that you too will live your life again. Sharples has insight the reader may not have yet in their process of healing and is enlightening to us all. I laughed in this book (mostly because I am a scientist and the comments describing us were well, right on. I cried, I felt humbled and I felt not alone. As the reader moves through Paul's pain, they begin to heal and take charge of their own life. Bipolar disease, as shown in this book, takes the life of the one who has the disease but also of the people in that person's life. Sharples empowers the reader to shine their light for the world and enjoy every minute.
CHM1042 More than 1 year ago
Leaving the Hall Light On by Madeline Sharples is truly one of the most inspiring books one might find on coping with a mentally ill child, and then facing the loss of that child through suicide. The text, photographs and poetry within this memoir describe a loving family who tried desperately to get help for their adult son as he struggled with his bipolar disorder. Though their battle to save their son was lost, a story emerges of remembrance and the coping skills the author found crucial to a healthy life after, one as far from paralyzing grief as one might hope to go. After reading this honest memoir the reader will be impressed by the strength and life-affirming perspective of a mother who found her way to healing and peace.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very moved by this book. The poetry in every chapter was inspirational and beautiful. I read the book twice and felt a range of emotions each time. This is a story about loss and rebirth. A short life does not mean an incomplete life. I highly recommend this to anyone who is ready to explore their deepest feelings.
Amyca More than 1 year ago
From the moment I started reading this memoir, I couldn't put it down. It leaves the reader feeling positive about the future and good about tackling any obstacles that may come his/her way in the years ahead. I could really empathize with the author and her family. A fast and easy read!
luckypressllc More than 1 year ago
"The poetry and photographs add an extra dimension that is missing from most memoirs like this since as a reader you get much closer to the reality of what is being described on the page. For 321 pages I was completely caught up in your life and the heart-wrenching drama that you were experiencing." Mark Shelmerdine, CEO, Jeffers Press "Leaving the Hall Light On left me in tears. It is a heart wrenching book; I could not put it down. Anyone who wants to learn how to live with children or adults with bipolar disorder, must read this book." Mary Barrett, Book Reviewer for The Nashville News (Illinois) "Madeline Sharples has written a poetically visceral, emotionally honest account of her experience with her son's bipolar disorder, his suicide, and her family's grief and gradual adaptation to their terrible loss. I know I will not only be a better, more empathic psychiatrist but a better person and friend after reading this extraordinary memoir." Irvin D. Godofsky, M.D.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found Leaving The Hall Light On an interesting read. It's appeal to me was that I seek to understand how others have experienced Biplar Disorder. I found the author's perspective and analysis sometimes troubling and in conflict with my fundamental understanding of the disease. It is after all one woman's journey and her experience from her perspective. I will give her that. I fear it could mislead someone into thinking her son's experience is somehow illustrative or common of all diagnosed with BPD. While it is true suicide rates are higher among those diagnosed with Bipolar Type I, there are also many who do seek and maintain treatment and support that enable them to live mostly healthy lives that don't constantly destroy and disrupt the lives of their loved ones! I am glad she wrote her experience. Be sure you read other perspectives if you seek to understand this COMPLEX disorder, it's manifestations, and how to live with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reads like a journal. Picked it up expecting something "more".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking for a book on this topic, but just didn't relate to the author. I guess we are all so different. Choppy writing, doesn't flow well, easy to get lost. I do feel compassion for her, just didn't get what i needed from the story.