By: Rachael Siddoway and Sonja Wasden
Publisher: The Gap Press
Publication Date: February 2019
ISBN #: 978-1-7336194-00
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Review Date: December 23, 2021
Mother (Sonja Wasden) and daughter (Rachael Siddoway) collaborate and frame a compelling journey to expose a multitude of layers and the ripple effect mental illness has not only on the victim to the illness, but the impacts on those subjected to it. Both women deserve recognition of the raw reality that played out across the pages of An Impossible Life, Book 1 in this 4-book series.
The mental illness that is the essence of this story is bipolar disorder. I was vaguely familiar with this mental illness but had no idea the ramifications not only to the person living with it, but the myriad of land mines those loved ones closest to the affected had to navigate most days, weeks, and months in their respective lives. Rachael Siddoway is the daughter (and first child) of Sonja and Mitch Wasden. Sonja was (eventually) clinically diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The book opens with author notes from both Rachael and Sonja. Rachael begins by explaining to her audience that what they are about to read ‘...Between the covers of this book is my mother’s life—quite literally in your hands...’ Rachael insists in her ‘Author’s Note’ that she authored this book not to capture the endless moments of chaos her mother was adamant to sequester. Rather, she wrote it to bring to light the multitude of moments her mother was insistent to bury.
On the other hand, Sonja’s Author’s Note was more succinct in that she ‘...conveyed to the best of my recollection...’ those moments, weeks, months, and years of turmoil she subjected her family to. Her motivation to team with her daughter and bring her bipolar disorder to light was, ‘…my hope is that my story will give people who do not suffer from mental health disorders a new perspective, helping them build stronger relationships with those who may suffer...’
Rachael Siddoway has a unique ability to paint a clear, black and white image of not only the complex layers of the eventual diagnosis of her mother’s bipolar disorder, but what it means to be on the receiving end of what this disorder delivered to her daily. The roller coaster of events and years of non (and mis) diagnosis of her mother’s illness inspired Ms. Siddoway to share heart-wrenching events from her early childhood, through adolescence and into young adulthood. There is a sublime but quite anchored voice throughout this account that affirms the unrequited love Ms. Siddoway has for her mother throughout the years of imbalance. On the other side, Ms. Wasden also does a phenomenal job of portraying the hellish world she navigated inside her own head with her bipolar disorder. Both women anchored their respective voices early in the read and deserve big love and props for pulling back the curtain to share the terror, reality, hope, faith, and love of family in this story. Bravo to you both. I look forward to reading all the books in this series.
Quill says: An Impossible Life is a testament to the heights and measures we humans will go to keep our ‘laundry’ clean to unsuspecting outsiders.
For more information on An Impossible Life: The Inspiring True story of a Woman's Struggle from Within (The Impossible Series), please visit the authors' website at: www.animpossiblelife.com