“In 1981, twenty-three-year old Alfredo Zotti began his lifelong challenge of living with Bipolar II Disorder. He quickly hit rock bottom, spending time as a homeless person and turning to street drugs and alcohol to medicate his symptoms. After hospitalization and careful outpatient monitoring, he became a successful musician and completed university. In 2004, he started to mentor sufferers of mental illness, and together, they developed an online journal. Alfredo now sees mental illness from a new perspective, not of disadvantages but advantages. In his words: “Having a mental illness can be a blessing if we work on ourselves.” ( I have copied this from the author’s page on Amazon.com)
In February 2015, Alfredo wrote me a mail, to my academia address which reached me in March or April for some strange reason, with a request to read and review his book, as a fellow human being who has suffered the consequences of serious mental illness as well as an artist (perhaps). I duly got the book, sent by the publisher.
Reading the book has been a very touching and beautiful experience because it reveals to me how much a person who has suffered can put his suffering behind and choose to live a life of generosity, depth and genuine inquisitiveness. There is a lot I would love to quote from the book, as also from the dialogues that ensued between me and Alfredo in the course of reading his book, as well as sharing the second book with me, that he did.
But here are my thoughts about his book, and I really think that anyone who has had a serious bout of illness must read this book, which is so different from all that I have read. The balance that he has created for himself and utilized his art in such meaningful ways, makes one appreciate his spirit immensely. I wholeheartedly recommend his book to anyone who suffers and seeks a way out of mental illness. Of all the books I have read as yet, the reason I do so with this book is that the voice of the person is very calm, gentle and grounded, unlike many other voices which are representing something which does not make you connect with them as people and as sufferers.