Born into a family full of shame and secrets about their legacy of mental illness, Sue Westwind received her own set of labels when she ran away from home in 1969. Depression, anxiety, migraines, and chronic fatigue grew worse as she grew older. The story could have ended there: a lifetime spent taking prescription drugs to treat her myriad list of illnesses. But an open mind and a desire to heal led Westwind to an extraordinary body of research. She learned that our toxic Earth plays a dangerous role in the human epidemic of bad moods and violent behavior.
The concept that the body’s travails strongly affect the mind is given lip service but not invited to take part in a badly needed overhaul of the mental health system. Yet it is given serious thought in the world of autism, where many parents lead a charge so successful that professionals take notice. For Westwind, adopting an infant girl later diagnosed with autism changed her life forever. Nina is a child so baffling that at first Westwind wonders if she can parent her. But in her quest to heal her daughter she learns about nutrients, the gut-brain connection, epigenetics and environmental toxins. Armed with this understanding, the path she strides to heal her daughter becomes her own.
After a pivotal visit to a premier nutritional clinic for mental and behavioral disorders, Nina is cured of seizures and set on a detailed nutrient course. But this is not the story of Westwind’s daughter. It is the story of a mother’s transformation fueled by her search to heal her daughter. Their journey together changes Westwind into a person who can finally claim energy, clarity, and optimism.
The book looks at madness from many angles as Westwind lives the theories that rise and fall over time: blame the parents, anti-psychiatry, feminist critique, and spiritual malaise. Written as an environmental memoir in the manner of Body Toxic (Susanne Antonetta), Westwind explores her bloodline’s persistent depression and psychosis—and their adopted children’s behavior disorders—to reveal that mental health is not all in the mind. Lunacy Lost: A Memoir of Green Mental Health advocates an approach that welcomes body, spirit, and concern for the environment into discussions of psyche and suffering.
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“A brave and important book.”
— HARRIET LERNER, Ph.D, author of The Dance of Anger, Why Won’t You Apologize?, Healing Big Betrayals, and Everyday Hurts
“Witty, biting, poignant, and paced like a page-turning novel . . . real help and a beam of light to pierce the darkness mental illness can bring.”
— DAN STRADFORD, President of Safe Harbor, the world’s largest organization for non-drug approaches to mental health