"I had nightmares, flashbacks. I dissociated... Changes in self-perception and hallucinations-those are some of my other symptoms. You are poison, I chanted silently to myself. And your poison is contagious."
So begins Mac McClelland's powerful, unforgettable memoir, Irritable Hearts.
When thirty-year-old, award-winning human rights journalist Mac McClelland left Haiti after reporting on the devastating earthquake of 2010, she never imagined how the assignment would irrevocably affect her own life. Back home in California, McClelland cannot stop reliving vivid scenes of violence. She is plagued by waking terrors, violent fantasies, and crippling emotional breakdowns. She can't sleep or stop crying. Her life in shambles, it becomes clear that she is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her bewilderment about this sudden loss of control is magnified by the intensity of her feelings for Nico, a French soldier she met in Port-au-Prince and with whom she connected instantly and deeply.
With inspiring fearlessness, McClelland tackles perhaps her most harrowing assignment to date: investigating the damage in her own mind and repairing her broken psyche. She begins to probe the depths of her illness, exploring our culture's history with PTSD, delving into the latest research by the country's top scientists and therapists, and spending time with veterans and their families. McClelland discovers she is far from alone: while we frequently associate PTSD with wartime combat, it is more often caused by other manner of trauma and can even be contagious-close proximity to those afflicted can trigger its symptoms. As she confronts the realities of her diagnosis, she opens up to the love that seems to have found her at an inopportune moment. Irritable Hearts is a searing, personal medical mystery that unfolds at a breakneck pace. But it is also a romance. McClelland fights desperately to repair her heart so that she can give it to the kind, patient, and compassionate man with whom she wants to share a life. Vivid, suspenseful, tender, and intimate, Irritable Hearts is a remarkable exploration of vulnerability and resilience, control and acceptance. It is a riveting and hopeful story of survival, strength, and love.
This raw look at life with PTSD begins in Haiti in September 2010, where an earthquake has just shaken the very fabric of society. McClelland (A Twisted Trail) is one of the journalists who comes to Port-au-Prince to cover femicide and hate crimes, and she witnesses "something." She does not provide details, only writing that it has to do with rape, and that watching the "something" is the closest she's ever been to someone else's terror. Immediately afterward, she feels "a disembodied version of myself hovering somewhere behind me and to the left." This dissociation and a psychological numbness so severe that she felt no emotion when her boyfriend, Nico, placed a rose on her chest and fed her strawberries in bed one day are symptoms that strain her ability to function. McClelland pulls herself away from drinking binges with the help of Nico's steadiness, a somatic therapist's expertise, and the affirmation she receives from PTSD survivors who thank her for reporting on the illness. McClelland is writing this memoir for those survivors. She asks readers who haven't experienced dissociation and numbness to empathize with psychological conditions that they won't fully understand, and makes it easy to grant that request.
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Irritable hearts a ptsd love story
this book is wrong in so many different ways, mostly the part where yet another privileged white girl is making a name for herself off ethnic women and our culture. this is another book about another white girl who just wants attention because she's so boring and bland that she would never get noticed unless she behaved the way she does and wrote about the "shocking" things that she talks about in the way that she does. Mother Jones couldn't find an intelligent strong ethnic minority reporter to cover ethnic women's issues???? this is a book for self absorbed white girls.