Here are some questions to consider for your book club discussion. Click the ‘Download’ button at the bottom of the list for a pdf version.
1. What was the first indication to you that Charise needed help and should go to the hospital?
2. Have you ever felt an eerie, uncanny, and unsettling connection with a fictional character, the way Charise did with Margaery Tyrrell and Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones?
3. What do you think about the relationship and interactions between Charise and Eric through the mania, hospitalization, and diagnosis? Do you think you and your partner would behave differently towards each other during this period of chaos and confusion?
4. Can you relate to downplaying or hiding symptoms/emotions, the way Charise described in chapter 7 with her winter depression? She felt it was not severe enough to require a discussion and she did not want to burden Eric or her family. Have you ever experienced anything similar?
5. The majority of bipolar 1 patients are diagnosed in their late teens or early twenties. Charise was diagnosed at age 40. Do you think it is preferable to be diagnosed with a mental illness like bipolar 1 at a younger or an older age? Why or why not?
6. While manic and hospitalized, Charise’s statements were difficult to understand because of her pressured speech and lack of focus, but when explained afterwards many of her ideas and frustrations made sense. As Eric often repeated during this period, “She’s not wrong.” Was there anything Charise talked about while manic that you found you could relate to or appreciate?
7. Hope is critical for human beings to survive traumatic or difficult situations. There were many instances when Charise clung to hope while facing dire circumstances. For example, during her first mania when she convinced herself that Eric was breaking her out of the hospital with no evidence and only misinterpretations. Every time she had to choose how to interpret his words and actions that day, she chose hope. What other examples can you think of throughout the book? Do you think it was harmful or beneficial for Charise to repeatedly choose hope despite reality?
8. Do you think it is possible that the hospital secretly planted staff as patients to spy on Charise because of her assault complaint during her second hospitalization? Or do you think this is highly unlikely and an example of Charise’s paranoia? Do you have any hospital/healthcare experience to support your opinion?
9. What would you have done in Charise’s position when faced with those security guards lurking in the hall near her room, after the assault? Do you think confronting them would have helped her assault complaint file or made her situation worse?
10. How did you feel when Charise received the Alberta Health Services decision regarding her assault complaint? Would you have continued the fight?
11. What would you want to ask or say to Charise if you could?