MTPR

Memoir Reveals Student's Struggles With Bipolar

Jan 12, 2015

Elissa Washuta talks about and reads from her memoir, My Body is a Book of Rules.

About the book:

As Elissa Washuta makes the transition from college kid to independent adult, she finds herself overwhelmed by the calamities piling up in her brain. When her mood-stabilizing medications aren’t threatening her life, they’re shoving her from depression to mania and back in the space of an hour. Her crisis of American Indian identity bleeds into other areas of self-doubt; mental illness, sexual trauma, ethnic identity, and independence become intertwined. Sifting through the scraps of her past in seventeen formally inventive chapters, Washuta aligns the strictures of her Catholic school education with Cosmopolitan’s mandates for womanhood, views memories through the distorting lens of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and contrasts her bipolar highs and lows with those of Britney Spears and Kurt Cobain. Built on the bones of fundamental identity questions as contorted by a distressed brain, My Body Is a Book of Rules pulls no punches in its self-deprecating and ferocious look at human fallibility.

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A review of My Body is a Book of Rules in Seattle News

"In Body, Washuta shows why younger voices and voices outside the mainstream matter. They show us the immediate implications of our current culture on our psyches, bodies, and hearts. In her refusal to apologize or sugarcoat her thoughts and behavior, and her refusal to let others off the hook for their actions, Washuta forces us to reflect on our own experiences and draw the connections." -THE RUMPUS

Elissa Washuta

At the University of Washington, Elissa Washuta's areas of interest in teaching include American Indians in cinema, contemporary American Indian literature, and the Twilight series. Elissa was the recipient of a 2012 Potlatch Fund Native Arts Grant, a 2013 4Culture Grant, and a 2012 Artist Trust GAP Award, and she was named an inaugural fellow in the Made at Hugo House program.