Just over a week ago, it is suspected that a co-pilot flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf purposely crashed the Germanwings flight 9525 airbus A320 with 144 (or 149?) passengers near the Digne-les-Bains area in the Alpes de Haute-Provence region (as CNN indicates). The investigation is ongoing and no one is entirely certain that there wasn't an aircraft failure, however, given that the main pilot was locked out of the cockpit along with medical evidence indicating that the co-pilot may have been depressed leads investigators to believe that this crash was no accident.

New rules are being put in place wherein a minimum of 2 people should be in the cockpit at all times, but what else can be done to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again?

On my ride home from work yesterday, NPR was talking with a mental physician about this exact incident. They were discussing how to make people more comfortable about coming forward with their mental illnesses. The doctor claimed that the minute you come forward, you are prevented from doing normal things like your job, and that scares people into silence. However, on the flip side, if, for example, the airline crash mentioned above was due to a depressive episode, would any of the pilots or passengers onboard really want the co-pilot to fly their plane? Absolutely not.

So what do you do? Is there a way to convince people to come forward about their illnesses? Can we find a happy medium that doesn't endanger lives?


As if March was "mental illness awareness month" (which it's not!), I decided to take on He Wanted the Moon written in part by Mimi Baird and in part by her deceased father Perry Baird. The non-fiction story tackles mental issues as addressed by American doctors and families in the 1940s as well as the relationship between a mentally ill patient and his daughter.

Written in two parts, the story opens with Dr. Perry Baird in a New York hotel room dictating to an assistant, drinking from coke bottles, subsequently peeing in the empty coke bottles, and lining them up on a windowsill in his hotel room in February 1944. A manic depressive that had graduated from Harvard and was a well-respected doctor in the 1920s and 30s, he soon realizes that he is scaring those around him and will wind up in a mental institution a few days hence. This will change his life (and the direction he was headed) forever: leading to a divorce, the loss of his family, medical practice, and, to a degree, his freedom.

As the book continues into the second part, we learn what it has been like for Mimi Baird to deal with her father's absence while he was in the mental hospital and then his re-emergence in her life through his writing, after his passing. Growing up in the 40s and 50s, no one spoke with her about mental illness because it was too great a topic for a 6 year old to comprehend. It wasn't until much later in her life that she learned exactly what had happened with her father.

Overall the book has been an interesting look into American life in the 1940s and 1950s from two very different points of view – that of a "normal" girl growing up without her biological father around and that of a man in a mental institution kept away from his family, friends, colleagues, and work. The book raises questions about the treatment of mentally ill patients both during that time as well as current standards of treatment. (i.e. If it was so bad then, are they doing anything different now?) It also encourages one to think about how we respond to the mentally ill, as family and friends. What takes "normal" intelligent people over the edge into a manic depressive episode?

Mimi Baird's book is intense and the explanations of what happens with her father far more in depth than I expected. This is not a book for the weak. While I can't count this among my favorite books, I can say it was an enjoyable (albeit horrific?) read. I definitely encourage those who are interested in mental illness or who know someone who has a mental illness to pick this book up.

Have you had the chance to read He Wanted the Moon? Would you consider reading it in the future?

Buy it here.

* I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for sharing my opinion. All opinions shared in this review are my own.
** Participate in the A-Z blogging challenge with me! You know you want to! :)


  1. An excellent topic that no one wants to discuss. I've researched a bit about a couple of different mental illnesses, one which afflicted my father, but we never knew about until he had passed on. His mother knew but it was one of those 'skeletons in the closet' things her Victorian upbringing said you didn't talk about. . .Not dealing with mental illnesses is causing much more pain to the innocent than is necessary. We had a schizophrenic here cut off the head of another person, thinking it was a demon, it occurred on a bus load of people traveling. After being committed, he wants permit time outside now. I don't trust the panels who approve such leaves. . .

    1. It sounds like mental illness and dealing with it is very close to your heart.

      The story of the guy cutting off another's head on a public bus is pretty scary and makes me feel bad not only for the victim but also for the schizophrenic who didn't know what he was doing. While I agree that, because they don't know what they are doing, they might not should be allowed "leave", I'm not quite sure what the correct answer is for that. After all, they aren't criminals, in the sense of someone choosing to do wrong, deserving to be locked up and put away, but it also isn't good for innocent people to be hurt no matter how accidental it is. Whatever the answer is, I do think mental illness should be discussed openly more often. Only through talking about it can we really discern how to solve our problems and best handle those people that need the most help.

  2. Mental illness is a serious problem. Individuals that DO admit they have a problem are stigmatized. There are others that can't afford treatment. And then there are the people that refuse to admit that they have a problem. I don't know what the solution is...

    1. You bring up a very interesting point regarding payment. It's hard enough getting those who don't know they have a problem to see a doctor, but it's even worse convincing those that do know they have a problem to see a doctor (especially in an emergency situation) if they know they can't afford one. :( I don't even know how insurance works in these cases…

  3. I just bought the book on Kindle. It looks fascinating.

    I have often wondered how many of the people we consider mentally ill have simply tapped into more of their brain potential than most and therefore seem abnormal.

    Madness and genius seem to often go hand in hand. Is this what scares most people away from the remaining 90% or so of their brain potential?

    And how can we tap into that expanded potential and maintain our equilibrium? What else is possible?

  4. Yes, a much needed topic, especially after what happened to those people. And good to see you are promoting the book. Thank you so much for your visit to my blog. Carole.


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