A journey through misdiagnosis, intellectual capabilities and professional accomplishments, this memoir traces Vivian Conan’s stages and mis-steps toward wholeness and healing. As a person with mental illness who is competent in the world she inhabits, Vivian tours us through her states, her illusions, and phobias, as she regains autonomy over her wellness. Born in 1940s Brooklyn to a father prone to rages and an emotionally erratic mother, Vivian Conan grew up in two different worlds: Outside and Inside. Outside, she had friends, excelled in school, and was close to her cousins and brother. Inside, she saw faces that weren’t hers in her bedroom mirror and was surrounded by an invisible Atmosphere that bathed her in the love and understanding she craved. Moving between these worlds enabled Vivian to survive her childhood but limited her ability to live fully as an adult. To others, her life seemed rich with work, friends, music, and boyfriends. But her mind and soul were filled with chaos and pain. Neither she nor her therapists could figure out why. Losing the Atmosphere is Vivian Conan’s riveting account of her journey toward self-understanding and wholeness; her encounters with a string of more and less helpful therapists; and her unconventional relationship with the therapist who was finally able to guide her through the courageous, messy work healing required. Told with honesty, humor, and grace, Losing the Atmosphere is a never-too-late story about the growth possible for anyone with the guts to pursue it, and a testament to the redemptive power of love: not the perfect kind Vivian experienced in her imaginary world, but the imperfect kind that connects us, flawed human being to flawed human being, in the real world she lives in now. Drop In with us to speak candidly and honestly with Vivian Conan about her journey, her self-exploration, and discovery in the context of her family, therapists, and friends’ network.
Vivian Conan is a writer, and a librarian, and IT business analyst who lives in Manhattan. A native New Yorker, she grew up in a large Greek-Jewish clan in Brooklyn, graduated from Brooklyn College, and holds a master’s degrees from Pratt Institute and Baruch College. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, New York magazine, Lilith, Narratively and Ducts. She received a 2007 fellowship in Nonfiction Literature from New York Foundation for the Arts and a 2019 Simon Rockower Award from the American Jewish Press Association. Vivian sings with the Peace of Heart Choir, which preforms free for communities in need, and has mentored teenage writers as a volunteer with Girls Write Now. Losing the Atmosphere is her first book.Leave a comment for radio show guests