Trimble’s mother, Isabelle, graduated from Park County High School in 1939. She was working in the family store in downtown Livingston when she met the man she would marry a few months later on a frigid January day in Butte in 1942. She escaped from that mistake of a first marriage a year later with a newborn son—Trimble’s brother, Mike. The book is a memoir of Trimble’s family’s story, is his 25th book and was published in September 2021 as a “Little Bound Book” from Homebound Publications. The book won the 2022 Human Relations Mental Health Awareness Book of the Year Award.
In writing The Mike File, Trimble set out to reach beyond his family mantra: “I had an older brother—a half-brother—who left home when I was six. He was diagnosed sequentially as retarded, schizophrenic, and epileptic. He died years ago.” The book is his quest to claim empathy, his memorial to a forgotten life, his journey toward self-knowledge.
Trimble began his research for the book by trying to understand who his mother was at 20, when Mike was born. Isabelle was born in Butte and grew up in Livingston—deeply enmeshed in the circles of Jewish immigrants to Montana. Her brief disaster of a first marriage took her to Denver, where she met Trimble’s father and where Trimble grew up.
Mike, eight years older than Trimble, was diagnosed as “mildly retarded.” But in 1957, rage and psychosis overwhelmed him and threatened the family. His new diagnosis: paranoid schizophrenia, capable of violence. The parents had no choice but to commit Mike at 14 to the Colorado State Hospital.
Mike’s life mirrored the history of the treatment of mental illness in Colorado—and America. He spent nine years in overcrowded Colorado mental institutions.
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