From a young age, Layla Salek has experienced some people as colors—her mother brown, her father green, her husband rainbow. As she notes, sometimes, when words fail, colors speak.

Chaos in Color is the captivating story of Layla’s journey from childhood to adulthood with a mother who suffered from untreated bipolar disorder. Each chapter paints a vivid, heartbreaking picture of the abuse, neglect, and trauma that she experienced as she grew up at the mercy of her mother’s bipolar swings, an incompetent mental health system, and the strangers with whom she was often left. But dissipating those times of darkness were moments of love, joy, and happiness that she felt while being cared for by others in her life. These moments inspired her to start her own family, complete a doctorate in psychology, and work with children with mental illness and severe behavior disorders.

Layla’s story traces how personal and familial trauma is carried into adulthood and how it can be released through forgiveness. This honest, provocative memoir offers a relatable account for others who have experienced similar trauma, as well as hope for healing and a future full of light.



R. Layla Salek, PhD, is retired from a twenty-year private practice. She trained professionals and parents in behavior psychology techniques to help children with behavioral disorders. She sits on multiple boards and is the founder of Susie Bean Gives ( She is also a travel photographer and writer and is working on her second book, Dear Caregiver.


“Wow, “Chaos in Color” is a “must read” and one that you will not forget. Dr. Layla Salek shines a light on the darkness of mental illness with compassion and humor.
In her raw and vulnerable memoir, she paints detailed pictures of her experiences and inner most thoughts, as a child enduring incredible hardships. She writes about her life in a way that completely avoids self-pity and instead finds beauty ,love and laughter amongst the dysfunction of her life. I laughed, I cried and I rejoiced at this incredible success story.” – Riley S., GoodReads

“A great memoir of a young girl growing up with a bipolar mother, subjected to loneliness, verbal and physical abuse, her mother’s rants and tirades through her upbringing. How her suffering followed her through her adult life and steered her in various directions.
Very interesting, heartfelt, and informative.”  – Suzanne, GoodReads

I am in awe of a child’s resilience. Parts of the book had me crying, parts had me laughing and some even shaking my head. Many of her teenage shenanigans make me wonder, what were you thinking? It definitely keeps you engaged. Mostly I am thinking how do we as a society allow this to happen to a child? I hope the author always remembers where she came from and how she got there. Excellent read.” – Penney K, Amazon

“‘Chaos in Color’ by Dr. R. Layla Salek is an incredibly moving and deeply touching memoir. With poetic prose and profound introspection, Salek takes us on a journey through the complexities of her life, where emotions are painted in colors, and forgiveness becomes the beacon of light guiding her path to healing. From the very beginning, Salek’s unique perspective, where people are seen as colors, captivated my imagination. This rare gift of synesthesia adds depth to her storytelling, allowing me to experience her world through a sensory lens. When words fail, as she eloquently puts it, colors speak, and they speak volumes throughout this memoir. The heart of “Chaos in Color” lies in its honest account of growing up with a mother suffering from untreated bipolar disorder. Each chapter is a poignant portrait of the rollercoaster of emotions, the abuse, neglect, and the trauma Layla endured. The raw vulnerability with which she shares these experiences is heartbreaking and awe-inspiring. Yet, amidst the darkness, there are moments of love, joy, and resilience.” Kevin, Amazon

“Chaos in color is a poignant lesson of hope and resilience.
From the very first page the author immerses readers in her childhood narrative, navigating the complexities of a mother battling untreated bipolar disorder. It is heartbreaking but also absolutely beautiful, I highly highly recommend.” Dumont D., Amazon

“Chaos in color is a beautifully woven story about the power of forgiveness. The author’s unique writing style will take you on a journey thru her life as she navigates life’s challenges and comes out better for them. Overall, a beautiful story that leaves you filled with awe about the resilience of the human spirit.” D. Adelson, Amazon


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