Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Manic: A Memoir by Terri Cheney


Title: Manic: A Memoir
Author: Terri Cheney
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Pages: 245
Release Date: February 5, 2008
Source: Library
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5

"I didn't tell anyone that I was going to Santa Fe to kill myself."
On the outside, Terri Cheney was a highly successful, attractive Beverly Hills entertainment lawyer. But behind her seemingly flawless fa├žade lay a dangerous secret—for the better part of her life Cheney had been battling debilitating bipolar disorder and concealing a pharmacy's worth of prescriptions meant to stabilize her moods and make her "normal."

In bursts of prose that mirror the devastating highs and extreme lows of her illness, Cheney describes her roller-coaster life with shocking honesty—from glamorous parties to a night in jail; from flying fourteen kites off the edge of a cliff in a thunderstorm to crying beneath her office desk; from electroshock therapy to a suicide attempt fueled by tequila and prescription painkillers.

With Manic, Cheney gives voice to the unarticulated madness she endured. The clinical terms used to describe her illness were so inadequate that she chose to focus instead on her own experience, in her words, "on what bipolar disorder felt like inside my own body." Here the events unfold episodically, from mood to mood, the way she lived and remembers life. In this way the reader is able to viscerally experience the incredible speeding highs of mania and the crushing blows of depression, just as Cheney did. Manic does not simply explain bipolar disorder—it takes us in its grasp and does not let go.

In the tradition of Darkness Visible and An Unquiet Mind, Manic is Girl, Interrupted with the girl all grown up. This harrowing yet hopeful book is more than just a searing insider's account of what it's really like to live with bipolar disorder. It is a testament to the sharp beauty of a life lived in extremes.

I've wanted to read Manic for a long time, so when I discovered it in my local library, I was ecstatic.  I checked out and devoured the book within a few hours.  I absolutely adored this book and its raw, poignant honesty.  Cheney introduces her readers to the startling truth of mental illness and the social stigmas surrounding depression and other disorders.  As a person living with bipolar disorder, Cheney's story resonated truthfully and honestly.

Cheney bravely and courageously invites readers into the privacy of her life and reveals the ultimate truth of her existence with intimacy.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading Cheney's story, although I felt as though I were walking with her along the course of her journey.  I was absorbed into this charming, witty memoir and highly recommend the rest of you to add it to your "to read" list.

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