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Madness: A Bipolar Life Hardcover – April 9, 2008
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When Marya Hornbacher published her first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, she did not yet have the piece of shattering knowledge that would finally make sense of the chaos of her life. At age twenty-four, Hornbacher was diagnosed with Type I rapid-cycle bipolar, the most severe form of bipolar disorder.
In Madness, in her trademark wry and utterly self-revealing voice, Hornbacher tells her new story. Through scenes of astonishing visceral and emotional power, she takes us inside her own desperate attempts to counteract violently careening mood swings by self-starvation, substance abuse, numbing sex, and self-mutilation. How Hornbacher fights her way up from a madness that all but destroys her, and what it is like to live in a difficult and sometimes beautiful life and marriage -- where bipolar always beckons -- is at the center of this brave and heart-stopping memoir.
Madness delivers the revelation that Hornbacher is not alone: millions of people in America today are struggling with a variety of disorders that may disguise their bipolar disease. And Hornbacher's fiercely self-aware portrait of her own bipolar as early as age four will powerfully change, too, the current debate on whether bipolar in children actually exists.
Ten years after Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind, this storm of a memoir will revolutionize our understanding of bipolar disorder.
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From Publishers Weekly
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- Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition (April 9, 2008)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 299 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0618754458
- ISBN-13 : 978-0618754458
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.92 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,577,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Marya Hornbacher has Bipolar I with rapid cycling. She was misdiagnosed at least once and had several issues with her medication. She writes about her mania, hypomania, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, which were all manifestations of an illness. The way she writes, she manages to capture the breathless, rapid-fire thoughts of a manic episode and the slow, trudging, apathetic helplessness of a depressive state. The fact that she has the ability to introspect to this degree and convey her moods so effectively through words was incredibly impressive and well done, which is probably why my professor included it on the list.
I do want to issue two caveats. The first is that this book has content warnings across the board. The book opens with a graphic description of self-harm and there are several other incidents mentioned. While in the grip of her disorder, she makes a number of questionable, sometimes disturbing choices. I didn't judge her for it-- she was sick-- but it was very difficult to read. People who have the same illness, or who have triggers about overdose or self-harm, may find these passages very difficult to read.
The second is that this memoir is very cyclical. Which makes sense because the disease is cyclical. By definition, bipolar is a cycle of depressive and manic episodes. But it also made it very exhausting and repetitive to read. I did ultimately enjoy this book and really appreciated her writing style, but towards the end, when it just became a series of vignettes regarding her coming and going from hospitalizations, I did begin to skim. I felt really, really bad for her, and sympathized with her trying to come to terms with her diagnosis and the incompetent psychiatrists and incorrect medications that made it more difficult for her to manage her disease, but it was a lot.
If you are interested in learning more about mental health, I really recommend this book. I'm definitely going to check out her first book, which is about her ED. She has a very readable style that is adept at conveying emotion, even if that is the same quality that sometimes makes it tiring and unpleasant to read. If you do read this, I suggest you go into this equipped for the grim content.
3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars
At the end of our relationship, my boyfriend found another woman in less than a month's time which truly hurt my feelings, and yet the author also reveals that after the breakup of her marriage she had found a new husband and moved across country in less than a month. Impulsivity, another aspect of bipolar manic phase.
Reading this revealing autobiography helped me to understand what demons my ex boyfriend was wrestling with and helped to heal some of my hurts that I had taken his behaviors personally and realized it wasn't like that. This book will not save our relationship as me and my ex have both moved on, but I applaud the author for her candid writing about a mental state that affects many of the most creative and loving people. It will also help me know ahead of time what I might be getting into should I ever be attracted to a man with bipolar again, which I actually don't think will happen, unless he is willing to take medication to treat it, which my ex expressed he did not want to do. Still, I think this is a good book to help understand friends and loved ones. I recommend it.