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Manic: A Memoir

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"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 façade 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 "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 façade 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.


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"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 façade 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 "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 façade 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.

30 review for Manic: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    To be clear: there are bipolar rich people and there are bipolar pretty people and there are bipolar pretty, rich people, and all of their experiences are as valid and worthy of attention as people from humbler backgrounds who, by no fault of anything except nature and human vapidness, fade while said pretty, rich people glow. Cheney knows this glow really well and knows she has it. In fact, half of this book seems to be about how pretty and well-off Terri Cheney is. That grates on me. It doesn' To be clear: there are bipolar rich people and there are bipolar pretty people and there are bipolar pretty, rich people, and all of their experiences are as valid and worthy of attention as people from humbler backgrounds who, by no fault of anything except nature and human vapidness, fade while said pretty, rich people glow. Cheney knows this glow really well and knows she has it. In fact, half of this book seems to be about how pretty and well-off Terri Cheney is. That grates on me. It doesn't lessen my sympathy at all. But I don't want to read 800 scenes of her doing her makeup or getting dressed for a date with some spectacularly handsome man or staring at herself in the mirror (and yes, there is talk of her staring at herself in the mirror). Even Joan Didion can't get away with juxtaposing lavishness and misery in a non-irksome way. To give Cheney some credit, the parts where things happen (her experience in prison, the insane proceedings of the first chapter) are really compelling.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nelly

    OK, I got to chapter 14 out of 17. I just could NOT bring myself to finish this dreck of a book. How much more can I hear about the beautiful, pretty, petite, redheaded, virtually hairless, wonderful, redheaded, rich, refined, redheaded, educated, fantabulous, heroic, redheaded, amazing, terrific, redheaded, wealthy, sympathetic, redheaded Terri Chenney? This wasn't an account of her illness, this was an account of all the nice stuff she has and how pretty she is and how all that, still - to her OK, I got to chapter 14 out of 17. I just could NOT bring myself to finish this dreck of a book. How much more can I hear about the beautiful, pretty, petite, redheaded, virtually hairless, wonderful, redheaded, rich, refined, redheaded, educated, fantabulous, heroic, redheaded, amazing, terrific, redheaded, wealthy, sympathetic, redheaded Terri Chenney? This wasn't an account of her illness, this was an account of all the nice stuff she has and how pretty she is and how all that, still - to her dismay - did not protect her from being mentally ill. In fact, that's exactly what this "memoir" is about. Cheney trying to tell the reader that no matter how beautiful and well off Cheney is, it still somehow wasn't enough. And no one was more surprised than Cheney. Some of the accounts of her illness are good. They portray the manic and depressive episodes well, BUT she is SO unlikable that I don't care that she's sick. Lots of people are sick, but they don't throw in detailed descriptions of their silk Armani suits, and cashmere dresses that they wear for their suicides. Oh, and her Porsche! Did you know that Terri Cheney drives a Porsche? Because she's mentioned it about 20 times. And she's a natural redhead. Did you know that too? She's pretty proud of it, even though it has NOTHING to do with the story. It's not that she's rich that makes her unlikable, it's that she's beyond vain and it's so annoying to read over and over and over in a place where it's entirely out of context other than to be boastful.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Loripdx

    I asked my local library to order this book so I could read it. Boy, what an eye-opener! I sat down on my couch with this book last night...and 3 hours later, I was done with it. Amazing. I was practically out of breath, fatigued, all by this woman's words describing her life. I can't even begin to imagine living in her skin. Amazing. Read this if you are not faint of heart. It ain't pretty. But it sure is real.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ruby

    There's nothing wrong with the writing in this memoir. It's not astounding, but it's clear and compelling. The description of bipolar disorder seems accurate (to one who is not afflicted, but has known many who are), and it's told in an interesting way -- episodically, which is in keeping with the subject matter. What's wrong is the protagonist. Should I be allowed to judge the person behind the memoir? That the Universe should save me from such judgment. I brought the book back to the library, so There's nothing wrong with the writing in this memoir. It's not astounding, but it's clear and compelling. The description of bipolar disorder seems accurate (to one who is not afflicted, but has known many who are), and it's told in an interesting way -- episodically, which is in keeping with the subject matter. What's wrong is the protagonist. Should I be allowed to judge the person behind the memoir? That the Universe should save me from such judgment. I brought the book back to the library, so I will not be able to quote, but there were a few parts that really irked me, with their extreme classism. Were they honest? Sure. Was it in keeping with grandiosity, a common symptom of bipolar disorder? Definitely. Did I like her for it? No. One particularly upsetting passage summarized her feelings after being mistreated in jail -- not allowed phone calls, made to wet herself instead of being un-restrained and allowed to go to the bathroom, beaten up. In my opinion the story stood alone. It was horrifying. But not nearly so horrifying as her summary. She went on to say that she had believed that her money and privilege (my word) would protect her from this sort of maltreatment. She went so far as to compare herself to -- What was his name? -- Rodney King. The comparison of this moneyed white lawyer who spent one night in jail to Rodney King's predicament was a real stretch at best, terribly racist and insulting at worst. But to pretend to forget his name?! She's from LA, for Chrissake. I almost stopped reading right there. I'm glad I didn't, but only barely.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    2.5 stars. Memoir about a bipolar woman. Although she states from the beginning the reason the book is told in non-linear fashion, and though this format does indeed give a deeper context to her disease, I found it off-putting. I guess I must like my memoirs linear or something. I just found her really, really hard to like because we're just dropped into a manic episode with no background, etc. The book felt like an endless loop of her telling us she's a redhead, a super duper successful lawyer, 2.5 stars. Memoir about a bipolar woman. Although she states from the beginning the reason the book is told in non-linear fashion, and though this format does indeed give a deeper context to her disease, I found it off-putting. I guess I must like my memoirs linear or something. I just found her really, really hard to like because we're just dropped into a manic episode with no background, etc. The book felt like an endless loop of her telling us she's a redhead, a super duper successful lawyer, a Vassar grad, and really charming when she's in hypomania. After awhile it was like, yeah, I get it, you have red hair and went to Vassar. These factoids were repeated over and over. I wanted to SEE how charming she was and I wanted to know more about her, her life, etc. Not just the really, really bad things that happened to her/she did in these manic and depressive states. The book was not a story but a series of events told on a somewhat surfacey level. I do give her major props for opening up about all of this; no doubt it's helped people. And the writing did evoke the sense of whatever manic/depressive state she was in at a particular time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    This is an intense memoir by a lawyer with bipolar disorder. Terry Cheney is very smart and successful but also very ill, and this book throws the reader into some awful experiences from page one – where she’s manic, determined to kill herself, and momentarily thwarted in her suicide plan when she’s locked out of her apartment; she unintentionally flirts with the locksmith, who sexually assaults her and then saves her life. Not all events in the book are this extreme, of course, but it is a memo This is an intense memoir by a lawyer with bipolar disorder. Terry Cheney is very smart and successful but also very ill, and this book throws the reader into some awful experiences from page one – where she’s manic, determined to kill herself, and momentarily thwarted in her suicide plan when she’s locked out of her apartment; she unintentionally flirts with the locksmith, who sexually assaults her and then saves her life. Not all events in the book are this extreme, of course, but it is a memoir of how Cheney’s illness shaped her adult life: her most out-of-control highs and suicidal lows, her many attempts at treatment (with varying success), her fraught relationships and struggles to maintain a normal façade at work. It is a harrowing ride, but the most horrifying episodes are the ones in which the author winds up “in the system,” and in parts of the system with the least excuse for their failings. In one chapter, a traffic stop leads to an arrest and ultimately a beating by police; in another, she overdoses and is briefly committed to a facility where patients receive some of the most dehumanizing treatment imaginable (how this is meant to prevent suicide is unclear). The book doesn’t get into policy arguments, but if this is what happens to someone who carries most privileges that exist in American society (an educated, well-off, gender-conforming, attractive white woman), then somehow either most people in the author’s position must be treated even more abominably or we have conceived the notion that mental illness abrogates one’s humanity. Yikes. At any rate, Cheney’s writing is clear, direct and compelling, pulling the reader right into her life, and the book is a quick read. The organization is deliberately jumbled, and for the most part this works, creating a sense of immediacy and disorientation. It does have a minor drawback, which is that each chapter needs an independent justification for its inclusion: in a few of them not too much happens, or we see something the author has already shown in a slightly different context. But it is a fairly short book and the chapters do fit together into a larger whole. (Actually the oddest thing, to me, was that the relationships the author describes in her acknowledgements are so absent from the text. Most jarring was the glowing thanks to her mother, who appears nowhere in the book despite the many personal and family crises depicted. I’d concluded that either she was dead or they were estranged. Maybe this would make more sense if I'd read Cheney’s other book.) Other readers have pointed out that Cheney is privileged and a snob. This is true and she acknowledges it, in some ways clinging to status symbols as a defense mechanism. But the book isn’t about issues of poverty or race, and I did not find these traits to permeate the writing or otherwise affect my experience of it in the way I expected after reading reviews. Anyway, this book is well-written and intense and brutally honest; it both draws the reader directly into the author’s experiences and explains those experiences, all while telling a gripping story. I recommend it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David

    It feels too personal writing a review of such a revealing autobiographical book, as though criticizing any aspect of the writing would amount to criticizing the life of a person who has obviously suffered a great deal from mental illness, which would not at all be my intent. I would guess, though, that the author would want it reviewed straight, with no sense of affirmative action or what have you, so here goes. What I loved about this book is the vividness of description. She doesn't just say " It feels too personal writing a review of such a revealing autobiographical book, as though criticizing any aspect of the writing would amount to criticizing the life of a person who has obviously suffered a great deal from mental illness, which would not at all be my intent. I would guess, though, that the author would want it reviewed straight, with no sense of affirmative action or what have you, so here goes. What I loved about this book is the vividness of description. She doesn't just say "hypomania makes you hypersensitive to stimulation"; she writes "when you're heading up toward mania, the slightest sensation hotwires your nerves. Sound is noise; sunshine is glare, and it takes all of your self-control not to just slice that mosquito bite clean off your ankle" (p. 60). Many other examples could be cited -- pressured speech, decreased need for sleep, hypersexuality, impulsiveness, racing thoughts, and other manic symptoms are brought to life through her detailed recounting of painful incidents. What was less appealing about the book in my reading was the decision to abandon any sort of chronological organization or any effort to explain clearly how her treatment ended up working [by the end, she has been functioning well and nonsuicidal for a couple of years, but this comes essentially out of the blue]. Each chapter is a self-contained description of an incident, a relationship, or a theme, with no attempt to tie up loose ends. The book jacket served to warn me of this feature, claiming that episodic unfolding of events would enable the reader "to viscerally experience the incredible speeding highs of mania and the crushing blows of depression, just as Cheney did". I'm sure this is a matter of taste, but to me this book illustrates well why the imitative fallacy (the Viet Nam war was long and difficult and demoralizing, so slogging through my book about the Viet Nam war must be made long and difficult and demoralizing) should be avoided. Reading about her on-again/off-again boyfriend Rick or her work on the Michael Jackson trial and then not hearing what happened after that fateful conversation or how the case was settled does not make me viscerally experience mania--it just leaves me wondering what happened. In sum: as memoir, not so great. As description of mania, excellent.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Juliette

    I would give this 2 1/2 stars, if I could. It seems like a trashy beach novel, which seems strange to say, since it's supposed to be a memoir about the struggle of living with bipolar disorder (manic depression). Terri Cheney seems to want the reader to know that she is beautiful. Her red hair is amazing. Her skin is perfectly alabaster. She is really sad about not being able to gain weight and be larger than a size zero. She owns clothing and shoes by Chanel, drove a Porsche, loves MAC sheer plu I would give this 2 1/2 stars, if I could. It seems like a trashy beach novel, which seems strange to say, since it's supposed to be a memoir about the struggle of living with bipolar disorder (manic depression). Terri Cheney seems to want the reader to know that she is beautiful. Her red hair is amazing. Her skin is perfectly alabaster. She is really sad about not being able to gain weight and be larger than a size zero. She owns clothing and shoes by Chanel, drove a Porsche, loves MAC sheer plum lipstick. She also tries to kill herself several times. Men find her irresistible. Women aren't worth her time, when she's manic. The writing is okay, but she's kind of hard to like. She comes across as very unsympathetic, which was odd for me. I think this book should be called Narcissist. The chapter where she swims naked below a cliff in a rip tide was fascinating to read, as were the rest of her manic episodes~to a point. Good thing this book is short.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I'm not manic, nor have I ever been manic. But I could relate to a lot of what was in the book because she talks about the depression side of manic depression a great deal, and I have experience with that. We both have people in our lives who tell us that our medications (mood stabilizers, antidepressants, etc.) are addictive (they are not) and we should stop taking all that stuff and just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We both know how impossible that is. And I am frankly amazed that none I'm not manic, nor have I ever been manic. But I could relate to a lot of what was in the book because she talks about the depression side of manic depression a great deal, and I have experience with that. We both have people in our lives who tell us that our medications (mood stabilizers, antidepressants, etc.) are addictive (they are not) and we should stop taking all that stuff and just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We both know how impossible that is. And I am frankly amazed that none of her suicide attempts worked, considering how she described them. It's interesting for me to see into the manic side without having to experience how out of control one must be during a manic phase. I'm a spectator here. It's tough to review this book without being too spoilery - and you wouldn't necessarily think you can be spoilery about an autobiography, but I'm trying to avoid it anyway. I don't want to ruin any of the really interesting or shocking stories in here for you. But they're very compelling to read, and her story is riveting.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Scarpa

    Not without its well-rendered, vivid, recognizable descriptions of mania and, more sporadically, its moments of intelligence and insight and wit, but overwhelmingly an unsatisfying read on multiple levels. First there is the problem of its structure, its arrangement, to which there seems to be no discernible logic, so that tracking Cheney—both as writer and as subject—in time and in context is impossible. One never knows what portion of her life—what the state of her career might be, with whom s Not without its well-rendered, vivid, recognizable descriptions of mania and, more sporadically, its moments of intelligence and insight and wit, but overwhelmingly an unsatisfying read on multiple levels. First there is the problem of its structure, its arrangement, to which there seems to be no discernible logic, so that tracking Cheney—both as writer and as subject—in time and in context is impossible. One never knows what portion of her life—what the state of her career might be, with whom she might be sleeping, how recent or distant her last suicide attempt is, etc.—one is entering when a new chapter begins, and yet there's an expectancy, it seems to me, that either we ought to know or that we shouldn't mind not knowing. I minded. And I can't entertain an argument that suggests the book's structure is purposeful, or, even more unlikely, that it's purposefully mimicking the ricocheting through mood and time that is characteristic of manic-depression. To put forth such an argument would be to ascribe far too much intention and give far too much credit to Cheney and her editor(s). Equally bothersome are the host of uneasy-making blind spots Cheney has about class and wealth and privilege. She goes to great lengths to let us know how prestigious her law firm is, that she drives a Porsche, that her closet is full of designer wardrobe, that she takes weeks off from work for pamper-packed vacations to Big Sur, etc., and then, in the following chapter, expects us to believe that she's truly worried about how she'll pay rent. This lack of self-awareness—or, this refusal to acknowledge her privilege, which is so abundant as to accommodate multiple months-long leaves of absence from her job with no consequence—is a bummer, as I think the far more interesting angle would've been to own the aforementioned rather than obscure it, and then to write from a space which proves that economic privilege isn't a safeguard against pain and suffering, and that manic depression doesn't stop at a certain income bracket. I'm reading (or rereading) a pile of mental illness memoirs for an essay I'm working on, and it occurs to me to write here that, if you're looking for a memoir about manic depression and you think this might be the one to read, might I suggest instead Marya Hornbacher's Madness, which is tremendous.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    At its best Manic offers insight, albeit through salacious voyeurism, into mental illness. My main issue with this book though is that I simply did not like the writer. By constantly referring to her own beauty, sexiness, successful education and career, well-to-do family (led by "daddy"), she completely turned me off. The moment she compared her plight to that of Rodney King was it for me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Majo's Library.

    I really enjoyed this, but I don't think I would recommend this read to a lot of audiences. This is because some of it is a little un-nerving for those who believe in the "stigma" of bipolar and do not fully understand these experiences. Readers should educate themselves with bipolar and learn about the offensive myths that society has come to believe full hearted-ly about people suffering with mental illnesses.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This was a really interesting book that gave excellent insight on a patient suffering from manic-depression. It's a quick read, and you'll find yourself thinking about it long after you finish the book. Also, if you are wondering what may go on in Britney Spears' mind, this is a great book for you! :)

  14. 4 out of 5

    João Barradas

    O mundo está diametralmente dividido em duas metades complementares: o preto e o branco, o macho e a fêmea, o santo e o pagão... num yin e yang eterno. que deverá tender para uma perfeição vital. Contudo, esse equilíbrio é difícil de atingir para Terri, fruto da sua dualidade patológica. Sofrer de doença bipolar assemelha-se a caminhar num limbo de mínima largura, fronteira limítrofe entre a apatia face ao decorrer do tempo e a ânsia de aproveitar cada momento a 1000%. Neste estado misto entre um O mundo está diametralmente dividido em duas metades complementares: o preto e o branco, o macho e a fêmea, o santo e o pagão... num yin e yang eterno. que deverá tender para uma perfeição vital. Contudo, esse equilíbrio é difícil de atingir para Terri, fruto da sua dualidade patológica. Sofrer de doença bipolar assemelha-se a caminhar num limbo de mínima largura, fronteira limítrofe entre a apatia face ao decorrer do tempo e a ânsia de aproveitar cada momento a 1000%. Neste estado misto entre um embotamento vazio e uma fluidez de ideias, explana-se uma vida intempestiva, vivenciada de forma não linear mas entrecortada por momentos de clara lucidez. Da mesma forma não cronológica, são relatados vários episódios marcantes, como desgostos amorosos, dissimulações sexuais (referenciadas numa dose quase excessiva), assédios inesperados, depauperação de familiares e terapias de aversão e de choque, aceites em desespero de causa. Tudo regado com uma boa dose de álcool que mantém a chama viva, ateada no estado de mania, a qual consome o rastilho do suicídio, mantido impávido e sereno no estado de depressão, quando uma pedra de mil toneladas parece impedir qualquer acção. Os altos e baixos mantém-se até ao encarar do problema reflectido no espelho, assumindo a insanidade e reprimindo o ímpeto de mascará-la com pós de normalidade que saem à mínima gota de suor. Mesmo os monstros são criaturas de Deus e carecem de compreensão e oportunidades para se redimirem dos pecados cometidos e caírem numa banal rotina insignificante. A doença não tem, no fim, de definir a pessoa!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ally

    For someone who has not suffered from mental illness and only ever had to grapple with mild seasonal depression, books like Manic almost seem like fiction to me. I am morbidly interested in the experiences of people grappling with mental illness, mostly because I want to try and understand them. A few years ago, my best friends sister attempted suicide. Thankfully, she was found and stopped in time, but the ramifications have continued to this day. This is one of the first books I've read on mani For someone who has not suffered from mental illness and only ever had to grapple with mild seasonal depression, books like Manic almost seem like fiction to me. I am morbidly interested in the experiences of people grappling with mental illness, mostly because I want to try and understand them. A few years ago, my best friends sister attempted suicide. Thankfully, she was found and stopped in time, but the ramifications have continued to this day. This is one of the first books I've read on manic depression and has really helped me understand the actions my friend's sister took. While technically she is not bipolar (she has borderline personality disorder), a lot of the behaviour exhibited by Terri Cheney, particularly mood swings and depression, also describe the type of person my friend has been living with for the past years. It's amazing to see what so many people grapple with in their lives. Even if I didn't have such a personal interest in psychology and mental illness, I would still have enjoyed this book. Cheney is a fantastic storyteller (I always feel very guilty when I read memoirs like this as if they are fiction), and the way she set up the book was interesting. Rather than giving a chronological account of her illness and various suicide attempts, she skips from one part of her life to another because that is what it feels like to be manic. It was fascinating to be inside her head, both when she's manic and depressed, but also when she is "sane". After she finally stabilizes with modern medication, it's almost as if she misses being manic although she doesn't do anything that would threaten her streak of sanity. Overall, an educational and riveting read. Anyone interested in mental illness, or just a good memoir should read it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laurel-Rain

    Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic-depression, can turn lives inside out, and then when the victim least expects it, can remind him or her that remission is just a respite, not a cure. For years, the author of "Manic: A Memoir" was felled by acute depressions that brought her to suicide attempts. And then, finally, she had to acknowledge to herself that the depressions were only part of the story. Her diagnosis with bipolar disorder brought a series of medications, with none completely offer Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic-depression, can turn lives inside out, and then when the victim least expects it, can remind him or her that remission is just a respite, not a cure. For years, the author of "Manic: A Memoir" was felled by acute depressions that brought her to suicide attempts. And then, finally, she had to acknowledge to herself that the depressions were only part of the story. Her diagnosis with bipolar disorder brought a series of medications, with none completely offering any kind of stability to her life. As a seemingly last resort, Electroconvulsive Shock Treatment was one of the trials she had to experience. Cheney takes the reader through a series of anecdotal chapters, revealing, in no particular order, how her journey toward some kind of balance finally brought her to a place of acceptance. As an entertainment lawyer, Cheney tried for the life she thought she had wanted. Finally she had to make some decisions along the way, and despite the difficulties she encountered, she found another journey. Her story of how she reached that place was mesmerizing and thoroughly informative. Toward the end of her story, she writes: "It's all you can really count on when you're manic-depressive: this day, and no more. But the days add up. To my surprise, it's been several years since I've had a full-blown manic episode, longer still since I've tried to commit suicide. Stability feels like such a precarious thing, dependent on just the right dose by just the right doctor. But still somehow I've found it--at least long enough to spend another afternoon in the little café." An educational read that I recommend for anyone who has experienced this disorder, or has known someone who has. Four stars.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Hiester

    Terri Cheney details her fight with manic depression through a sequence of non-chronological chapters. She makes it clear at the beginning that this book reflects her life as she has experienced it. It does, on the other hand, result in some doubling-up in the chapters that maybe a part of the mania itself. For example, in quite a few chapters, Cheney describes how sharp each sense develops into during manic episode. The descriptions are the same from chapter to chapter although the circumstance Terri Cheney details her fight with manic depression through a sequence of non-chronological chapters. She makes it clear at the beginning that this book reflects her life as she has experienced it. It does, on the other hand, result in some doubling-up in the chapters that maybe a part of the mania itself. For example, in quite a few chapters, Cheney describes how sharp each sense develops into during manic episode. The descriptions are the same from chapter to chapter although the circumstances are different. I will say that it's intriguing to read about a person's experience of mental illness and how it traverses their entire life. While each memoir I have read that encompasses mental illness are distinctive, Cheney's memoir sheds light on the personal affect it has had on her life. Manic is a fascinating and sincere read. 4 Stars

  18. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Rose

    Cheney is relentless with pressing her mania against the reader, rarely letting up. She's written the narrative in scattered fragments, to mimic her manic mind, which works well because each story is self contained, and they do, in a way, weave together. She writes her prose the same way she's lived her life, intense and unconventional as she describes her life's miserable lows and sometimes catastrophic highs. Anyone who knows someone close to them who suffers from mental illness would gain muc Cheney is relentless with pressing her mania against the reader, rarely letting up. She's written the narrative in scattered fragments, to mimic her manic mind, which works well because each story is self contained, and they do, in a way, weave together. She writes her prose the same way she's lived her life, intense and unconventional as she describes her life's miserable lows and sometimes catastrophic highs. Anyone who knows someone close to them who suffers from mental illness would gain much from reading Manic. People, like me, who suffer from depression, anxiety, or mania will recognize the author's pain but still gain something new, as everyone's journey with mental illness is unique.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    I learned of this book while watching a PBS station and Barry Kibrick was thoroughly reviewing Manic with its author, Terri Cheney. He is a great reviewer. I thought it would be an interesting book. I just finished it and it truly is an amazing account of Cheney's life as a manic depressive. Each chapter is an "event" in her life, wherein she describes in vivid detail her feelings and thoughts about what is occuring in her body and mind during that time. I found it fascinating. It's not a long b I learned of this book while watching a PBS station and Barry Kibrick was thoroughly reviewing Manic with its author, Terri Cheney. He is a great reviewer. I thought it would be an interesting book. I just finished it and it truly is an amazing account of Cheney's life as a manic depressive. Each chapter is an "event" in her life, wherein she describes in vivid detail her feelings and thoughts about what is occuring in her body and mind during that time. I found it fascinating. It's not a long book, but it was long enough to have an idea of what it would feel like to be manic or depressed. I can't even imagine. Medicine is a miracle! I highly recommend this book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie (Stepping out of the Page)

    This was a decent book though it was not as compelling as I had expected - perhaps due to the lack of chronology. It was quite matter-of-fact and not as emotional as I had thought it would be considering the subject matter. It did however give a good insight to living life with bipolar disorder and it was interesting to read about manic experiences alongside depressive episodes. The main reason I enjoyed this book was because it was different - facing up to mania.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jeannie

    This was a roller-coaster ride of a book. I really liked the way she wrote it out of sequence due to her not recalling when her episodes happened or in what order, that's quite unusual but it worked. This really opened my eyes to bi-polar disorder and the turmoil involved, I had no idea how bad it could be. My heart truly goes out to her and to anyone battling with this disorder.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book is amazing. It really puts you in the shoes of a bi-polar person rather then just reading about the illness. If you know anyone who is Bi-polar, this is a must read. While I am certainly not a severe as this woman, it does give you a very good idea of what this illness is like.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Really powerful book. This woman has been through everything and then some.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ann Wilkens

    I feel paranoid for even putting this up (because someone might make the wrong assumption about me) but I LOVE books about mental illness and mental institutions.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    Terri Cheney's memoir of her life long battle with bipolar disease is a must read for family members or friends of loved ones who battle this vicious illness. She gives a clear and painful voice to mental illness. Cheney went to Vassar; got her law degree and became an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles; all while battling depression and mania. Her brutal honesty of her manic times and the months of dealing with the "dark beast" is heartbreaking. Bringing mental illness out into the open is the Terri Cheney's memoir of her life long battle with bipolar disease is a must read for family members or friends of loved ones who battle this vicious illness. She gives a clear and painful voice to mental illness. Cheney went to Vassar; got her law degree and became an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles; all while battling depression and mania. Her brutal honesty of her manic times and the months of dealing with the "dark beast" is heartbreaking. Bringing mental illness out into the open is the only way that much needed changes in the health care field and the legal system can be accomplished. Those suffering from this illness will find some hope and probably recognize themselves in this memoir. "For this day, at least, I'm sane, and I'm writing and that's a glorious thing. It's all you can really count on when you're manic-depressive; this day, and no more. But the days add up. To my surprise, it's been several years since I've had a full-blown manic episode, longer still since I've tried to commit suicide. Stability feels like such a precarious thing, dependent on just the right dose by just the right doctor. But still, somehow I've found it--at least long enough to spend another afternoon in the little cafe. Life is not easy, but it's simpler now. I no longer want to fly kites in a thunderstorm. I have no interest in dancing a tango with the riptide." We who consider ourselves "normal" need to remember that mental illness does not care about gender; social class or socio-economic status. Your heart will break for Ms. Cheney's treatment by law enforcement and health professionals. In one chapter she relates her arrest and treatment for a traffic violation. She tried to explain to the officers that she needed her medication and wanted to call either her doctor or lawyer. After 14 hours with no phone call and after trying to grab a phone off a desk (she was full blown manic) she was beaten with a baton over and over and over. She was begging them to help her; to understand that she desperately needed her medicine; that she was ill. They treated her as a non human. "My lawyer later told me that the Penal Code mandates that a prisoner be allowed to contact his attorney within three hours of his arrest and that any medication request has to be reviewed by the doctor on call. It didn't matter. The thing inside me that used to care--that got indignant, outraged, that insisted on its rights--had been beaten out of me. It just didn't matter anymore. Nothing has ever been the same for me since that endless moment on the cold stone floor. Nothing will ever be. I know now that I am touchable, that I am not immune. You grow up separated from the people on the bus, or the people on the street, by a glass wall of money, education, a profession. You never think it could be you when you watch that poor black guy being beaten up by the cops. It's just TV. You can barely remember his name now--Arthur King? Robert King? Rodney. You are Rodney King, and it doesn't even show in the mirror. Maybe its worse when you're a lawyer, and you know what rights are being violated. Maybe it's not, because when you get out there's another lawyer waiting to defend you. I ultimately got off with a reduced sentence--a "wet reckless", which cost me a bundle but didn't really inconvenience my life. But I still hestitate to take my shirt off and reveal my scars to a new lover. I hesitate to bare myself at all." The wreckage she causes in her own life and those who love her or try to love her are not glossed over. She makes no excuses for her behaviour during the manic times; the depressed times..she helps us understand the disease more by putting a voice to it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angela Graves

    This was the best memoir about bipolar that I've read so far. I loved Kay Jamison's, An Unquiet Mind, but these two books are of very different types. Jamison's book came with a lot more clinical knowledge mixed in with her personal story. Manic was a series of vignettes about different manic or depressed times that had major impact on her life. At first I thought that I would have preferred them to be chronological, but by the end I realized that this random structure did not detract and also g This was the best memoir about bipolar that I've read so far. I loved Kay Jamison's, An Unquiet Mind, but these two books are of very different types. Jamison's book came with a lot more clinical knowledge mixed in with her personal story. Manic was a series of vignettes about different manic or depressed times that had major impact on her life. At first I thought that I would have preferred them to be chronological, but by the end I realized that this random structure did not detract and also gave a very literal view into what it is like to be inside of a bipolar mind. Unlike many memoirs, this book ended wonderfully - as in, it was done in one short chapter and one short epilogue. Thank you for that! I could relate to only some of her awful experiences as a result of her episodes (thank goodness), but the internal descriptions of her feelings and lack of control were all too familiar. The events of her first chapter were the most traumatic for me to read until I came across the different episodes of how she had been treated by medical staff, law enforcement, and loved ones. My medication has much better success than hers, but until reading this, the bipolar stigma and lack of understanding was just some hypothetical thing in my mind. Quite frankly, those sections had me scared shitless. I feel like some non bipolar readers of this book might not actually believe these events to be true, and while I can't verify them because I'm not her, I can say that every event was believable for someone with bipolar (I'm assuming bipolar I). I hope that this book might open the eyes to even a few people out there who think that the illness is a mind over matter type thing. One thing that Terri could have done to help herself, and she did figure out by the end, was to cut the alcohol... I know of and read of so many people with bipolar where they don't realize that alcohol in particular is a major factor in making things worse. I think this book might be received very differently by someone without bipolar, so there might be a bias to my rating, but I have made it in relation to the many other books I've read of the type in addition to memoirs in general.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    MANIC: A MEMOIR provides excellent insight into the events in the life of an adult with bipolar disorder (aka manic-depressive disease). Cheney highlights key markers along the progression of her mental illness as an adult. Touching on events that occurred prior to her diagnosis, as well as some that occurred after, Cheney takes us on a retrospective journey through these events from the perspective of her internal process of recognizing specific thought patterns, physical sensations, moods, and MANIC: A MEMOIR provides excellent insight into the events in the life of an adult with bipolar disorder (aka manic-depressive disease). Cheney highlights key markers along the progression of her mental illness as an adult. Touching on events that occurred prior to her diagnosis, as well as some that occurred after, Cheney takes us on a retrospective journey through these events from the perspective of her internal process of recognizing specific thought patterns, physical sensations, moods, and external factors that can trigger, exacerbate, or distort any or all of these elements. After adding these ingredients for disaster together, she continues moving forward with her initial reaction, her ensuing response, the immediate result, and the extended fallout, which is rarely very good. Using honesty and humor, while never minimizing the severity of her disease, Cheney entertains and enlightens. To manic-depressives, they will recognize themselves. To those with family or friends who are manic-depressives, they will learn a lot about the internal clockwork of a bipolar individual that runs either a few minutes too fast or a few too slow, but never quite in synch with themselves or the world around them. Cheney also shares her experiences with a multitude of treatments and medications, the seemingly endless trial and error it takes to find the right combination to stabilize her own brain chemistry in the hopes that some day she can be normal. Because of her perseverance, she has lived to tell her story (and, in essence, the story of so many others also plagued by mental illness). It is not a pretty story but an honest one; one that will resonate with and enlighten many, ultimately providing hope for anyone affected by bipolar disease. I also recommend Cheney's follow-up book, THE DARK SIDE OF INNOCENCE: GROWING UP BIPOLAR, in which she recounts her experiences as a child in a similar fashion that is also accurate, insightful, and hopeful.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Manic by Terri Cheney put me in an awkward position. As someone who has loved ones who have had to battle illness throughout their lives im particularly symathetic to people in their position. But with Terri i found it alot harder than what i should of. I dont know why but i found it very hard to empathize with her. Not because of alot of her behaviour that i know was a result of the manic depression but the side of i seen as just snobbish and unlikeable. The book itself has many harrowing bits s Manic by Terri Cheney put me in an awkward position. As someone who has loved ones who have had to battle illness throughout their lives im particularly symathetic to people in their position. But with Terri i found it alot harder than what i should of. I dont know why but i found it very hard to empathize with her. Not because of alot of her behaviour that i know was a result of the manic depression but the side of i seen as just snobbish and unlikeable. The book itself has many harrowing bits such as being sexually assulted while being drunk, being in jail and recieving a beating while she is their, suicide attempts and numerous bizzare bits of behaviour such as flying kites in a storm, wanting to dance a Tango naked in a riptide and a seemingly endless appetite for flirting with men. Along the way Terri loses her father to cancer, gains and loses countless friends and boyfriends and goes to numerous measures to try and make herself better including electro shock treatment and numerous drugs. Unfortuently she didnt get treatment earlier as her father refused to believe her daughter was sick saying "its all in your head." Despite what i wrote earlier Manic was a good read that gave me a facinating insight into manic depression. I was intriguged by the books flow in that it went in the way Terri remembered things. Terri's memory already not prefect due to her illness went even worse after the electro shock treatment as a result we had constant going from one situation to another. While not the best book ive read on the subject of mental illness it was well written if at times confusing read with alot of heart.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mallory

    This was a good, relatively quick read. It was interesting without being overwhelming and engaging without making you feel oppressed by the author's illness. For both of these reasons it was not as strong as Marya Hornbacher's Madness but perhaps a more palatable read. This one also ends on a much more positive note than Hornbacher's book, which might be comforting to the casual reader. I know I recommended Madness to a friend this year and she returned it to me unread, saying that she was too un This was a good, relatively quick read. It was interesting without being overwhelming and engaging without making you feel oppressed by the author's illness. For both of these reasons it was not as strong as Marya Hornbacher's Madness but perhaps a more palatable read. This one also ends on a much more positive note than Hornbacher's book, which might be comforting to the casual reader. I know I recommended Madness to a friend this year and she returned it to me unread, saying that she was too uncomfortable in the parts she did manage to get through to want to finish. This might be a better book for people who are interested in learning about bipolar disorder because, while sad at times, it is tempered with an insight that makes it easier to read. Terri Cheney has obviously been able to come to terms with her illness and turn it into something that, if not a positive force in her life, is an accepted part of her character. Ultimately, there are better bipolar memoirs out there (there are a surprising number of bipolar memoirs out there!) but this is still a good one to add to the shelf.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I don't like the term "bipolar." Even though I am, I much prefer "manic depressive" because I think it describes the condition more accurately. Bipolar makes me think of Bicoastal--part of the year I reside at the North Pole while during the harsh winter I head to the South Pole. So I like that Teri Cheney titled her book MANIC. She left out the DEPRESSIVE because what's the allure of that? This isn't the first memoir I've read by a manic depressive--mental illness makes for good stories. The thi I don't like the term "bipolar." Even though I am, I much prefer "manic depressive" because I think it describes the condition more accurately. Bipolar makes me think of Bicoastal--part of the year I reside at the North Pole while during the harsh winter I head to the South Pole. So I like that Teri Cheney titled her book MANIC. She left out the DEPRESSIVE because what's the allure of that? This isn't the first memoir I've read by a manic depressive--mental illness makes for good stories. The thing I wonder about is if these authors are so manically out of control, how can they recall it well enough to capture the episodes in writing? In this book Cheney recalls the signs that lead to full blown mania. Maybe it's the nature of the illness, but my question was why didn't she at least try to do something...anything before she found her wrists and ankles bound by leather straps in the mental ward with no recollection of how she got there? And then there were her periods of deep depression. If you've ever experienced it yourself, you know there were times she literally couldn't get herself to do anything--eat (oh wait, she ate flour out of the canister), take a shower, go to work. What got me, though, was how she always said this time the depression was the worst ever. The.worst.ever. Why did I keep reading if it was only going to get awfuler and awfuler?

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