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Madness: A Bipolar Life [Hardcover]

Marya Hornbacher
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 9 2008
An astonishing dispatch from inside the belly of bipolar disorder, reflecting major new insights

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

Hornbacher, who detailed her struggle with bulimia and anorexia in Wasted, now shares the story of her lifelong battle with mental illness, finally diagnosed as rapid cycling type 1 bipolar disorder. Even as a toddler, Hornbacher couldn't sleep at night and jabbered endlessly, trying to talk her parents into going outside to play in the dark. Other schoolchildren called her crazy. When she was just 10, she discovered alcohol was a good mood stabilizer; by age 14, she was trading sex for pills. In her late teens, her eating disorder landed her in the hospital, followed by another body obsession, cutting. An alcoholic by this point, she was alternating between mania and depression, with frequent hospitalizations. Her doctor explained that not only did the alcohol block her medications, it was up to her to control her mental illness, which would always be with her. This truth didn't sink in for a long, long time, but when it did, she had a chance for a life outside her local hospital's psychiatric unit. Hornbacher ends on a cautiously optimistic note—she knows she'll never lead a normal life, but maybe she could live with the life she does have. Although painfully self-absorbed, Hornbacher will touch a nerve with readers struggling to cope with mental illness. (Apr.)
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Review

"The story of friends, family, and lovers will pull readers into the deeper themes of trust, rejection, and intimate secrets revealed." (Booklist)

"A warm and substantive character study and a welcome addition to stories about LGBTQ teens." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Readers will appreciate Alyssa's honesty as she slowly reveals the details of her desperate break-up with Sarah.... [and] will also respect Peters's choice to give Alyssa new hope." (Publishers Weekly)

"Compelling, taut, and heartbreaking." (The Bulletin) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book Jan. 3 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A must read for anyone who has had to try to understand the challenges faced by someone who has bipolar disorder.
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4.0 out of 5 stars kept me interested June 4 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a good read for anyone who is Bipolar. The author rattles on too much when describing her manic periods and it is as if she wants the reader to spin out of control reading these parts. I had to skim over them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent March 20 2011
Format:Paperback
I've read many autobiographical books about people's struggles with mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder. This is by far my favorite. I agree with one of the reviews printed on the book - something to the effect of feeling like you're strapped into the roller coaster ride with the author. I couldn't agree more!
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