A Bipolar Life
By Marya Hornbacher
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618754458, 320pp.)
Publication Date: June 2008
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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.
Marya Hornbacher is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated national bestseller Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, a book that remains an intensely read classic, and the acclaimed novel The Center of Winter. An award-winning journalist, she lectures nationally on writing and mental health and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- Early in Madness, Hornbacher discloses the nature of her bond with her bipolar disorder. "I grew into it. It grew into me. It and I blurred at the edges, became one amorphous, seeping, crawling thing." How much does Hornbacher's self-image, or her very identity for that matter, revolve around her "madness"? As the memoir progresses, does Hornbacher eventually succeed in forging an identity separate from the effects the disorder? Can you describe Hornbacher's personality, her tone as a narrator, and even her actions in a way that is devoid of the traits and the descriptive terms of bipolar? Can the two be separated?