The Dark Side of Innocence (Hardcover)

Growing Up Bipolar

By Terri Cheney

Atria Books, 9781439176214, 288pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2011

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (3/13/2012)

List Price: 25.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


“Killing yourself at any age is a seriously tricky business. But when I was seven, the odds felt insurmountable.”

As a young girl, Terri Cheney’s life looked perfect. Her family lived in a lovely house in a tranquil Los Angeles suburb where the geraniums never once failed to bloom. She was pretty and smart, an academic superstar and popular cheerleader whose father doted on her. But starting with her first suicide attempt at age seven, it was clear that her inner world was anything but perfect.

“There’s something wrong with her,” her mother would whisper, her voice quivering on the edge of despair. And indeed there was, although no one had a name for it yet. Hostage to her roller-coaster moods, Terri veered from easy A-pluses to total paralysis, from bouts of obsessive hypersexuality to episodes of alcoholic abandon that nearly cost her her life. Throughout Terri’s chaotic early years, nothing was certain from day to day except this: whatever was so deeply wrong with her must be kept a secret.

Thirty years later, Terri wrote Manic, a harrowing memoir that revealed her adult struggle with bipolar disorder. It became an instant New York Times bestseller and received passionate critical acclaim. But it didn’t tell the whole story. The mystery of Terri’s childhood remained untouched— too troubling, too painful to fathom. The Dark Side of Innocence explores those tumultuous formative years, finally shattering Terri’s well-guarded secret. With vivid intensity, it blends a pitch-perfect childlike voice with keen adult observation. The Dark Side of Innocence provides a heart-rending, groundbreaking insider’s look into the fascinating and frightening world of childhood bipolar disorder, an illness that affects a staggering one million children. This poignant and compelling story of Terri’s journey from disaster and despair to hope and survival will serve as an informative and eye-opening tale for those who would trust a flawless facade.

About the Author

Terri Cheney, once a successful entertainment attorney representing the likes of Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, now devotes her advocacy skills to the cause of mental illness.  On the boards of directors of several mental health organizations, she also facilitates a weekly community support group at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute.  Her writings about bipolar disorder have been featured in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and countless articles and blogs.  She currently resides in Los Angeles.


Praise For The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar

“Cheney’s chilling account of her struggle with bipolar disorder brilliantly evokes the brutal nature of her disease. . .Edgy, dark and often cynical, Manic is not an easy book to read, but it has heart and soul to spare.” — People

"The Dark Side of Innocence is a magnificent depiction of the ravages of bipolar illness in childhood. Cheney has the wondrous ability to put herself back in the mind of a child, and we feel with her the exhilarating highs and desperate lows, as well as the terrifying confusion created by an illness for which she had no name...In an age when more and more people recognize that bipolar disorder may affect children too, Cheney’s intensely personal account provides much-needed hope and understanding about a highly stigmatized illness. A real tour de force." —Elyn Saks, author of The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, and recipient of the 2009 MacArthur Award

"Rewind the life of any adult with bipolar and you will find a childhood we would all desperately like to forget. Terri Cheney unflinchingly remembers…at long last, someone with the courage to break the silence." —John McManamy, author of Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder

“Eloquent, riveting…a tale that is hard to set aside.” —Ed Renehan, author of The Lion's Pride

"This will be big." —Library Journal

"Once again, Terri Cheney has written an educational but bittersweet book that moved me deeply." —Muffy Walker, MSN, MBA, President, International Bipolar Foundation

"As the father of an adult son with a severe mental illness, I found myself choking with emotion as I read Terri Cheney’s riveting and illuminating account of her childhood growing-up with bipolar disorder. What did I miss as a loving father? Were there signs? Could I have saved my son? Cheney provides us with important insights from the eyes of the most innocent among us—our very own children." —Pete Earley, New York Times bestselling author of CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness

"Her story is a sound first step toward understanding your child's pain and finding solutions." —Publishers Weekly

“Cheney gives us a poignant, enlightening view of her struggles as a child.” —The Daily Beast