Madness: A Bipolar Life Book Review

Madness: A Bipolar Life

I first read Madness in 2009 after putting it off for a while. I saw the book when I went into Chapter’s, in my favouite section, Biography, and I would pick it up, read the back, and put it down. I enjoyed Marya Hornbacher’s first book, Wasted (a journey through her eating disorder) and thought it would be similar in content, and therefore a waste. I was very wrong. I read the prologue and was shocked at the detail. It could be very triggering to those that self injure (SI) but it caught me, and brought me into the book.

She wasn’t telling somebody else’s story. She was telling a first person account of her time with madness. I could relate to her (because I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, type 1, rapid cycling) and see myself in some of her passages. Her struggle to find the right medications, to get a correct diagnosis chimed in my brain, I’ve been through that. Others have been through that too, her experience, though not terribly common, has been experienced by many others in the grips of bipolar disorder.

Her writing style is quite simple, it isn’t a hard book to read, it’s quite easy, which makes it more appealing, especially if you have a short attention span. She makes you want to go on, to read more, to know “what next?” She brings you through her intense mania’s and wallowing depressions and at times, you can feel the sorrow and the joy, the irritability and the rage.

With her own experience she shows someone what not to do. She shows how her drinking affected her already prominent bipolar disorder, even before it was diagnosed. She shows how it affects relationships, functioning, finances and everything to do with every day life. She pulls through, managing to keep writing through her dramatic mood episodes and make a living for herself. She ends the book not cured, but in a way she shrugs off as, “everything’s okay”.

This book I would recommend to someone who is suffering from any style of bipolar disorder, to family members, friends, spouses. She uses humour and descriptive writing to show her personal story. This book covers practically everything about bipolar disorder in a first hand experience. Even ECT is brought up in this book, a controversial treatment (electroconvulsive therapy, something I underwent in 2008, it changed my life, formerly called “shock therapy”) is described in as much detail as possible and shows the positives and negatives to it.

I wish I had picked up this book the first time I saw it. It has incredible insight into one of the most serious forms of mental illness and shows you that you can get through it. I give this book 5 stars.