Synopses & Reviews
"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.
"Cheney, a former L.A. entertainment lawyer, pointedly dispels expectations of a 'safe ride' through this turbulent account of bipolar disorder. With evocative imagery time-shuffled recollections meant to mirror her disorienting extremes of mood Cheney conjures life at the mercy of a brain chemistry that yanks her from 'soul-starving' despair to raucous exuberance, impetuous pursuits to paralyzing lethargy. Caught in a riptide of febrile impulse, she caroms from seductions to suicide attempts while flirting recklessly with men, danger and death, only to find more hazards in the drastic side effects of treatment. More than a train-wreck tearjerker, the memoir draws strength from salient observations that expose the frustrations of bipolar disorder, from its brutal sabotage of romance and friendship to the challenge it poses to the simplest emotions, such as 'the terrors of being happy' that augur mania's onset. Though she sustains an ominous mood and relays horrifying incidents with icy candor, Cheney lightens up at times, as when she marvels at the ease of masking her condition at an office that brings out everyone's manic side. But the narrative hopscotch frustrates readers' need for grounding and context that might clear up Cheney's muddled history and satisfy readers' urge to learn the fallout of her impulse-driven episodes. Her startlingly lucid descriptions of illness merit a more concise chronology." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Cheney's remarkable chronicle of her painful odyssey is as eloquent as it is brave. It is also profoundly necessary." Providence Journal
"[Cheney] depicts with startling clarity her naked immersion in freezing ocean waves at midnight...[and] rivets us with her recollection of awakening in restraints in a padded room." Booklist
"Cheney shows us bipolar behavior and its effects. Her descriptions of mania are especially strong and visual." Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Terri Cheney specialized in intellectual property and entertainment law at several prominent Los Angeles firms, where, over the course of her sixteen-year career, she represented such celebrity clients as Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, as well as major motion picture studios, including Universal Studios and Columbia Pictures. She now devotes her talents to the cause of mental illness. She was named a member of the Community Advisory Board of the UCLA Mood Disorders Research Program, and founded a weekly community support group at UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute. She lives in Los Angeles.