Has anyone read, Madness: a Bipolar Life?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Christy, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. Christy

    Christy New Member

    by Marya Hornbacher

    I have been trying to read books that offer the BiPolar (BP) perspective so that I have a better understanding of my sons moods and what he might be thinking. Unfortunately none are written by 10 year old boys-LOL.

    I read this book recently and thought, wow, this poor woman is really troubled. I read another book by some comedian/song writer (My Upside Down Life (or something like that)) and it was much more positive, sure he still struggles with BiPolar (BP) but has found medications that help, a good doctor, supportive wife, etc...

    Madness, was less hopeful, Hornbacker suffered through years of hospitalizations, drinking, an eating disorder, cutting herself, and at the end of the book, you still feel like she's a hair's breath away from another breakdown or worse.

    I guess I wondering, if you've read the book, what you thoughts were. Is this on the extreme end of bipolar?

    Can anyone suggest any other memoirs written by bipolar people?

  2. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    I haven't read either of the books you mention, but seems to me everyone's journey thru life with BiPolar (BP) is different and reading a book on BiPolar (BP) can give you insights, but just when you think you have it all figured out, something or someone comes along to send you back to the starting line. What I'm saying is don't let other journeys scare you, your difficult child will follow his own path.....it may be rockier or smoother, you just can't predict it.......wishing he has a smoother one......
  3. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I agree with Whymemom. I read The Bipolar Child and went into a severe depression, because those particular cases were so extreme. I have decided NOT to read those books anymore.
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I have the BiPolar (BP) child, but use it more for reference- I haven't read it cover to cover. I have read New Hope for Teens and Adolescents with BiPolar (BP) (or something like that). I didn't find it depressing at all. I haven't read either of the ones you mentioned simply because I was afraid it would make me think closed-minded about difficult child's future.

    My son had asked about a book written FOR teens with BiPolar (BP)- I found one or two listed on amazon, but haven't ordered one for him yet.
  5. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    I haven't read Madness but did recently read a bunch of reader reviews of it on Amazon.com. Some people were very enthusiastic, but many others, and esp. those who are actually BiPolar (BP), strongly objected to it. The people who actually knew anything about BiPolar (BP) thought it was excessively grim and self-serving, i.e. cynically exploiting the author's real suffering for financial gain. Or, at least, that's what I took from the reviews, but I didn't read all of them -- I stopped after deciding I wasn't going to buy the book! Some reviewers recommended as an alternative Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind. I read that a long time ago and so don't have vivid memories but do recall thinking it was good. And Jamison has had a very successful career, so her book can be an inspiration even though it also catalogs some sad personal history.

    Happy reading,
  6. abnormal13

    abnormal13 New Member

    I have read Madness: a Bipolar Life several times. I'm only 16 going on 17 in two months but it is honestly one of the best books I have ever read. I have read all of Marya Hornbachers books from Madness: A Bipolar Life and Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. I have bipolar and have been diagnosed with it for at least four years. I'm on a ton of medication and actually, if you read the facts about her in the end of the book it lists the medications she's on, and i'm on a ton of the same. I've been hospitalized seven times, mostly from self injury and eating disorders. I'm worse than hypomanic (where you usually only get a small high of mood) and have mood swings that go from on top of the world and hyper to crashing and burning and not wanting to get out of bed depression. I've read up on it and not everyone that has bipolar will end up severe like Marya Hornbacher, or even me who isn't as bad as I've seen. With the right medications and a reasonable amount of therapy you can be completely stable. Some bipolar people barely have problems. Just because some people end up worse doesn't mean your son will. With the right medications and the right reactions from parents and siblings he can lead a completely normal life. Remember that a persons past also makes a difference in their behavior and severity of their diagnosis. Just keep your head up and stay positive. A lot of bipolar people lead a completely normal life and don't end up anywhere close to where Marya Hornbacher was.
  7. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Hi Christy,
    I haven't read a book about Bipolar Disorder in many years...but I myself have the diagnosis.

    I don't think that having Bipolar Disorder is ALL a negative.
    Now, I have suffered with depression, a temporary eating disorder (along the lines of anorexia), alcoholism, anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behavior.

    The flip side is...that as a teen I was VERY creative. Was involved in both fine arts as well as commercial art and quite talented. Even had one of my pieces entered in State Competition and got recognition for it. I also LOVED writing poetry.

    As an adult...the anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (manic behavior) manifested itself through having an immaculate house. You would never find clutter or ANYTHING left undone, even with 3 children and all of their friends over. I was able to sell two homes within 2 weeks of putting on the market because quite honestly the "perfectionist" in me had the homes in Selling Condition at all times that we lived in them. The yard was beautiful...with flowers spilling out of a barrell in the front, the pool sparkling, the grass greener than anyone on the block (I used organic soil enrichers and earth worm and castings and even, lol, released preying manis') The house was constantly vacuumed and toilets always cleaned, always dusted and windexed, etc. I was a VERY busy mom with ALOT of demands I placed on myself.

    Along with having an immaculate house I also kept our finances (at that time) perfected and we once qualified for a Half Million Dollar Home when we were looking for home in the Mountains of Colorado (where we did end up moving for one year). Which by the way had been a teenage dream for husband and I...to live in the mountains in Co, and we made it COME TRUE.

    In addition, the "creative side" (as an adult) came out with letters to editior citing examples of morals that were being taught and learned by my children in everyday situations. I was often "in the paper". I also was VERY involved in politics and called in on radion talk shows with my "highly opinionated self". lol

    4 1/2 yrs ago I did finally lose it completely. I had a psychotic breakdown and all that goes along with that. I was hallucinating visually, auditorially even smelling a "burning smell". My breakdown was all religiously based and quite scary as I "thought" the Devil and G-d were competing for my soul.
    I was hospitalized just in time as I could very well have hurt myself or someone else...since my mother as well as my husbands faces turned into the Devil (in my mind).
    I also was confronted by police after husband was trying to take me to the hospital himself and the police were called. I had jumped out of our truck because husband had a shovel sticking out of the back of it and in my mind he was taking me to the edge of town to "bury" me. When the police caught me I tried to grab the gun from one of the officers in order to shoot myself as I thought they all wanted me dead anyway.

    After my hospitilization I was on various mood stabilizing drugs that were not working...finally placed Abilify.
    Abilify has been life altering for me. No more deep depression...even in the middle of depressing events (like my young difficult child being in jail right now, etc). No more intense anxiety or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) type behavior either (mania). Now I do miss some of the creativity and have a "beautiful home" at all times, finances in order at all times etc. But I honestly feel that I am in a much better place today on the right medication as I function on a normal emotional level now.

    It is an interesting a complex life in my opinion but it does not have to be completely negative...creativity, passions, talents, perfectionism, and profound thought processes are a few BiPolar (BP) "traits" in my opinion.

  8. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Hi abnormal13,
    Welcome to Conduct Disorders Board.
    Sorry I didn't realize this was a post started in 2008 that you were responding to.

    As a teen with Bipolar Disorder I'll bet you have fairly good insights that you could share and help many a mom and dad here that are dealing with their teens and young adults who also have the diagnosis.

    Anyway, just wanted to welcome you...Look forward to "seeing" more of you here.
  9. seriously

    seriously New Member

    Haven't read that book but I don't read a lot of those types since I am BiPolar (BP) myself. Kay Jamison's book is from an adult perspective and seemed very clinical to me, which makes sense since she is a psychologist.

    My personal experiences may or may not apply to your son. And I wouldn't expect you to find anything that's going to help you a lot - not many 10 yo boys write let alone are able to even say what it's like inside their head.

    You say you want to understand what he's thinking. Do you have a more specific thing you want to know? That might be a better way to approach things.

    What would you do with the information if you were able to "know" what he's thinking?

    Do you want to know if he's scared? Confused? Worried?

    Do you want to know if he perceives you the same way you perceive him?

    Are you looking for reassurance that he will be OK in the long run?

    Are you seeking information about BiPolar (BP)?

    It is an unpredictable illness in my experience. You can be stable for a long time and then be very unstable.

    Self-knowledge and knowledge about the illness are essential tools to successfully manage and these are not things a 10 year old will have in large quantities.

    My best advice is to prepare for the worst but expect the best. As much as possible, keep normal expectations for him and assume that he is capable of much more than he seems to be at any given time.

    Preparing for the worst means doing things like having a will with a special needs trust for him should you and your husband die and he is unable to manage on his own as an adult or will need some public assistance.

    Expecting the best means you act as if he can do everything all the other 10 year olds are doing - and you are going to treat him (as much as possible) as if he IS a normal 10 year old boy.

    You cannot know what it is like inside his head and he may never really be able or willing to tell you.

    But you don't really need that information to help him grow into a strong, capable adult.

    Not sure if that was any kind of answer but it's the best I can give right now.