by Terri Cheney

HarperCollins, 2007. ISBN 978-0-06-143023-7.
Reviewed by Sharon Blumberg
Posted on 03/31/2008

Nonfiction: Memoir

Terri Cheney has bipolar disorder. She begins her book, Manic, in a way that enlightens the reader about the rough journey that awaits. Her directness reveals just how severe bipolar disorder is for those that are affected. She relays how vulnerable her life becomes in many situations, trying to manage her mental illness.

In one instance, the police mistake her behavior for that of a drug addict and she is arrested This results in an arrest. Her account of this experience is riveting. Cheney further engages the reader by sharing how her high-profiled law career is affected and by showing the complexities of manic depression.

I shut off the light and got into bed. So quiet I could hear a faint whisper of hope. If I've learned anything from life as a manic depressive is that things never stay the same for very long. The cruelest curse of the disease is also its most sacred promise: You will not feel this way forever.

In the beginning, this attorney does not understand the nature of her severe mood swings or how she somehow manages to destroy her relationships. She paints a realistic portrait of her frustrated efforts to make these work.

Cheney vividly relates her life situation when she accompanies a friend on an African safari. She can't understand how she can claim her own despair after witnessing such suffering of the Masai people. When she looks at the disease-ridden children covered all over with sores, all she can think is how foolish it is for a six-figure lifestyle to drive her to suicide. When she sees these same children smiling from ear to ear, she feels insignificant in comparison.

Cheney finally discovers a name for her illness during her sixteen-year battle and begins to understand the reason for her numerous visits to medical specialists. This brings her some peace of mind and she embraces her illness. What makes her so special is her tenacity.

As Cheney invites us into her intimate world of triumphs and downfalls, we ride her roller coaster. I am able to connect with this story because as a child, I knew of someone similar. I know what kind fo havoc this illness can wreak. This book makes me want to know more about mental illnesses, and how people can rise above them.

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 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 in UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute. She lives in Los Angeles. Visit her web site.

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