Several months after my psychotic break and after I had begun to accept my diagnosis, I went to Barnes & Noble with my dad. He’s always enjoyed going to the psychology section, and I tagged along. I found a memoir called Manic written by Terri Cheney (you can buy it on Amazon here).
The cover and synopsis were intriguing to me, so I bought it; or rather, my dad bought it for me. During the first couple of months of my recovery, I could not read anything. I had the attention span of a gnat. I tried to read The Help, but I couldn’t get past the first page. I think I was able to read again by the time I got Manic.
I read her book, and it changed my outlook on the illness. Her writing is absolutely flawless, and it reads like a novel. Her stories are so riveting, I can typically read it in a few days. It’s hard to put down. I’ve read it three or four times.
Terri Cheney is probably one of the biggest reasons why I decided to start writing about my illness. She also has a great blog here. Her books and blogs have inspired me to want to write a book of my own.
Her story is a bit more tumultuous than mine, but there are some parallels. She does a great job putting feelings and moods into words. She weaves her stories and experiences into beautiful tapestries that are intriguing and relatable. I feel like I know her personally through her writing.
Once I started this blog, I went onto hers and messaged her. I told her what an inspiration she’s been to me and that I started writing about my experiences because of her books.
She emailed me back! I couldn’t believe she responded. She said she’s working on another book, so she was unable to read someone else’s original content. She said she was impressed and glad I have such a healthy relationship with my illness. She was very encouraging and told me to keep on writing.
Even her email to me was well-written, so I knew she took time to compose it. That made me feel special and grateful.
I obviously highly recommend her books, even for people who do not have a mental illness. She gives a solid glimpse into what it’s like to be bipolar. Some of her stories are sad and shocking, but she doesn’t feel sorry for herself.
She’s embraced her illness, and she helped me to do the same.
Her other book is called The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar, and you can get it here).
I’d love to hear about books that have inspired you, whether you have a mental illness or not.