An incredible time to be bipolar

Manic: A Memoir

Terri Cheney, a former entertainment lawyer, recounts her decades-long struggle with bipolar disorder in her book “Manic: A Memoir.”

Hilary MacGregor wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “The book is not the first to give an autobiographical account of living bipolar.

“It joins the ranks of Kay Redfield Jamison‘s “An Unquiet Mind,” Carrie Fisher‘s “Postcards From the Edge” and “The Best Awful” (two novels based on her life) and Andy Behrman‘s “Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania,” to name a few.

[Carrie Fisher’s more recent book is Shockaholic – about her electro-convulsive shock therapy.]

“But set in a glamorous world saturated with money and celebrity, the book not only describes Cheney’s individual struggle against this disease — which afflicts 5.7 million adult Americans of every age, gender and social class — it also provides an apt metaphor for the bizarre psychological terrain of Hollywood.”

Terri Cheney“Hollywood is an industry of extremes,” said Cheney, whose clients included Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones.

“It is feast or famine, euphoria or despair. Everything has got to be faster, bigger, more, and right now! In a way, you need to be manic to survive.”

“No one knows what percentage of people living in Los Angeles are bipolar,” MacGregor notes, “but studies have shown that there are very high rates of bipolar among people in the arts, which includes musicians, poets and writers.”

“We don’t know why this is the case, but there may be something about the gene for creativity that runs not only in those types of professions but in bipolar as well,” said Dr. Lori Altshuler, the Julia S. Gouw Professor of Psychiatry and director of the UCLA Mood Disorders Research Program.

“The up and down nature of Hollywood life, Cheney suggests, makes it easier for those who suffer to conceal their mental illness here. Bipolar may go undiagnosed in many communities, but in Hollywood, manic traits are not only overlooked, they are celebrated.”

She also thinks “It’s an incredible time to be bipolar. There is so much awareness. There are so many medications. There is so much unexpected compassion.”

Continued in article: Bipolar Explorer , by Hilary MacGregor.