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Madness: A Bipolar Life | [Marya Hornbacher]

Madness: A Bipolar Life

When Marya Hornbacher published her acclaimed first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, she did not yet have a piece of shattering knowledge: the underlying reason for her distress. At age 24, Hornbacher was diagnosed with Type I rapid-cycle bipolar, the most severe form of bipolar disease there is.
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Publisher's Summary

When Marya Hornbacher published her acclaimed first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, she did not yet have a piece of shattering knowledge: the underlying reason for her distress. At age 24, Hornbacher was diagnosed with Type I rapid-cycle bipolar, the most severe form of bipolar disease there is.

In her wry and utterly self-revealing style, Hornbacher tells her new story in Madness.

Through scenes of astonishing visceral and emotional power, she takes us inside her own desperate attempts to counteract violently careening mood swings by self-starvation, substance abuse, numbing sex, and self-mutilation. Her brave and heart-stopping memoir details her fight up from madness and describes what it is like to live in a difficult, sometimes beautiful life and marriage when the bipolar tendency always beckons.

©2008 Marya Hornbacher; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

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3.9 (96 )
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  •  
    Lamont Crook 07-16-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Forget Prozac Nation - this what it is really like"

    I think what the other reviewers have failed to see is that mental health and in this case bipolar disorder doesn't have a conclusion. Unlike Prozac Nation which nicely ties things up, this book tells it like it is. When I was diagnosed with Bipolar and my wife asked me when I was just going to get over it after 2 hospitalizations, I knew that most people don't get it. Its not about cure, its about coping. Its about living with an illness that often ends in death. Its about understanding that your boundaries are narrower than you want them to be, and that's just the way it is. Its understanding that what your mind and body are telling you may kill you if you are not careful. Its about losing time and not understanding why.

    Perhaps this limits this books audience, but I'm glad I listened to it and I'm glad Mayra wrote it.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Highland Park, NJ, United States 05-22-08
    Jeffrey Highland Park, NJ, United States 05-22-08
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    "A Better Premise Than Book"

    Why did I love "A Million Little Pieces" but felt so blah about this book? It took a while for me to realize, as the access to someone who suffers from bi-polar is interesting and rare. The answer, I found, was that in A Million Little PIeces, the author's life - even if exaggerated - was incredibly interesting. Here, the dieses is interesting, and the knowledge of discovery is interesting, but her actual life is incredibly ordinary. Finally, the reader for the first two hours was flat, and abook like this needs a voice with feeling, inflection, a sense of timing and life. She read it like a cookbook.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RaisinNut PA, USA 05-21-13
    RaisinNut PA, USA 05-21-13 Member Since 2011

    Making the world better one review at a time.

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    "A Well-Crafted Self-Portrait..."

    This is a well-crafted self-portrait of one woman’s life with bipolar disorder. Marya Hornbacher is honest, insightful and brave as she describes the severe ups and downs brought on by her disorder.

    During her manic episodes, Hornbacher is a classic case of manic symptoms. She experiences racing thoughts, pressured speech, constant motion, reckless behavior, grandiosity, increase in goal-oriented activities and decreased need for sleep. This version of Hornbacher is fast and furious, somewhat delusional and often a lot of fun.

    When depressed, Hornbacher sinks to the lowest of lows. She loses interest in activities, withdraws from life, sleeps excessively and even cuts herself.

    Further complicating Hornbacher’s illness is her effort to self-medicate with alcohol and food restriction, resulting in a substance abuse problem and an eating disorder. She is, as they say on the street, one hot mess.

    Hornbacher takes the reader along as she journeys through her years with bipolar disorder, going in and out of hospitals, moving in and out of relationships, enduring extensive medication trials and crippling side effects. At the heart of the story is her family – a closely knit circle of devoted loved ones– who advocate and fight for her. Many times they are her saving grace.

    If you are living with bipolar disorder, or if you know someone who is, this book is a MUST READ. Hornbacher paints a real and haunting picture of the illness and ultimately teaches the reader that, even though it is possible to die from bipolar disorder, it is equally possible to have a life with bipolar disorder. The final message is one of hope.

    Narrator Tavia Gilbert reads this book with doses of levity, capturing Hornbacher’s dark humor that appears throughout. My only complaint is that Gilbert also narrated the much less stellar “Voluntary Madness” by Norah Vincent. Her narration across the two books is fantastic, but I kept getting a sense of déjà vu – as if I had read this before.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evelyn Kelly Los Angeles CA 08-29-13
    Evelyn Kelly Los Angeles CA 08-29-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Really fascinating"
    If you could sum up Madness in three words, what would they be?

    Great insight into what goes on in the mind of a bipolar person.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann Ithaca, NY, United States 03-04-13
    Ann Ithaca, NY, United States 03-04-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Good, But a Bit Repetitive"

    I found overall that this was a pretty good book. It is a fascinating point of view on life. Reading this book is a great way to get a picture of life as a mentally insane person which most of us, thank fully, will never experience. My main problem with this was that it was a bit repetitive. I felt like in every other scene she was drunk in some hotel going on manic rages. But mainly it's a very good listen, making you want to support Marya every step of the way to dealing with her inhabilitating condition.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcos New York, NY, United States 09-06-08
    Marcos New York, NY, United States 09-06-08 Member Since 2003
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    "A Poor Book For Us Voyeurs"

    This is not literature, even though the author poses as a writer. This is a girl's diary, and a bad one as that.
    Marya, more as good marketer than a good writer, gives us voyeurs what we want: a peep hole into the life of someone extreme, a lifestyle that most of us, in our boring 9 to 5 lives, maybe would like to taste once in a while. We live in a world of celebrities, of gossip, of tabloids paying millions of dollars for the pictures of a newborn. Marya was very lucky to carve a niche, as the troubled teen who cuts herself, has promiscuous sex and a wild life. Who wouldn't want to peek into that? Had she tried to make a herself a name with a non-fiction book, she wouldn't exist as an author today.
    But literature this isn't. The book is totally monotonous in its maniac self-absorption. Bipolar? Where is the depression? Where is the self-analysis that comes with a reflexive mood? Not there. It is just a succession of very superficial daily happenings, one after the other, and their superficial effect on the author. In order to build the story, the impressions she brings from her childhood sound totally fake and constructed. Who the heck remembers vivid feelings when you were a 8 year-old?
    The poor narrator (a very good one) should be paid double just for the hurrying she had to do.
    This is a lost opportunity for a reflection on the existential and philosophical aspects of bipolar disorder, on the role of the bipolar person in the world. In the end, Marya's life was not even tragic, as she comes out as having much fun and being extraordinarily lucky with her first book. The real lives of bipolar people are much, much harder. Again, this is just a diary.

    8 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 08-29-09
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 08-29-09 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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    "On the whiny side..."

    Nothing new added to the madness literature canon.

    3 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Busconi VT, USA 05-23-08
    J. Busconi VT, USA 05-23-08 Listener Since 2007

    Amazon fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not very good at all"

    If you want to be depressed, this book is for you. The ending is not uplifting and it is hard to tell if the writter really overcame anything.

    4 of 13 people found this review helpful
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