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.
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.
Making the world better one review at a time.
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.
I loved how much I could relate her story to my own. How she shared all of her ups and downs of bipolar and gave detailed information about her treatment, and her journey.
I have not, but I thought she did an excellent job. I will always hear Mayra's voice as hers in my head. She was very enthusiastic and had great voice inflection that was appropriate to what she was reading.
Great insight into what goes on in the mind of a bipolar person.
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.
This was incredible! Marya, you are a fabulous writer! Thank you so very much for sharing your life and struggles with me. I also have bipolar disorder (with psychosis-that part was added during my hospital visit), and I have Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD due to child sexual abuse and a few rapes later on. That sickens me to say it. I'm trying to get myself used to it. I had recreated my life in my head, rewrote my life story, dissociating from the little girl who was abused because I wasn't going to be "one of them". Besides, it wasn't violent. How could that be considered abuse. And later, anytime it was likely to turn ugly in a situation, I'd just give in to keep safe and then how could I call it rape. That's how I kept from being one of those abused girls. The ones you feel sorry for. As if I can rewrite reality, right? If I actually could, I wouldn't have any mental illnesses. So it's been hard on me this last year as memories are coming back, I'm struggling with accepting the reality of having bipolar, and hating the fact that I feel like a cow. I gained a bunch of weight after a tubal ligation that we thought would help matters. Somehow we missed the fact that anesthesia affects people with mental illness horribly. And as we all know depression equals weight gain usually. So that's not helping. I'm not sure why I'm telling you all this but I just thought people might like to know they're not alone, just like this book reminded ME that I'M not alone either. Thank you!
Yes because it's so enlightening to hear it from a perspective of someone living with Bipolar Disorder
This is the first book I've listened to from this perspective
This is the first time I've listened to her, but she did an excellent job. She has a clear voice and knows how to help the reader relate the writer's feelings.
This book brought me close to tears at time. This book made me laugh out loud at times. It was an emotional rollercoaster - perhaps just a taste of what it's like to have bipolar disorder.
I think the reader should keep in mind that Marya has an extreme case of the disorder. Everyone with bipolar disorder is different. Don't let the book plant seeds of worry or negativity. Just be aware that everyone has different symptoms and triggers and reactions. I did indeed love this book.
This book is a great read for anyone who wants to understand what it's like being bipolar or what it's like caring for someone who is bipolar. If you don't find yourself on either category, it's also just a very interesting story. Reading the book feels a lot like climbing in and strapping yourself into the front car of a puke wrenching roller coaster designed for only the most brave or foolish. The author jumps from day to day, moment to moment, because that's exactly how she experiences her life, so if you suddenly feel like you must have skipped something, don't worry. You're right where you should be.
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.
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.
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