Bi-Polar Autobiographies?
September 29, 2018 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I love Carrie Fisher, but she is not my only hope! ;) I am seeking autobiographies, or biographies, written by, or about, people living with mental health issues, particularly bi-polar with psychotic features. I love Carrie Fisher but I would like to hear other author's experiences, particularly with overcoming shame. LGBT/Queer authors are a bonus (yay!), but not a necessity. Author gender is not important. Can anyone suggest titles to help? Thanks in advance.
posted by ethical_caligula to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Ruby Wax has written several books in this area, drawing heavily on her own personal experience.
posted by srednivashtar at 8:40 AM on September 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

An Unquiet Mind was published in the mid-90s, but I bet it still holds up.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:44 AM on September 29, 2018 [10 favorites]

I loved An Unquiet Mind. The author has bipolar with psychotic features and is a clinical psychiatrist who studies the disorder. (It definitely holds up; I read it recently.)
posted by sockermom at 8:44 AM on September 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke

She was a child star who suffered for years with bipolar disorder before being properly diagnosed and treated.
posted by FencingGal at 8:54 AM on September 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Ellen Forney has two books out about bipolar that draw heavily on her own experience: Rock Steady, which is advice and resources in comics format, and Marbles, which is an autobiographical graphic novel. I've read and loved Rock Steady. I haven't read Marbles yet, but it's supposed to be very good and it won a bunch of awards.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:57 AM on September 29, 2018 [5 favorites]

Came here to recommend Ellen Forney’s Marbles, as well. It is excellent.
posted by heurtebise at 9:41 AM on September 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Notes on a Banana by David Leite.

"—a candid, courageous, and at times laugh-out-loud funny story of family, food, mental illness, and sexual identity"
posted by poodelina at 9:41 AM on September 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

I loved Marbles!

Maranda Elizabeth (who's a friend of mine through zine worlds) writes a lot about mental health & trauma & disability, and is a queer nonbinary person.
posted by ITheCosmos at 9:45 AM on September 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Elyn Saks, The Center Cannot Hold.
posted by inkytea at 10:48 AM on September 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

In additional to sharing the love for Ellen Forney, Andrew Solomon's Noonday Demon is both the biography of his depression, and a deep dive into the subject in general. More dysthymic than bipolar, but there are some definitely manically self-destructive moments.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:56 AM on September 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Kate Millett's The Loony Bin Trip
posted by brujita at 11:33 AM on September 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Madness: A Bipolar Life—Marya Hornbacher
Outstanding memoir of Hornbacher's life-long dance with bipolarity. You may recognize her name from Wasted, an earlier memoir of her disordered eating that she now frames as part of extensive self-medication for her BP. Her writing is beautiful. Her detailed descriptions of the trip down and up and down and up and into the psych ward are stunning yet informative. Her at-home psychotic interludes, made possible by a rota of concerned friends, highlight that those of us with mental illness have friends, are part of communities, and can contribute to the interdependent mesh.

Welcome to the Jungle—Hilary T Smith
YA author provides excellent step-by-step info on "facing bipolar without freaking out." Chatty, aimed at teens/young adults.
posted by Jesse the K at 11:47 AM on September 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Jenny Lawson.
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:03 PM on September 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Stephen Fry?
posted by supercres at 1:20 PM on September 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much everyone! These are great recommendations!

This is for a person very dear to me, who asked for my help finding these kind of titles. I suspected this would be a fruitful place to ask, and I was right! I am forwarding them this list to peruse; I'm sure she will find some that help her.

I'm going to leave this question open a bit longer, in case anyone else stops by with additional suggestions, but these suggestions have been extremely helpful. <3
posted by ethical_caligula at 1:38 PM on September 29, 2018

Breakdown by Stuart Sutherland is excellent. The first half is an account of his "breakdown" and diagnosis with bipolar disorder. The second half is a more academic discussion of diagnosis/treatment (he was a psychiatrist) which is somewhat dated but remains interesting and well written.

Nthing an unquiet mind; a beautiful book.
posted by bored_now_flay at 5:41 AM on September 30, 2018

I really liked Scattershot by David Lovelace, described as a cross between The Glass Castle and An Unquiet Mind. Four out of five people in the author's immediate family have bipolar, including David himself.
posted by alicat at 4:01 PM on September 30, 2018

The Gorilla and The Bird by Zack McDermott

He writes with honesty, humor, and horror about his experience with psychosis during his initial years with bipolar disorder. He comes from a poor Kansas family; his schizophrenic uncle was beaten senseless by the police and eventually hospitalized. Thanks in most part, as he gratefully acknowledges, to his smart, brave, caring mother, he made it to law school, became a public defender in NYC, and survived that psychotic break.

I couldn’t put this book down. McDermott’s writing is both funny and insightful. He enabled me to watch a mind slowly spinning out of control, and then struggling back to lucidity again. His both-sides perspective is invaluable.
posted by Jesse the K at 2:45 PM on October 17, 2018

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