Although Marya experienced strong signs of manic behavior at age four it wasn’t until age 24 that she was finally diagnosed with the most severe type of bipolar disorder. Marya takes you through her “crazy” life up until her diagnosis. The tales of her episodes are surreal but the stories of how she copes with them are even more so. She stabilizes her moods with massive amounts of alcohol (starting at age 10) and other drugs. She distracts herself from her mania by focusing on food obsessions (anorexia and bulimia) as well as “cutting”.
Madness was very insightful, clearing up some of the stereotypes of mental illness and being institutionalized (nothing like Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). This was a fascinating and fairly fluid book considering the disorganized nature of the topic. Marya Hornbacher is also the author of the best selling novel Wasted chronicling her struggle with anorexia and bulimia.