Book Review: Manic by Terri Cheney

Being on vacation is surprisingly less conducive to reading and posting than I often assume it will be when starting out on it.  Wonderful time, but reading and writing has definitely been at the bottom of the list overall.

However, I’ll post this update on one book that I’ve finished on the trip.  I was lent Manic:  A Memoir by a friend.  Since I currently know at least two people who deal with various types of depression or bi-polarity, I was eager to read the book for a better insight into how to relate to their experience.
The book basically reinforced the idea that I can’t relate.  Not in a meaningful or helpful way.  Cheney does a good job of driving home the point that control is not something on the menu for many people who deal with these sorts of issues.  As such, relating is a fleeting matter at best.  
As an author, Cheney is very adept at relating incidents and emotions in a compelling and enticing way.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she is (or was) a self-described beautiful, intelligent, sexy, highly-compensated lawyer working in Hollywood and enjoying the finer things in life whether on her dime or the dime of one of the men in her life.  The net result is a glorification of the horror, in many respects.  The reader is dazzled by the environments in which Cheney careens, and that can easily lead the reader into a glamorization of those darker impulses even though Cheney is clearly not desiring us to use her life as a role model.  
I imagine it must be terribly difficult to adequately describe the dark episodes of depression.  Writing chapters or an entire book solely dedicated to that all-consuming darkness would make for awful reading, I suspect.  As such, it’s easier (and perhaps only possible) to describe those moments of brilliance – whether manic or otherwise.  Moments that stand out in the memory in all their awful beauty.  Lost moments and opportunities, unexpected twists and turns in what had been assumed to be a relatively straight stretch of emotional road.  But in my limited experience with depression and those who deal with it, those bright moments or memorable dark moments are very, very rare and elusive.  
If you have someone in your life who deals with these sorts of issues, this book most likely won’t be very helpful to you.  It will be interesting to read, thanks to Cheney’s interesting life.  But I’m not sure it will help the people having to deal with those who are unable to rally themselves to the simple tasks of day to day life.  It might be more helpful in understanding a manic person, but I’m not qualified (as far as I know!) to make that comparison.  

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