One More Volume For Your Library Shelf

Adding to the tsunami of self-help literature we are tumbling under these days, an Indianpolis Star Tribune, Eli Lily country, article, Bringing bipolar into the light, features Marya Hornbacher, author of the memoir, Madness: A Life.

“It’s shocking to me that we’re still afraid to say ‘bipolar’ out loud, so I do often, clearly and without shame,” Hornbacher said, sitting right there in the middle of a busy coffee shop. “You do know bipolar people — successful, stable bipolar people –and that’s why you don’t know.”


Let’s hear it for bipolar people! All power to bipolar people! May bipolar people take over the world! Hip Hip Bipolar Hoorah!


Or as my bipolar dog friend is fond of yelping. Bipolar bipolar bipolar bipolar.

Now that there has been a 40 fold increase in the diagnosis of bipolar disease due to the upgrading of children once tagged ADHD, maybe world conquest and domination is a little more within grasp for these people. Ok, alright, these…bipolar people.

I understand stigma, folks. If you couldn’t leave your bipolar disorder in the other room, there would be no stigma in this room, but that’s stigma for you.

Hornbacher, 34, a Minneapolis writer, begins at the beginning, describing nights as a terrified 4-year-old screaming for her mother to shoo the goat man from her bedroom, shrieks that continue until her mother draws a bath, lowering her into the calming water.

Not until Hornbacher was 23 was her bipolar disorder diagnosed. Those 19 years are actually close to the usual time between onset of symptoms (typically around age 23) and correct diagnosis (about age 40). But Hornbacher was only a child, so no one thought that manic depression possibly could be the reason for her behavior.

Um…4 years old is a long ways from 23. Throwing ‘correct diagnosis’ in there has sort of thrown me off my game though. Another 19 years?…Really! If people never grew up, well, we’d have to lock them all up, wouldn’t we? Maybe children are just abnormal adults!

Don’t turn that night light off just yet. Who knows what horrors are lurking in the closet, or grin up from under the bed?

That’s why she’s speaking Wednesday at the fourth annual National Ted and Roberta Mann Symposium About Children & Young Adults With Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, sponsored by the PACER Center and the Mann Foundation at the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel. She’ll speak to parents and teachers at a free symposium about the challenges of correctly diagnosing mental illness in young children and teenagers.

Have you seen the television show Wheel of Fortune? Well, I know some psychiatric survivor activists who have made a Wheel of Misdiagnosis if you ever want to take a spin at it. Many a fate has been decided on a basis no less flimsy than the spinning of just such a wheel. Who knows? Maybe you, too, could arrive at the perfect mental disorder to suit your present state of affairs, if that’s what you want.

Pulleeze! You will have to excuse me if I’m not the psychiatric disorder salesman you were expecting.