cover image The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing up Bipolar

The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing up Bipolar

Terri Cheney, Atria, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4391-7621-4

It wasn't until 1994, when Cheney was 34 years old, that she learned the correct name for what she called the Black Beast, the destructive force that ruled her life. Following her diagnosis of bipolar disorder, Cheney wrote a widely acclaimed account (Manic: A Memoir) of her struggle to make a life for herself while coping with the disease. What she had not anticipated were the thousands of e-mails from parents of bipolar children asking, "What was your childhood like?" This narrative eloquently and intelligently answers this question. Beginning with the jarring account of her first suicide attempt at seven, Cheney then recounts her chaotic adolescence and troubled family life in California, through her departure for college at Vassar. Intelligent and popular, Cheney struggled daily to keep her life on track and her inner life hidden, in a family which kept plenty of secrets: "I was so different inside from the way I looked, I was practically two separate people." Citing the necessity of early intervention to understanding and controlling the disease, Cheney urges parents to listen, learn, read, and discover all they can about their child's problem. Her story is a sound first step toward understanding your child's pain and finding solutions. (Mar.)