Susie, Sackie, Savvy & Cindy, a book review of Madness, a bipolar life by Marya Hornbacher

Mania that starts in childhood is probably the most frightening of all. Yes, it's like having an insane toddler on your hands who will not sleep because the night terrors are so real for her, it prevents the little child's need to sleep. The child cannot turn them off, and it's like that all night, every night.

Adult Marya previews her 4 year old self with the terrors at night as a way of introducing the lifelong terrors of her adult life, a woman who suffers from mania. Susie, Sackie, Savvy and Cindy, are her imaginary friends she talks to all night while waiting for the Goatman, who wants to eat little Marya. He is so real, she can feel his fur.

And yet, Marya Hornbacher is a high performing bipolar I even with her swings from "crazy" (mania) to depressed. Even with 7 hospitalizations in a row in 2 years she's already published writer, a married woman, and a teacher to freshman undergrads at the college she attends.

Marya describes in earnest all through her book what exactly "mania" is, play by play, minute by minute,

It would seem mania would be great for knocking a lot of work called writing down on the page, but in fact, after the writing is done, more often than not she highlights the prose, and presses the "delete" button.

But it's no game, it veers out of control, if not caught right away, and it can lasts for months, the crash suddenly happens, and you cannot move or breath, and you're on the other side of manic depression, the depressed side. When this is all you have in terms of emotions, then you can certainly declare your life hell.

Amazingly, Marya stays with her husband, and her imaginary girlfriends from childhood morph into a set of soul sisters who keep her sane and stable, and look out Marya before mania shows up. You can do everything you're told to do, and suddenly mania shows up on using ebay almost 24 hours a day to bid, climbing on the metal cabinets of your doctor's office for a consultation, and pills, all the pills.

"You wake up one morning and there it is, siting in an old plaid bathrobe in your kitchen, unpleasant and unshaved.You look at it, heart sinking. Madness is a rotten guest. You can tell it to leave until you're blue in face. You follow it around the house, explaining that it's come at a bad time, and could it come another day. Eventually you give up and go back to bed, shutting the door. But of course it barges in and demands to be  entertained. . . . soon, your life revolves around it . . . . But sometimes it settles in to stay. Immediately, it is all demands. . . . . soon, it's just you and madness. You circle each other like boxers, throwing punches to the jaw. . . . soon madness has worn you down. You do what it tells you, no matter how extreme or absurd. If it says you're worthless, you agree. You plead for it to stop. You promise to behave. You are on your knees before it, and it laughs"

Leave a comment