Helpful Books

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir on Moods and Madness

by Kay Redfield Jamison

Dr. Jamison was diagnosed with bipolar disorder while she was in medical school studying psychiatry–is that perfect or what? This is one of the most influential books ever written on the subject. Definitely required reading for anyone with a bipolar diagnosis–even if you disagree with everything she says, her work is so influential that it behooves you to familiarize yourself with it.


The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain

by Alice Flaherty

If you’re bipolar and a writer, chances are this book will strike a chord with you.


Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Wanted to Know about Bipolar Disorder but Were Too Freaked Out to Ask

by Hilary Smith

This book was written for young adults diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Its tone is flippant and irreverent, which can be a blessing if you’re weary of the hand-wringing melodramatic treatment of mental illness, but for we older cranky types it can sometimes wear thin. Regardless, this is an excellent resource and I HIGHLY recommend it for adolescents who’ve been diagnosed.


Madness: A Bipolar Life

by Marya Hornbacher

One of those memoirs that breaks your heart into a thousand pieces, in a good way. I had to put it down for a day after I read the prologue, which describes the author’s quasi-accidental suicide attempt at the age of 23 in excruciating, visceral detail. Hornbacher is HARDCORE bipolar I; she spent years-long stretches in a hypomanic-to-manic blur culminating in the inevitable breakdowns and hospitalizations. She also is a hell of a writer, a two-time Yale fellow, and a college instructor in creative writing–a manic overachiever, if you will. I underlined and reread so many passages that reflected my own thoughts, emotions, and experiences; it was like she was in my damn head sometimes. Parts of it could be triggering, especially if, like Hornbacher, you struggle with a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and/or eating disorders. But in the end it’s a beautiful, life-affirming story. Can’t recommend it enough.


Strictly Bipolar

by Darian Leader

Darian Leader is a psychoanalyst, and this slim volume is an exploration of the psychological roots and implications of bipolar disorder. Leader views the extremes in mood and perspective as indicating a need to resolve profound psychic conflicts and achieve a wholeness of self. He doesn’t completely dismiss the biomedical model, but he does make a strong and reasoned case for the need to include a thorough psychosocial approach in individual treatment.


One Response to “Helpful Books”

  1. dyane December 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    P.S. I had postpartum hypergraphia and had a phone consult with Dr. Flaherty. She was incredibly helpful. And did it pro bono….I think I have PTSD too.

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