The best books to understand bipolar disorder

Sherman Alexie Author Of You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir
By Sherman Alexie

The Books I Picked & Why

Madness: A Bipolar Life

By Marya Hornbacher

Madness: A Bipolar Life

Why this book?

This is quite simply the best memoir about bipolar disorder that I've ever read. It's a beautifully written epic that details the ways in which bipolar disorder can lead to eating disorders, substance abuse, and self-mutilation. Hornbacher writes non-fiction like a poet. Like Hornbacher, I've spent weeks in residential mental health care treatment. And she writes so compellingly about the fear and rage inherent during hospital stays and also about the joy of emerging from treatment as a healthier and more hopeful person.


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An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

By Kay Redfield Jamison

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Why this book?

Jamison writes about bipolar disorder as a professor of psychiatry and as a person who suffers from the illness. This dual vision allows us to see the disorder in multifaceted ways. Jamison is particularly adept at explaining why bipolar sufferers are so tragically prone to attempt and commit suicide. I suffer from Bipolar 2 Disorder with mixed features, meaning that I can be depressed and manic at the same time. This is a dangerous combination. A depressed person is more likely to have suicidal ideation and a manic person has enough energy to make suicidal plans and carry them out. Jamison's book is vital for me to understand and manage my suicidal ideation.


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The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know

By David J. Miklowitz

The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know

Why this book?

This is the most concise and clear overview of bipolar disorder and the ways it which affects everybody around the identified patient. It also gives a great introduction into all the ways in which various forms of therapy and medication can help a bipolar person navigate the confusing and unpredictable symptoms of the illness.


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Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness

By Suzy Favor Hamilton

Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness

Why this book?

This is the memoir of a world-famous Olympic athlete who also lived a secret life as an elite sex worker in Las Vegas. Hamilton is brutally honest about one of the most distressing and dangerous symptoms of bipolar disorder: hypersexuality. After her secret was made public Hamilton could have retreated into shamed silence but she instead chose to reveal all that she'd learned about the link between her bipolar mania and sexual impulsivity. This is a courageous book.


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DBT Skills Training Manual

By Marsha M. Linehan

DBT Skills Training Manual

Why this book?

After years of being misdiagnosed and wrongly medicated, and after years of living in denial about my bipolar disorder, I began Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) in 2017. And it saved my life. Linehan has created an evidence-based treatment program that has taught me mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. Frankly speaking, I think DBT should be taught in elementary and high schools.


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