Shucks Mahoney’s #CBR5 Review #7: Marbles: Mania,Depression, Michelangelo & Me by Ellen Forney

A lively, matter-of-fact memoir about an artist coming to terms with her bipolar disorder, Marbles is a great read. I laughed, I cried, I got the urge to doodle, do yoga, and have a drag queen dress-up party, and wanted to hand it on to everyone I know who has had to struggle with compromising their ideals in search of living a better life (i.e. everyone, ever).

Forney was diagnosed when she was almost thirty, and the word ‘bipolar’ hit her hard. She didn’t see the problem, being in a manic stage, wildly creative and adventurous and sexy, wasn’t that what her life was all about, after all? And at the suggestion of medication – lithium, in particular – she was terrified. But a hideous depressive episode spurred her into more action, and over the years she learns how to manage her illness and her life, and come to terms with what it means for her sense of self.

Weirdly enough, this book came along and I found myself hearing about bipolar disorder everywhere for a few days – it showed up in a story I read in a magazine, then a documentary, then another book. It drove home just how hideous it is to deal with, and what a draining experience it is. Forney doesn’t hide from the ugliness of her condition, but also bravely works with it and demonstrates that for her, it was a long road but she’s admirably coping with it. The best graphic memoir I’ve read since Fun Home or Persepolis, although her storytelling style is very different from Bechdel or Satrapi. Funny and warm and life-affirming, and featuring some very cool outfits and music recommendations as a bonus.

3 thoughts on “Shucks Mahoney’s #CBR5 Review #7: Marbles: Mania,Depression, Michelangelo & Me by Ellen Forney

  1. Funny, I am writing a memoir about living with bipolar. I couldn’t find any books that dealt with regular people (like not famous or rich) I could relate to. Sounds like this might be it. Hope there’s room for one more bipolar story out there!

      • I liked Jamison’s. But my issue was that she had some privilege that allowed her to recover differently than, let’s say, someone with three kids. Money and time are huge factors in getting mental health help. Personally, I am interested in the regular Joe / Jane and his / her story and how they managed to manage. Can’t say I know Hornbacher.

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