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The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar
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The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  879 ratings  ·  120 reviews
“Killing yourself at any age is a seriously tricky business. But when I was seven, the odds felt insurmountable.”

As a young girl, Terri Cheney’s life looked perfect. Her family lived in a lovely house in a tranquil Los Angeles suburb where the geraniums never once failed to bloom. She was pretty and smart, an academic superstar and popular
ebook, 288 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Atria Books
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Wow. At first I kept thinking that from what I've read, people with bipolar disorder have too much intelligence for their own dang good, and just use it to hurt themselves and others. I was going to rate the book at three stars though, because I found it interesting (my scale is mostly based on how hard it is for me to put the book down).

As I continued reading, Terry Cheney's descriptions of how her bipolar disorder manifested riveted me.

page 2: "When I was depressed, I was completely paralyzed,
An excellent memoir that gives the reader a true sense of what happens on the inside of someone growing up bipolar, told with blatant honesty and humor, without minimizing the seriousness of the disease. Though the events, triggers, and degree of depression/mania may differ from one manic-depressive to another, the feelings, thought processes, and reflections Cheney shares is universal. As an adult, armed with the knowledge that can only come after having been diagnosed, Cheney maps out the earl ...more
This book was one I found myself trudging through, only in hopes that it would get better as Cheney aged throughout each section.

The early chapters are largely focused on Cheney's family dynamic. So much so, that I was starting to feel like this book should have been entitled "growing up in a dysfunctional family" as opposed to "growing up bipolar".

As I was reading the beginning I couldn't help but feel like the book would become interesting for a few pages and then slowly dim out—every time I
Kate Wyer
This seemed like a money grab. What I mean by that is, this book did not add anything to my knowledge about children with bi-polar. Actually, even her title is out of touch with current mental health standards of talk-- you don't define someone by their illness. "growing up bi-polar" should be "growing up with bi-polar." It's incredible how much difference one word makes between being sensational and stigmatizing and being respectful of the whole person.

I'm not gonna say that she's lying about
I am tempted to compile my life into a joural of stories called "Raising a household Bipolar Positively and Meaninfuly":-)
My faith is what holds together our family and continuously learning and trying new communication methods as everyone ages and their needs change. Add in the child school setting, after school programs, home life, life with family and friends, life with our church community, and my relationship strength and forgiveness with my husband. Always alert and on my toes with my nee
I seem to be on a growing-up-with-undiagnosed-mental-disorder book kick lately, for which I have no explanation except that I find it to be a heart-wrenching, yet fascinating topic. I think what makes this so captivating is that it makes me reflect on how many children must be out there suffering, feeling alone, and living with these unexplainable demons within them. It’s nothing less than tragic.

Growing up in a suburb of Los Angeles, Cheney’s life looked peachy from the outside. She earned good
Holly Vine
This book is an excellent inside view of the "Beast" that drives the actions of those suffering from Bipolar Disorder.
Rhonda Clark
Having not read Manic yet, I wonder if reading this book first will provide background for the story that was actually written first. I'm curious how she wrote Manic, which I suspect goes into her being diagnosed. That's next...
Knowing what I do about bipolar, it's interesting to read about her symptoms as she exhibited them at this young age. I think it's interesting that her mother knows something is wrong with her, and she knows it too, but there's a great crevice between them -- perhaps bec
Nov 22, 2014 Tara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone involved with bipolar somehow
Recommended to Tara by: myself
Shelves: borrowed-library
** spoiler alert ** Being diagnosed "bipolar" (among other things) at the age of nearly 34, I often wonder if I was "born" with it, or it started very young as I often had a lot of "issues" when I was younger. I was also very young the first time I had contemplated killing myself. Although, I did not follow through an attempt as this author did when she was small, I sat in serious consideration. I was about 8 or 9yrs old. From the time of my biological father's death 1 mo before I turned 6, I st ...more
A great follow up to MANIC. I want to re-read Manic, now that I know her back story.

I think this is a very important book. I hope that parents will devour it so their children won't have to endure what Terri went through. Of course, we live in a different time now. Terri felt very betrayed at the loss of her childhood. All those adults around her and not one of them could see that something was wrong?! I'm sure someone saw, but the 60s and 70s weren't a time of open mindedness in many areas and
Not nearly as interesting as I expected it to be. Nevertheless, the epilogue is definitely worth reading if only because it asks the critical question - why did no one see how troubled this child was and how desperately she needed help.
marlene zorabedian
Good book brings out certain behaviors relevant to bipolar w/o behavior

Would definitely recommend
this book on your reading list if you have daily dealings with a bipolar child. Explains p many of the odd behaviors exhibited by bipolar people such as ritualistic practices they are compelled to repeat to set their world right once a mania
has made it go helter skelter once again and then they have to try and deal with the aftermath it creates. Everything is cause and effect, but these three words h
Wow. Heart breaking and powerful.

Terri Cheney's writing style is captivating. She uses beautiful (yet dark) imagery mixed with intelligence and poise to capture a reader's attention and pull it through every story.

I love how she organized the book. From seven to eighteen and many years in between.

Just the raw honesty of her struggles with the Black Beast, her family, her alcoholism gives the reader a real insight into what kids with mental illness must truly suffer with on a daily basis.

Rachel H
I really enjoyed the book The Dark Side Of Innocence By Terri Cheney. Terri is a very talented writer who knows what she was doing when writing the book about living with bipolar disorders at a young age. She knows how to make someone want to read more, that is exactly what she did to me in this book.
The book gives you a brief view through Terri’s eyes; you feel like you are standing right next to her as her parents fought, through the multiple suicide attempts, and the countless outstanding gr
Terri Cheney is a great writer, and has an uncanny ability to suck you into her stories. She introduces this book by letting you know that, after a success of her memoir "Manic" where she details life with bipolar disorder, she went back into her childhood and realized she'd been unstable then too. This made me very skeptical - the idea that she delved deep to access and reconstruct those memories, as part of a process to follow-up on her first book.

I also do not like how she makes her illness i
Kitty Honeycutt

This book is more dark with only a splash of innocence. It's not hard to understand how a child could be inflicted with such a horrible disease as being bipolar though, and Teri's words make you understand just how hard it can be for a child in which this condition has not been recognized. This book gave me chills, and made me realize how a hidden monster like this could exist among innocence. Terri's story was written with acute honesty which
Avery Frost
The Dark Side of Innocence grabbed me first with its title. The juxtaposition of darkness and innocence has always intrigued me, so I picked the book up one day in Barnes and Noble.

And I could not put it down.

Cheney told her story in an unflinching, shameless way. She allowed us into her innermost thoughts, some of which were ones that most people would never admit having, without apology or overt explanation. She did not try to make us like her or pity her, she was simply--brutally--honest. I
Barb Novak
Terri suffers from bipolar disorder. She wasn't officially diagnosed until college (I think), but she exhibited symptoms of the disease throughout her childhood. Although Terri was a popular child who was very successful socially and academically, she experienced extreme changes in her behavior, attitude, and energy level. One day she would work feverishly to finish a project for school perfectly and within minutes she would find herself in bed, often for days at a time, unable to find the energ ...more
Emily White
Reading about Cheney's childhood was a wild ride at best. Her loving but doting father and her emotionally absent mother added to the confusion that Cheney already felt as an odd, undiagnosed girl. At times she could hyperfocus on her schoolwork so much that she wouldn't sleep for days, and got straight As throughout her schooling. At other times she could fly into an unpredictable rage and stab her brother with a table knife at the dinner table. Somehow Cheney (and those around her) got through ...more
Interesting book about a girl growing up bi-polar. She started at age 7 and was a rapid cycler, meaning depressed one day and manic the next. It is a candid insight into her mind and how she as a child and teenager would think about things because of "The black beast within her" as she called her bi-polar. Also interesting as to how she never told her family or friends about what she was going through and they just thought that was who she was.
After writing the book "Manic" which describes her adult life dealing with being bipolar, Terri Cheney wrote this book describing her childhood growing up bipolar.

As a child, Terri knew there was something different about herself. She had a dark side that she nicknamed "The Beast". The Beast tormented her and urged her to behave in negative ways--attempting suicide several times (the first time at seven), battling with her family, skipping school, taking dares. The manic side of her kept her awa
Mary Anne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Powerful, evocative, and deeply personal, this memoir transcends taboo by reliving the highs and lows of childhood bipolar disorder in riveting detail. The Dark Side of Innocence is a compelling page-turner casting a magical spell that is broken only by the realization that the author is now a living, breathing adult still coping with the Black Beast.
A follow up/prequel to Manic. I read Manic was was taken on a ride through the eyes of a bipolar woman who was suicidal yet insanely intelligent. She writes in a way that reads like a page turning novel so I couldn't resist her 2nd memoir which chronicles her life growing up bipolar. It focuses on her adolescence and as a kid how she had this "black beast" and kept it a secret from her parents and friends. During her mania she would fly through hours on end with little or no sleep and weeks late ...more
Terri Cheney has grown as a writer since she wrote MANIC: A MEMOIR. The prose is whimsical, funny and matter-of-fact while recounting a seriously messed up childhood experience, like planning her suicide at age 7; and conversely introspective, taking the time to help us understand her personal emotional weight of something less tragic, like when she didn't make JV cheerleading. That's the nature of bipolar, an emotional roller coaster that zigs when we expect a zag.

While MANIC was effectively wr
George Ilsley
I'm adding the tag "fiction" to this memoir, since Cheney starts off by saying she can't remember much from her childhood. I didn't trust the narrative. It felt like much was invented, like movies which are "based on a true story."

Oddly, Cheney never looks at her parents in an analytical manner. Do either of her parents display traits of a person with bipolar tendencies? Her father's lofty ambitions and late night work binges, for example.

Cheney mentions AA at the end and talks about her childho
This is a good book for people wanting an inside look at the life of a bipolar individual, but the information is a little scattered and it's hard to keep up with. Despite the negative parts of the book, the author did a great job at showing what it's like and her emotions about the disorder through the tone and mood.
Lori Anderson
A tough read, but one that might prove helpful to both those that grew up bipolar and those who have children they feel may be bipolar.

There are some gritty bits in this book, but I marked a bunch of pages for my "remember who wrote this" notebook. I haven't read her first book, but the childhood aspect of this one appealed more to what I was looking for.

Books like this are hard to recommend. I think memoirs that involve severe mental illness aren't really pleasure reading (obviously) so go int
Caroline Mcphail-Lambert
Hard book to set aside, but needed to be done due to the depth of the angst running roughshod over the pages.

Cheney's remembrance of her young life out of control is a must read for parents, nurses, teachers, siblings and anyone interested in learning about the manic vs depressive state of childhood bipolar illness.
Sara Furr
After reading Terri Cheney's first book, Manic, I was anxious to read this. The book was an eye-opener for me, helping me to see the progression of Terri's mental illness. I think her parents must have been overwhelmed, trying to understand her yet all outward signs seemed to be saying that she was a success. It is hard to understand how those around her could not have seen her suffering but part of her illness was her ability to hide it. And she did that well. It is a miracle that Terri is stil ...more
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children with bipolar 3 16 Jun 11, 2013 01:26AM  
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After graduating Vassar College with honors, Ms. Cheney attended UCLA School of Law. After years of secretly struggling with manic depression, Ms. Cheney decided to leave the law and devote her advocacy skills toward a cause that is closer to her heart: writing about her illness, and encouraging the mentally ill to tell their own stories.

--from the author's website
More about Terri Cheney...
Manic: A Memoir The Dark Side of Innocence (Growing up Bipolar) Bipolar memorias de una maníaco-depresiva Bipolar - Memórias de extremos The Engaging Expert: A Fieldbook for Occasional Speakers and Accidental Trainers

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“At least when I was an adult, I had a name for what was wrong with me: manic depression. It's easier to make sense of things - even very disturbing things like sexual acting out and suicidality - when there's a big, fat label slapped on top. But as a child, I knew nothing. I had no diagnosis. All I had was a vague and gnawing awareness that I was different from other children, and that different was not good. Different must be kept hidden.” 4 likes
“I won't say that writing tamed the Black Beast. It soothed him, though, enough so he agreed simply to occupy a corner of my mind...Gradually, I redirected my focus and skills towards causes much closer to my own heart: writing and mental health advocacy.
I felt so good at times that I even wondered, was I still bipolar? In my community work, I saw so many people who were much worse off than I was - deep in their disease in a way I no longer seemed to be. I knew that this often happens to manic-depressives: the brain forgets the ravages of the illness they way a woman forgets the pains of childbirth. You have to, to survive. But it's always a dangerous place to be, because you inevitably start to question the need for medication, therapy, and all the other rigorous stopgaps of sanity so carefully put into place to prevent another episode.”
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